The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a VERY popular car and I know people who were on the waiting lists a long time for it when it first came out in 2019. Since then Toyota has made a few updates so I was keen to try it for a week with my family and give it our BabyDrive testing. Let's see how it went…
The all-new Rav4 in 2019 was a pretty epic BabyDrive so adding a hybrid engine too makes me think it will be a good one! And it is! I loved everything about the RAV4 in terms of its usability and family practicality. It's the perfect car for a family of four (or even five) to very comfortably get about in.
The practicality starts in the rear seats where there are top tether anchorages on the back of all three seats and ISOFix points in the two outer seats. I could fit three child seats, or with two child seats in the outer positions I could just squeeze in between them and I'm 162cm.
With child seats in the back, legroom is still good up front and we found a 180cm driver can sit in front of a rear-facing child seat. If you put the rear-facing child seat on the passenger side this allows a taller than 180cm passenger in front of it. So if you are tall parents with baby twins or two rear-facing youngsters the RAV4 is a win!
The practicality continues to the boot space, where the boot floor has a plastic coasted side and a carpeted side so it can be turned over when you have the dog or something dirty likes kids' bikes and scooters or wet and sandy beach things because it can easily cleaned off and wiped down. Such a simple idea but makes a really big difference!
A single or compact stroller fits easily in the boot with a good amount of space for shopping bags etc next to it and even a tandem or twin side-by-side stroller will fit in the boot with space for five or six shopping bags around them. The boot is deep enough that the retractable roller blind will go over the top of them too.
The media system in the RAV4 Hybrid still has that basic look and feel for the user. There is the usual split screen media system which makes it easy to quickly select which function you want.
For me, the biggest update in the Toyota RAV4 since it first came out is the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the media system. Yippee!! Finally, the media system is much more user-friendly, you can use the ABC Kids Listen and Spotify, etc while driving along and message ahead to daycare to let them know you are running late but on your way!
The reversing camera is still pixelated but you do have a bird's eye view and a couple of other options. The parking sensors are easily muted by pressing the OK button on the steering wheel (I wish it was this simple and easy to reach in other cars).
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Cruiser tested here has a 360-degree camera so you can check your surroundings. We really liked this feature and it is easy to turn on and off with a button by the driver's right knee.
The hybrid engine makes the RAV4 Hybrid a lovely quiet car especially when it starts up, I also found it more economical as I could drive my kids to sleep using mostly battery power and sit with the aircon running while they nap without chewing through the fuel or pumping out exhaust fumes.
Storage is good throughout the RAV4 and practical too. Throughout the car, the cup holders and door bins are correctly sized to hold large refillable water bottles and reusable coffee cups. The dash shelf is a useful addition for phones and little things kids pass through from the back. Ours did hold a good leaf collection by the end of our week with the car! The glove box is a generous size too…
…as is the central console box and it has a little shelf in the top of it too.
There is a glasses case in the ceiling and a wireless phone charging well with 12v and USB sockets in front of the gear lever.
I really enjoyed driving the 2021 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid, I enjoyed the quiet start, the ride was smooth around town and it was easy to maneuver in school and supermarket car parks.
However, I found the 2021 Rav4 Hybrid delivers a constant stream of warnings and notifications, to the point where my daughter said “mummy this car is very bossy!” It speaks at you every time you go in or out of a school zone and tells you to obey the road traffic rules even if it is the cruise control that is taking you just over the speed limit! Thankfully (for my sensory overloaded brain as a mum), I found you can turn all that off in the media screen, which helped preserve my sanity and allowed me to again enjoy the peaceful hybrid driving experience!
The New Toyota Rav4 has been given a five-star ANCAP safety rating and has seven airbags as standard.