Europe’s Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid flagship derivative has registered a “poor” rating in Swedish motoring magazine Teknikens Värld’s dreaded “Moose Test”.

The top-spec version of the RAV4 offered in Europe, which is also sold in North America as the RAV4 Prime, employs the Japanese firm’s latest hybrid system, comprising a 2,5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, an electric motor on each axle and a lithium-ion battery. The result is a peak power output of 225 kW.

It’s worth noting, however, that this model is not available in South Africa, with Toyota SA Motors telling us in June 2020 it is not in “our immediate future”.

In 2019, the standard RAV4 hybrid also struggled in the Swedish magazine’s test (as well as Spanish publication km77's version), before Toyota updated the vehicle’s electronic stability control system, allowing the SUV to pass the evaluation.

According to Teknikens Värld, however, the latest 225 kW plug-in model performed far “worse” than the standard (updated) hybrid version, exhibiting “heavy oversteer”.

It adds that the “stability system seems to not engage – at all”. The highest entrance speed at which it successfully completed the test was 63 km/h, some seven units below what the publication considers a minimum acceptable speed.

Toyota Europe, meanwhile, pledged to fix the issue, though pointed out the model has “successfully passed all development testing and fully meets all safety regulations in force in the market on a worldwide basis”.

“Following Teknikens Värld’s evaluation, we have replicated their Elk test, which includes an extreme obstacle avoidance manoeuvre, and have produced similar results,” the company told the publication.

“As a countermeasure, we will now take steps to ensure that RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid can pass Teknikens Värld’s Elk test. In the meantime, we would like to reassure our customers that the RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid remains safe to drive.

“However, in the spirit of continuous improvement, we will make this upgrade available to all customers who would like it within the first quarter of 2021, and we will introduce the upgrade into mass production shortly afterwards,” it added.

As a reminder, the Moose Test is one of the toughest handling evaluations out there, designed to simulate the avoidance manoeuvre a driver would have to take when an animal suddenly runs into the road.

Watch the test in the video clip below…