The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid Fails The Moose Test Dramatically

Screenshot: Teknikens Värld

The Swedish Moose Test is likely the most infamous and one of the most challenging safety tests in all of motoring, I suppose because the Swedes have made some kind of deal with Big Moose where they agree to stop running cars into them in exchange for some kind of favorable status with the Moose King. It’s a big deal; moose are huge and can walk right into roads, requiring quick yet controllable evasive maneuvers. It’s a very hard test to pass, and the most recent victim is the new Toyota RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid. And boy did it fail.

This recent test was conducted by the Swedish automotive outlet Teknikens Värld, which pointed out huge issues with the non-plug-in version of the RAV4 Hybrid last year. Toyota responded to with an upgrade to the car’s electronic stability system software, though Teknikens Värld still recommended against buying the vehicle.

Here, look at how the plug-in version of the RAV4 really embarrassed itself, moose-wise:

That’s pretty bad. Here’s what the drive testers had to say about it:

The first drive through the moose test with the Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid is an icecold awakening. The fast steering is well known from the ”regular” Hybrid, but what comes after we did not expect even in our wildest fantasies: The car is close to spinning around the course. ”Can this even happen in 2020” is my first thought behind the steering wheel.

The stability system seems to not engage – at all. The rear end goes out in a skid that doesn’t end until I steer against it hard enough. The skidding angle is extreme. Ruben Börjesson is in the car with me, and we look at each other. We don’t really believe what just happened. In 68 km/h (42.3 mph). There is no chance at all to drive through the cones in that speed.


That’s a lot of oversteer, and the only way the RAV4 plug-in is able to get through the test at all is when the speed is reduced down to 39 mph. The test drivers call the performance of the Toyota “scandalously bad.”

This is all even more damning when you consider that due to coronavirus restrictions, instead of passengers in the car, weighted bags were used. That actually give the car a lower center of gravity, which you would think would help the handling. So, really, this could have ended up even worse.

Toyota Sweden told the publication a couple of months ago that new vehicle stability system software was deployed to all Euro-market RAV4 Hybrids, and this new one should be using it as well. It didn’t seem to help much.

Of course, the other crossovers being tested (Mitsubishi Outlander and the Volvo XC40 Recharge T4) don’t do so great either, leading to this amazing screenshot that I bet any of these companies would love to use in their advertising:

Screenshot: Teknikens Värld

Of course, if Toyota wants a specific quote just for them, I suppose they could use this:

Screenshot: Teknikens Värld

The takeaway here is that if you’re concerned about evasive maneuvers or not running into moose or other large mammals, maybe look past the RAV4 plug-in.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!:

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During more dramatic maneuvers it looks like the rim will simply dig into the road surface and provide additional control, so everything will be just fine. (sarcasm, of course)

I wonder how the test would go with better tires. There was an episode of Top Gear where Clarkson was taking BMW to task for making an AWD crossover that was complete crap in the snow and everywhere else. However, toward the end of the segment he was in the BMW with the wheels locked and sliding backwards down a wet, grassy hill. That had nothing to do with the vehicle itself and everything to do with the tires that were installed. Yes, BMW put them on there and they are part of the system as a whole, but they’re parts that will likely be replaced before too long.