SIMPSON Desert with RAV4


New Member
Next June/July I am considering a family 4WDing trip from Boulia via the Plenty Highway to Alice Springs then back across the French line to Birdsville.

There will be 4 vehicles, one of which is a 2007 RAV4. (The others being much larger 4WDs - landcruiser etc).

Just wondering whether the RAV will cope with trip. Any advice would be greatly appreciate.




New Member
Thanks Cruiserlad

We will take that into account; reckon we should be able to use the other cars (3 or 4 not sure at this stage) to help with that.



4x4 Earth Contributer
yeah a few extra jerrys will do the job how about clearence some after market suspension would be a real help with the fuel sorted and after market suspension there should be no real problems for the rav
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4x4 Earth Contributer
Do Ravs have low range ? that and clearance are going to be your main problem aside from the fuel issue.

The fuel issue is one that most people think of the consumption one way, the reality is that you have to consider the possibility that in the event of an upset in the weather and flooding at the western end is that you really have to have enough fuel to turn around and go back - it does happen !

With the clearance issue, you will be be bottoming on the crest on the dunes and having to be snatched of repeatedly, take plenty of snatch straps if your party is okay with this - they would have to be real good friends to start with because I would think that this will stretch the friendship more than a tad .

The other thing is if it is an auto, the bloody thing is going to overheat very quickly, if you still insist on taking it then a must would be fitting an oilcooler with fan assist or the transmission is going to fail big time very early in the piece .

I will post next a fuel usuage chart for you, the Rav is a great little town car, this terrain isn't for it - lets not beat around the bush, people do die out there !

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4x4 Earth Contributer
Fuel Consumption Rates




Diesel 4 cylinder 10
Diesel 6 cylinder 14
Turbo Diesel 4 cylinder 10
Turbo Diesel 6 cylinder 12
Petrol 4 cylinder 9
Petrol 6 cylinder 16
Petrol 8 cylinder 14

Diesel 4 cylinder 19
Diesel 6 cylinder 23
Turbo Diesel 4 cylinder 18
Turbo Diesel 6 cylinder 22
Petrol 4 cylinder 28
Petrol 6 cylinder 35
Petrol 8 cylinder 34

Diesel 4 cylinder 19.5
Diesel 6 cylinder 23
Turbo Diesel 4 cylinder 18.5
Turbo Diesel 6 cylinder 17.5
Petrol 4 cylinder 29
Petrol 6 cylinder 34.5
Petrol 8 cylinder 33

Allow 10% more for a heavy laden vehicle !


no RAV4's dont have low range... I personally wouldnt be taking a RAV4 into the simpson... Yes it probably can be done, but at what cost?? How much damage are you willing to cause to the car??


New Member
I've just done the Boulia to Alice Springs run down the Donohue Highway and Plenty Highway. Fill up your tank at Boulia and then the next fuel point is at Jervois on the NT side of the border. I would also fill up at least one 20L tank.

BE WARNED - There is NO FUEL at Tobermorey. Many maps say there is, but there isn't. This nearly caught me out but luckily we made it to Jervois ok. Petrol there is 80c/L more than you will pay in QLD, $2.20 when I was there a few weeks ago.

I posted a track report on here a few days ago and here is a link for a full trip report that I posted on another forum, inc photos!

I'm sure your RAV will easily handle this part of the run, depending on weather of course. Your main concerns are small to medium sized sharp rocks and bloody rough corrigations that will shake you car apart. It may be the Simpson desert but you're not traversing sand dunes, you're on a really rough road. I can't see you needing any mods whatsoever to complete this part of the run. Letting your tyres down and slowing down will help the most. (Assuming your Rav is 4wd...)

I really enjoyed this part of my trip and know you will too! Be sure to take extra water for each person and your car, the extra fuel, extra food, recovery gear etc.

I haven't done the Birdsville run unfortunately so can't help with that.

Edit....if you can't be bothered clicking on the above link then these are the relevant pics...

Start of the Plenty Highway...



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New Member
The AWD Club in Victoria traversed the Simpson Desert with Nissan Xtrails and a Diesel Santa Fe.
The Santa Fe was driven by Robert Pepper to experiment fuel efficiency on a remote Outback trip. Robert is a journo for Overlander 4x4 Mag & author of GPS Vehicle Navigation in Australia. He wrote an article about the trip in the Overlander 4x4 magazine, but I'm not sure which issue it was published.

Otherwise, write an email to the AWD Club in Vic. The forum won't let me include the email address & website on this post. Google it and I'm sure the details will come up.

As previously mentioned, you'll need to plan your trip carefully. Taking into account all things that are important to a remote trip; fuel, water, food, spares, tyres, communication, safety equipment, etc.

You should consider minimising your drive on the French Line. The other tracks, WAA, QAA, Rig will have less dunes to traverse.


4x4 Earth Contributer
Mate, I have been out there, and you would have to be mad to even try it in anything that hasn't got low range The QAA line is definitely out of the equation .

Whilst your friends may be helpfull towing you out if you are a manual gearbox, the extra strain on their rigs leaves them wide open to failure as well, that aint going to happen if you are an auto,I forgot to mention that the cost of recovering a vehicle from out there is $$$$$$ thousands if your trany dies .

It would be cheaper and smarter to hire a rig that is capable of doing the trip . The whole idea reeks of disaster !