In Europe, Sweden specifically, there's a safety exam known as the Moose Test, sometimes called the Elk Test. It aims to ensure a car can sharply perform an s-shaped maneuver to avoid unexpected objects that enter the road. Operated by Swedish magazine Teknikens Värld, a Toyota RAV4 AWD-i recently displayed poor performance in the Moose Test, which resulted in the publication failing the car.
The concept of the test is simple. At maximum load, the vehicle starts in a straight line, then is forced to cut hard left, immediately hard right, and back into the original course. This is meant to imitate avoiding a moose, backing-up vehicle, or person running into the street. The vehicle is required to correct course as a way to imitate avoiding incoming traffic. This affords a unique test of the suspension, handling, and safety systems such as electronic stability control.
Teknikens Värl tested two RAV4s in exactly the same spec, and both vehicles performed similarly. During the second cut to correct course, the RAV4 is clearly upset with bouncing, skidding, and wheel lift. Here's an excerpt of Teknikens' findings:
Toyota RAV4 has quick front end reactions when we turn left into the lane. When we turn right it cuts in and the car goes up on two wheels. But the behaviour varies. Sometimes it goes up on two wheels with extreme reactions including severe skid tendencies, other times the car bounces sideways through the moose test and manages, in the midst of this hard to handle behaviour, to ease the worst forces and avoids going up on two wheels. But instead the car becomes willing to skid sideways. After much effort and great hassle, we manage to reach 68 km/h (42 mph) – a speed that is not approved.
Teknikens even goes so far as to suggest the car is unsafe for driving, advice that should be taken with a grain of salt. The test also famously failed old examples of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Porsche Macan, and in both cases, the companies contradicted the results.
Toyota responded by saying it specifically ran the RAV4 through the Elk Test, and it passed under the company's supervision. Read Toyota's answer at Teknikens, and watch the video above. In U.S. crash testing, NHTSA rates the RAV4 at four out of five stars for rollover risk.