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.

Best Value

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

Performance

Toyota RAV4

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.

Right For...

Toyota RAV4

Safety-conscious buyers will appreciate the RAV4's extensive list of standard advanced active safety features.

Wrong For...

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.