Is the RAV4 EV a good interim car?

Is the RAV4 EV a good interim car?

While waiting for my Model 3 I'm considering purchasing a used RAV4 EV (2012, 30k miles, $13.5k) to fill in any gap in time between turning in my BMW i3 lease and getting the Model 3. An obvious positive for this particular used EV is that the drivetrain (motor, battery, inverter, etc.) is provided by Tesla and should therefore hopefully be reliable. A negative is that it's a little expensive compared to other (non-Tesla) used EVs. If I really like it I may keep it alongside my Model 3.

Does anyone have experience with this car? Are there any issues with this car of which I should be aware? Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!

Shock | 10 januari 2018

I wouldn't. Get a last gen leaf (new gen just came out). They can be bought for a [half empty] bag of peanuts now. And unlike the Rav4 there are a good number of them around. They are also insanely reliable. That is, if you absolutely must have an EV until the tesla is available.

johnmann | 10 januari 2018

Shock, you aren't making me feel good about the trade in prospects of my Leaf. Sadly I just bought a big bag of peanuts too, so the trade in value is even less appealing!

Toothless2 | 10 januari 2018

I test drove a RAV 4 EV when they were giving them away for insanely low lease rate of $199/mo, but decided after 5 minutes that it wasnt worth $199. It is not a baby Tesla. It is a crap compliance car. I think the Ford Focus EV is even worse, but it's a close call.

andy.connor.e | 10 januari 2018

An expensive car is not a good interim car. You dont need to drive an EV just because you're going to buy a Tesla.

Carl Thompson | 10 januari 2018

The reason I ruled out the Leaf is range. I want this car to be usable for my commute if necessary and my round trip commute is 60 miles. So I wanted something I could actually drive at least 70 miles even if I want to use the heat or AC. The Leaf also obviously has a reputation for battery degradation that I don't want to deal with. The RAV4 EV has a pretty good degradation track record.

The RAV4 EV supposedly has a real world range of 100+ miles which would work.

I also was thinking that it might be nice to have a car that's bigger than my Model 3 in addition to it. I'm always buying stuff for my house (Home Depot runs) and often what I buy doesn't fit in a regular car.


What did you not like about the RAV4 EV specifically? Obviously it's not meant to be a luxury car but just solid transportation.

rxlawdude | 10 januari 2018

As for the RAV, when I had my Prius I was talking with a service guy who said a lot of the EV-RAVs were sidelined while the dealer waited for parts... from Tesla.

Any EV that gets less than 75 real miles on a charge is not a substitute for a Tesla.

Toothless2 | 10 januari 2018

What I didnt like: handling, driving, braking, traction (terrible traction) noise, range. acceleration (very weak) ergonomics (it's the old boxy Rav 4 platrform) rear door opens outward, not up. Toyota dealers hates them, trying desperately to cross sell me to an ICE.

rgrant | 10 januari 2018

Get a Fiat 500e. Dirt cheap and super fun to drive IMHO. Is your commute 60 miles at freeway speed?

vmulla | 10 januari 2018

+1 for 2015 leaf or newer, since they addressed battery degradation. I have one and it gives me ~95 miles of range at 25-30 degrees F, 90 miles if you turn on the AC. 75 miles range at temperatures below freezing, 70 miles if you blast the heater. These are real world numbers after 3 years of usage. Ok hope that helps you decide.

ReD eXiLe ms us | 10 januari 2018

Carl Thompson: I would answer 'Yes.' and you have yourself already given the reasons why... 1) a Tesla sourced drivetrain & battery pack, and 2) a Real World range greater than the EPA range rating. Those two points are why its percentage of residual value are higher than LEAF, 500e, Focus Electric, SPARK EV, et al. So a private sale after you get a Model 3 will yield you more in return than any of the others. Then it could become a temporary EV for the next owner while they wait for a Model 3, or Model Y, or Mission·E, or AUDI Quattro e-tron, or Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ, or...

tonymil | 10 januari 2018

You should consider a used Kia Soul EV. I just got a new 2017 and love it. You can get one that 2 years old for around $14k.

rxlawdude | 10 januari 2018

There's just something, um, funereal about KIA and Soul in the same sentence.

Mttcoco | 10 januari 2018

You should get a used Leaf. Then carefully push it off a cliff on your way to pick up a RAV4

Carl Thompson | 10 januari 2018

Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

Again the Leaf is out because I don't think I'd get the range out of it I'd need. The RAV4 EV gets 100+ miles real world which is sufficient for me even if I turn on the heat. It's EPA rated at 103 miles but by almost all accounts the car can go more than that relatively easily. Further, the RAV4 can be charged to 100% just like a Tesla and in that case it gets 120 miles (or more) real world (normal charge is 80%).

I'd prefer the RAV4 EV over the Kia Soul EV because of the proven Tesla drivetrain, larger size and longer real world range. Also I have more experience with Toyotas and I believe I can trust their general reliability. Not sure about the Kia. I also haven't read any reports on the long term battery degradation of the Soul so I don't want to risk it. (I'm already gambling a little on the 3's new battery.) Finally I don't like the Kia's styling and I didn't like those stupid commercials Kia had with the people dressed up as rodents. WTF!? ;-)

@ReD eXiLe ms us

Thanks. I also agree the RAV4 is more likely to hold more of its currently price than the others.

"What I didnt like: handling, driving, braking, traction (terrible traction) noise, range. acceleration (very weak) ergonomics (it's the old boxy Rav 4 platrform) rear door opens outward, not up. Toyota dealers hates them, trying desperately to cross sell me to an ICE."

Thanks for your thoughts. Your experience doesn't really match my own after 3 test drives in 3 different RAV4 EVs, though. The handling seemed averagely decent for a cheap SUV (not bad but nowhere near a Tesla) and braking, traction, noise and ergonomics seemed just fine to me for this class of car (not high end). Range from what I've read is better than most everything else out there besides a Tesla or a Bolt. Acceleration is actually pretty good! (0-60 in 7.2 seconds.) It's a bit quicker than my BMW i3 despite being much larger and heavier. Certainly for this type of vehicle I don't need or want faster. Perhaps when you drove it you didn't have it in "sport" mode? Did you drive this most recent version of the RAV4 EV or older, much crappier version from 15 years ago?

I think at this point I'm leaning toward buying the RAV4 EV. If I decide to keep it when I get my Model 3 it will fill a role I don't currently have covered (large vehicle to move bulky things). It will also serve as a reasonably comfortable backup for my Model 3 when it inevitably ends up in the shop when someone rear-ends me. At only 30K miles the one I'd purchase is a good deal and I think even if I decide to sell it in 6 months after all I won't lose too much.

If anyone else has any comments or experience it would be appreciated!

Carl Thompson | 10 januari 2018

I'll also mention I already do have an ICE car as well: a BMW Z4. But it is all manual and while it is very fun to drive it's a lot of _work_ to drive. So it's not suitable for my everyday commute even in a backup role.

ReD eXiLe ms us | 11 januari 2018

One more point, if you are interested, though it has no official tow rating, the Toyota RAV4 EV does include all the exact same mounting points for towing hardware as the ICE version. It has been found to tow up to the ICE version's 1,200-to-1,500 pound rating without issue. You may be able to find threads with photos over at TMC that illustrate towing with the RAV4 EV.

Carl Thompson | 11 januari 2018

@ReD eXiLe ms us

Thanks, that's good to know.

JoeyBones | 11 januari 2018

For context, I have 2 cars: 2012 Toyota Rav4 EV and a Model X. I am also holding reservation for Model 3 but have driven it and played with it extensively.

After almost 5 years and over 50k miles in the Rav4 EV, I currently get up to 103 miles per charge (if I drive fast, use climate or it is very cold then I get less but it has always been enough to get me from ) on standard/default charge mode; standard mode charges the battery to ~80% which is similar to the ability on a Tesla to limit how much you charge your battery for daily use (anywhere from 60-90%) vs trip (~100%); you have the option to do an extended charge if you need extra range which provides another ~20 miles and if I push it, I have gotten ~130 miles on 1 charge. Having used this for 5 years, it gives me additional confidence in Tesla's batteries and products as there is little to no battery degradation that I can tell and I have had zero issues with the car (my windshield was broken but that is a rock's fault). In contrast, the range on my Model X is lower than expected and the battery indicator often overstates the car's range.

The Rav4 EV is fast (i.e. 0-60 in 6 seconds) and tops out at 103mph in sport mode and 87mph is standard; this is way more fun to drive than a leaf (0-60 in 10 seconds) and almost as fast as the SR Model 3. The Rav4EV is roomy, lots of headroom and cargo room; seats fold down; it is very easy to get kids in and out of car seats in the back; go to the airport, etc. (much more more difficult in a 3 based on trunk capacity)

Positives for me are: good range, charges fast, very functional, fun to drive, excellent commute / errands car, cheap to maintain (most expensive major service has been $180), the touch screen is great and easy to use.

The negatives for me are: no distance sensors/ warning sounds when reversing, built-in navigation is not great (use my phone in the Rav4 on windshield on mount).

As an FYI, the backup camera in the Rav4 seems as good as the Model 3 which is disappointing; the camera on the X is way better.

rxlawdude | 11 januari 2018

Thanks, @JoeyBones for the detailed and fact-based review of the RAV. I know it was strictly a compliance car for Toyota, and the dealer I used to take my Priuses to for service was very down on them (parts coming from Tesla were very slow to arrive).

That's interesting on the real-world range. Over 100 "real" miles is the cusp of viability for a city EV.

Carl Thompson | 12 januari 2018


Thanks for the info. I picked up the RAV4 EV yesterday and so far my experience is all positive. I did opt for the "buyers remorse" clause and right now the car is at a shop getting a thorough inspection. If everything looks good in the inspection I'll keep it.

I've only had opportunity to put about 100 miles on it so far but it has exceeded my expectations. The Guess-O-meter seems spot on accurate which is a fantastic feature for an EV. The range is exactly what I expected from reading forum posts with no appreciable degradation (only 30k miles on it).

It is surprisingly powerful in "sport" mode. If I suddenly floor the accelerator in that mode the wheels _will_ spin a lot even if I'm already going 20-30MPH. That to me is the only negative as I would have expected the traction control to do a better job of keeping the amount of spin down. Since it's a big heavy truck and does not handle like a sports car I could easily see losing control of the vehicle if not careful in "sport" mode. But the tires on it aren't great and are near the end of their life so maybe that's a big part of it. I'll probably stay out of sport mode for regular driving, though. However if I wanted to do donuts this thing can definitely do it very easily.

Accelerator pedal regen is weak even in "B" mode. Definitely not strong enough for real one-pedal driving. But based on reports I may be saying the same thing about the Model 3 when I get it. (I've been spoiled by strong regen on the Chevy Volt and BMW i3). Honestly I'm totally OK with that as the power use / regen gauge makes it easy to know how to maximize regen using the brake pedal. (The RAV4 EV has blended brakes but I've heard Teslas don't?)

Pairs perfectly with my phones and will even read texts out loud when I get them which I really like.

Has FM / AM / XM naturally because that's what drivers want.

Has towing capability.

The car does have a weak "excuse-me" horn, though. ;-)

All in all I'm pleased with this purchase. Definitely not as cheap to pick up as a used Leaf but this car has a lot more utility. Shopping around at different dealers I was able to pick it up at almost $2k lower than the typical dealer price which is pretty good on a used car. And I think having a Tesla drivetrain it will be much more likely to keep its value (and it's range).

ReD eXiLe ms us | 13 januari 2018

JoeyBones: Thanks a lot for providing detailed Real World use data fir the Toyota RAV4 EV!

Carl Thompson: Congratulations on your purchase! I know the intent was for the RAV4 EV to be temporary, but I suspect you may find it hard to let go of in the end. Enjoy!

sega | 19 juli 2018

Would any RAV4 EV owner recommend buying a used one for export out to the Caribbean? Or would the need for nearby maintenance/repair support be a requirement and make it a bad EV export choice? I currently have had no problems with 7 i-Mievs in the Caribbean, including no degradation.

Mathew98 | 19 juli 2018

You will have zero support for a 7 years old EV. Gee, what can possible go wrong with that?

Wouldn't it be more economical to add more golf carts to your fleet?

andy.connor.e | 19 juli 2018

At that point, i would simply just ask you, why do you need an EV

sega | 19 juli 2018

Air conditioning. The desire to go faster than 25 mph. I see no reason to explain why choose an EV on a Tesla forum. I already have confirmation through 8 other EVs on island that they are maintenance free excluding tires & wipers. The items that might need a mechanic (brakes, suspension, body work) do not need battery or electric motor expertise. It was the idea behind why dealerships don't like EVs. I've leased Leafs stateside with no issue over 6 years outside of degradation.
The used EV era is here and I'm looking for knowledge from what I thought was a group of experienced people. Some EVs are good for any environment, others are not. Some were compliance cars riddled with issues at the start.
Some of those issues were addressed one car at a time, presumably. What should I assume when I see comments regarding:
people wanting to buy the RAV4 EV after lease end
RAV4 EVs transported east against the wishes of the manufacturer
approx +70,000 miles on 3 different vehicles currently for sale online.
So, I'm hoping someone can say from the standpoint of RAV4 EV ownership that they like the car BUT it needs to be close to a service center, like what I've heard about some Teslas, etc. Or that if I choose wisely I can find a sibling to the more than half dozen Mievs that never give my family grief.
To add to my anecdotal evidence, please refer to google for the incidence of repairs and maintenance comparison of EVs versus ICE vehicles. I have no interest in anyone else's opinion.

sega | 19 juli 2018

To be clear, opinions of RAV4 EV owners count.

Thegolfpilot | 4 augusti 2018

I have a Rav4 EV. Mode 3 AWD is being delivered this month! I am a rare Rav4 EV driver as it is my only car. I have a chamdmeo charger on it as well as a hitch. 62k Miles. I often make a 80 mile trip, each way, which requires a charge at destination or charge for 30 minutes at chadmeo. (Nowhere near as fast as supercharger)

I had the AC replaced under warranty at 43k miles. That would have been a 6k bill. The traction battery went out at 56k miles. That was covered under warranty, took about 6 weeks, replacement battery showed up at the Toyota dealer in a huge taped Tesla crate. That repair would have totaled the car had it not been covered under warranty.
The windshield is a super thick, no other car uses this windshield, making it super expensive. If it cracks it will be expensive (over 4K). I have a windshield replacement add on to my insurance for that reason.

Most dealerships won’t touch the car. They say they will then 3 days after they have the car they tell you they can’t. Berkley Toyota or Palo Alto are the only two dealerships in the Bay Area that will 100% work on the car...

Would I recommend someone get one? Maybe. You need to get a Toyota Platinum warranty with it. And you need to pay accordingly for the car to be worth scraps at 100k or 10 years. Anything I get past that I will be stoked.

If you are still interested in the car, You need to be on the rav4ev forum. Also, A guy named Tony Williams is a wealth of information and the inventor of the fast charger for the Rav4 ev. He runs that forum, he is a model s and 3 owner as well!

ebmcs03 | 4 augusti 2018

I vote for the fiat 500e too

Carl Thompson | 4 augusti 2018

I still have my RAV4 EV along with my Model 3 and it's a good car. I can recommend it if you are OK with the short range and can get a good price.

Rocky_H | 6 augusti 2018

Hey, it's been quite a while, @Carl Thompson. How's things going?

Carl Thompson | 6 augusti 2018


Things are good... If I had to replace my car and buy a new one tomorrow for some reason I'd repeat my Model 3 purchase (though I'd probably opt for dual-motor just because). The car is comfortable, easy and fun to drive. No regrets.

Nexxus | 9 augusti 2018

Welcome back CT!

swarto112 | 19 augusti 2019

Clay, had my Rav4 EV for a year and a half. Works great for what I use it for. FYI - u can get a Platinum Toyota Warranty that covers everything. Head over to for info theres alot of info on do's & dont's

Trekman | 19 augusti 2019

He Lives! (Carl T)

swarto112 | 19 augusti 2019

Also, this is a blog of a guy using one for over 5 years with trips, data points, etc

llim3306 | 20 augusti 2019

@Carl T, still have your Rav EV. Let me know if you want to sell it....:)