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2018 Toyota RAV4 Review

Dating back to 1994, RAV4 is a true pioneer of the compact crossover SUV segment. Now in its fourth generation, the five-seat RAV4 stands out as a dynamic and stylish option for buyers looking to blend a smooth car-like ride with the cargo and capability of a small SUV. Counting its all-wheel-drive variants and its high-tech hybrid models, RAV4 is currently offered in over a dozen models and configurations.

New for 2018

Aside from a new exterior color and a change to seat material availability, RAV4 enters 2018 largely unchanged – with the exception of one key addition: the all-new Adventure trim. This exciting new model is perfectly outfitted to attract the more rugged, outdoor-oriented RAV4 buyer.

RAV4 Adventure

  • 18-inch five-spoke black alloy wheels with 235/55R18 tires1
  • Large overfender flares
  • Lower body guards
  • Black headlight bezels and fog lamp surrounds
  • Roof racks
  • Adventure badging
  • Unique interior trim panels
  • Leather-wrapped shift knob
  • 120V/100W power outlet in the cargo area
  • Adventure door sill protectors
  • All-weather mats floor and cargo mats with Adventure logo
  • Cold Weather Package (available exclusively on RAV4 Adventure)
    • Heated/power fabric front-row seats
    • Heated steering wheel
    • Wiper de-icer

Other Changes

  • Available heated/power fabric front-row seats on XLE models
  • Ruby Flare Pearl exterior color


Each RAV4 model offers its own unique look and feel, from the LE with its two-tone wheels and the SE with its available two-tone color scheme, to the Adventure’s tough looks and the Platinum’s sleek luxury.


With standard cargo space of 73.4 cu. ft. and towing capacity of 1,500 lbs., RAV4 is ready to get the job done. But if that’s not enough, RAV4 Adventure’s available Tow Prep Package enables its all-wheel-drive models to tow up to 3,500 lbs. when properly equipped.


RAV4 is no rough-around-the-edges truck, though, with its spacious car-like interior offering soft-touch materials and creature comforts like dual-zone climate control, as callout callout-sm as its fully independent suspension setup offering a smooth, stable ride.

Round this all off with its exciting technology and value packages, as callout callout-sm as its standard advanced safety and driver assistance features like Toyota Safety Sense™ P, and it quickly becomes obvious why RAV4 is still the one to beat when it comes to compact crossover SUVs.


Starting MSRP $24,410

Key Features

  • Color-keyed roof-mounted sharkfin antenna
  • Three 12V auxiliary power outlets
  • Toyota Safety Sense™ P

For safety-conscious buyers looking to get into the crossover SUV segment, the LE trim is a perfect fit with its assortment of standard safety systems and driver assistance features.

Starting MSRP $25,500

Key Features

  • Front bumper integrated fog lights
  • Power tilt/slide moonroof with sunshade
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control

XLE takes all the great standard equipment of LE and adds a healthy helping of comfort and convenience features, as callout callout-sm as available in-cabin technology upgrades.

Starting MSRP $27,700

Key Features

  • Large overfender flares
  • 18-inch five-spoke black alloy wheels with 235/55R18 tires
  • Black fog lamp surround, roof racks and Adventure badging

For buyers interested in taking their RAV4 off the beaten path, look no further than the new Adventure trim, which offers added utility and rugged exterior enhancements.

Starting MSRP $28,790

Key Features

  • LED headlights with auto on/off feature
  • Driver and front passenger heated seats
  • Available Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert

With its unique performance-oriented details, the SE trim is a great choice for the auto enthusiast in need of the practicality and versatility of a compact SUV.

Starting MSRP $30,905

Key Features

  • 18-in. 5-spoke SuperChrome alloy wheels with 235/55R18 tires
  • SofTex®-trimmed 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with memory function, 4-way adjustable front passenger seat
  • Chrome outside door handles

Unique chrome accents and upgraded interior materials help the Limited trim add a dose of refined luxury to RAV4’s successful formula of safety, utility and convenience.

Starting MSRP $34,750

Key Features

  • Bird's Eye View Camera
  • Foot activated power liftgate
  • Smart Key System with Push Button Start

With RAV4 Platinum, Toyota has pulled out all the stops. This top-tier model brings numerous advanced technologies and features that are more commonly found on luxury vehicles.

LE Hybrid

Key Features

  • Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive with intelligence (AWD-i)
  • Backup camera with projected path static grid lines
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control

For the eco-friendly buyer that's also safety-conscious and budget-conscious, the LE Hybrid is the perfect entry point into the crossover SUV segment. The LE Hybrid trim is a perfect fit with its assortment of standard safety systems and driver assistance features.

XLE Hybrid
Starting MSRP $29,030

Key Features

  • Power tilt/slide moonroof with sunshade
  • ackup camera with projected path dynamic grid lines
  • Entune™ Audio Plus with Connected Navigation

RAV4 XLE Hybrid uses its unique all-wheel-drive system and hybrid powertrain to deliver impressive power, efficiency and capability wherever the road may lead.

SE Hybrid
Starting MSRP $32,185

Key Features

  • 18-inch 5-spoke Sport alloy wheels with 235/55R18 tires
  • Available Entune™ Premium JBL® Audio
  • LED taillights with smoked trim

With its high-tech drivetrain and sporty appointments both inside and out, RAV4 SE Hybrid strikes a perfect balance between practicality and excitement.

Limited Hybrid
Starting MSRP $34,030

Key Features

  • Available foot activated power liftgate
  • Entune™ Premium Audio
  • Leather-trimmed shift lever

The Limited Hybrid trim uses its impressive list of luxury features and advanced technologies to dispel the myth that hybrid vehicles are just utilitarian transportation.

Competitive Advantages

Cavernous Cabin
RAV4 may be compact outside, but its stylish cabin is surprisingly spacious inside. With 38.9 inches of headroom both front and rear (39.8 inches up front without moonroof), as callout callout-sm as 42.6 inches of legroom up front and 37.2 inches in back, RAV4 is sure to be comfortable for all five occupants.

Safety Comes Standard
Active safety and driver assistance systems have become popular high-end features across the auto industry in recent years, but RAV4 still stands out from the crowd by offering the Toyota Safety Sense™ P suite as standard equipment across the entire RAV4 lineup. While other vehicles may offer similar technologies, few do so as standard equipment for all models.

Car-Like Ride
It may look like an SUV from afar, but under the skin, RAV4 actually has a lot more in common with a car. This is particularly evident in its fully independent suspension – MacPherson strut up front and double wishbone in the rear. A suspension layout like this means RAV4 can offer a smooth, solid ride, and even have some fun when the roads start to twist and turn.

Peace and Quiet
RAV4 is designed with comfort and refinement in mind. Within its cozy cabin, superb sound insulation and noise deadening help to ensure a serene ride with minimal wind and road noise, especially at highway speeds.

2017 Honda CR-V

What is it? Along with RAV4, the Honda CR-V helped kick-start the compact SUV segment in the mid-1990s. Based on Honda’s Civic platform, CR-V offers seating for five and a choice between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.

What's the latest? An all-new fifth-generation CR-V was released for 2017. It features a modern 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, as callout callout-sm as a traditional 2.4-liter engine. It is available in four trim levels, all of which can be outfitted with all-wheel drive. This new CR-V also includes the available Honda Sensing™ package, a suite of safety systems similar to Toyota Safety Sense™.

How does it stack up? RAV4 comparison pending 2018 competitor release.

2018 Subaru Forester

What is it? Like Toyota’s RAV4 and Honda’s CR-V, the Subaru Forester is an early settler in the compact crossover SUV segment. Introduced in 1997, Forester is based loosely on the Impreza platform and follows Subaru’s traditional formula of offering only all-wheel-drive models.

What's the latest? Like RAV4, Forester is currently in its fourth generation. The 2018 models offer a choice between a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine and a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, as callout callout-sm as either a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or a six-speed manual transmission. All models are equipped with Subaru’s signature Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. For 2018, Forester is offered in six different models, along with a new Black Edition package for the 2.5i Premium trim.

How does it stack up? For those who need it, Subaru’s standard all-wheel drive is a big plus compared to RAV4, which requires an extra-cost upgrade for AWD functionality. Similarly, the availability of a manual transmission will be a perk for buyers who prefer to row their own gears. On higher-end 2.0XT models, Forester’s 250-horsepower turbo engine handily outpowers RAV4, although the standard engine is a fairly even matchup. On the flip side, Subaru’s EyeSight® technology – a package similar to Toyota Safety Sense™ – is only standard on Touring models (although optional on select others), while RAV4 features standard TSS-P1 across the lineup. Additionally, RAV4 offers Hybrid variants – Forester has no hybrid offerings.

2017 Ford Escape

What is it? Ford introduced the Escape compact crossover in 2000. At the time, Escape was Ford’s entry into the popular new segment, and – like segment veterans RAV4 and CR-V – it featured typical car-like specifications like independent suspension and unibody construction. It was offered with a range of engines and transmissions, as callout callout-sm as available all-wheel drive.

What's the latest? Escape is now in its third generation. Unlike the earlier Escape models, this latest version is based on the Ford Kuga crossover vehicle available in foreign markets. Escape is sold in three versions: S, SE and Titanium. While Escape S is limited to a 2.5-liter engine and front-wheel drive, Escape SE and Titanium offer a choice between two EcoBoost® turbo engines, as callout callout-sm as the available Intelligent 4WD System.

How does it stack up? RAV4 comparison pending 2018 competitor release.

2017 Nissan Rogue

What is it? The Nissan Rogue is a newer entrant into the compact crossover SUV market, introduced in 2007 for the 2008 model year. Its specs were par for the course for the segment, including a 2.5-liter engine and a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It is now in its second generation.

What's the latest? For 2017, Rogue received freshened looks and updates to utility and safety features, as callout callout-sm as introduced the new Rogue Hybrid model. Recent mid-year updates – which Nissan calls model year 2017.5 – filled out the lineup even further with the addition of a new Midnight Edition trim. Other mid-year updates include certain active safety systems (similar to Toyota Safety Sense™) being made standard for SV and SL grades. All told, Rogue is now offered across six trims – all of which offer available all-wheel drive.

How does it stack up? RAV4 comparison pending 2018 competitor release.


The 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid was named Best Hybrid SUV for the Money by U.S. News & World Report

2017 RAV4 was named a SmartChoice Maintenance Costs winner by IntelliChoice

2017 RAV4 Hybrid was named a SmartChoice Operating Costs winner by IntelliChoice

2017 RAV4 Hybrid was named a SmartChoice Maintenance Costs winner by IntelliChoice

2017 RAV4 Hybrid was named a SmartChoice Fuel Costs winner by IntelliChoice