Introduced more than two decades ago, the original compact crossover, the Toyota RAV4, has a new trim for 2018 with unique rugged styling, a higher ride height, and other unique features.
The addition of the new Adventure trim brings the RAV4 lineup to six gasoline models: LE ($24,660), XLE ($27,750), Adventure ($28,400), SE ($30,440), Limited ($31,155), and Platinum ($36,400).
In addition, four hybrid trims are available: LE (new for 2018, $27,385), XLE ($29,280), SE ($32,435), and Limited ($34,280). For 2018, Toyota Safety Sense P is now standard for all trims.
For this review, I drove the new Adventure with a standard 176 horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with dual VVT-I (variable valve timing with intelligence, Toyota’s two-stage hydraulically controlled cam phasing system), paired with a standard six-speed automatic transmission, and AWD.
My Adventure was rated for 22 mpg city/28 highway/25 combined. With a mix of highway and neighborhood, I averaged 27.5 mpg.
Two high-traction drive systems are available: front-wheel drive with Automatic Limited Slip Differential, which doesn’t cut into engine power, giving the driver control and distributing power where it is most effective; and Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel Drive, which monitors and governs torque distribution to the rear wheels as needed, with front-wheel drive engaged under normal driving conditions to help reduce fuel consumption. An AWD Lock button fixes torque distribution at 50:50 under 25 mph for maximum grip off-pavement or in slippery conditions.
A Tow Prep Package is standard for both versions, with an upgraded radiator and engine oil/transmission fluid coolers, allowing Adventure AWD to tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Eco mode optimizes powertrain operation to help maximize fuel economy, while Sport mode sharpens shift timing, throttle response, and steering feel, and on models with AWD, alters torque distribution for enhanced agility.
Adventure sits between the XLE and the SE, combining features of both and adding unique features that appeal to outdoor enthusiasts -- such as larger dark-ray over-fender flares (and lower body cladding) and 18-inch five-split-spoke black alloy wheels with big tires akin to tough off-road Toyota trucks. Higher ground clearance increases off-road and all-weather functionality.
Gloss black headlight bezels, black fog light surround, gloss black roof rails and mirror caps, exclusive gloss black RAV4 and “Adventure” stylized mountain badging, and unique gray lower valance panels (bumpers) and rocker panel guards distinguish the RAV4 Adventure.
Narrow headlights are connected by gloss black wings, with the Toyota logo in the middle, under a wide black hood decal. The sculpted and chiseled front fascia exudes a feeling of strength and adventure. Wide gloss black gate trim connects large muscular taillights
Five exterior colors are offered for the Adventure: Magnetic Gray Metallic, Super White, Black, Ruby Flare Pearl ($395), and Silver Sky Metallic (my Adventure)
The interior features exclusive carbon-fiber-like trim panels, leather-wrapped shift knob, “RAV4 Adventure” logoed doorsill protectors, and all-weather floor and cargo mats with “RAV4 Adventure” badging. Cloth seats are available in ash (mine, black bolsters with ash contrast stitching) or black.
A 120-volt/100-watt power outlet in the cargo area is convenient for a portable air compressor, small fridge/cooler, vacuum, or other portable equipment. Two 12-volt power outlets are located in the front with a convenient tray under the center stack for mobile devices, one in the rear. RAV4 has eight convenient cup/bottle holders.
RAV4 has grown and changed since its introduction 22 years ago, and is now one of the roomiest models in the segment. It has plenty of room for five adults, with 37.2 inches of rear legroom. The 60/40-split rear seat reclines up to 24 degrees for more comfort.
With the seatbacks folded, the RAV4 has 73.4 cubic feet of cargo space. Cargo space behind the rear seat is a generous 38.4 cubic feet, plenty of room for a big grocery run, weekend road trip, a large stroller, or soccer equipment.
Four Entune audio systems are available, depending on the trim chosen. My RAV4 had Entune Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite, which included Entune Multimedia Bundle with seven-inch high-resolution customizable touch screen with split screen display; AM/FM/MP3/WMA playback capability, six speakers, auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth.
The Power Premium Extra Value Package ($2,490) included Siri Eyes Free, Entune App Suite, HD radio with predictive traffic and Doppler weather overlay, AM/FM cache radio, satellite radio, Gracenote album cover art, and safety/convenience technology in the form of a height-adjustable power liftgate with jam protection, five-door Smart Key system, integrated backup camera display with projected path dynamic guidelines, and blind-spot monitor/rear cross-traffic alert.
Mobile apps include Destination Search, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, Yelp, Facebook Places, Slacker Radio, and Pandora, plus real-time traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, and stocks – with Entune updates available to download.
The standard Toyota Star Safety System included Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Brake Assist, Antilock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology. Trailer Sway Control, a function of Vehicle Stability Control, was also standard.
Standard Toyota Safety Sense P combined the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control – in-the-moment safety designed to support the driver’s awareness and decision-making on the road. Standard Hill-Start Assist Control complemented the TSS-P system.
Eight standard air bags included dual-stage advanced driver and front passenger air bags, driver’s knee air bag, front passenger seat cushion air bag (between driver and passenger), and front seat-mounted side air bags. Whiplash Injury Lessening front seats support the driver and front passenger’s heads during a rear-end collisions.
I am pleased to report that none of the safety equipment was needed during my week with the RAV4 Adventure.
The body makes extensive use of high-strength steel for a light yet robust and stiff platform, and therefore a smooth ride, agile handling, and a quiet cabin. The MacPherson strut front suspension and double-wishbone style multi-link rear suspension mean RAV4 absorbs road irregularities with confidence.
Sound insulation materials in the side and rear doors, the floor pan, and the rear cargo area reduce road noise.
The RAV4 Adventure was comfortable for five adults, although the middle rear seat was small. Controls were easy to reach, read, and use. Steering was quick and precise. Front and rear sonar ($500) was very helpful in crowded parking lots and tight spaces.
Destination charges of $995, plus $2,990 in options, brought the delivered price of my attractive, versatile RAV4 Adventure to $32,385.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.