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From Late June




2021 Toyota RAV4 GLX Hybrid AWD Review

June 1, 2021

“If you want a five-seat SUV it’s a no brainer”.


Bowen's Report Card

2021 Toyota RAV4 GLX Hybrid AWD Review

If I was to buy a car today, it would be a Toyota RAV4 hybrid. I’m rather pragmatic in this area, for many, a vehicle is their second biggest purchase, other than a home. Personally, I will never dump my cash in a potential money sink. The Toyota RAV4 is bound to be reliable and efficient, in fact if you want a five-seat SUV it’s a no brainer.


Behind the keyboard is someone that has hated SUVs for years. However, I must concede the RAV4 is far more practical than my recently sold Camry Hybrid. The variant I’ve tested here is the GXL hybrid with AWD. 

A 2.5L four-cylinder engine is matched to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). It produces 

163kW of combined power. There’re two electric motors with the front capable of 88kW/202Nm and the rear 40kW/121Nm.

The Drive

The RAV4 hybrid is a tad heavy, thanks to the hybrid battery. At weigh in, we’re talking about 1.7 tone proposition. I can’t fathom why anyone would avoid the hybrid option. 

It cruises along with minimal fuss, albeit with the typical CVT drone when pushed hard. Toyota has a knack for nailing middle ground when it comes to handling these days. It would be nice to have some sharper dynamics going on, although it’s far from driving like a boat.

Toyota has been producing hybrids for decades and it shows. The interactions between the petrol and electric motors are barely noticeable, even when you coast along in full EV mode. The only time you’ll appreciate the inner workings is at the bowser.  

The AWD system shines in the wet over FWD options. That doesn’t mean you can retrace the trail of Bourke and Wills, it’s just a handy feature for some more “spirited” driving. 

The brake pedal is a little wooden, although this is a common trait for hybrids. The anchors capture otherwise wasted kinetic energy and send it back to the battery, hence the weird sensation.


Cloth seats are found in the GXL variant, I’m OK with that. They say first impressions last, the same applies to steering wheels for me. The GXL scores a “Premium” steering wheel. There’s nothing worse than jumping in a car and steering with something that feels like a hose.

Other niceties include dual-zone climate control, air-vents in the back and rain sensing wipers. Being an SUV, it must be practical. The boot can fit 580L or 542L if you use the top panel for the rear boot. It only comes with a space saver tyre, that’s a tad disappointing.

Here’s some more handy inclusions.

  • Driver’s seat open tray
  • Passenger seat open tray
  • Centre console box
  • Door pockets – driver and front passenger
  • Overhead console
  • Cupholders – x2 front, x2 rear
  • 2 level boot floors
  • Boot side pocket

Safety And Technology 

The 8.0-inch touchscreen can now showcase Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also standard across the range is DAB radio sat-nav, automatic wipers and auto LED headlights. 

All models score adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, speed sign recognition, autonomous emergency braking that also includes pedestrian and cyclist detection.

Value For Money

Fuel economy is rated at 4.7L/100km for AWD variants. We hovered around 5.0L/100km, which is bloody good for a mid-sized SUV. The as tested car shown here will set you back $42,915 before on-roads. The “Electric Blue” is a $600 option. Toyota offers a five-year unlimited kilometre for private buyers or 160,000km when used for commercial purposes. The hybrid battery is covered by the same warranty. There are extend warranty programs, but it’s best to talk to your dealer. 

What I Love

The fact Toyota no longer make fridges on wheels.

Bowen’s Report Card

I’ve seen any number of RAV4s being used as a taxi. This solidifies the fact Toyota is on to a good thing. The Toyota RAV4 hybrid is the most compelling way for people to start thinking about the future. Hybrid models score an 89 out of 100 from me.