Toyota RAV4 Hybrid long-termer Part 6: The final goodbye

Dean Evans, Editor
  • Sign in required

    Please sign in to your account to add a vehicle to favourite

  • Share this article

Photo / Dean Evans

Five months after we started the journey with Toyota’s RAV4, we have driven the Smurf-blue top-spec Limited model back to Toyota NZ HQ, handed back the proximity key and bid it a very fond farewell – a case of parting truly is sour sorrow, because we already miss our RAV4.

As People’s Choice in the 2019 AA DRIVEN NZ Car of the Year, RAV4 was always on our radar to spend time with, but a standard press loan of seven days often isn’t enough to thoroughly delve in to the deep richness offered by New Zealand’s most successful SUV.

Over the past ten years, RAV4 has been outsold only by Corolla, Ranger and Hilux, and has sold an impressive 37 percent more than the second-placed Mazda CX-5 – itself one of DRIVEN’s favourites.

We started this long-term relationship in December with the base-model GX Hybrid, getting to learn the new electrified 2.5-litre powerplant: and it didn’t disappoint. With a $42,990 starting price, the white RAV4 was put to work in its first week, helping – with a Hiace van - move house across Hamilton. And loaded to the roofline almost every time full of not heavy but valuable and odd shaped pieces that would fit in the folded down cargo area, it never rose above 6.0l/100km for the two-week, 30x 22km round trip.

Part 1: RAV4 Hybrid GX

After six weeks, Casper the white RAV4 was back at Auckland City Toyota, but not before we’d rolled off a 0-100km/h in 7.8 seconds, and totalled 6.2l/100km. So representing what a typical owner would do in the showroom, or maybe after a few years of ownership of a GX, we upgraded to our Evil Smurf (aka Eclectic Blue) top-spec Limited RAV4 Hybrid: $52,990, with its black wheels, and to highlight what you get for the $10k premium – and while the Smart Entry proximity key was the most miss/appreciated addition, it’s also offered in the mid-spec $45,990 GXL Hybrid.

Part 2: RAV4 Hybrid GX swap for Limited

A challenge was soon established to try and match Toyota’s fuel claims, given this is such a vital part of hybrid vehicle ownership: 4.8l/100km is the Toyota claim, and from Hamilton to Auckland, while driving conservatively, it recorded 5.2l/100km.

Part 3: Putting Toyota's 4.8l/100km claim to the test

It wasn’t a bad result, but as we learnt, the RAV4 likes urban roads over motorways when it comes to economy. Andrew got hold of the RAV4 and while matching the 5.2l/100km over similar roads, took the ‘burbs route and dropped fuel use to as low as 4.0l/100lk, before the hybrid battery depleted over this specific route and the average rose to bang on the claim of 4.8l/100km before sliding into the DRIVEN carpark.

Part 4: Fuel economy challenge accepted

Then Covid-19 hit and the RAV4 barely moved for six weeks – in a way, the ultimate economy vehicle. It was a shame not to be able to drive the RAV4, but it was a chance to compose and reflect, and look at things we didn’t like: the overly loud automatic tailgate beeper, and the verbal warnings about speed limits, railway crossings… particularly irritating when on a Bluetooth phone call.

Then there is Toyota’s emphasis on safety, so much that it’s impossible to use some functions while moving , like navigation inputs, even if the car is smart enough to sense a passenger is aboard; and the lack of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (though this is now a feature washing across Toyotas). But complaints were largely trivial, especially with my own three-child family, where the RAV4’s huge boot, power and economy were ideal – at least once our 7yo proved tall enough to dispense with the third baby/booster seat and squeeze in the middle.

Then we were reminded of the ability to crawl-from-cold-start and slow-speeds in EV mode, proving a God-send during our return to semi-normal life in Alert Level 2, with 6am Autumn departures offering the ability to silently creep 20 metres down the driveway, and out of earshot of a sleeping family, before the engine kicks into life.

Part 5: Lockdown video & highlights

There was a genuine sorrow when driving the RAV4 back to Toyota NZ headquarters for the final time. As NZ’s number one SUV, what could live up to the RAV4? Especially considering the drive-away pricing and the reliability and strong resale? RAV4 has been a raging success for good reason, and for more than 25 years, it’s been one of the most popular SUVs on sale and this new Hybrid version marks the new era for the model which is arguably its best yet, and – to be honest – the first one I’d consider owning.

Through two models, performance tests, economy runs and a pandemic lockdown, we will look back fondly at our time with the RAV4. And if the time is right in the future, we might even put one in the driveway permanently. Plenty of others have.

See Toyota RAV4s of all ages and prices for sale at DRIVEN


Keep up to date with DRIVEN Car Guide

Sign up for the latest news, reviews, our favourite cars and more.

By signing up for this newsletter, you agree to NZME's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.