Toyota’s Top Seller Goes A Little Edgy
When you see a Toyota RAV4 on the freeway, do you ever think about it as an off-road beast? As Toyota’s best-selling vehicle, it is pretty much assured that nearly all RAV4 owners are not thinking of getting the bottom of their crossover dirty. So, to throw a wrench in it, Toyota thought offering the edgier Adventure version might get a few folks to release their wild(er) side just a bit.
The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine putting out 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque through an electronically-controlled six-speed automatic transmission. This drivetrain combination is EPA rated at 22 mpg city/28 highway/25 combined. Since Clean Fleet Report feels all AWD cars should set a 30-mpg goal in some mode (city or highway), we took the challenge to see what could be achieved with judicious driving. In 260 miles of 75-percent highway/25-percent city driving, we averaged 24.7 mpg.
However, in a 175-mile freeway run, with the Dynamic Smart Cruise Control set at 65 mph and in Eco drive mode, we got close to our goal, but never better than 29.3 mpg. Being realistic, most RAV4 owners will be closer to the EPA estimates under normal driving conditions. If fully loaded with four adults and their gear for a weekend ski trip, fuel economy and performance might suffer when climbing mountains to the resort.
Driving Experience: On the Road
Our 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD was quiet and delivered a pleasant ride on the freeway. In town or when climbing a grade, the transmission was never hunting for the right gear as it was well-matched with the 2.5-liter engine. Acceleration was so-so, with 0-60 mph runs taking about 8.5 seconds using the driver-selectable Sport drive mode. Handling for the 3,605-pound RAV4 was good, but not nimble. Maybe the extra four inches of ride height over the base RAV4 or the extra weight from the standard tow package (tow rating up-to 3,500 pounds) made the Adventure more of a straight-line cruiser than a cornering standout. Overall, the RAV4 Adventure AWD is an easy and comfortable crossover, if not an exciting one.
Since this is Toyota’s off-road version of the RAV4, we found some loose dirt, shale and gravel, on about a 15-percent grade, and had no problem getting traction. The 18-inch, 235/55 all-season tires, with traction and dynamic torque control, did their job well. Probably any more severe off-pavement surfaces should be left to other Toyota AWD trucks and SUVs.
Stops were solid and consistent with a power-assisted braking system consisting of vented front and solid rear discs, anti-lock brake system and electronic brake-force distribution. The latter adjusts brake proportioning to compensate for added weight from passengers or cargo, and even adjusts as fuel is consumed. This is invisible and instant to the driver and passengers, making for a comfortable and controlled ride.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD has the same body design as the standard model. Adventure-only adornments include a black hood stripe, fender extensions and blacked-out grill, mirrors and roof rails. With the black, 10-spoke wheels, and the optional ($395) striking Ruby Flare Pearl paint, this is one sharp-looking RAV4.
Driving Experience: Interior
The RAV4 Adventure dash layout was simple, with straight-forward gauges and controls that are within easy reach of the driver. We are big fans of knobs and switches for the radio and climate controls, and Toyota did not disappoint in this area. There is a combination of hard and soft plastic on the dash and door panel surfaces, a leather-wrapped shift knob, all-weather RAV4 Adventure-logoed rubber floor mats, and logoed door sill protectors. Seating for three in the rear offered ample head and leg room. The rear seats reclining a few inches from upright is a nice touch. If you want a Toyota with a third row, you should check-out the Highlander SUV.
Toyota describes the RAV4 interior as a “cavernous cabin,” a statement we can mostly get behind. Our RAV4 interior had sturdy fabric seat coverings for the manual adjustable driver and passenger seats. Add-in a tilt and telescopic steering column, and it was easy finding a comfortable driving position. We also liked the center armrest’s correct height and large storage area, as well as the eight cup holders throughout the cabin.
Audio and telephone controls, mounted on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, operated the Entune Premium Audio system. The 7.0-inch touchscreen color display handled navigation, the backup camera, SiriusXM (three-month trial subscription), AM/FM/HD/CD/MP3 driving six speakers, USB port with iPod connectivity, Aux-in jacks, advanced voice recognition, Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone. The Entune bundle includes a wide array of apps and other audio features.
Storage is ample with the rear seat up, but expands when the 60/40 rear seat is folded flat. Access to the storage area, with a convenient low lift-over load height and a 120V/110W power outlet, is through a power foot operated liftgate. A rubber floor mat with raised sides is also found in the cargo area.
Other nice interior features are a dual zone climate control system, power windows and door locks, power and heated outside mirrors, power moonroof, rear shelf cover, exterior temperature display, remote keyless entry system, day/night rearview mirror and three 12-volt accessory outlets.
The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure comes with standard and optional safety features, including eight air bags, pre-collision with pedestrian detection, front and rear parking sonar, hill start assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, back-up warning, tire pressure monitoring system, smart cruise control and electronic stability control.
The 2018 Toyota RAV4 has earned a US Government National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score, where 5 Stars is its highest safety rating.
Pricing and Warranties
The non-hybrid 2018 Toyota RAV4 models range in base price from $24,660 to $36,400, depending on the drive system and trim level. Clean Fleet Report’s 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD, had a MSRP of $31,139, which included $3,679 in options. All prices are before the $995 processing and handling fee.
The 2018 Toyota RAV4 comes with these warranties:
- Powertrain Five years/60,000 miles
- Comprehensive Three years/36,000 miles
- Maintenance Plan Two years/25,000 miles
- Anti-perforation Five year/Unlimited miles
- Roadside Assistance Two years/25,000 miles
Observations: 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD
With ample room for passengers and their cargo, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure doubles as a good family crossover and, with the mild ruggedness upgrades, a mild off-roader. The RAV4 Adventure benefits from Toyota’s solid, well-known build quality and safety record, so families can travel with confidence.
With nine trim levels, there should be a RAV4 model for everyone in the market for a small crossover. And if you are looking for higher fuel economy, check-out the RAV4 hybrid. With nearly half a million units sold in 2017, you will be in good company owning a RAV4.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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