2020 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid 2WD Review: One Unrivalled SUV
What We Like
  • High tech, fuel efficient drivetrain
  • Roomy, well made interior
  • Cheap to run and service
What We Don't Like
  • Engine can sound coarse when pushed
  • Infotainment screen feels a bit dated
  • No full size tyre
8.5DiscoverAuto Rating

Let’s start off with an icebreaker; you’ll have to wait about six months to get yourself into the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Cruiser that we’re reviewing here. Toyota has been going from strength to strength over the past 10 years as the nation’s best-selling automotive brand and even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Toyota has barely lost any sales. 

Popularity of hybrid models in the brand’s range is soaring, solely thanks to Toyota offering hybrid options for mainstream models like the Camry and Corolla.

With such a long waiting list for the RAV4 Hybrid models, we were extremely eager to see whether good things indeed come to those wait.

Price and Specs:

The RAV4 range kicks off humbly with the 2.0-litre petrol manual RAV4 GX which is priced at $30,640 (plus on-road costs). 

If you want to get into a hybrid, you’ll have to look at a GX Hybrid, which mates an electric motor to a punchier 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine and is priced at $35,140 (plus on-road costs) 

The model we’ve tested here is the Cruiser Hybrid 2WD Hybrid, which comes with a list price of $43,290 (plus on-road costs) and is quite convincingly the sweet spot of the entire RAV4 range, offering exceptional levels of standard equipment and a breakthrough, fuel efficient way to drive. 

The RAV4 Cruiser gets you a lot of kit, including wireless phone charging, heated seats, a full leather interior, a sunroof, electric seat adjustment with memory, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, a JBL nine-speaker sound system, LED headlights, keyless entry and start, along with a powered tailgate and very cool looking dark 18-inch alloy wheels. 

The RAV4 will look after you well on the safety front as all models carry a 5-star ANCAP safety rating and come packed with the latest driver assistance systems and a full suite of airbags to keep you safe on the road. Low and high-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is standard, along with blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane keep assist which works well to help you stay in your lane.

Engine & Drive: How does the 2020 Toyota RAV4 drive?

The hybrid drivetrain in the RAV4 works by seamlessly combining a 2.5-litre non-turbo petrol engine with an electric motor powered by a modest battery found under the rear seats. Together the petrol engine and the electric motor put out a substantial 160kW and around 300Nm of torque, perfect for lugging up steep hills or towing.

The battery captures energy that would otherwise be lost as heat in the friction braking system, by using the car’s kinetic energy to charge itself. Magic, we know. As soon as you step on the brakes, the petrol engine gets turned off and you start charging the battery. Unlike the Hyundai Kona Electric we reviewed recently, you’ll never need to plug the RAV4 in to charge. 

Don’t go thinking that the RAV4 Hybrid is a slouch as performance is brisk for an SUV and you’ll enjoy cruising around carparks silently as the car uses purely the electric motor at low speeds. Activating the petrol engine seamlessly activates when you push the accelerator a bit harder. The petrol engine unfortunately isn’t very quiet and you will often go from hearing pure silence to the coarse drone of the petrol engine. 

Combined fuel economy of just 4.7 litres of fuel per 100km is exceptional for a car of this size, making the RAV4 Hybrid more efficient and cheaper to run than the diesel SUVs, let alone any other petrol-powered SUV. We managed to average around 6 litres per 100km driving through inner Melbourne and on freeways during our week with the RAV4, which is excellent. The RAV4 Hybrid only merits 129 grams of CO2 per kilometre, making it one of the kindest SUVs for the environment.

Ride & Handling:

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 hits the brief for being comfortable to travel in whilst still offering fun for keener drivers who enjoy driving. It doesn’t lean too much through corners, has tonnes of grip even in the wet and is very predictable in the way it goes around corners. The steering is very direct and overall the handling is very good, without being as sporty as the current Mazda CX-5. 

Road noise is kept hushed and even the worst bumps and potholes barely manage to make themselves felt by those inside. We’d go so far as saying that the ride comfort is one of the best in the class. In fact, the whole driving experience is genuinely sensational thanks to the inherent advantages of the hybrid systems coupled with the well-judged suspension set up that the RAV4 has. A job very well done, offering comfort and fun in droves. 

Interior & Practicality:

Inside, Toyota has given both the driver and passengers an upmarket space to spend time in. Everything you touch feels good quality, from the leather to the textures on the doors, to all of the buttons and controls. What is even more impressive is that the previous generation RAV4 felt incredibly cheap and like a kid’s toy. 

The 8.0-inch touchscreen is intuitive and easy to use, even if it isn’t the brightest or the most advanced that we’ve seen. Think of it as akin to that in say a Mazda CX-5. The JBL stereo provides some serious bass. Sadly, the reversing camera and the 360-degree view camera system isn’t as good, whichever view you select, as they all look grainy and low resolution. All in all, the infotainment, along with the large screen in front of the driver showing the speedometer and other driving data are a world away from the disappointing systems found on older Toyota models.

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 also makes an excellent family vehicle, with an airy feel of roominess throughout the cabin. Passengers seated in the back will be kept happy with large amounts of legroom and seating three adults won’t be a problem due to the fully flat boot floor. They’ll also enjoy the with a centre folding armrest with cup holders, and the two USB-A power points to keep their devices charged. 

The boot is a cavernous 580 litres and is big and square, with no loading lip meaning that taking things in and out of it is very easy. It’s one of the largest in the class. Sadly, unlike a Skoda Karoq, there are few handy features in the boot such as hooks or nets. You’ll only find a single power outlet, and a space-saver spare tyre under the boot floor. 

Running Costs & Warranty:

This is where the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid leaves all of the competition behind. Put simply, it is a league ahead of any other SUV for running costs. Not only will it burn less petrol than any other comparable SUV, but Toyota offers a five-year warranty these days with 12-month/15,000km service intervals and capped-price servicing.

At $210 per service, it’ll only cost you $1,050 over five years to service. This is an absolute bargain compared to a Volkswagen Tiguan which will cost a whopping $3320 to service over five years. Looks like we’re starting to see why the RAV4 Hybrid models are so in demand; their ownership credentials are peerless. 

Conclusion: 2020 Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 really hits the spot in terms of its interior, driving feel and interior practicality, whilst its sophisticated fuel saving drivetrain and standard features make it great value and a joy to own every day.  

Quite simply, it is such a well-rounded vehicle and more efficient than any other similar SUV whilst also being dirt cheap to maintain. The RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid in 2WD that we tested really is the sweet spot of the range, offering the best of owning a hybrid model with all of the standard equipment you could possibly want at a still affordable price. 

We really do think that Toyota has made a special car in the case of the RAV4 Hybrid Cruiser, one which not only will be a delight to own, but one which will also prove to be outstanding value for money, not just in the showroom but year in, year out. 

About The Author

Eagle eyed in the courtroom and when evaluating cars, Michal shares the DiscoverAuto team's passion for helping empower you to pick which car is right for you. Whether you want to know the most intricate details about a car's engine, or simply which car has the largest boot in its class, Michal has you covered.

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