Toyota RAV4 2021 cruiser (awd) hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid AWD long-term review: Introduction

$46,415 Mrlp
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From Daryl and Ozzie, to BBQ Shapes and perhaps the occasional Crownie, we Aussies love a favourite. So it seems only fair we welcome Australia's favourite car (that isn't a ute) into our-long term garage.
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There are few accolades as wholesome and as family-friendly as being Australia’s favourite.

I mean, who would take issue with the Tim Tam being crowned Australia’s favourite biscuit, or Whispering Jack himself, John Farnham as Australia’s favourite singer.

Our favourites are relatable segment leaders, supported and sanctioned by your mum. Wholly risk-free, devoid of controversy, and easy to digest (particularly in the case of that biscuit).

To that end, if I was to say that the 2021 Toyota RAV4 is Australia’s favourite car (that isn’t a ute), it should come as a shock or surprise to no one.

Least of all the 20,539 buyers in the first half of 2021 (all RAV4 variants), a 5000-unit gap to the next runner, the Mazda CX-5 (15,290).

2021 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid AWD
Engine configurationFour-cylinder petrol with hybrid drive (three electric motors and 6.5Ah battery)
Displacement2.5L (2487cc)
Power163kW combined, 131kW @ 5700 (petrol only)
Torque221Nm @ 3600-5200rpm
TransmissionCVT automatic
Drive typeAll-wheel drive
Power to weight ratio95.3 kW/t
Fuel consumption (combined cycle claim)4.8L/100km
Fuel consumption (combined cycle on test)-
Fuel tank size55L
Estimated range1146km
Sales categoryMedium SUV (under $60k)
Key competitorsMazda CX-5 | Nissan X-Trail | Mitsubishi Outlander

The RAV4 has become the answer to so many questions posed by Australian families.

It is the top-selling vehicle in the top-selling segment (medium SUV under $60,000) in the top-selling category (SUVs account for 51.5 per cent of all vehicles sold so far this year).

To note that it is also the top-selling ‘car’ (with 20,359 RAV4 'cars' just shy of 21,982 4x4 Hilux 'utes') for Australia’s clear top-selling brand (Toyota reports 118,953 sales to the end of June 2021) is just icing on the cake.

So what makes the RAV such a favourite? We’ve taken a 2021 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid AWD under our long-term wings to find out.

Priced from $46,415 (before options and on-road costs), the AWD Cruiser Hybrid is the penultimate model in the RAV4 lineup, with the petrol-only RAV4 Edge asking $2500 more ($48,915).

You can sharpen your RAV4 deal by $3000 if you like the idea of the Cruiser Hybrid but feel the front-wheels will be enough ($43,415 Cruiser Hybrid 2WD), or even go further to strip out all the luxury trimmings and nifty gadgets for a $37,070 ($9345 lower than ours) 2WD RAV4 GX Hybrid – the entry level model in the RAV4 Hybrid range.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid AWD
Length4600 mm
Width1855 mm
Height1685 mm
Wheelbase2690 mm
Turning circle11m
Boot volume580L
Tare mass1710kg
Wheels/tyres225/60 R18 Bridgestone

As it is the hybrid drivetrain where we believe the RAV4 made its leap from a regular ‘Scotch Finger’ SUV option to fully-fledged Iced-VoVo-beating family favourite chocolate wrapped biscuit sandwich when the current generation car arrived in 2019.

Blending a 131kW 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine with two-motor electric assistance up front (88kW output) and an electrically-driven rear axle (40kW output) for a combined 163kW, but more importantly a claimed combined cycle fuel consumption of just 4.8L/100km is where the RAV4 stands apart from its competitors.

In this hugely popular segment, there are very few hybrid options (Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and MG HS PHEV), but even with these, the Toyota has its own way to play the game.

There’s no need to worry about plugs, or charging, or driving behaviour, as the RAV4 simply works things out on the move to give you power and efficiency when you need both of them the most.

It’s a key part of what we’ll be looking at during our time with the car.

Other Toyotas have shown that the quoted consumption figure is regularly achievable, but we’re keen to see how the RAV4 contends with a mostly urban running role, where it won't get too many chances to stretch its legs on longer (more efficient) touring drives.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid AWD
ColourSaturn Blue Metallic
Price (MSRP)$46,415
Options as tested$675 (metallic paint)
Servicing 3yr$645
Servicing 5yr$1075
ANCAP safety ratingFive-star (tested 2019)
WarrantyFive years / unlimited km

Our car (finished in Saturn Blue – a $695 option and one of eight choices) has all the mod cons to keep the family happy on our urban adventures too.

Keyless entry and start, heated front seats, a powered sunroof, nine-speaker JBL sound system and a power tailgate help set the Cruiser above the GXL. The gloss-black 18-inch alloys are unique to the hybrid too, as is the blue-tinged Toyota badge on the grille.

These, and the car’s top-to-toe packaging will form the other main focus of our time with the RAV. How does it fit in with family life from a usability and practicality standpoint?

That said, we will be giving the car a few extra-urban jaunts to see how Australia’s favourite deals with Australia as a whole.

So grab the Tim Tams, fire up the air-bagpipes to get in on the ‘You’re the Voice’ chorus, and find out why the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the current poster child for everything everyone seems to like.

Let us know if there is anything you'd like to know!