Toyota RAV4 Adventure
2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure in Ruby Flare Pearl (a $395 option)

2015 Audi Q52018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure AWD

Class: Compact Crossover

Miles driven: 515

Fuel used: 22.5 gallons

Real-world fuel economy: 22.9 mpg

Driving mix: 50% city, 50% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 22/28/25 (city, highway, combined)

Fuel type: Regular gas

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortA-
Power and PerformanceB
Fit and FinishB-
Fuel EconomyB-
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyB
Tall GuyA
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.

Base price: $28,400 (not including $995 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: “Power Premium” Extra Value Package ($2490), special paint ($395), body side molding ($209), Interior Light Kit ($185), mud guards ($40), Extra Value Package Discount (-$940)

Price as tested: $31,774


Quick Hits

The great: Excellent passenger and cargo room within sensibly sized exterior dimensions

The good: Pleasant powertrain, likable ride and handling

The not so good: Observed fuel economy is a bit disappointing compared to EPA estimates

More RAV4 price and availability information


John Biel

If you’re heading out to your local Toyota dealer to look over the compact crossover SUVs, a word to the wise: Prepare for Adventure!

There’s no need to pack climbing gear or shark repellent (well, we guess . . . how do we know where your Toyota showroom is located?) because this Adventure is actually a new RAV4 model that you’ll meet there. A 2018 addition to the extensive RAV4 roster, it’s configured to toughen up the little sport ute with a raised ride height; a Tow Prep Package with an upgraded radiator and engine/transmission coolers; requisite black fender flares, lower-body guards, and trim; and 18-inch black alloy wheels. Interior distinction comes from unique trim panels, a leather-wrapped shifter knob, a 120-volt/100-watt power outlet in the cargo bay, and “Adventure”-tagged door-sill protectors and floor mats.

Toyota RAV4 Adventure
The new-for-2018 Adventure trim level adds more of a rugged, outdoorsy feel to Toyota’s mainstream compact SUV.

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The financially risk-averse may be relieved to know that the Adventure is slotted nearer to the bottom of the RAV4 price stack than to the top. It’s wedged between the XLE and the SE that itself is still a couple of trim grades away from the peak. Consumer Guide’s all-wheel-drive Adventure test truck started at $29,395 with delivery—and that’s $1310 more than a front-wheel-drive version costs. However, with a big convenience-laden “Power Premium” package and a quartet of individual options, the sticker added up to $31,774.

Toyota RAV4 Adventure
The Adventure model is not a high-end trim level; if you want leather upholstery and other luxury accoutrements, you’ll want to step up to a Limited. Regardless of trim, the RAV4 offers fine passenger room in both the front and rear.

In addition to the items already listed, the Adventure comes with the Toyota Safety Sense P suite of driving aids (precollision system with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning with steering assist, and adaptive cruise control), a power moonroof, roof rails, heated power exterior mirrors, fog lights, dual-zone climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Power Premium group upgrades the base Entune audio with 6.1-inch display touchscreen by switching to a 7-inch screen with split-screen capability and adding navigation, six speakers, voice recognition, Bluetooth-enabled phone capability and music streaming, Entune app suite, and HD and satellite radio. Other key features of the package are a height-adjustable power tailgate, keyless entry, blind-spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Toyota RAV4 Adventure
The RAV4’s cargo versatility is enhanced by a large liftgate aperture and a laudably low load floor. Cargo volume measures 38.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and 73.4 cubic feet with the rear seat backs folded.

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Relative to other RAV4s, the bottom of the Adventure rests 0.4 of an inch higher above the ground, and the back bumper clears two more degrees of departure angle (23 degrees in all). The towing enhancements give it a 3500-pound capacity, which is nothing to sneeze at. Consider that an all-wheel-drive XLE without those features is rated for 1500 pounds. Ride is moderately firm but passengers won’t be disturbed by most common surface imperfections. Cornering lean is controlled pretty well, and there’s good maneuverability in close quarters.

All gas-engine RAV4s use the same powerteam—a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 176-horsepower engine falls somewhere between pussycat and tiger. It is fairly smooth at idle and not egregiously loud under acceleration, but it delivers ready power (especially in selectable “Sport” driving mode) for decent passing and cruising. The transmission goes about its work with little apparent fuss.

Toyota RAV4 Adventure
Matte-black fender flares, 18-inch black alloy wheels, and unique badging are among the Adventure model’s features.

It’s a little harder to be impressed by the fuel mileage. The EPA tickets this combination for 22 mpg in city driving, 28 on the highway, and 25 combined. This reviewer’s experience didn’t meet those projections. Following a test stint of 280 miles that included 50 percent city-type driving, he saw a modest 22.9 mpg. The trip computer will tell you that a topped-off RAV4 can go 325 miles or more on a full tank of gas, but in that test, the remaining-range indicator registered just 11 miles by the time the driver reached a gas pump, meaning the vehicle might have been tapped out after only about 290 miles.

Given its image and price point, the interior look comes off more hardy than plush. The seats are cloth-upholstered—and pretty comfortable. Padded surfaces top the front doors but not the rear ones. Controls are easy to read and reach. Audio presets are quickly set, and the climate system benefits from handy rotating dials for temperature settings.

Personal-item storage in front consists mainly of a generous glove box, and a modest cubby with flip-up tray under the console armrest. The dash has a deep recess above the glove box that forms a handy tray. One of the two open cup holders on the console has a provision for a side handle, which turns it into a “mug holder.” Small door pockets make room for bottles. Second-row storage is handled by pouches on the backs of the front seats, bottle holders in the doors, and twin cup holders set in the pull-down center armrest.

This 5’-10.5” tester had all the legroom and headroom he needed. The rear seats can hold three average-size adults, thanks to minimal floor hump and better headroom behind the moonroof. Rear seat backs recline, and legroom is quite good for something called “compact.” Entries and exits are easy, and outward vision to almost every angle encounters few obstacles.

Good small-vehicle cargo space gets even better when the 60/40-split rear seats are down. They fold almost flat in gas-engine RAV4s, with a bridging panel to create an uninterrupted surface from the flat cargo deck. Liftover is conveniently low, and tie-downs are in place to help secure loads. There’s some hidden cargo space around the spare tire that rests under the floor.

Without further serious off-road components, it’s hard to tell just how adventurous an Adventure can—or should—get. But folks whose lifestyles and interests are more active than the average couch potato’s might find it to be a trusty companion.

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Toyota RAV4 Adventure
The current-generation RAV4 is soon to be supplanted by a completely redesigned RAV4 that is set to debut in a couple months as a 2019 model, but the outdoorsy Adventure trim level will carry over to the new generation.

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