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Review: 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure, Backroad Driving Extraordinaire


Review: 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure, Backroad Driving ExtraordinaireWith a new appearance package, base radio and all-weather rubber floor mats, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure doesn’t exactly seem like it is ready for a wheelin’ good time in the mud or is it? Not really mud, but it is an improvement over base models thanks to a higher ride height. Here is what else you need to know.

Introduced for the 2018 model year, the Adventure trim aims to bring in those consumers who want to do some light off-roading and have a more sporty appearance. Note: For a more luxurious RAV4, check out our review of the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum.

Review: 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure, Backroad Driving ExtraordinaireToyota says the package combines the features of the XLE trim with the sporty SE exterior accents. Then, they added larger over-fender flares and 18-inch five-spoke black alloy wheels with larger 235/55R18 tires. This combination provides an additional .4 inches over the standard grade.

Review: 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure, Backroad Driving ExtraordinaireInside, the Adventure package includes “carbon-fiber-like trim panels,” a leather-wrapped shift knob and Adventure logos. Also, the floor and cargo mats are thick all-weather covers to keep items like muddy boots from getting on the carpet. Finally, Toyota added a 120V/100W power outlet in the cargo area for running a portable air compressor like when blowing up lake toys or air mattresses on a camping trip.

This combination of features adds an appeal to the RAV4 and makes it somewhat more capable with the increased ride height and tires.

Review: 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure, Backroad Driving ExtraordinaireIt is powered by a 2.5L four-cylinder mated to a 6-speed transmission producing 176 horsepower. This efficient, yet not so fast powertrain, does return a respectable 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway/25 mpg in the all-wheel-drive Adventure. Again, it isn’t going to burn rubber nor is it going to burn a hole in your wallet.

On the road, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure does a good job overall. While it feels rather numb and it doesn’t execute turns or acceleration with a lot of gusto, it will do the job for the numerous buyers it attracts each year. The AWD capability and the increased ride height certainly help in challenging road conditions.

Inside, it isn’t exactly roomy, but it is very functional with the controls all within reach and a fair amount of storage. It is one of those vehicles you get into and things just work rather than being flashy and exciting.

Review: 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure, Backroad Driving ExtraordinaireThe rear cargo area is quite large for the small SUV and I’m particularly fond of the all-weather cargo mat. Nothing worse than having to worry about what you are carrying damaging the interior of a new car. If I was shopping for a Toyota RAV4, I’d buy one of those cargo covers out of the accessory catalog if mine didn’t come with one.

Also, one other thing to consider upgrading would be the radio. My test model came with the base radio – no XM, no navigation and few Apps. If you use your phone for maps and music, then ignore this advice, but if you don’t, you will want to look for an upgraded radio. It does make a difference.

Review: 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure, Backroad Driving ExtraordinaireDuring my week of driving, I took the RAV4 Adventure off-road … on a dirt road … and noticed it is essentially the same as the base RAV4 just with bigger tires. These tires don’t really do a heck of a lot when conditions get challenging, but they sure look cool. Although, I’d prefer matte black wheels versus the gloss finish (less to worry about scratching), there is no denying the market wants blacked-out wheels and badges.

In the end, my test model came in at $30,980 and for an AWD SUV with Toyota’s legendary reliability it is hard to beat. It may not drive or corner as well as other competitors nor have the storage or technology, but it is extremely practical and really isn’t that what most consumers need out of a compact SUV? I think so.

Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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