Is it worth waiting 12 months for your new, shiny 2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid?
- Fuel-saving hybrid tech
- Spacious and comfortable
- Ventilated seats are a nice addition for 2022
- Road noise
- CVT transmission can buzz and is uninspiring
- Infotainment system is dated
The 2022 Toyota RAV4 is one of the most in-demand cars available on the Australian market.
If you want the frugal hybrid version – like our test car – then expect to wait up to 12 months for the privilege. When supply and demand hit an untenable threshold, this is the result, but is this problem one of simply not enough supply, or is the Toyota RAV4 that good of a car?
That’s what we plan to find out today. So before that, let’s recap on the wildly complex and diverse Australian Toyota RAV4 range. Given this review relates to a 2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, we’ll focus on the petrol-electric versions for this review.
Of which, there are many. The cheapest in the range is the 2022 Toyota RAV4 GX Hybrid front-wheel drive priced from $36,900 before on-roads or around $41,700 drive-away, depending on location.
It uses a 131kW/221Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine alongside a front-mounted electric motor to generate a combined 160kW of power. If you prefer all-wheel drive, then the cost increases to $39,900 before on-roads or $44,800 on the road.
Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel-drive cars use the 131kW/221Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine, but the latter versions introduce a third electric motor on the back axle to create an ‘on-demand’ system. All-wheel-drive models also make an extra 3kW – or 163kW combined in total – and cost $3000 extra.
Next in the hierarchy is what Drive sees as the sweet spot in the range, the Toyota RAV4 GXL Hybrid. Priced from $40,450 list/$45,400 drive-away as a front-wheel-drive hybrid, it’s also offered in all-wheel drive for the same $3000 extra.
Extras coming on top of the RAV4 GX Hybrid include a fancier-looking grille and bumper on the outside, and a vinyl-wrapped steering wheel, better cloth trim, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror on the inside, just as some examples.
Up from here lies the Toyota RAV4 XSE – a hybrid-exclusive and new variant for 2022. It adds the dramatic visual cues as seen on our RAV4 Cruiser test car but is light on the equipment extras, meaning it’s more of a vanity-led style pack than anything else. It’s priced from $43,250/$47,500 on the road.
However, if you like your superficial design to actually come with added features and technology, Toyota will still take your money. Up from here lies our test car, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid, and another, the Toyota RAV4 Edge Hybrid – something new for 2022.
The pair can be had from $50,800 and $57,500 respectively drive-away, and come with things like a sunroof, JBL premium audio system, and in the case of the RAV4 Edge, something called “hard-wearing SofTex seats”. Aside from the oxymoron, it means they’re clad in an animal product free trim that’s instead been designed to look just like the hide of a dead cow.
Previously, the Toyota RAV4 Edge was pitched as a ‘lifestyle’ model aimed at light off-roading, which meant a petrol-only powertrain. However, Toyota has come to its senses by adding an all-wheel hybrid after realising that most people still prefer to use less fuel even when feeling adventurous.
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It means our Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid test car is no longer the most expensive and best-equipped hybrid in the range. It also means the RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid is the last stop for two-wheel-drive hybrid models, as it comes in both front- and all-wheel drive for $50,800/$54,000 respectively drive-away.
Let’s discover whether the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid 2WD is worth the wait.
|Key details||2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid (2WD)|
|Price (MSRP)||$45,750 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Saturn Blue|
|Options||Metallic paint – $675|
|Price as tested||$46,425 plus on-road costs|
|Rivals||Mazda CX-5 | Subaru Forester | Kia Sportage|
Although not the most stylish inside, jumping behind the wheel reveals just what you’d expect from a Toyota: traditional, utilitarian and well-considered.
The dashboard is a simple affair, with a dominant theme of shallow-grained black plastic, lashings of silver trim around the gearshifter, and some artful faux stitching for style’s sake. I know austerity isn’t a bad thing, but some colour or a greater selection of materials would not go astray inside a Toyota RAV4 Cruiser.
The fundamentals are right-on, however. The driver’s seat is comfortable, electrically adjustable with lumbar support, and now both heated and ventilated for the first time. The latter is a great addition to Australian market cars, as without it the sticky summers will make the artificial seat trim equally so.
From the driver’s pew you gain a fantastic vantage point out with huge pieces of glass – and small triangle windows in its doors – meaning you can see down and outside close to the car. It also makes parking in tight confines easier and helps lift its inherent safety overall.
Another thing staring back at you from the driver’s seat is a rather traditional-looking instrument cluster. Whereas most brands have moved to fully digital displays, Toyota still drags its knuckles by offering three ‘analogue’ gauges alongside a 7.0-inch digital display.
While the screen is a nice addition, it’s too small to compare to others in the same class. The pointless and old-school gauges also take up a lot of space to tell you not much – like the efficiency gauge, which is way too big physically for the job it has to do.
Remember when I called the cabin traditional? Although the technology is inexpensive and out there, and the design playbook is written on how to add digital displays to a car’s interior, Toyota still persists with old-fashioned – just like its climate-control knobs and buttons.
Although novelty and fun-sized like the token economy gauge in the instrument panel I just mentioned, they actually serve a purpose. Interacting with the vehicle’s climate-control system is easy when you’re driving, and turning those rubber-lined temperature dials is a slight tactile treat.
Other ergonomic prowess can be seen in a wireless charging pad located logically where you’d throw your phone anyway, a neat electric handbrake placed aside the gear shifter, and a huge storage pit just behind it – complete with a pair of large bottle holders.
It’s a smartly designed cabin that has acres of storage all over the place, like the fancy handrail under the dashboard that’s both deep and long enough to store at least five iPhones side-by-side.
Over in the second row, space is on par for the class. Sitting in the back behind front seats adjusted for someone 183cm tall (me), I found there to be acceptable levels of knee and foot room, and my upper body left with an adequate seatback to get comfy with.
The back seats are quite flat and squishy, so those who prefer some contouring for their lower back will feel short-changed. A benefit of being flat means child seats slot in nicely.
A pair of slimline Britax Graphene convertible child seats slotted in nicely forward-facing, and when rearward-facing didn’t call for the front seats to be moved forward. Aside from two air vents, two USB ports and two cupholders, it’s a relatively simple and spacious affair overall.
Over in the cargo area, space varies between 542–580L depending on where you have the two-level boot floor sitting. At 580L, the space is absolutely massive and will happily gobble up a huge shop from Woolies alongside your favourite stroller, handbag, and whatever umbrella rolls around your boot.
|2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid (2WD)|
|Boot volume||580L seats up|
Infotainment and Connectivity
All 2022 Toyota RAV4s feature the same 8.0-inch infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity coming alongside DAB+ radio.
Aside from the small screen, its overall design screams early 2000s. No less than eight silver buttons and two knobs surround the display, which further makes the screen look small and old.
The software also looks and feels daggy, which doesn’t help the cabin’s presentation. Even understanding that Toyota is the traditionalist of the automotive motoring world, it could do a better job here.
Some in the same segment feature sleek 10-inch displays and others excellent infotainment controllers, which both make the Toyota feel basic. Other technologies on board include wireless phone charging and a JBL nine-speaker stereo too.
The sound system is good enough for the package, with the echoey and atmospheric mood from U.N.K.L.E’s Psyence Fiction captured okay, and the tinny brightness from Oasis’s Morning Glory well represented too.
However, when tasked with busy electronica or heavily distorted guitar, the mix can become muddy.
Safety and Technology
The 2022 Toyota RAV4 range scored a five-star ANCAP result having been tested back in 2019.
It did well in two areas in particular: adult occupant protection (93 per cent) and child occupant protection (89 per cent).
Across the range the 2022 Toyota RAV4 features plenty of advanced driver assist systems. They include Toyota Safety Sense with lane-keeping assist and departure alert, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, speed sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, and auto high beams.
There’s also blind-spot monitoring, trailer sway control, and front and rear parking sensors. On top of the decent safety package all Toyota RAV4s have, the Cruiser model also benefits from a 360-degree-view parking camera.
|2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid (2WD)|
|ANCAP rating||Five stars (tested 2019)|
|Safety report||Link to ANCAP report|
Value for Money
As a recap, our 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser is a front-wheel-drive hybrid version that costs $45,750 before on-road costs. It sits in between the regular petrol-powered Toyota RAV4 Cruiser for $42,250 and an all-wheel-drive hybrid version for $48,750, both before on-roads.
In terms of value for money, it’s impressive. No others in the segment offer the same highly efficient closed-loop hybrid system that sees fuel consumption as low as 5.0L/100km on the daily grind.
The closest pick is the 2022 Subaru Forester Hybrid S for $47,190 before on-road costs, but it is not as sophisticated or as efficient as the Toyota. The Haval H6 Hybrid is balanced more toward performance than outright efficiency, though it does save fuel, though not as effectively as the RAV4, priced from $45,990 drive-away.
If you were to look elsewhere on the basis of looks, performance, or both, the 2022 Mazda CX-5 GT SP could be vying for your attention. At $48,990 it’s more expensive, but it does offer more kerb appeal and a more involving drive, although it is not a hybrid.
A curve ball if you’re chasing frugality, but not outright space, could be the 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV. It costs $46,990 before on-roads, packs an electric motor alongside a petrol engine, and can travel around 55km purely as an electric vehicle – something the Toyota can’t do. From mid-2022 it will be joined by a new Outlander PHEV, which sits closer to the RAV4 in terms of size, though pricing for that model is still to be confirmed.
|At a glance||2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid (2WD)|
|Warranty||Five years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$690 (3 years), $1150 (5 years)|
In terms of maintenance costs, Toyota expects you to return a RAV4 Cruiser every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Services are capped at $230 a pop for the first five years, meaning three years cost $690 and five years $1150.
That makes the Toyota RAV4 light on the hip pocket once you’ve stumped up the cash to buy one.
Toyota claims the RAV4 Hybrid 2WD uses 4.7 litres per 100 kilometres in combined cycle testing. In mixed use on test, we recorded a close-to-claim 5.0L/100km.
|Fuel Usage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||4.7L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||5.0L/100km|
|Fuel type||91 octane unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||55L|
The best thing about the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid is that you don’t even notice it is one while driving.
Toyota has spent well over two decades refining its closed-loop hybrid powertrain and it clearly shows. Upon start-up, it’ll remain silent and indicate it’s time to go, with the first few metres of most journeys being a silent and all-electric affair.
If you have the heater maxed or other ancillaries on, it will determine whether the 131kW/221Nm petrol 2.5-litre four-cylinder fires up, but if it does, you probably won’t notice over the radio anyway.
It sparks up quiet and unobtrusively, which is half this car’s secret. It’s calibrated really well, and that’s to help you save fuel (and money). The electric engine in Eco mode will do the heavy lifting wherever it can, meaning stop-start traffic scenarios are where Toyota’s hybrid system best performs.
Out on the open road, it’ll assist to reduce load on the engine, but is probably less successful at doing this. Ironically, I saw my fuel consumption drop a little from 5.2L/100km to 5.0L/100km after a couple of long and arduous grinds in Sydney traffic.
Aside from acting frugally, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser’s 160kW combined power output means it’s actually quite peppy. If you jam the throttle, you’ll get a mixed response depending on whether the petrol engine was fired up or not.
Either way, once it is, the continuously variable transmission will do its thing and flare as it accelerates. The performance isn’t breathtaking, nor is it delivered in a way that’s exhilarating, but there’s enough mumbo to help you manage the odd ‘left-lane ends’ scenario.
It’s not underpowered either, and had no trouble fitting in as a family car in our little family of three, plus a dog.
Around town, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser rides really well. It’s a standout point, with its soft suspension tune returning great bump absorption. The larger and heavier 19-inch wheel specific to the Toyota RAV4 Cruiser is the only thing with bothers, as some low-speed unsettledness is probably caused by their introduction to be frank.
It’s a small point, and I’m sure you prefer the way they look anyway. The steering feels surprisingly meaty for a Toyota, which means in reality it’s just about right. The Toyota Corolla and Yaris pair feature far lighter steering, which I know can be divisive to some drivers.
Out on country roads, you’ll get the odd sensation of rolling and pitching as the speed increases, but both of those will be appreciated by some drivers too. It’s not offensive either when it happens, and if anything will help a novice driver stay alert.
The worst part of the whole experience is tyre noise, however, as it’s clear that Toyota has been stingy with sound-deadening material around the wheel wells. Sections of coarse-chip freeway resulted in the stereo’s volume needing to be lifted, and the same goes for voices too – it was easy to detect when the conversation became drowned out as the road surface changed.
Other than that, it’s a hard-to-fault experience behind the wheel.
|Key details||2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid (2WD)|
|Engine||2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid petrol|
|Power||131kW @5700 rpm petrol
|Torque||221Nm @ 3600–5200rpm petrol
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Power to weight ratio||94.1kW/t|
|Tow rating||480kg braked, 480kg unbraked|
As one of Australia’s best-selling cars in general, it’s no wonder the hybrid version is a 12-month wait.
The 2022 Toyota RAV4 really is the ideal vehicle in this day and age. It’s spacious and has enough room for either an adventurous single or young family of four, probably uses half the amount of fuel of your current car, looks great, and has stacks of advanced safety systems across the range.
Furthermore, you can have your hybrid as either a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive agnostic of the trim level, too, meaning not one person’s desires are left out.
If you want the base model with 163kW hybrid all-wheel-drive underpinnings, then go for it. Conversely, if you want to stretch to a 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser by taking the front-wheel-drive version, then that’s okay too, as you can have your fancy air-con seats, 19-inch wheels, and sunroof with the less expensive driveline.
If you want a dependable, safe, and fuel-saving SUV, then it’s your car. I’d recommend going and ordering one now, however, as it’ll make a fantastic Christmas present by the time it finally gets here.