Crossover & Midsize

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Struggles With Emergency Steering

The introduction of the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime marked one of the biggest technological advances for the model. With plug-in hybrid technology, the RAV4 Prime is not only powerful but incredibly efficient as well. However, if you’re buying one as a daily driver, it needs to provide safe handling characteristics. A new video published by Teknikens Värld shows the electrified crossover failing a basic emergency steering test, raising severe concerns.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime almost spun out

Like most new cars, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime was submitted to the moose test. In short, the test covers an emergency handling situation completed while traveling around 40 to 55 mph, depending on how capable the vehicle is. The best handling vehicles can complete the test at higher speeds while retaining their composure. To make the tests more realistic, each vehicle has at least four people sitting inside. The result is that we can see how the RAV4 performs when tasked when carrying the weight of a family outing.

The Toyota RAV4 Prime failed the test catastrophically. In the video published by Teknikens Värld, we see the RAV4 fail the test repeatedly. The first run saw the crossover entering the test at around 42 mph. As the emergency maneuver is performed and the RAV4’s weight shifts around, and the rear-end breaks loose. The result is that the crossover dangerously slides around, almost completely spinning out. The second run saw the RAV4 run at around 43 mph. Unfortunately, the result remains largely the same.

It is important to note that the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime isn’t the only plug-in hybrid to fail this test. Both the Volvo XC40 and Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid also failed miserably. While it would be easy to blame the plug-in version of the Toyota for this fault, the standard model is quite flawed as well.

The standard RAV4 isn’t much better

RELATED: The 2020 Toyota RAV4 Has 1 Loud Weakness

In 2019, the Toyota RAV4 also had to complete the infamous moose test. As you’d expect, the results in this earlier test weren’t much better. Unlike the RAV4 Prime, the standard model lost traction in the rear and exhibited an alarming bouncing behavior. To make sure that it wasn’t just one faulty vehicle, Teknikens Värld went through the trouble of testing another identically equipped vehicle. To no avail, the RAV4 performed just as poorly the second time around. Given the consistency of the issues, it was definitely something wrong with the model itself.

Teknikens Värld was able to determine that the issue stems from the onboard vehicle stability system. In the standard Toyota RAV4, the system was reportedly not properly calibrated, allowing too much slip in the rear-end. While there is no mention of what exactly made the Prime trim level fail, adding the batteries’ extra weight likely worsens these symptoms.

You can get a software fix if you ask for it

In response to the first video published by Teknikens Värld covering the Toyota RAV4’s issues, the manufacturer made some software changes. During a re-test, the folks over at Teknikens Värld found that the RAV4 behaved much better, remaining stable during the test. When speaking to Takasi Saito, Technical Senior Manager of Vehicle Dynamics for Toyota, the testers learned that the fix was a software update to the Vehicle Stability Control system. In short, the system allows for less slip in the rear, correcting the behavior.

However, Teknikens Värld points out that the software update available for the Toyota RAV4 is only available for customers who ask for it. Without it, the RAV4 will still have its original programming. While this is a step in the right direction, a widespread recall and software update would improve safety and customer confidence. So if you’ve got a fifth-generation RAV4, you may want to ask about the software update. Additionally, we’ll have to wait and see what Toyota’s response is to the all-new Prime failing the same test.