The all-new fifth-generation 2019 Toyota RAV4 debuted last month at the New York Auto Show, but that doesn’t mean that you should necessarily wait until it arrives. The current RAV4 continues to sit at or near the top of the sales charts and there’s lots of reasons why. It’s combination of style, practicality and reliability has continued to win over buyers over the years. To send the current RAV4 off into the sunset, Toyota has introduced the 2018 RAV4 Adventure, which is aimed at buyers that, just as its name suggests – like an adventure.
While its pretty easy to assume that most RAV4 buyers never take their crossovers off-road, the 2018 RAV4 Adventure will at least give off the appearance that you do. The RAV4 Adventure adds fender flares, a black hood stripe, 18-inch black alloy wheels, unique lower valance panels and rocker panel guards, black headlight bezels, black fog lamp surround and roof rails. The RAV4 Adventure also has slightly more ground clearance at 6.5-inches compared to 6.1-inches. Inside there are rubber floor mats to catch all the dirt and mud that your feet will pick up.
That’s basically all the upgrades, since the RAV4 Adventure is powered by the same 2.5L four-cylinder engine as the standard RAV4. The four-cylinder generates 176-hp and 172 lb-ft. torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is optional. It’s unfortunate that there aren’t any upgrades under the hood, since the engine isn’t too happy when pushed hard. The engine is quiet and competent, but its not as refined as some of the turbocharged engines the RAV4’s rivals offer. With a 23/30 mpg rating, the RAV4 also trails the CR-V, with its 26/32 mpg rating.
Driving around town the RAV4 Adventure seems to miss out on the “adventure” part of its name. The compact SUV is plagued with numb steering, a soft suspension and just adequate acceleration. There is a Sport mode, but even that doesn’t really do anything to make the RAV4 more fun to drive.
Inside the interior is spacious, but it’s definitely showing its age. The materials look a step or two below the CR-V and the infotainment system feels like its at least a generation behind. Thankfully Toyota is finally jumping on the Apple CarPlay bandwagon, so that will help. In front of the driver there’s a small digital screen that’s flanked by an analog speedometer and tachometer. The small screen not only looks cheesy, but it doesn’t really share that much needed info. It can’t even compete with the VW Tiguan’s Digital Cockpit.
The RAV4 Adventure is a competent compact crossover that isn’t really a stand out in any big area, but the overall package works. It’s quiet, the back seat is spacious and a power liftgate opens up a large and low cargo area for your stuff. Want a third row, then you’ll need to look at the Tiguan. If you want a more luxurious interior, then the CR-V and CX-5 are better options. Pricing for the 2018 RAV4 Adventure starts at $27,800, which is just over $3,000 more than the base RAV4 LE. Want all-wheel drive and the RAV4 Adventure gets pricer at $29,525.