This is Australia's most popular SUV.
The Toyota RAV4 is an icon, sitting comfortably as Australia's top-selling and most in-demand SUV, eclipsing the likes of Mazda's CX-5, the Subaru Forester and the Mitsubishi Outlander.
The current generation Toyota RAV4 reached Australia in early 2019, loaded with hybrid options – which have all proven the most popular in the range.
Pricing for the RAV4 starts from the low $30,000 range, but you'll pay closer to $40,000 for a hybrid.
Find our Toyota RAV4 news and reviews below, or visit our SUV landing page to consider the full range of options in this popular segment.
2022 Toyota RAV4 review: GXL Hybrid 2WD
Toyota’s RAV4 is coming under fire as more hybrids start to trickle into the mid-size SUV market, but is the original still best?
UPDATE, November 23: 2023 Toyota RAV4 pricing announced
Australian pricing and specs for the updated 2023 Toyota RAV4 have been announced. Get all the details at the link below.
STORY CONTINUES: 2022 Toyota RAV4 GXL Hybrid 2WD review
I’ll never stop giggling at the use of the 1970s-era GXL badge for what is probably the pick of the Toyota RAV4 range. It conjures up those pale yellow short-sleeved shirts, brown ties, Hush Puppies, brown shorts and long socks pulled up to the knee. So, a 1970s car dealer.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that not only is the RAV4 wildly popular, a few global events underway mean the car is virtually impossible to get within a year unless someone’s finance falls through and the dealer is feeling well-disposed towards you. Hybrids are an extra nightmare to get a hold of because depending on the day, Toyota says either two-in-three or three-in-four RAV4s are electrified.
The GXL doesn’t have to be electrified – you can get it in 2.0-litre front-wheel drive form – but there are two hybrid options, the front-drive or the eFour all-wheel-drive.
I spent a week with the front-wheel-drive variant, hot on the heels of Chinese interloper, the Haval H6 Hybrid, to see if Toyota has anything to worry about.
Pricing and features
The three GXLs start at $37,950 for the least attractive, the 2.0-litre 2WD. For $43,450 you can have the eFour with all-wheel drive and snuggled in the middle is the hybrid 2WD for $40,450. All prices before on-road costs.
Your money gets you a Japanese-built RAV4. If I had a buck for every time someone asked me why their RAV4 is made in Mexico (it wasn’t) I’d have enough to put down a deposit and wait for up to 12 months for one of these bad boys.
You also get 18-inch alloys, a six-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control, sat-nav, auto LED headlights, power windows, powered and heated folding door mirrors, wireless phone charger, auto wipers and a space-saver spare.
Toyota’s deeply ordinary 8.0-inch touchscreen comes with the Alibaba special software that is better than it used to be but is still not good enough for the largest carmaker on Earth.
It does have a built-in sat-nav but also has USB-connected Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both saving the day, although the screen has a washed-out colour appearance and stretched graphics. Like I said, not good enough.
Safety extends to seven airbags (including a driver’s knee airbag), the usual braking and stability controls, forward auto emergency braking, forward collision warning, reverse cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane trace assist, blind-spot monitoring, road sign assist and auto high beam. The RAV4 also has three top tether anchors and two ISOFIX points.
It’s missing the reverse AEB of some conspicuous non-hybrid rivals (such as the Mazda CX-5) but also falls down against the list of features in the H6, which adds in rear AEB, collision braking, more cameras and intersection assist.
That said, Toyota has announced an upgrade is coming that will address some of these and hopefully improve the touchscreen as well.
The Haval’s seventh airbag is a centre front airbag to reduce the impact of head clashes in a side impact and so scored a 2022-spec ANCAP rating of five stars. The Toyota’s dates back to 2019.
Aside from dealer-fit accessories, the only option on a RAV4 GXL is paint, with Glacier White the sole freebie and the other seven colours commanding an extra $675.
Comfort and space
This generation of RAV4 is by far my favourite. While that’s not saying much, the galactic difference between this car and its immediate predecessor is scarcely believable. It has an excellent interior full of clever features (touchscreen aside) and is tailor-made for hard-on-cars families.
The GXL starts with a very durable fabric trim that feels like it might even resist a box cutter (didn’t try, and I’m obviously exaggerating) but even a determined child will have trouble ruining things.
Most of the plastics are pretty good but the overwhelming feeling is of quality, durability and solidity. I really like the rubberised controls and the big, easy to use climate control dials look cool.
The front seats are typical of current Toyotas, which is to say they look good and are very comfortable. You get two cup holders, a wireless phone charging tray, bottle holders in the doors, a few little storage trays and slots and that Kluger-inspired, rubber-lined shelf in front of the passenger.
For rear passengers, the seats have a little bit of shape to them but are very comfortable and offer a lot of legroom. I have a ton of space behind where I sit to drive and I’m 180cm tall, so most teenagers will be fine back here. Headroom for days, too. Three across the back will be hampered by a reasonably big transmission tunnel but if you do squeeze in a trio, at least there are air vents to cool them down.
A centre armrest packs a pair of cup holders too. Two USB ports back there join the three in the front, so you can keep everything charged, no problem.
You can pack up to 580 litres of stuff into the boot, which does suffer a little from wheelarch intrusion but nothing dramatic. With the seats folded away, you’ll have 1690 litres available to you.
And if you must, you can tow up to 1500kg.
On the road
I won’t pretend I’m a massive fan of the RAV4 hybrid’s drivetrain but it could have been a hell of a lot worse. First, the good. It’s a 2.5-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine with an electric motor to boost power and look after the low-speed dribbling about and doing the heavy lifting to get the car moving from a standstill.
In this version, you’re getting power to the front wheels via continuously variable transmission. Combined power is 160kW, while Toyota persists with only offering a torque figure for the piston engine, 221Nm, which isn’t a lot. Thankfully the electric motor provides a hefty torque boost.
There’s no bad, really. It’s a fairly characterless unit, but that’s to be expected. What it does, though, is barely touch its drink.
While the claimed combined cycle fuel consumption figure is an ambitious 4.7L/100km, it actually feels gettable.
I only switch on Eco mode in these cars to confirm my suspicion it’s horrible (spoiler: it is) so spent most of the time in Sport or Normal modes. I still got 5.4L/100km with a good mix of suburban, city and highway running.
There’s also an EV mode that won’t get you very far but is fun to use creeping silently around car parks or down the driveway. Even in Normal mode, electricity alone will get you up to a reasonable speed on a light throttle, which is how you save fuel.
Getting over a ton and a half of metal and glass moving takes a lot of energy and combustion engines aren’t very good at doing that efficiently.
The battery obviously isn’t very big and is hardly the last word in technology but they appear to be quite reliable. Toyota cheekily calls their hybrid range “self-charging” which means you can’t plug them in to top up from the mains; it all happens from regenerative braking and the petrol motor supplying the electrons.
Around town, the RAV4 is excellent. Steering is light but chatty enough through the high profile tyres and you can feel some real effort has gone into keeping the body from lurching about. Toyota is getting a lot better at this. The fact this particular GXL is front-wheel drive was never an issue and it drives and rides competitively well in this hard-fought class, which is brimming with talent.
Longer highway trips also delivered a quiet, relaxed ride and given they took place on a windy day, showed that the RAV is resistant to crosswinds.
Toyota offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with a two-year extension on the driveline if you service with Toyota.
You’re expected back for a service every 12 months or 15,000km and the first five are an incredibly reasonable $230 per interval.
You can book a service on the myToyota mobile app, which also gives you a fuel discount at Ampol, as well as some sort of rewards program offering discounts on various family fun and fellowship oriented purchases.
Some dealers offer Express Maintenance, which is a while-you-wait service that gets you in and out of the dealership in 90 minutes all going well.
The RAV4 is the king of the hybrids, mostly because it’s the only one that’s been available in any sort of volume. The other carmakers have woken, though, in the form of established competition from Kia (with Hyundai likely to follow) as well as challengers like Haval.
It’s a big deal because the RAV4 has a stranglehold on buyers' hearts and minds when it comes to light-touch electrification because Toyota has been doing it for so long. But they’re coming and Toyota might have to respond.
That said, with a waiting list stretching into 2023 and Toyota assuring us that few people are cancelling their orders, the RAV4 is likely to be the king for a while longer.
2022 Toyota RAV4 GXL Hybrid 2WD specifications
Things we like
- Excellent fuel consumption
- Drives nicely
Not so much
- You can’t get one (quickly)
- Sub-par touchscreen software
- Space-saver spare
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