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2018 Toyota RAV4 Overview
Toyota’s ever-popular RAV4 compact crossover SUV received a pretty comprehensive refresh in 2016, but the 2018 model gets a few notable updates as well as a new trim: the Adventure. The Adventure brings bigger wheels, a taller ride height, and other off-roading features to appeal to more outdoor-oriented buyers. Not to be left out, the rest of the RAV4 range receives a some new optional features for 2018, such as a heated steering wheel, heated power front seats, and a windshield-wiper de-icer as part of a new Cold Weather package. A separate hybrid model, the RAV4 Hybrid, is also available.
The RAV4’s powertrain remains the same for 2018—a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission for an output of 176 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. The RAV4 comes with your choice of front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) and will reach 60 mph in around 9 seconds, which is fairly respectable for the class. Properly configured, it can tow up to 1,500 pounds, and steering is by electric power assist. The important figure for most buyers will be fuel economy, however, and here the RAV4 just doesn’t stack up against competitors like the Subaru Forester and the Mazda CX-5. With FWD, the RAV is rated at 23 mpg city, 30 highway, and 23 combined for LE and XLE trims and 23, 29, and 25 for SE, Limited, and Platinum trims. When equipped with AWD, it gets figures of 22, 28, and 25 on LE, XLE, and Platinum trims and 22, 28, and 24 on the SE and Limited trims. EPA numbers have not yet been released for the new Adventure trim.
The biggest news for 2018 is the RAV4’s new Adventure trim, which gets a raised suspension for better ground clearance, fender flares over 18-inch alloy wheels, trim-specific lower body trim, and black trim around the headlights and fog lights. The interior boasts unique paneling, a leather shift knob, a 120-volt power outlet in the trunk, and all-weather rubber floor mats. A Tow Prep package comes standard. While it’s marketed to a more outdoorsy crowd, the Adventure trim is still available in either FWD or AWD like the rest of the RAV4 lineup.
One of the best things about the RAV4, as always, is that it offers a lot of cargo space without having a particularly large footprint. The RAV4 has been an ideal first car for generations now and has packed dorm rooms’ worth of stuff for countless students. The trunk provides 38.4 cubic feet of storage space behind split-folding rear seats and 73.4 cubic feet with the seats folded. These numbers are impressive, but it’s important to note that the rival Honda CR-V offers up about the same amount of room.
The 2018 RAV4 is available in six trims: LE, XLE, SE, Limited, Platinum, and the new Adventure. New for this year is a Cold Weather package, which adds heated and power-operated front seats on models with cloth upholstery, a heated steering wheel, and a windshield-wiper de-icing system. All trims come standard with Bluetooth connectivity, a reversing camera, Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, and a 4.2-inch multi-information display located between the normal gauges. The XLE trim adds dual-zone automatic climate control and a power moonroof. As the only “sport” trim, the SE gets a sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters, 18-inch alloy wheels, a power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory features, and SofTex (synthetic leather) upholstery. Moving up to the Limited trim gets you a bigger 7-inch touchscreen and a power rear hatch, which the Platinum upgrades to a hands-free sensor-activated rear hatch—a particularly useful feature when your hands are full of gear or groceries. The Platinum trim also adds a 360-degree camera, which is available as an option on the lower trims. Notably absent, however, are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are now offered by most of the RAV4’s competitors.
The 2017 RAV4 earned a 5-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the coveted Top Safety Pick+ status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). As with most other current vehicles in the Toyota range, the 2018 RAV4 comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense-P system, which includes automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and lane-departure alert with steering assist. Other compact crossovers offer many of the same safety features, but the RAV4 is unique in including them as standard equipment.
Since 2012, Andrew Newton has been writing about cars both old and new. Andrew has been an associate editor at Sport Car Digest as well as a contributor to sites like BoldRide and JamesEdition. He was also the Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA before becoming the Auction Editor at Hagerty Classic Car Insurance. He currently splits his time behind the wheel between his NA Miata, 1994 Corvette, and Triumph TR6.
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