Camping trips in our 2012 Rav4 EV

May 2020. California.

Our Rav4 EV is 7 years old now, has 88,000 miles / 140,000 km on the odometer, and continues to serve us well. Nowadays we use it most for commuting back and forth to work (35 miles / 55 km per day), for shopping, and running errands. But we’ve also gone on lots of family trips in our EV over the years.

  • Escaping the Summer Heat

Camping is a great way to escape the heat in California’s Central Valley. Even when it gets hot in the Central Valley, it stays nice and cool along the coast and up in the Sierras. On one of our trips it was 106°F when we left home, and 3 hours later we were chilling at 61°F in a campground on the Pacific Ocean.

106 at home, or 61 on the coast. You choose.
  • Storage

The Rav4 EV has a good storage space in the cargo area behind the rear seats – 37 cubic feet or 1 cubic meter. That leaves plenty of room for our family of four up front, and room to store our tent, 10′ x 10′ shade, sleeping bags and pads, coolers, dry goods, essential drinks, clothes, and more in the cargo space.

  • Getting there (and back)

A successful trip is getting there and getting home. So in the beginning we choose campgrounds that were within range of a single charge, and that had Level 2 charging stations nearby. The EPA rating of the 2012-21014 Rav4 EV was 113 miles / 180 km on a full charge, but in warm weather with careful driving it was easy to go further.

Full charge range.
The furthest I’ve driven in our Rav4 EV on a single charge is 155 miles.

We camped at a number of places that were 100 – 120 miles from home, like Bodega Bay and Point Reyes. These locations had public Level 2 charging stations we used to charge our car for driving around the area and for the trip home.

Charging at a campground.
Charging our Rav4 EV on a public charging station at the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

We also camped at the Stillwater Cove Regional Park, which was 2 miles from a hotel that had a 50 amp outlet the hotel gave me permission to use. Find charging stations near your points of interest using the Plugshare.com website or phone app.

Charging on a 240 volt 50 amp outlet near the Stillwater Cove Regional Park campground. Make sure you have a Level 2 mobile charging cord with the right adapters to use outlets like this.

Another time we camped at an RV campground up in the Sierra Nevadas and charged our car on an RV electric hookup that had a TT-30 outlet. We used the charge to visit the nearby Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Mercer Caverns, neighboring towns, and for the trip home. Stating the obvious here, but if you plan a trip like this be sure to call ahead for a reservation and to get permission to use the RV hookup for charging your EV. And of course make sure you have the correct adapters.

  • Getting there faster

We were very fortunate that in 2015 a company in San Diego began selling a rapid DC charging port for the all electric Rav4 EV. This system, called JdeMO, cut the time required to add 80 miles to the battery pack from 4 hours down to 30 minutes. The JdeMO port allowed us to use DC quick charging stations to travel farther in our region of California. Read about our JdeMO installation here, and a review of how I’ve used the JdeMO charging port to extend our travels.

Typical DC charging station in a shopping complex near San Rafael, CA.

With the JdeMO port installed we were able to travel further by including a DC charging stop on the way to our destination. Many DC charging stations are located in shopping plazas, so we planned our trips to charge the car while taking a 30-40 minute lunch break. This allowed us to go to places 200 miles away without much trouble.

  • Camping

Once our Rav4 EV got us where we wanted to go, we got down to the fun part of hiking, exploring, cooking out, making S’mores, and eating.

Camping at Stillwater Cove.
Exploring Bodega Bay.
Bodega Bay. The water is 55 degrees, should we go in?
Short hikes near the campground.
Cool weather on the coast during the hot California summer.
Checking out the trees in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
Exploring the Mercer Caverns.
  • Conclusion?

The Rav4 EV checks a lot of boxes: It’s an efficient commuter compared to gas-powered cars; the 113 miles of EPA-rated range will meet the daily needs of many drivers; with a DC charging port it can quickly go farther; the cabin is comfortable; the ‘U’ in utility – plenty of the storage space for a family of 4. We love this car and hope one day Toyota gets back in the game.