As fate would have it, I recently found myself behind the wheel of the 2018 Toyota RAV4 the very week something big happened: Toyota unveiled a completely redesigned 2019 model. And I do mean completely overhauled with a whole new platform. But I'll put those comparisons aside, or most of them anyway, as I bring you the new for 2018 RAV4 Adventure.
2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure
Adding an Adventure trim to the RAV4 family last year was a no-brainer when you think about it. It expands the lineup of 2017's #1 selling vehicle in the U.S. (that wasn’t a truck). Off the top highlights include its more rugged exterior looks, impressive towing capacity, and additional ride height (shared with SE trim), which I quite enjoyed as I towered over a sea of other RAV4s on the road daily. On the downside, you have the RAV4's outgoing platform, lifeless steering, and outdated infotainment system.
While an all-new, more Lexus-like chiseled model arrives later this year, the current Adventure trim isn't hard on the eyes. The mid-level trim adds a dose of ruggedness to the otherwise conservatively-styled four-door hatchback. Think black hood stripe on the hood, larger fender flares, durable rocker panel guards and bezel headlights. Privacy tinting and mostly blacked-out windows give it a nice look, along with black-accented power heated outside mirrors. Add to that 18-inch 5-spoke black alloy wheels, a roof rack, rear spoiler and an all-new mountain-shaped Adventure badge on the back and you get the idea.
Open the door to the cabin and you find a nicely designed cloth interior that isn't too flashy. Black fabric seats feature white contrast stitching. A mix of soft-touch and hard surfaces adorn the doors and dash. Thankfully, silver and snakeskin-like patterned accents cut through the dark cabin to add some interest. The power and heated driver's seat was surprisingly comfortable, but the back seat cushions weren't as kind. On the plus side, they did recline. My tester sported a sunroof, dual zone climate control, and a nice-sized center console space. The heated, leather-wrapped tilt and telescoping steering wheel gets my thumbs up for comfort and size. The easy-to-read tachometer and digital display are standard Toyota. The 8-speaker audio system is ok. Fortunately, you don't have to drown out road noise, thanks to a fairly quiet cabin. Really my main beef with the RAV4 is Toyota's infotainment system and touchscreen placement. I'm not a fan of Entune and find it hard to navigate, even on the steering wheel controls. The irksome design of the 7-inch touchscreen is also a sore point. As with the Prius I've driven, its angle invited sun glare. It was also difficult to see the graphics unless it was dark or cloudy. In the back, a power liftgate opens to reveal a thick Adventure-logo'd all-weather cargo mat, a good amount of trunk space and power outlet. You can close the trunk with a large, can't-miss button on the top.
Ride, Handling, and Performance
Fun to drive isn't something that comes immediately to mind when you think of Toyota, something the brand is trying to change with updated models. So it won't surprise you to learn that while the RAV4's ride was pleasant enough, it's soft suspension and dull steering didn't exactly provide a thrill-ride even in sport mode. What I did love about it was the aforementioned added ride height thanks to 6.5 inches of ground clearance as opposed to 6.1 inches. The Adventure shares a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with rest of the RAV4 lineup. It delivers 176-horsepower and while it has no problem keeping up with traffic, I found the acceleration to be a bit sluggish. Braking felt a bit on the spongy-side, as well, but that could well be chalked up to being a hard-driven press vehicle. The leather gear shifter-knob controls the 6-speed automatic transmission. My tester's dynamic torque control all-wheel drive is optional.
While the Adventure is more about rugged looks than hitting say, the Rubicon trail, it offers impressive towing capacity. A tow prep package comes standard and can tow up to 3,500 pounds. That is way, way, way up from the 1,500 lbs. on the LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum models.
Test Vehicle Options
My tester features two packages. The $2,490 Power Premium Extra Value Package: height adjustable power liftgate, smart key, Blind Spot Monitoring with Cross-Traffic Alert, Navigation, and the Entune Multimedia Bundle. The $1,060 Cold Weather Package is responsible for my heated steering wheel and front seats and window de-icer. Add to that the $40 mudguards.
By now you know that Toyota Safety sense is a strong selling point for any Toyota vehicle. My RAV4 offered Toyota Safety Sense P that includes Pre-Collision Assist, Lane Departure Assist, Automatic High Beams, Dynamic Radar Control. (In 2019, Toyota will offer next-generation Safety Sense 2.0 that includes new Lane Tracing Assist and Road Sign Assist technologies.)
What You'll Pay
My test model as equipped comes with a $32,440 window sticker, and that's with a $940 Extra Value Package Discount. That's a lot of money for a compact SUV in my mind, especially when a brand new model is around the corner. So to me, it's worth it to research the new 2019 model before making a decision.
2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD
- What I liked most: Exterior looks, color, added ride height.
- What I would change: Everything about the touchscreen placement and infotainment system.
- MSRP: Base price, $28,400; as equipped, $32,440 with $940 Extra Value Package Discount.
- Fuel economy: 22 city/28/highway/25 combined with gas filler on the driver's side.
- Official color: Ruby Flare Pearl ($395).
- Odometer reading when tested: 3,989 miles.
- Weight: 3,605 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 183.5 inches long/72.6 inches wide/67.1 inches tall.
- Fuel tank capacity: 15.9 gallons.
- Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds (AWD)/2,900 (FWD).
- Spare tire: Temporary spare.
- 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure in a few words: The sportiest RAV4 with the most towing capacity in the lineup designed for drivers who want to look tough and rugged though they'll probably never leave the pavement.
- Final assembly location: Woodstock, Ontario, Canada
- Manufacturer’s website: Toyota