Swedish safety test proves the Toyota RAV4 will never be an autocross champ

Due to driving behavior that Swedish car magazine Teknikens Värld calls “dangerous,” the publication has advised readers to not buy the 2019 Toyota RAV4 SUV. Because of the country’s unique and abundant fauna, since the 1970s Swedes have been putting passenger vehicles through what is colloquially known as the “Moose Test,” or more officially, as the Undanmanöverprov, the evasive maneuver test. The RAV4 failed the Moose Test repeatedly.

The test, standardized as ISO 3888-2, involves driving in a straight line and then doing a left-right-left swerve through a chicane set up with traffic cones. It’s supposed to duplicate what most drivers would do should a moose or other large object appear suddenly in the vehicle’s path. An adult male moose can stand up to seven feet tall, not including its large and heavy antlers, and weigh a half ton or more, so plowing into one can cause severe damage to the car and possibly injure or kill people. It’s also not very pleasant for the moose.

In the test, the vehicles are loaded to their maximum weight capacities and the tires are inflated to manufacturers’ specifications. Speed through the chicane is increased until stability is lost and the car or truck starts to skid, or worse, begin to roll over. To pass the Moose Test, a vehicle must be able to traverse the course without any stability issues at a minimum speed of 70 kmh (43.5 mph).

When reviewing the RAV4 last spring, Teknikens Värld initially ran the SUV through the Moose Test, when its electronic stability control system reacted too slowly, resulting in serious skidding. The publication retested the RAV4 as part of its annual fall SUV testing, with disturbing results.

As the RAV4 turns left, to avoid a hypothetical moose, the front end reacts quickly, but when the utility vehicle is turned back to the right, the front right tire digs in. Sometimes the RAV4 will then skid sideways through the chicane, but worryingly, other times it will flip up onto just two wheels. The fastest that Teknikens Värld was able to complete the Moose Test with no serious problems in the RAV4 was just 68 kmh (42 mph), a failing mark. By comparison, the similarly-sized Kia Sorrento SUV breezed through the test at 78 kmh (48.5 mph) with no fuss. A second RAV4 was tested, with the same poor results. Changing drivers also made no difference.

Teknikens Värld speculates that the RAV4’s worse behavior in the fall testing was due, ironically, to better tire grip at higher temperatures, causing the front end to dig in.

This is not the first time a Toyota vehicle has failed the Moose Test. In 2007 and again in 2016, the Hilux pickup failed, almost flipping during the test. The video of that test has been viewed over 15 million times, creating a bit of a public relations issue for Toyota. The automaker responded by revising the ESC system on the Hilux and the RAV4 subsequently passed Teknikens Värld‘s Moose Test.

Teknikens Värld asked Toyota to comment on the RAV4’s bad performance in the test, specifically to learn if any changes have been made in its procedures since the Hilux’s failure three years ago.

Erik Gustafsson, Public Relations and Communications Manager for Toyota Sweden, told the publication, “At Toyota, the safety of our customers is our number one priority, and to ensure their security, we apply strict safety tests during the development of all our products.

Our internal tests fully meet the global standards for obstacle avoidance, and since 2016, we have updated our processes to also reflect the procedures used by Teknikens Värld. During its development stage, RAV4 successfully passed all internal tests, including the ISO 3888-2 and the Teknikens Varld Elk test.

We give our assurance to all Toyota customers that they can be confident in the safety of their vehicles.”

Remind us not to drive a RAV4 on an autocross course in Sweden.

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