Toyota adds excitement to the RAV4 compact crossover

For 2018, Toyota takes the RAV4 further with a new Adventure grade, adding unique rugged styling, higher ride height and other special features. Toyota photo
Caption
For 2018, Toyota takes the RAV4 further with a new Adventure grade, adding unique rugged styling, higher ride height and other special features. Toyota photo

Let the Adventure begin

Life is an adventure! My tester for the week sets out to prove that this saying is, in fact, true. The Toyota RAV4 is a popular, albeit somewhat nondescript, crossover for Toyota. So, it was awesome to learn that for 2018 Toyota was tweaking the steady, but conservative RAV4.

The Adventure trim represents the only real exciting changes to the RAV4 for this model year. Its looks are starkly different than the more pedestrian trims of the RAV4.

The RAV4 Adventure looks ready to head off the road with a more rugged appearance. There’s a racing stripe on the hood, which helps add to the aesthetics, as overall, I find the grille of the RAV4 to be otherwise too busy and not very attractive.

The large fender flares also give a macho appearance; the black finish matches the stripe on the hood and ties the look together. There are also kick plates in the front, back and sides that are more aesthetic than practical as these are actually plastic and won’t hold up to any true off-road adventure. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels look the part and add to the rugged vibe. But all of this “adventure” look makes the RAV4 more attractive, but it really isn’t an off-road beast.

Sure, there’s a half inch more of ground clearance and the towing capacity increases from 1,500 pounds to 3,500 pounds, but otherwise, this is the same small crossover it’s always been.

This trim gets the same 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine the RAV4 has had for several model years. It makes for 176 horsepower which is adequate. Even in sport mode, it adds little exhilaration. The six-speed automatic transmission feels a little dated in its overall performance. The sport mode didn’t help; in fact, I shifted out of sport mode as I didn’t care for how long it held onto some gears.

Inside, the RAV4 Adventure sports a few special badges indicating the new trim, but otherwise it’s the same (and in-need-of-an-upgrade) interior as the other trims.

The dashboard is a bit different. I appreciate its quirky look, but some who saw it in my tester scoffed at it. There was a decent amount of wasted space on it, but I appreciated the look of it. The dashboard was made of soft materials, but beyond that there were far too many harder touch points. This made it feel behind the times when compared to some of the competition. The back seat was comfortable, but had just adequate legroom. Three adults would not fit comfortably without invading some personal space.

The upholstered seats looked nice and seemed apropos for a vehicle touting its wild side. In terms of cargo room, the Adventure is great as it has 38.4 cubic feet behind the seats, which is near the top of the segment. The rear seats fold at a 60/40 split which enhances the overall cargo to 73.4 cubic feet.

Toyota’s Entune infotainment is reasonably intuitive. However, it does nothing that Apple CarPlay or Android Auto doesn’t do, and the RAV4 doesn’t have either option. So, the Entune system on the 7-inch touchscreen is fine, but also doesn’t offer anything in the realm of cutting-edge technology.

The RAV4 Adventure runs about $3,000 more than the standard RAV4. My tester had a base price of $28,400. With a few extras like the Power Premium package, with advanced audio, sensor-based safety features and adjustable rear liftgate, my tester had a final MSRP of $31,774.

The all-wheel drive version of the RAV4 Adventure has an EPA rating of 22 mpg/city and 28 mpg/highway. Why would you buy a trim named Adventure and opt for front-wheel drive?

Life is indeed an adventure. And now, thanks to some clever styling and marketing, so too is the compact crossover from Toyota.

2018 TOYOTA RAV4 ADVENTURE

  • Price/As-tested price………………………………………… $28,400/$31,774
  • Mileage…………………………………… 22 mpg/city; 28 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 2.5-liter 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower…………………………… 176 hp/172 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission…………………………… 6-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels……………. All-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………. Woodstock, Ontario, Canada