You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone outside of Toyota who’d call the new 2021 RAV4 Prime PHEV a “sporty” car. Even so, you’d expect Toyota’s team of brilliant and dedicated engineers to keep it from ending up at the bottom of the performance barrel in the compact SUV/crossover class it usually finds itself in. I mean, you’d expect that, but the RAV4 Prime scandalously failed Sweden’s famous “moose avoidance test” earlier this week — and, like, it wasn’t even close.
Before we start laying out some context for what “the Moose Test” is, what it means, and how the RAV4 Prime’s performance compares with its competitors, it’s worth taking a second to explain just how and why the Toyota’s performance was so bad. That story can be told rather quickly: the tire nearly came off and the car practically spun out of control at less than 43 MPH. And keep in mind, this happened in a modern car with a professional driver at the wheel — a fact not lost on the testers at Teknikans Värld. “The first drive through the moose test with the Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid is an ice-cold awakening. … the car is close to spinning around the course. ‘Can this even happen in 2020!?’ is my first thought (from) behind the steering wheel.”
So, let’s unpack this and see what’s happening, and what my dude is talking about when he says, “Can this even happen in 2020!?”
First, let’s talk about the Moose Test itself. It’s basically what it says on the tin — a test to see how a car would handle an evasive maneuver at highway speeds, in case an animal or something (the moose) happens to walk across the road. The test has been performed, more or less, since the 1970s, and happens on a dry road with cones set up in an S shape to simulate the obstacle and the road’s edge. According to Wikipedia, it became much more widely known after Mercedes’ A-class
hilariously dangerously rolled over during the test in 1997.
Since that test, rollover protections and a minimum of anti-lock braking systems (ABS) on the rear of vehicles have become standard, and in 2020, almost every mainstream vehicle has some sort of traction and stability control to prevent spins and rolls. All of which puts the RAV4’s performance look even worse. Even in a field of top-heavy, short-wheelbase vehicles that are already among the worst performers in a test like this, the test drivers went out of their way (ways?) to call the performance of the Toyota “scandalously” bad.
Basically, the only way these guys found to get the Toyota RAV4 PHEV to actually make it through the cones safely was to reduce speed to about 39 MPH — which, you might have noticed, is quite a bit below the typical highway speed. Heck, it’s a bit under the speed some of these BMW asshats drive in a school zone out here in the Chicago ‘burbs, so — yeah. If you’re in a RAV4, maybe slow down a bit?
What do you guys think? Is this kind of just what happens when you make cars heavier and taller, or is the fact that the Toyota RAV4 Prime failed particularly bad, given its popularity? Does this news have you considering an alternative to the RAV4, or were you guys all buying Tesla’s electric space egg SUVs, anyway? Watch the original video below, then let us know what you think of it in the comments section at the bottom of the page.