Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Fails the Moose Test in Dramatic Fashion

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
toyota rav4 hybrid fails the moose test in dramatic fashion

Sweden’s evasive maneuver test, better known as the moose test, is a brutal simulation of what might happen if your lane was suddenly occupied by a giant mammal and you had to get out of the way in a hurry or prepare yourself to become one with the animal. It also happens to be one of the hardest automotive tests to pass, with a long list of models failing to stay on course at highway speeds. In fact, the whole point of the test is to see how fast a vehicle can run the brief gauntlet without running over traffic cones or flipping itself over.

As a result, the cars that typically perform the best tend to be lightweight road huggers with above-average factory rubber. Meanwhile, crossovers and pickups have had particularly poor showings — with Toyota’s RAV4 embarrassing itself rather badly in 2019 after Stockholm’s Teknikens Värld (one of the European publications that made the test world-famous) showed its stability management system was ill-equipped to handle the course. While Toyota went out of its way to remedy the issue with a software update in Europe, recent testing showed the RAV4 PHEV was back to its old tricks… or lack thereof.

On Thursday, Teknikens Värld announced the RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid had failed the moose test in dramatic fashion. Despite the car being engineered to have a quicker turn-in than its non-hybrid brethren, it appeared to be even less predictable while navigating the course. The outlet stated that the AWD crossover was dangerously close to spinning out, noting it was surprising to see any vehicle perform so badly in 2020. The only remedy was to bring the RAV4’s entry speed down below 39 mph.

Things were so terrible that testers reportedly double-checked to see if the vehicle’s electronic stability control (ESC) was even active. Realizing that it was, the outlet called the results “scandalously bad” and added that the car would probably perform worse loaded with passengers. COVID restrictions required the test to swap in sandbags to adhere to testing protocols, lowering its center of mass a bit.

But it wasn’t the only mainstream crossover that failed and that’s not terribly surprising if you’ve spent any time driving them hard. The Mitsubishi Outlander and Volvo XC40 Recharge T4 being tested at the same time as the Toyota also failed — albeit less dramatically. Teknikens Värld suggested this was one of the pitfalls of the segment, though made it clear that there are a few crossovers capable of handling the moose test with enough grace to warrant a recommendation.

[Image: Toyota]

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2 of 44 comments
  • TimK TimK on Dec 06, 2020

    I wonder if a “normal” non-bling set of tires would help this test? Low-profile rubber bands on over-size wheels don’t work very well when the vehicle starts to roll into a sharp turn.

  • Lastwgn Lastwgn on Dec 07, 2020

    The recommendation regarding deer is to brake but maintain a straight line. Swerving to avoid is not recommended because you are just as likely to swerve into the path of the deer, hence brake and maintain a straight line. Furthermore, a sudden swerve will just as likely cause a loss of control without providing any increase in deer avoidance. Here in Minnesota where I live, deer are not known to stand on an open road. When they enter the road they move quite quickly. As others have noted, often times by the time you see the deer it is too late anyway. Also note that deer are extremely gifted leapers. I once had a deer appear out of nowhere from the passenger side of the car. It leapt across the road, taking it over the hood of our SUV (a Mazda Tribute) and clipping the upper A pillar on the driver's side with its rear hoof. A moose will not leap the way a deer can leap.

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  • Sayahh Toyota Century
  • Probert Really needed more front and rear overhang.
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