The Toyota RAV4 is Australia’s best-selling SUV by quite some margin. In 2021, it sold more units than the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and Subaru Forester combined.
The RAV4 is so popular that if you place an order for one today, you won’t be able to take delivery for 10-12 months.
To be fair, the extended waiting list is not just down to the RAV4's enduring popularity. Most manufacturers are still suffering the effects of disrupted supply chains following COVID-19.
But all manufacturers are in the same boat, and you don’t have to wait so long for a Mazda CX-5 or a Subaru Forester. So what is it about the RAV4 that makes it so popular with Aussie buyers?
With an updated model launching in March 2022, we had the chance to find out.
For 2022, the RAV4 is available in five trim levels: Edge, Cruiser, XSE Hybrid, GXL and GX. Where before only the GX, GSX and mid-tier Cruiser were available as Hybrids, now all trim levels including the top-spec Edge AWD have Hybrid powertrain options.
Adaptive cruise control
Front and rear parking sensors
Six-speaker audio system
60/40 split rear seats
Leather steering wheel
LED daytime running lights
LED fog lamps
Rain-sensing windscreen wipers
Heated power-folding mirrors
17-inch alloy wheels
5-year unlimited kilometre warranty
Interior and Exterior
On the outside, there are some aesthetic enhancements for 2022. New LED fog lamps are fitted to all models while the Hybrid versions get new LED projector-style headlamps. All models also get a set of revised 17 and 18-inch alloy wheels.
These changes freshen things up, but you have to look hard to notice them. A more obvious change is the new gloss black 18-inch wheels on Hybrid XSE and Cruiser models. These give the RAV4 a more aggressive look, which may appeal to some buyers.
Inside, new interior LED lighting is included across the range, while Cruiser and Edge models enjoy a digital rearview mirror and new heated/ventilated front seats. These are 10-way adjustable for the driver and 8-way adjustable for the passenger.
Other than that, the interior remains pretty much the same. The materials are high-quality and the seats are comfortable. There is also lots of storage space for phones and other knick-knacks, but it’s starting to show its age compared to some of its closest rivals.
The engines are unchanged. There are four engine options available: 2.0L petrol, 2.5L petrol and a 2.5L Hybrid. The 2.0L petrol is FWD only while the 2.5L petrol and Hybrid are available with both FWD and AWD.
One big change is that all trim levels are now available with the Hybrid option. This produces outstanding fuel economy for a vehicle of this size. Official figures reveal the FWD version achieves 4.7L/100km and the AWD achieves 4.8L/100km.
There are a couple of other small changes. The manual gearbox on the base model GX has been dropped and the petrol engines enjoy stop/start technology. Both of these should help to improve fuel economy around town.
Families have always loved the RAV4 for its generous multimedia options. The standard kit includes an 8-inch touchscreen, a 6-speaker audio system, and 5 USB ports. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is also included across the range.
New features for 2022 include a DAB+ radio and an extra USB port for rear-seat passengers. Toyota’s Digital Cockpit 2022 is also introduced. This includes an updated interface that is more intuitive than the previous generation.
The RAV4 leads the pack when it comes to the level of standard safety kit included. Along with the obligatory front side and curtain airbags. The following safety features are included as standard on all models.
Adaptive cruise control
Pedestrian/daytime cyclist detection
Front and rear parking sensors
Front and rear seat belt reminders
Lane departure warning
Lane tracing assist
Traffic sign recognition
Trailer sway control
For 2022, top-of-the-range Edge models also benefit from a new rear cross-traffic alert system and a low-speed Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) feature. This automatically brings the car to a stop in an emergency braking situation.
Toyota RAV4 GX 2WD: $34,300
Toyota RAV4 GX 2WD Hybrid: $36,800
Toyota RAV4 GX AWD Hybrid: $39,800
Toyota RAV4 GXL 2WD: $37,825
Toyota RAV4 GXL 2WD Hybrid: $40,325
Toyota RAV4 GXL AWD Hybrid: $43,325
Toyota RAV4 XSE 2WD Hybrid: $42,825
Toyota RAV4 XSE AWD Hybrid: $45,825
Toyota RAV4 Cruiser 2WD: $42,500
Toyota RAV4 Cruiser 2WD Hybrid
Toyota RAV4 Cruiser AWD Hybrid
Toyota RAV4 Edge AWD: $49,820
Toyota RAV4 Edge AWD Hybrid
Pros and Cons
Excellent ride and handling
Good level of standard equipment
Long waiting list
2.0L engine, not the most powerful
Expensive options list
Interior feels outdated
When you spend time in a RAV4, it’s not hard to see why this is one of Australia's most popular vehicles. The ride is excellent and the interior is spacious and well-equipped. The car also has a refined inoffensive appearance which should appeal to buyers.
On top of that, it comes with a 5-year unlimited mileage warranty, offers cheap servicing costs from Toyota’s extensive main dealer network and has excellent fuel economy (Hybrid models), so it should be as easy on the wallet as on the eye.
So does it deserve its position as the best-selling SUV on the market? Well, the 12-month waiting list speaks for itself. Buyers are prepared to wait for this car and on this showing, it's not hard to see why.
That being said, the RAV4 is not head and shoulders above the competition like it once was. Several models from Hyundai, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Subaru run it pretty close. So if you are not prepared to wait for a new RAV4, you won’t go far wrong with one of the alternative options below.
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Other options to consider
The fourth-generation Hyundai Tucson is a compelling alternative to the mighty RAV4. The car comes well equipped with the latest safety tech and buyers can choose from a range of petrol and diesel engines. But there is no Hybrid model and the base 2.0L petrol engine feels a little underpowered.
The popular Subaru Forester gets an updated look and extra safety kit for 2022, but the basic recipe remains the same. Buyers will love the spacious interior and generous safety tech, but power from the 2.0L engines can never be described as anything other than adequate.
Nobody can accuse Mitsubishi of not giving customers what they want. The Outlander is available in both AWD and FWD, with a choice of petrol, diesel and a Hybrid model in the works. Inside, the Outlander comfortably seats seven in three rows of seats, but it doesn't offer the most dynamic drive.