After about 9 months on a waiting list, we finally got our new car last tuesday. It’s a rav4 prime XSE with premium package (ie, the highest end one they make).

A short thing at the top here for those interested in Open Source/Linux. The manual for the car points to a site that shows 53 components as having source available in one place via LG and another site for the informational display. It’s got all the usual things you might expect: kernel patches, busybox, glibc, systemd, util-linux, etc. It’s of course unclear how it all builds or works, but thats typical. At least there’s a ton of open source here (like there is everywhere).

Now, read on for long boring car stuff. 🙂

So why did I decide to go for this make/model? Well, it’s pretty ideal for us here. We live about 15mi from the grocery store/shops, so when we go into town for shopping or appointments it’s about a 30-40mi round trip (depending on which side of town the thing we are going to is on). The rav4 prime has a advertised 42mile all electric range, so 95% of the time we should be able to be all EV and burn no gas at all. On those occasions when we go further (trip to the coast and back: ~90mi, trip to the portland airport: ~230mi, longer road trips, etc) we can just run in hybrid mode and get great millage and not have to worry about recharging or range. The prime has a 14.5gal tank, although toyota is apparently really concerned with anyone running out of gas, so when it says “0 miles” and the fuel gage reads empty, there’s still about 3 gal in the tank (~100+ miles). That gives it a range of around ~500miles+~100mi reserve. I also really really liked the engineering involved in this car. They really did a very clever job using motor/generators and planetary gears. It’s nice to know I never need to worry about: belts (there are none), starters (There isn’t one, it uses a motor generator and the battery to start the engine), alternators (there’s a dc/dc converter, no alternator), or driveshaft (the back 2 wheels have their own generator). The climate system is all heat pump based, moving hot/cold from where it is to where it’s desired.

Some first impressions: Loving it.

  • Yesterday went to the store and back in 100% EV mode, round trip 26.4 miles, and used 36% of the battery.
  • The magnetic grey metallic color just looks super sharp.
  • The “wave your foot under the back and it opens/closes the back hatch” is awesome.
  • It’s going to take some getting used to to just opening the door and having it know you have the key and unlocking for you.
  • Thursday went to the portland airport and back in HV (Hybrid vehicle) mode. 232miles. It claims I got 51mpg, which I suppose is possible. There was a lot of stop and go traffic when the engine just turned off and I think the fastest I got going was 65mph. Ave speed was like 38mph. Still have about 2/3rds of a tank of gas.
  • Radar cruise control with lane assist is pretty cool, but will take some getting used to also. The lane assist seems to want you right in the middle of the lane, but I found that my habbit was to be more toward the outside of the road (to stay further from crazy drivers). The radar cruise control wanted to brake later than I would have, ie, I saw break lights ahead and would have started slowing, but it waited until the car in front was slowing a lot before it started breaking.
  • The 2023 infotainment thing (they redid it completely for 2023) is pretty great. Voice commands seem to work as well as those things always do, navigation was solid, music via my phone bluetooth was great, phone calls and texts worked great. One interesting thing I found out is that my phone won’t do android auto. This is because I’m running grapheneos, and android auto requires google play to have a lot of privs that graphineos doesn’t let it have in the sandbox it runs it in. As far as I can tell right now though, I don’t care. The regular phone via bluetooth integration seems to do everything I normally would want. Perhaps I’m missing some great android auto thing I am unaware of though.
  • Ventilated seats are awesome. Really makes things cooler and more pleasant.
  • I had to really punch it a few times on the airport trip in HV and… man does it go. (302hp)
  • The cameras for parking/backing up are outstanding. We put a doormat in the garage and when I pull the car in I can clearly see looking down where the mat is so I know where to position the car.
  • Blind spot monitoring is great. No more craning around to see if you can switch lanes. It just lights a light on the side mirrors when someone is there.
  • Digital rearview mirror took a little getting used to also (this is basically showing you behind the car with the camera, so you don’t need to worry about peoples heads in the way,etc). I found it hard to refocus on it at first, but after a while I really liked it. It’s much clearer than the non digital one since it doesn’t have to look through the ‘privacy glass’ (ie, tint) in the back and can gather light much better. I will probibly use this all the time now.
  • The heads up display is awesome. Being able to see speed, charge / eco /power, lane assist/radar cruse, speed limit and songs when they change is great.
  • Sign detection is awesome. It basically looks for signs (speed limit, stop, yield, etc) and shows them on the panel/HUD. I can’t count the number of times when driving in the past I said to myself “Hey, what was the speed limit here?” Now you know. It does put the sign in red/yellow when you speed, but it doesn’t beep or care otherwise.
  • There’s some gamification on ‘eco driving’ that I haven’t really paid much attention to. Basically it gives you a score on starts / stops / etc from 1-100. My score way jumping around, but I was mostly ignoring it to play with the car, perhaps I’ll look at it more in coming years.
  • The charging schedule stuff seems to work fine (if you fully plug it in, I didn’t have it actually fully plugged in the other day and surprisingly it didn’t charge until I did). So you can tell it you are departing at 2pm on friday and it will start charging so that it’s done just before 2pm friday. You can even have it run the a/c before you leave to get the interior all ready.
  • The android app is… functional, but has a lot of quirks. But you can lock/unlock, start the car (and turn on a/c), see range for hv/ev, plugged in or not, charging or not, how long until charged. It also sends you notices anytime the doors lock/unlock, charging starts, etc. It’s really chatty with notices and I don’t see a way to adjust them, but thats mostly fine. It also has a little ‘Drive pulse and trips” thing where it tells you about your trips (about a day after you made them). You can opt out of this, but I am leaving it on for now. This all requires a subsription of course, but new cars come with 1 year included. I guess I’ll see in a year if I want to renew.
  • There is of course a ODBII port and… wow… theres a lot of data there. I will have to play around with it and see if any of it is useful to collect.
  • Panoramic moon roof is awesome. Lets in tons of light and looks really nice.

A few annoyances / things to sort out:

  • When you stop and open the drivers door it gives you a cool little report about your trip. time, mpg or KWh/mile, miles, etc. If you have a charging schedule set it shows you a thing about that and asks if you want to charge now, then shows the trip report and then… it disappears. I see no way to get it back, so it’s anoying that you can’t look back at your last trip and see the stats.
  • Similarly for mpg/kwhpm you can get a graph that shows your ‘best mpg’ and bars for your trips, but mpg is pretty worthless when you are in ev mode (it shows 99.9mpg), and there’s no way to see more details about any of the trips. (at least from the infotainment/display).
  • The “guess-o-meter” as other folks call the millage estimates is pretty off for ev mode especially. I went 26.4 miles and used 36% of battery, but 100% full the guess-o-meter said I had 33miles of range. I understand that it has to learn/calibrate. Will be interesting to see how well it adjusts in the next month or so.
  • As folks noted on the net, the pedestrian warning noise at low speeds in ev mode is pretty weird. Many people call it ‘space ship like’. Moving forward it’s just weird, but not too anoying, but backing up… wow. it’s really quite loud. Will have to see if I get used to it, or want to do something about it.
  • Amusingly, insurance was about the same as the 2013 gas rav4 we traded in on this one. I guess because all the crazy safety features.

Not yet tested / need to look into it more:

  • Will be interesting to drive at night. I think the HUD will look really sharp and nice at night. Will have to see how the headlights do.
  • Also living in the pacific northwest, will be interesting to see how the wipers do, and how it handles in rain. The OEM tires are… not great, but I am planning on just using them until they wear out.
  • Longer trips in HV at higher speeds will be interesting. I am sure millage will be less (hopefully around the 36-40mpg thats advertised). Still will likely double the mpg we would get in our other car.
  • Didn’t play around with satellite radio at all. I’m happy with my music/podcasts
  • Didn’t play around yet with the wifi hotspot. This service only has a 1 month trial included, so I’ll have to decide if it’s worth getting. My phone does just fine as a hotspot most of the time, but it might be nice to have just because it’s a different provider (AT&T) and will have different coverage.
  • I avoided the dealer extended warentee and ceramic coating sell. I might get these things down the road, but I think I can do cheaper/better than the dealer on them.
  • Speaking of, considering a ceramic wax, but there’s a ton of choices out there.
  • It came with roof cross bars, which I had the dealer take off. We don’t usually carry things on the roof, and we can always put them back on if we do.
  • I’d like to try a trip sitting in the back. It looks really quite nice, but would be interesting to see how comfortable it is. So far I have always been in the front.

Anyhow, thats enough rambling. Overall I am very happy and enjoying playing around with it.