The Toyota RAV4 is a common sight on New England roads. There are lots of crossovers out there, yet the RAV4 continues to rise to the top, and with good reason. It has affordable pricing, a wide range of features, and this year there’s a new Adventure trim that targets those with a more active lifestyle.
Our test model was the new RAV4 Adventure with all-wheel drive. Power comes from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. This is the powertrain for every RAV4 — unless you’re shopping for the hybrid, which doesn’t include the Adventure trim. You also have a choice of either front-wheel or all-wheel drive across the lineup.
Driving in city conditions, the RAV4 does fine, but the engine comes up short on the highway. It doesn’t have quite the power it needs for easy acceleration. You need to hit the gas hard to get up to highway speed and if you want extra power for passing, be prepared to give the engine a second to respond.
Once you are up to speed, the RAV4 is a pleasure. The ride is smooth, even over rough pavement, and it had no problem handling pothole-covered roads after the winter. Overall, it’s a comfortable ride with very little road or wind noise even at highway speeds. It’s easy to carry on a conversation with those in the second row with no need to raise your voice.
Passengers will enjoy the ride no matter where they sit with supportive front seats with minimal bolstering that makes them ideal for larger frames. There’s room for three in back, but it’s best for two on longer drives. Synthetic leather seats are available on top trims, but our test model featured fabric seats. They looked good and have a durable feel designed to stand up to rough use.
Handling is also good with relaxed steering that won’t demand much of the driver. It’s responsive without being taxing and maintains its composure even over those potholes we mentioned earlier. Crossovers can be sloppy, but the RAV4 is well-mannered even when road conditions are poor.
The new Adventure trim differentiates itself from the rest of the RAV4 lineup mostly with its style. The interior has carbon-fiber-like accents, an embossed leather-wrapped shift knob, all-weather floor mats with the Adventure logo, and door sill protectors to match. This gives the interior extra personality.
The outside also looks different than the rest of the RAV4 lineup with larger fender flares, black accents, and lower valance panels and rocker panel guards exclusive to the model. The most noticeable difference, aside from the fender flares, is a black hood graphic that takes the RAV4 from mild-mannered crossover to standout.
In addition to its own unique style, the Adventure also boasts slightly increased capabilities. The standard ride height increases from 6.1 inches to 6.5 inches, which you can also find on the SE trim. What you can’t find on other trims is the Adventure’s increased towing capacity. Maximum towing for the rest of the lineup is up to 1,500 pounds. The Adventure can tow up to 2,900 pounds with front-wheel drive or 3,500 pounds with all-wheel drive. Inside, it has the same 38.4 cubic feet for cargo behind the rear seats or 73.4 cubic feet with the second row folded flat.
Every RAV4 comes with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). This includes pre-collision with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise. It’s also an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2018 Top Safety Pick and was awarded an overall five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The 2018 Toyota RAV4 is available in six trims starting with the base LE at a price of $24,510. The Adventure sits in the middle of the range with pricing from $27,800, while the Platinum comes in at the top with a starting price of $34,850. Its wide range of trims, affordable pricing, and strong safety ratings ensure the 2018 Toyota RAV4 continued popularity with crossover shoppers.