By on December 4, 2020

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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44 Comments on “Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Fails the Moose Test in Dramatic Fashion...”


  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Barring fancy gizmos and avoidance maneuvers, is it the recommendation to ram a moose headlong? I’d heard that it’s recommended to ram a deer head-on rather than try to avoid it.

    Of course, I acknowledge this might be a Minnesota wives tale.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      A male moose weighs up to 1500 lbs, and that weight is up on spindly looking legs. Even a tall SUV is going to see the bulk of the animal rolling over the hood into the windshield. I’d try to avoid it first, and maybe clip it, but not hit it head-on.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        Thank you. I’d forgotten which recommendations applied where. Being in Minnesota, deer are the more prevalent threat – especially on rural roads. My brother has hit several, though I can’t say how much of that is due to inattentive driving versus sheer bad luck.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        That’s where 12″ lifted HD pickups on 37s with bull bars come in….. Not too common in Sweden, though…….

        Generally, although not 100% of the time, moose, elk and most larger mammals, will move, often quickly across the road. At a minimum, they rarely start moonwalking backwards……. Hence, scrubbing as much speed as possible, and aiming for the tail, seem to be the recommended course of action most places (more reliably on a narrow motorcycle than in a car, but still). Rendering the “moose test” moniker a bit strange for such an avoidance maneuver. Unless Swedish moose do in fact like to run into the middle of the road only to moonwalk back, of course……

    • 0 avatar
      IndoorSnowStorm

      The recommendation for deer is to in fact accelerate and hit it head-on if you cannot avoid it. This will raise your front end, making it more square-on and use more of the crumple zone. Braking will dip the front end down, making the deer likely to go through your windshield and possibly kill you. Obviously you should try to avoid the deer in the first place either by slowing down and driving cautiously, but if you can’t the head-on accelerated impact is safer than trying to swerve (and roll your car or injure others) or braking to a hard stop.

      Of course, moose are much larger than deer, and are built like a brick wall. I’m not sure what proper protocol is for them but I’d imagine you’re pretty much dead if you hit one. Since they’re so tall you would hit their legs first and make them flop onto your hood and through your windshield. So if you don’t get injured by the first collision contact with the moose will probably do it.

      • 0 avatar
        redgolf

        Also, keep the salt from the roads off the vehicle as moose like to lick it! Here in Tennessee to steer away from hitting any animal including deer you may just wind up rolling over in a ditch on most side and back roads!

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        I’d recommend putting in a Nascar roll cage and depending on the Earnhardt bar to handle the impact.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “The recommendation for deer is to in fact accelerate and hit it head-on if you cannot avoid it.”

        LOL….Ya right! Have you eve been in a car and had a deer jump out in front of you? By the time you realize what is happening and get your foot on the gas you’ve already hit the deer.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheatridger

          Even worse, after you hit the deer you’re shocked, injured and/or blinded by blood and guts, and going faster than before.

          Modern cars really don’t dive that much upon braking. Almost none raise their hoods under heavy acceleration, because powerful cars get sporty suspensions. This advice to speed up for Bambi sounds ancient advice from yesteryear.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            I have deer crossing in front of me often where I live on a regular basis. Watch out for the reflections of their eyes and if you see one moving toward the road, brake as hard as you can. I avoid hitting deer on a regular basis with that technique. Just a week ago was my most recent. The moose maneuver won’t work for deer where I live. Usually, it’s a herd and if you avoid one, you’re going to hit another. Accelerating is bad since the deer might actually be fast enough to get out of your way if you brake.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Woman drives 25 miles to work without realizing a MOOSE has taken roof off her car.
      https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/what-moose-woman-can-t-recall-dramatic-collision-1.1215223

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The key phrase is “…one of the pitfalls of the segment”. A garbage truck probably can’t pass the test either. The test is appropriate for cars, not trucks, and no matter what the SUV/CUV’s origin, by the time it’s been given a raised seating position and is on high heels, it’s a truck. This kind of test reminds me of all the years Consumers’ Reports downgraded the Wrangler for not being as steady on the highway as a Corolla. My screwdriver doesn’t drill holes as well as a power drill either.

    • 0 avatar
      johnds

      One issue is everyone is buying the Wranglers who cannot drive. One of my co workers driving near me was putting on her make up and swerving, while drinking her Star Bucks. Dang close to losing control and rolling. Wrangler = status symbol.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      CUV’s are just glorified cars on stilts. Given how mass market the RAV4 is, it should absolutely be held to the same standards as a Camry.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Why the lane change both directions. There is no hurry to get back into your lane unless there is an oncoming car, but you should have seen that along with the moose and they should be doing this under full braking.

      At 39mph you can slow down an awful lot in a very short distance so why swerve at all?

  • avatar
    Jacob

    What can stability control possibly do to help in this situation?

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      I wonder if the stability control is reacting too slowly to deal with the ‘Scandinavian flick’ that is essentially happening here. It seems to deal with the initial turn to the left just fine, but the rear end seems to have no grip when the right-correction happens. Perhaps the system is still braking the left rear as the right-flick happens, and that additional load on the left rear tire overwhelms it.

      Something is wrong, because with that weight bias and those tires, it should understeer practically no matter what you ask it to do.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        High center of gravity, short wheelbase (for their COG) cars shift too much weight forward on the initial turn-in. Leaving the rear unstable.

        Sedan based, short wheelbase, typical rally cars, shift weight forward on turn-in too, which is one reason the scandi flick works so reliably well, even on soft, low traction, ground. But those cars have stiff suspension and low weight, keeping things buttoned down.

        In a tall, short cute-ute, OTOH, doubly so one with a power station worth of batteries and soft suspension, and on pavement to boot, the initial “flick” leave you virtually on the bumpstops in front, with the rears almost in the air. Then add the grossly delayed, poorly dampened, rebound from the initial compressions coinciding with your attempted recovery back to your own lane, and things aren’t really all that controllable anymore, even by a quick calculating stability control system backed up by sensors for near everything.

        4 wheel steering, set up to steer the rears in the same direction as the fronts at higher speeds, can be really helpful in this sort of situations. And is becoming more available from suppliers. At least in Germany, where they’re not quite as hung up as Toyota on a decade’s worth of near 100% reliable operation, before rolling things out.

        I also can’t help but wonder if, on this battery-heavy version of an otherwise lighter model, the stability control computer is in effect working with somewhat misguided assumptions about where wheels are actually pointed, on account of exaggerated flex in chassis and suspension components. Hence making decisions it wouldn’t have, if things weren’t so darned flexed out of true. But that’s just me guessing. Undampened, directionally unpredictable chassis flex, is generally a real big pain in the butt to deal with. Both for human drivers and automated systems.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          All good points. CUV/SUVs are inherently unstable things. The whole idea that being higher up is somehow safer has taken over the mind set of many consumers. I know several people who listed “safety” as the main reason they bought an SUV. These things roll over, ask some previous Ford Explorer owners.

          I once owned an Isuzu Rodeo and had a near accident which required a last second course correct. I sold the stupid thing a few weeks later due to its ill handling and frankly dangerous manners. Granted I was spoiled since my previous vehicle was a Honda Prelude Si, which was a handling champion.

  • avatar

    My recommendation would be to not drive at highway speed on the roads known for moose encounters of the third kind.

    More pressing issue though, IMO of course, is how to avoid collision with alien spacecraft which suddenly materializes on the freeway in LA trying to land because of failing antigravity propulsion system.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “My recommendation would be to not drive at highway speed on the roads known for moose encounters of the third kind.”

      That’s the best bet for avoiding deer in MN, although good chance you’ll end up hitting one anyways with the right circumstances, but better to have that happen @ 40 MPH than 55 MPH.

      We have moose in northern MN, although but I’m not sure they are known for coming out of nowhere & running/jumping right in front of your vehicle. I worry about deer all the time in rural areas, moose not so much.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        The one deer I hit, well, it hit me. Dang thing ran into the side of our Escape. It was pitch black out and was never in view of the headlights.

        Sometimes those buggers have enough of a suicide tendency, there’s not really anything you can do. And they are QUICK!

        • 0 avatar

          Several years ago I was 30ms away from hitting deer on the exit from I-580 to Castro Valley. It was dark but I saw deer in headlights. It was too late for any avoidance maneuvering or braking. I was driving at around 40 mph but thankfully our trajectories in space-time did not intersect that night.

      • 0 avatar
        johnds

        I’ve had 3 friends hit a deer at MN36 and 35E just outside of St. Paul. All 3 times, vehicle was totaled. A deer hit the side of my car near Manning Trail in Lakeland Township. $4400 in damage to the side of my Honda Accord.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          Good point johnds. I live in western suburb of Mpls and deer are everywhere due to lack of any predators so they are also a threat in town as well as in rural areas. My ex hit one w/Tahoe(I’m still driving it)about 3 blocks form my current home. Came out of a wetland next to lake Minnetonka on to the road. The ‘Hoe didn’t suffer too much damage because the speed limit is only 35 MPH.

  • avatar
    fn2drive

    The level of reporting competence on this site is in rapid decline. The vehicle that failed is the RAV4 Prime. The headline should not refer to the ‘hybrid’ but the specific hybrid. The non plug in hybrid ie the volume seller which had a problem initially and which was resolved with a software mod. Sloppy reporting. Longing for the days when this was the Truth About Cars not lazy reporting from mom’s basement.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    The video: Hey Swedish-Kevin-Bacon-Guy, how many times did the vehicle flip? [Zero.] Did any wheels lift off the road? [No.] So stop your whining. :-)

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Yeah, it didn’t look so bad to me. There is some oversteer and understeer, but nothing approaching a spinout or a flip.

      The headline indicated that this was the next Suzuki Samarai.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    But it was a really big moose! Keep rehashing versions of this story, I’ll keep plagiarizing from Python, Monty (Ltd).

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    “The cars that typically perform the best tend to be lightweight road huggers with above-average factory rubber.”

    Wait a minute. I thought this had been debunked, reading the mainstream automotives press over the last 10 years. Do you have evidence of this?

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      If you performed a bunch of different such moose tests, with different spacing between initial evasive maneuver and recovery back to the original lane, you’d get a much truer picture of the real world. And the correlation between light weight, well dampened suspension, great chassis balance and solid grip, would be much more obvious.

      As it is, data is somewhat “polluted” by sensitivity to what is essentially a “resonant” peak in suspension rebound time from initial body movement on turn in, coinciding with exactly when recovery back to the original lane is initiated. To what degree this pollutes results I don’t know, but by using just one fixed distance, the test is making it hard to differentiate between a car which has weight shifts under actual control, and can hence be relied on to return crisply at any subsequent time (which is more real world useful); and a car where where still uncontrolled weight shifts just happens to align favorably, by happenstance and only at this particular specific spacing of steering inputs.

  • avatar
    theonlydt

    As someone who drives long distances late at night, the stability of a vehicle in a move like this is really important.

    Thursday night there were five deer in the outside lane of the highway – headlights were dipped due to oncoming traffic, and some 18-wheeler had after-market blinding headlights that obscured the deer until I was too close. If they had chosen to run across into my lane I would not have stopped in time, but was doing 35mph as I went past them, down from almost 70. Kia Soul on winter tires, far more “tippy” than I’d like. Quite responsive, which I assume is the short wheelbase and relatively lightweight, but it’s tall and it felt it. Torsion beam rear suspension I assume added to it feeling squirrely. It didn’t fill me with confidence, but I did not think I was going to die in a rollover.

    Before that, Mazda 5 – black bear ran across the highway infront of me. Much closer, I didn’t even have time to brake, only to try and swerve within the dynamic capabilities of the car. The electronic stability control came on like I’d never felt it before, I’m sure without it the car would have gone off the highway. However, it wasn’t as tippy, I assume a longer wheelbase, incredibly low ride height, despite being quite tall.

    In that RAV4, either move described above would clearly have sent me off the road. That’s not acceptable. It reminds me of when I test drove a C-Max energi in heavy rain, it got into the grooves from the 18 wheelers and ended up with an almost uncontrollable tank-slapper which I assume was due to the massive batteries behind the rear axle.

    Given their comments on the RAV4 PHEV, the Volvo PHEV and Mitsu PHEV it strongly suggests that PHEVs have inherent dynamic limitations. I would assume because the space for the batteries in the platforms is invariably behind the rear axle. Batteries are heavy and they don’t just affect F/R weight distribution, if it hangs over the rear axle it acts like a pendulum.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    I recall driving through Ohio once in an area with nothing but corn and soybean fields (the whole state). A very impressive buck jumped out of a tall stand of corn on my left, landing in the middle of the road and then kept going into another field across the road. Fortunately I was 100 feet back in my car but had my timing been just a little early we would have met and become one in the middle of the road. Hopefully he would have seen me but I certainly wouldn’t have seen him. The corn stalks must have been eight feet high.

  • avatar
    RAV4 Driver

    It begs the question: how did RAV4 hybrid do in a rollover test?

  • avatar

    Listening to Swedish makes me LOL!

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Did Toyota go backwards with their VSC programming? The original test in September 2019 was a failure, but Toyota tweaked the VSC to apply the brakes more aggressively, which resulted in a pass in January 2020. They even interviewed Takashi Saito, the Senior Technical Manager of Vehicle Dynamics at Toyota in the video, for details. The update (a re-flash that requires a dealer visit) was supposed to be available to customers in 2Q 2020.

  • avatar
    TimK

    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.

  • avatar
    lastwgn

    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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