RSS icon Home icon
  • 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD

    Posted on June 20th, 2018 ninarussin

    The original compact crossover takes the road less traveled

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

    2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

    While many automakers claim to have invented the compact crossover, credit should go to Toyota, which introduced the original Recreational Activity Vehicle in 1994. What distinguished the original RAV4 from other small SUVs at the time was its car-based architecture. Unibody construction gave the RAV4 the road manners of a passenger car while its two-box architecture added practicality for buyers who wanted a taller, more versatile cargo area.

    Over the past quarter century, the RAV4 has grown in proportions and developed a distinct personality. With the recent addition of the C-HR to Toyota’s crossover lineup, the RAV4 is no longer the smallest offering. Styling is more conservative, and the cargo bay in-particular-is considerably roomier.

    This year, Toyota adds the Adventure model, combining convenience features from the mid-grade XLE with the sporty SE’s styling, plus some unique content: more ground clearance, bigger fender flares and tires, and a standard tow prep package that enables the RAV4 Adventure to tow up to 3500 pounds, meeting our ALV minimum towing standards.

    Base price for the all-wheel drive version is $28,400, excluding destination. Options on the test car include a cold-weather package that adds a heated steering wheel and heated front seats, power driver’s seat and windshield wiper de-icer, mudguards, unique exterior paint and a tonneau cover for the cargo area, bringing the final MSRP to $30,880.

    Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona

    2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

    2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

    While the Toyota C-HR appeals to buyers with its stylish looks and sporty performance, the RAV4 continues to be the better choice for buyers with active lifestyles. Ground clearance for the Adventure grade is 6.5 inches- four more than the standard RAV4, making it easier to travel through snow and along graded dirt roads: two conditions that buyers in this segment frequently encounter.

    The larger cargo area makes a difference when loading skis, snowboards and bicycles inside, especially if those bicycles happen to be the mountain variety with wide flat bars and big tires. Standard cloth upholstery on the Adventure grade is easier to keep clean than leather. It also stays cool in the hot southwestern summers, whereas leather can make getting in a vehicle mid-day pretty-uncomfortable.

    Power comes from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for the all-wheel drive model is 25 miles-per-gallon: a bit of a drop-off as compared to the C-HR, but part of that is the all-wheel drive that typically decreases gas mileage by one or two MPG.
    Some features on the Adventure grade, such as the use of convex inserts in the side mirrors as-opposed-to a blind spot monitoring system might seem anti-tech. But those potential buyers who venture off the grid with any regularity will appreciate the dependability of devices that are strictly mechanical. The mirror inserts work quite well, allowing the driver to monitor traffic in several adjacent lanes and see beyond the boundaries of a trailer when towing.

    2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

    2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

    The 176-horsepower engine produces plenty of power under normal driving conditions (I did not attempt to tow a trailer with the car), while the six-speed automatic transmission is smooth performer, with no hunting or shift shock. Curb weight for the Adventure is a tick over 3600 pounds: average for cars in this segment.

    To keep weight under the hood at a minimum, Toyota uses an electric power assist steering system. The advantage of EPAS is that the technology tends to reduce a car’s turning radius. The RAV4 Adventure has a wheelbase of 104.7-inches and 36.7-foot turning circle with its 18-inch tires (other grades with 17-inch tires have a smaller turning circle).

    On-center response is a bit soft, but drivers should not feel disconnected from the wheels, and can make emergency evasive maneuvers as necessary.

    2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

    2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

    A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and compact double wishbone configuration in back. Being slightly larger than the C-HR, rear passengers will have more hip and legroom. The double wishbone setup enabled engineers to maximize cargo room as well.

    Four-wheel disc brakes stop the RAV4 in firm, linear fashion.

    Visibility around the perimeter is good. A standard rearview camera eliminates blind spots in the back corners and beneath the rear glass when the driver shifts into reverse. At night halogen projector beam headlights do a good job of lighting up the road. They don’t have quite the range of LEDs, but I had no problems with visibility on sparsely lit suburban streets. Standard daytime running lamps make the vehicle more visible in low light conditions and on winding canyon roads.

    Engineers did a good job of minimizing wind, road and engine noise intrusion to the interior.

    Versatile interior

    Toyota RAV4 Adventure Interior

    Toyota RAV4 Adventure Interior

    For buyers with active lifestyles, interior versatility is as important as the vehicle’s capability on various terrains. After all, what good does it do to get to the trailhead if you can’t bring your toys with you’ Granted the RAV4 can’t hold quite as much as the larger Toyota Highlander, but for single buyers and couples the RAV should provide adequate space. The Adventure model adds a 120-volt power outlet in the cargo area, for plugging in camping accessories or additional lighting.

    Those familiar with former generations of RAV4 will note that the current car is the first with a liftgate as opposed to a side-hinged tailgate. The advantage is easier access to the cargo area from both sides of the car. The disadvantage is that the spare tire, formerly mounted on the tailgate, is now under the cargo floor. So, if you have a flat in the middle of a family road trip, plan to do some unloading.

    Spare tire issues excluded, the RAV4 interior should give buyers in the intended audience everything they need without a lot of unnecessary options. I found the power driver’s seat on the test car easy to adjust for a clear forward view with plenty of lower lumbar support. Controls for the infotainment system are simple and logically arranged.

    The test car did not come with keyless entry. I didn’t find it particularly bothersome, but since that feature is standard on so many vehicles in the segment, buyers might find its absence surprising.

    Buyers who want factory roof rails need to add that feature as part of an option package that also includes blind spot monitoring and Entune audio with navigation. Due to its high profile, cyclists will probably prefer a hitch-mounted rack.

    Standard safety

    The Toyota RAV4 comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense with pedestrian detection that includes dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision, lane departure assist and automatic high beams. Other standard safety features include eight airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, hill start assist and tire pressure monitoring.

    Toyota builds the RAV4 at its Woodstock Ontario, Canada assembly plant.

    Like: A durable, yet comfortable compact crossover with additional ground clearance for rugged terrain, all-wheel drive for additional traction and a versatile cargo area.

    Dislike: Fuel economy lags-behind competitors such as the Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Toyota
    Model: RAV4 Adventure AWD
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $28,400
    As tested: $30,880
    Horsepower: 176 HP @ 6000 rpm
    Torque: 172 lbs.-ft. @ 4100 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: Yes
    Fuel economy: 22/28 MPG city/highway

    Comments are closed.