Faced with stiff competition within its own segment, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 soldiers on as a reliable, comfortable, and well-equipped alternative to entries from Honda, Nissan, Ford, and Chevrolet. And with a a new set of safety equipment and a sporty trim for 2018, the RAV4 has two more arrows in its quiver.
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2018 Toyota RAV4 Overview
What's New for 2018
The 2018 RAV4 gains an all-new Adventure trim, available with both front- and all-wheel drive models. Toyota’s suite of driver-assist safety features, called Toyota Safety Sense Plus (lane departure warning with a steering assistant, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection), is now standard across the RAV4 line.
Choosing Your Toyota RAV4
Toyota offers the RAV4 in six grades: LE, XLE, Adventure, SE, Limited, and Platinum. Seating for five is standard with 38.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seat and 73.4 cubes with that seat folded.
All models come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque, which works alongside with a six-speed automatic transmission (a hybrid is available and is listed separately). All-wheel drive is available across the RAV4 product line, adding $1,400 to the base price across the board.
Going with all-wheel drive isn't the most efficient option, of course. The front-drive RAV4 returns 23 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 26 mpg combined. Adding all-wheel drive drops those figures to 22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined.
The RAV4 SE is our pick, as it offers a sport-tuned suspension along with many of the amenities customers desire in a small SUV. We'd suggest adding all-wheel drive, naturally, and then grabbing the Entune Premium JBL Package. Out the door, you'd be looking at a handsomely equipped crossover SUV for $33,200.
2018 Toyota RAV4 Review
Six years into its current model cycle and following a mild facelift in 2016, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 remains a solid contender in the compact crossover class. But a roomy interior, smooth ride, and an array of standard advanced safety features are spoiled by offbeat styling cues, a lack of luxury features, and mediocre performance.
Pricing begins at $25,405 (including a $995 destination charge) for a front-wheel drive model in LE trim and, five trim levels later, tops out at $37,540 for an all-wheel-drive Platinum model with the optional Ruby Red or Blizzard Pearl paint scheme.
With a single engine and transmission choice, a range of standard advanced safety features (rear view camera, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and automatic high beams), and no leather interior option, the choice narrows down to the level of equipment you want.
We'd opt for the Limited because it offers an easier-to-clean faux leather interior, brighter and more efficient LED headlights and taillights, a moonroof, a power liftgate, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated power-folding outside mirrors, heated front seats, a driver's memory function, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift lever, keyless push-button start, and a larger seven-inch touchscreen with navigation, in-vehicle apps, and satellite radio. Grab the $875 Entune Premium JBL Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite – the RAV4 isn't available with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, so it's the best navigation setup available. The upgraded audio system doesn't hurt, either.
- Model:2018 Toyota RAV4 Limited
- Engine:2.5-liter four-cylinder
- Output:176 hp / 172 lb-ft
- Transmission:Six-speed automatic
- Drivetrain:All-wheel drive
- MPG:23 City / 29 Hwy
- Options:Entune Premium JBL Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite ($875, Entune infotainment system, navigation, 11-speaker JBL audio, HD radio, and Bluetooth connectivity)
- Base Price:$33,300
- Best Value Price:$34,175
The RAV4 excels at smooth, relaxed cruising. This is a comfortable everyday vehicle, managing bumps and road imperfections without complaint. It's quiet, too, with little wind and road noise.
But this is not a fast vehicle. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder just doesn't offer enough power, and compared to the turbocharged entry from Honda, it's totally lacking in usable low-end torque. And that comfortable ride? It means the RAV4 isn't the most agile entry in this class. And compared to the Mazda CX-5, the Toyota isolates its driver much more, both through the chassis and the steering.
Interior and Exterior
The RAV4's cabin is extremely functional. The material quality is fine and the layout is logical, with well-placed buttons and knobs. The front seats offer plenty of support for long-range driving, while the cargo area is easy to access and offers up to 73.4 cubic feet of space. That's a lot.
We'd like more adjustability from the tilt-telescopic steering – there's not quite enough range for taller drivers. And the lack of available leather upholstery is galling, especially on the range-topping Platinum trim, which can crest $35,000. Finally, we wouldn't mind a more comfortable, supportive second-row bench. As it stands, the front seats are far more comfortable over long distances.
On the exterior, we'd just like a little more personality. The RAV4 simply isn't very exciting or attractive to look at.
The Best and Worst Things
Toyota has equipped the RAV4 with a best-in-class array of advanced standard safety technologies on all trim levels. That said, the RAV4's ritziest trim just can't hold a candle to rivals from Honda, Mazda, or Ford.
Safety-conscious buyers will appreciate the RAV4's extensive list of standard advanced active safety features.
Beauty may be in the eyes of the beholder, but the RAV4's odd styling and lack of luxury touches mean the style-conscious need not apply.
The Bottom Line
Although the RAV4 remains a solid contender in the compact crossover class, buyers looking for performance and luxury touches should check out its competitors.
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