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2018 Toyota RAV4

$24,660 - $36,400
Price Range (MSRP)
Toyota RAV4

2018 Toyota RAV4 Review

by Jared Rosenholtz

Toyota's RAV4 is a compact SUV currently in its fourth generation, offering seating for five. Over the last few years since its US launch as a 2013 model, it's been exceedingly well-received. More than 407,000 units were sold in the United States in 2017, making this Toyota's top-selling vehicle as well as the most popular vehicle domestically, that isn't a pickup truck. This popularity centers on high reliability, a spacious trunk, generous cabin space, and keen pricing. Competing against SUVs such as the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester, the RAV4 features a refreshed line-up for this year, with a new Adventure trim and some adjustments made to the sporty SE.

Despite some enhancements, the RAV4 is getting on its years, lacking contemporary features such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility. However, the RAV4 also continues to represent good value for money, as a well-specced variant can be had for under $30,000 and includes a host of safety features as standard. The question is, how long will the current incarnation of Toyota's RAV4 satisfy the market?

2018 Toyota RAV4 Changes: What’s the difference vs 2017 RAV4?

The 2018 range received a new Adventure trim that allows for a new maximum towing capacity of 3,500 lbs when equipped with all-wheel-drive and offers a heated steering wheel. The sporty SE trim has also been given a higher ride height, with ground clearance improved from 6.1 inches to 6.5 inches for better rough road ability.

Pros and Cons

  • Array of standard safety features
  • Smooth ride
  • Cavernous and versatile cargo area
  • Wide range of available trim levels
  • No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility
  • Only one engine option
  • Below average cabin lacking in refinement

RAV4 Exterior

Toyota's five-seater RAV4 has the assertive look of a go-anywhere family SUV, with a few elegant touches. Daytime running lights and a color-keyed shark fin antenna are standard across the range, and each model has acoustic windshields to dampen road noise. The base model is equipped with 17-inch wheels, which change to a five-spoke design on the XLE. On the XLE, integrated fog lamps, a silver-highlighted lower grille, and a moonroof are added. The new Adventure trim offers a number of exterior updates, including black bezels around the projector beam headlights, fog lamps with black accents, lower valance panels and rocker panel guards, bigger over-fender flares and 18-inch wheels with black roof rails on top. Unique 18-inch Sport rims replace the wheels for the SE trim and add black painted exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals. The Limited edition offers SuperChrome 18-inch wheels with blind-spot warning indicators on the exterior mirrors, whilst the top-end Platinum trim adds a foot-activated power liftgate.

2018 Toyota RAV4 Front View
2018 Toyota RAV4 Three Quarter Front Right Side View
2018 Toyota RAV4 Three Quarter Front Right Side View
See All 2018 Toyota RAV4 Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Toyota's compact SUV stands between 65.9 and 66.3 inches tall without roof rails, depending on trim level, and has a width of 72.6 inches. At 183.5 inches in length, it is longer than both the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester, although the wheelbase of 104.7 inches is pretty standard for this segment. Base curb weights for the RAV4 vary from 3,455 lbs to 3,520 lbs across the range; which is heavier than its main rivals. The standard ground clearance on RAV4 is 6.1 inches, but both the SE and Adventure trim levels are upgraded to offer 6.5. inches. Both the CR-V and Forester offer more clearance, with the Forester boasting 8.7 inches overall.

Exterior Colors

Nine color options are available for the RAV4 range, including Black, Electric Storm Blue, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Silver Sky Metallic, Super White, Galactic Aqua Mica, and Black Currant Metallic. The last two provide a nice break from the normal palette offered by Toyota, which can be quite monotonous as it seems relatively standard across their fleet. Two additional premium colors are also available at a cost of $395 extra, namely Blizzard Pearl and Ruby Flare Pearl. All colors are available across the lineup with the exception of the Adventure and Platinum trims which make do with only the more sedate hues, five for the Adventure and four for the Platinum.

  • Super White
  • Black
  • Silver Sky Metallic
  • Magnetic Gray Metallic
  • Ruby Flare Pearl
  • Black Currant Metallic
  • Galactic Aqua Mica
  • Electric Storm Blue
  • Blizzard Pearl

RAV4 Performance

The RAV4 range is based on one powertrain option which is equipped standard as front-wheel-drive. All-wheel-drive is available for all models at a cost of $1,400 extra. Under the hood, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, produces 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque With a punchy and eager engine, the RAV4 manages to accelerate with a decent punch but doesn't offer the same performance as rivals do. 0-60 mph takes seconds - which is slower than most, particularly the Mazda CX-5 that manages the same sprint substantially quicker. This mid-range engine also makes for a very average towing capacity of only with 1,500 lbs on most trims, with 3,500 lbs only available in the AWD version of the Adventure trim. This exceeds the capabilities of both its Honda and Subaru competitors.

2018 Toyota RAV4 Three Quarter Front Right Side View In Motion
2018 Toyota RAV4 Left Side View In Motion
2018 Toyota RAV4 Engine

Engine and Transmission

The only available engine is a 2.5-liter inline-four producing 176 hp and 172 lb-ft. Paired to a standard six-speed automatic transmission, the RAV4 provides instant throttle responses not found in turbocharged rivals and linear responses thereafter. It feels quick off the line but seems to tire rather swiftly from there as the weight takes a toll on the chunky crossover's performance.

The automatic gearbox manages shifts smoothly, seeking out economy in the Eco and Normal driving modes. Sport sees a more aggressive tune for the throttle programming while ensuring the gearbox holds a lower gear for longer and shifts down earlier. It does a fair job of selecting the right gear, but those seeking a little more control would be better off looking at an SE derivative, which includes steering-mounted paddles for manual selection of gears.

The SUV feels peppy in city driving conditions, and although passing maneuvers are achievable, a heavier foot is needed with a little preemption. While the engine is generally well-mannered and quiet, heavy throttle loads result in lots of noisy complaint from the four-pot and a general lack of refinement.

  • Engine
    2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

As with most products from the Japanese manufacturer, the RAV4 is a predictable, consistent vehicle to drive - it handles well, taking corners with confidence, although some body roll is present. The standard suspension is adequate in terms of absorbing bumps in the road, and the result is a smooth and comfortable ride for all but the SE trim. The sportier suspension on the SE offers improved handling but makes for a coarser and more rigid ride. In our opinion, the benefits of the sportier trim are not worth the sacrifice in ride characteristics. Whilst the SE offers a sporty driving style, the Adventure model is more outdoor-oriented, with raised ground clearance, an adventure shift lever, and enhanced towing capabilities.

Across the range, composure under heavy braking isn't the greatest, with the pedal requiring heavy pressure and a long pedal action bringing inconsistent results. Although average stopping distances were achieved in emergency brake tests, drivers will need to get used to the way RAV4's brakes respond.

The sensation of heaviness continues with the steering presenting a heavier-than-normal sensation not common among crossover SUVs. This doesn't compromise the nimbleness of the RAV4 but is a welcome sensation giving the impression of being solidly planted. The power-steering is very effective and makes maneuvering tight spaces an easy affair. But it's just not very exciting, lacking the engagement of the Mazda CX-5 or Honda CR-V.

For off-roading options, a pseudo-limited-slip differential on the all-wheel-drive equipped models gives the RAV an advantage on muddy gravel roads and in snowy conditions.

RAV4 Gas Mileage

The standard gas-fuelled RAV4 doesn't provide class-leading gas mileage estimates but isn't at the bottom end of the scoreboard either. Achieving better average consumption rates than the Subaru Forester, the front-wheel-drive variants consume 23/30/26 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. In the all-wheel-drive configuration, these figures drop to 22/28/25 mpg. The Honda CR-V manages 26/32/28 mpg on its entry-level trim. The 15.9-gallon gas tank present on all trims affords a maximum range of 413 miles in mixed conditions.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    15.9 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 23/30 mpg
* 2018 Toyota RAV4 LE FWD

RAV4 Interior

The interior of the RAV4 is spacious and comfortable, with abundant headroom throughout. The expansive cargo area and two full sets of LATCH car-seat restraints, which make for a convenient and utilitarian SUV. The bottom half of the range has cloth upholstery, whilst leatherette is equipped from the SE trim and up. With generally comfortable seating, the RAV4 has space for five adult occupants (even six-foot passengers will fit with ease). Visibility and driving position are excellent, and ergonomics are characteristic of Toyota - thoughtful and logical, with easy access to the most frequently used features. The infotainment system is adequate, although the graphics are notably better on rivals and in full sunlight they can become slightly illegible.

2018 Toyota RAV4 Driver Seat
2018 Toyota RAV4 Rear Passenger Seats
2018 Toyota RAV4 Driver Seat
See All 2018 Toyota RAV4 Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Able to seat five passengers, RAV4 has a spacious interior. For the driver and front passenger, fabric seating on the bottom three models is provided. The seat position adjusts up to six ways for the driver and four ways for the front passenger. From the SE trim upwards, all derivatives feature leatherette upholstery with an eight-way power driver's seat that has a memory function on the Limited trim. The rear seat provides equally spacious accommodations, with more leg and headroom than most compact SUVs in this segment. Five passengers, even at six feet tall, would fit comfortably in the RAV4.

With good exterior visibility, due to the large windows and slim forward pillars, the driving position is optimal; and although the driver's seat adjustments are extensive, the steering rake and reach is limited. Knee-knocks can be expected for long-legged drivers.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

The LE trim at the entry point of the range is upholstered in black fabric. XLE trim offers three fabric options, namely Black, Ash, and Nutmeg. For the new Adventure variant, Ash and Black fabric are available. From the SE trim and upwards, leatherette seating is standard and can be had in either Black or Black/Cinnamon combination. Combining the available color schemes for the Limited edition, leatherette options include Black, Black/Cinnamon combination, Ash and Nutmeg, whilst the top-of-the-range Platinum narrows the choices down to Cinnamon, Black, and Ash.

RAV4 Trunk and Cargo Space

The RAV4 has class-leading cargo volume: 38.4 cubic-feet of wide trunk space is available with the rear seats up. A flat floor and a low liftover height make loading easy - together with a power hands-free liftgate on upper trims. The rear seats fold down to open up a total of 73.4 cubic feet of space; this is ideal for up to 12 large suitcases, big boxes, or even pets.

Eight cupholders are placed throughout the cabin, complemented by narrow door pockets and a shallow smartphone recess, although the shape and depth of these stowages do not always lend themselves to being particularly useful. An overhead console can hold a pair of sunglasses, and the center stack presents with a number of smaller storage areas as well, however, these are not uniformly or practically shaped either. As a family vehicle, the RAV4 could do with more thoughtful storage options.

2018 Toyota RAV4 Luggage Space
2018 Toyota RAV4 Trunk Space with Seat Folded
2018 Toyota RAV4 Maximum Cargo Space

RAV4 Infotainment and Features

Features

From the base model, the RAV4 is well equipped with standard features that include power door locks, one USB port, and three 12V outlets. Numerous driver aids are included, such as hill start assist, a seatbelt warning indicator, and a backup camera. On the bottom three trim levels, seats are fabric and can be adjusted manually six ways for the driver; whilst the XLE offers additional sport bolsters. The Adventure trim provides extra heavy-duty floor liners and cargo mats as well as a 120V/100W power outlet in the cargo area. On the SE, heated front seats become standard, while both the Limited edition and the Platinum trim have a memory function for the driver's seat adjustment and boast a frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather shift lever with silver accents, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert. Exclusive to the top-end Platinum model, is a birds-eye view camera with perimeter scan, keyless entry on all doors, and heated steering. All models have dual-zone climate control, with the exception of the entry-spec LE, which features manual air conditioning.

Infotainment

The bottom three models are equipped with a 6.1-inch display screen and six speakers. Toyota's Entune Audio system connects to AM/FM, MP3 and iPod inputs for media streaming, and has advanced voice recognition and a backup camera. Infotainment systems remain the same to the midpoint of the range, where the Entune Audio Plus system is equipped on the SE trim. This upgrades the display to a high-resolution touch screen with connected navigation and the Multimedia Bundle, Siri Eyes Free, as well as Traffic and Weather guidelines. For the Limited edition, the RAV4 provides the Entune Premium suite, which replaces the display screen with a seven-inch monitor. On the fully-loaded Platinum variant, a premium JBL system is in place, featuring eleven speakers, a subwoofer and an amplifier. Sadly there's still no Android Auro or Apple CarPlay integration for the RAV4.

RAV4 Problems and Reliability

One recall was issued for the 2018 RAV4 pertaining to incorrect load information displayed on warning labels. No mechanical or electrical issues are reported, and the J.D. Power Predicted Reliability scale rates the RAV4 as three-and-a-half out of a possible five, translating to between about average and better than most. Supported by a three-year/36,000 mile full warranty, five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty, and five-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty, the RAV4 remains a reliable and competent SUV.

RAV4 Safety

Awarded the Top Safety Pick for small SUV by the IIHS in 2018, the RAV4 scores highly in overall crashworthiness. The NHTSA concurs with these results, awarding an overall safety score of five stars.

Key Safety Features

Each model in the RAV4 range is equipped with a backup camera, hill start assist, seatbelt warning alerts, and whiplash mitigating front seats, as well as a full array of airbags. Additionally, from the base model upwards, the Toyota Safety Sense package is installed which comprises pre-collision systems with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, and steering assist, as well as adaptive cruise control. The Star Safety System, which includes enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, ABS and EBD, is also equipped, and brake assist with smart stop technology is added as well. A blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert is only equipped from the Limited trim level, and the Platinum model features a birds-eye view camera with perimeter scan. A total of eight airbags are standard on the RAV4, including a driver knee airbag and a front passenger seat airbag.

Verdict: Is the 2018 Toyota RAV4 a good SUV?

Featuring in a very competitive segment, the RAV4 has remained massively popular over the last few years; thanks to its generous cabin space, cavernous cargo area and comprehensive list of standard safety features. Although some rivals offer a more refined cabin and a more enjoyable drive, the RAV isn't without its advantages: high-reliability ratings, extensive warranties, and above-average fuel consumption are all reasons why it would make a good addition to your family - with family being the keyword. Not a true off-roader, the RAV4 is best suited to family driving, mild gravel travel and city conditions. For more adventurous trips, a closer look at the Subaru Forester is recommended. If a spacious cabin and keener drive are what you are after, the Honda CR-V may be a better option.

What's the Price of the 2018 Toyota RAV4?

With a destination fee of $1,045 applied to each of the models, the RAV4 range is priced between $24,660 and $36,400, with the option of upgrading to all-wheel-drive for an additional fee of $1,400. The entry-level LE trim in FWD configuration has a basic MSRP of $24,660 as the cheapest model, whilst the XLE costs $25,750. The new Adventure trim with its outdoorsy feel is priced at $27,950, whilst the sporty SE variant has a price tag of $29,040. The two top-end trims cross over the $30k mark as most expensive, with the Limited marketed for $31,155 and the Platinum edition costing $35,000.

2018 Toyota RAV4 Models

The RAV4 range is comprised of six variants: LE, XLE, Adventure, SE, Limited, and Platinum. The Adventure trim level is new for this year.

As the base model, the LE trim level features daytime running lights, 17-inch wheels, fabric interior, backup camera, and a 6.1-inch infotainment screen. Both the Toyota Safety Sense and Star Safety suite are included, which adds forward collision warning, automatic braking, and lane-keeping assist.

One level up, the XLE adds integrated fog lamps and unique five-spoke wheels, as well as a power tilt-and-slide moonroof. Dual-zone climate control is standard from this trim level upwards.

New for 2018 is the Adventure trim, characterized by black detailing around the headlamps, fog lamps and roof rails, as well as having custom lower valance panels and rocker panel guards. Sitting on 18-inch wheels, the interior is only different in that it features heavy-duty all-weather floor lining and cargo mats. It also boasts a power outlet in the cargo area.

The RAV4's sport trim is the SE, equipped with leatherette seats that are heated in the front, and with an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat. The 18-inch wheels on this trim are five-spoke Sport alloys, and black painted exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals help to differentiate it.

Second from the top is the Limited variant, which has SuperChrome 18-inch wheels. Inside, a frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror is included, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is added to the driver aid list. A premium audio system enables navigation as well as the Entune App on this trim level.

Fully-loaded, the Platinum edition boasts a premium JBL eleven-speaker sound system, full-body color coding, and Platinum badging. Power-liftgate functionality is enabled, and a birds-eye view camera, keyless entry, and heated steering are present.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LE
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$24,660
XLE
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$25,750
Adventure
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$27,950
SE
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$29,040
Limited
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$31,155
See All 2018 Toyota RAV4 Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Additional packages are trim specific, with the base model and top-end model having no optional packages available, although navigation can be equipped to the LE at a cost of $675.

On the XLE trim, there are three optional packages. For keyless entry, blind spot monitor, roof rails, navigation, and a backup camera, the Plus Package is priced at $800. Alternatively, the Power Plus package is available and is comprised of the Power package features, as well as a height-adjustable power liftgate, and costs $1,215. A third option, the Power Premium bundle, builds on those features from the Power Plus package but adds the Entune Premium Audio system with navigation and App suite for a total cost of $1,740.

The Adventure variant offers the same hierarchy of packages, albeit at a lower cost as roof rails are already equipped on the vehicle. A unique Cold Weather package is also available, adding heated front seats, steering wheel and a wiper de-icer - priced at $1,060.

For the SE model, the Advanced Technology package is comprised of a birds-eye view camera with perimeter scan, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, the premium JBL audio system, and keyless entry with a remote power liftgate. This bundle costs $2,460. The premium JBL sound system can also be equipped separately for $1,310.

Two options are available on the Limited edition, namely the aforementioned Advanced technology package (with the same features, barring those already standard on this top-level trim), and can be installed for $1,935. Similarly, the premium JBL audio setup can be had for only $785.

What Toyota RAV4 Model Should I Buy?

With a six-model range, the decision on which RAV4 model to buy can seem confusing. Depending on the buyer's priority, the Adventure trim or SE trim make good options with their more luxurious seats (although leatherette is available on the SE only), 18-inch wheels, upgraded infotainment system, and improved ground clearance.

One drawback of the SE trim is an inability to tow, and for this reason, the Adventure trim may be better for families who enjoy road trips, vacations or the utility-focused nature of an SUV. Whist some buyers would prioritize heated seats and steering, an upgraded infotainment system with navigation and a blind-spot monitor may be more important, in which case either the cold weather package or power premium bundle can be added on. Even with an extra package installed, the Adventure trim remains at around $30k in total, which is much better value for money than the pricey top-end trims.

Check out other Toyota RAV4 Styles?

2018 Toyota RAV4 Comparisons

2018 Toyota RAV4
2018 Toyota RAV4

2018 Toyota RAV4 vs Honda CR-V

A prime competitor in this segment, Honda's CR-V tops the RAV4 in terms of offering a turbocharged engine that provides both excellent fuel efficiency and more satisfying performance. The Honda boasts improved acceleration and power-on-demand. Although the RAV4 doesn't disappoint in terms of economy (and has a Hybrid option), the Honda simply offers a more pleasant driving experience. A better quality cabin on the CR-V also includes a few features which the RAV4 does not have, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as finishes that are superior to what the Toyota has on offer. With its vast array of standard safety features, the Toyota compares well from an overall evaluation perspective, but can't match the overall package offered by the CR-V.

See Honda CR-V Review

2018 Toyota RAV4 vs Subaru Forester

The Subaru offers a very similar overall experience to what the RAV4 does, with an equally spacious cabin, exceptional cargo volume, and slightly better head and legroom for passengers. Where RAV4 excels in its ability to provide more onboard safety features. But the Forester offers more ground clearance and permanent all-wheel-drive making it more suited to rugged excursions and making it a true adventure SUV. the X-Mode function on the CVT transmission also makes it more suited to poor terrain while the RAV4 is decidedly more of a soft-roader. Neither cabin is particularly luxurious, but both are spacious and ideal for camping gear or mountain bikes. Considering the fugged appeal of both, the Forester presents as the better adventure SUV.

See Subaru Forester Review

Toyota RAV4 Popular Comparisons

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