Skip to main content

Demand for bigger cars continues to grow across the U.S. Crossovers, SUVs, and pickups account for nearly 75% of new vehicle sales. One of the biggest selling points is increased cargo space compared to sedans. However, that’s not always the case. The website Cars’ calculations show the Tesla Model S sedan has more cargo space than the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid compact crossover SUV.

How measures cargo space

Using the manufacturer-supplied cargo numbers paints a different picture. Tesla states the Model S comes with 28.1 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats in place. Toyota says the RAV4 Hybrid comes in at 37.6 cubic feet.

However, Cars uses a different method to measure cargo space, so numbers are consistent across all vehicle segments. This method measures the depth, width, and height of the usable cargo space and adds other small spaces – or “nooks” – outside of that zone. This measurement does not include a maximum room with all seats folded because experts say there are too many variables to accurately measure volume.

Overall, this does mean that cars with trunks like the Tesla Model S often run higher than the manufacturer suggests. The measurements Cars uses for anything with a liftgate don’t include the area above the rear seatback. It’s measured this way to maintain rear visibility and prevent cargo from flying around the cabin in a crash. With this, cars with a liftgate like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid will have lower numbers from the Cars’ method than the manufacturer states.

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid cargo space

Per Cars’ method, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has 20.7 cubic feet of space behind the backseat. The website used the top trim – Limited – for the measurement. Its calculations show only five small SUVs have more space than the RAV4 Hybrid: the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid and standard Tucson, the Honda CR-V, and the Tesla Model Y.

That cargo space number is better than some mid-size SUVs. The RAV4 Hybrid beats out the Honda Passport (20.6 cubic feet), Audi Q8 (20.2), Subaru Outback (20.2), and Jeep Grand Cherokee (20.3).

Though it has less cargo space than the Tesla Model S, the Toyota RAV4 is a well-rated crossover. All 2022 models come with at least a 7-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa integration. Each model also comes with Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 driver aids. Systems including adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, lane tracing assist, road sign recognition, and forward collision mitigation are standard. TrueCar ranked the RAV4 ninth on its list of best compact SUVs, with the plug-in RAV4 Prime a little higher at fifth. 

2022 Tesla Model S cargo space

A Tesla Model S electric (EV) luxury full-size sedan charging at a public station in Berlin, Germany
A Tesla Model S charging | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

4 Reasons to Buy a 2022 Tesla Model S, Not a 2022 Porsche Taycan

The website Cars’ measurements give the Tesla Model S 20.9 cubic feet of space behind the backseat. The performance Plaid trim was used for the measurement. That’s the second-most cargo space of any mid-size car, as only the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon ranked higher at 21.1 cubic feet. Only the E-Class, Model S, and Kia K5 (20.3 cubic feet) measure above 20 cubic feet of space. 

By these measurements, the Tesla Model S has as much space as the Model Y and more than 40 SUVs on the website Cars’ lists. It’s one of the best vehicles for cargo space on the market.

The Model S is Tesla’s flagship vehicle and debuted with the 2012 model year. Per Car and Driver, the Model S has the second-most range on the market for electric cars at 405 miles for the base model. The Plaid trim used for the Cars measurement has a lower range – 348 miles – but makes up for it with 1,020 horsepower. 

The impact of Cars’ cargo space measurements

Many crossovers and SUVs are recommended over a sedan because they’re considered to have more cargo space while offering similar seating layouts. However, with the more realistic cargo space measurements from the website Cars, that’s not necessarily true. Getting a mid-size car like the Tesla Model S instead of an SUV like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid could provide the same convenience regarding cargo space.