STOCKHOLM - Given their high centres of gravity, SUVs simply don’t handle evasive manoeuvres as well as traditional cars, and the same goes for bakkies.
That said, unlike traditional ladder-frame bakkies, most SUVs are now built around monocoque platforms. This, along with lower ride heights, advanced ESP stability systems and, in some cases, permanent all-wheel-drive, has definitely made your average SUV safer through the corners than their more rudimentary ancestors.
But not all of the modern unibody SUVs are safe in an emergency situation, as recently illustrated by Swedish publication Teknikens Varld, which subjected the latest fifth-generation Toyota Rav4 to the infamous ‘moose test’ - which emulates swerving around a moose, for which you can substitute any sudden obstacle that your imagination can conjure up.
As with the Toyota Hilux that the publication also recently tested, the Rav4’s moose test performance (conducted at just 68km/h) was “really bad”, in the words of reporter Linus Pröjtz.
Pröjtz found that the ESP system was not effective in limiting the car’s movements. He also pointed out a “bouncing effect” throughout the test, which made the car really hard to handle. The publication also pointed out that some of its competitors did much better in the same test, thanks largely to superior ESP systems.
If that’s the case, it could be a relatively easy fix for Toyota.
You can read the full Teknikens Varld assessment here, or watch it in the video below:
So how did Toyota respond to the allegation that its Rav4 does not handle safety enough in an emergency manoeuvre?
This is what a Toyota spokesperson told Teknikens Varld after pointing out the results of its moose test:
“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.”
Is this really good enough, Toyota?
It’s worth noting that apart from its showing in the latest moose test, the latest Toyota Rav4 has generally impressed customers around the world with its practicality, interior finishes, good ride quality and impressive all round refinement. It also has a lower centre of gravity than its predecessor and a more sophisticated double wishbone rear suspension, so many of the ingredients are in place for better road holding, but perhaps Toyota needs to go back to the drawing board with its ESP system?