The 2018 Toyota RAV4 represents the current generation's sixth, and likely final year, since it was completely redesigned. It's received a nip here, a tuck there, and a few extra safety features over the years, but it's largely the same utility-focused vehicle it always has been. And really, it's those standard safety features and its enormous interior that help keep it relevant despite virtually all of its competitors being redesigned.
Take a test drive of the RAV4 and some other top crossovers and you'll likely notice that the RAV4 looks and feels a bit behind the times. Its utility-focused interior lacks the refinement, quality and style of key rivals that can feel borderline luxurious. You can't even get the RAV4 with real leather upholstery. The RAV4 is also less engaging to drive, with subpar handling and an engine that trails in terms of both acceleration and fuel economy. Tech features can also be lacking — yes, safety tech is standard, but Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and onboard Wi-Fi are not available.
To be fair, these issues are most obvious on the RAV4's upper trim levels. Less expensive RAV4s such as the XLE are better able to showcase their space advantages and standard safety equipment. If you're shopping in that price range, the 2018 RAV4 is certainly worth a look, but we also suggest checking out higher-rated crossovers such as the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5.
The 2018 RAV4 is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV. There are LE, XLE, Adventure, SE, Limited and Platinum trim levels, all of which come standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (176 horsepower, 172 pound-feet of torque) and a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard on all trim levels, and all-wheel drive is optional. Unlike most competitors, the RAV4's various trim levels do more than just vary in terms of feature content — they can have slightly different styling and overall characters. For instance, the SE is sportier while the Adventure is more outdoorsy.
The RAV4 LE comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, rear privacy glass, Toyota Safety Sense P (forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams), a rearview camera, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding and reclining second-row seat, a 6.1-inch touchscreen interface, one USB port, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The XLE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, upgraded interior trim, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, more aggressively bolstered front seats and extending sun visors. Heated front seats with a power-adjustable driver adjustment are optional.
The Adventure adds special styling flourishes, 18-inch black alloy wheels, a slightly raised suspension (6.5 inches of ground clearance versus 6.1), fender flares, all-weather floor mats, a leather-wrapped shift knob and a 120-volt household-style outlet in the cargo area. The Cold Weather package, exclusive to the Adventure, adds heated front seats, the power driver seat, a heated steering wheel, and a windshield wiper de-icer.
The SE gets some of the same styling flourishes as the Adventure and the same ground clearance hike, but from there, they differ. The SE adds automatic LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, 18-inch silver alloy wheels, sportier suspension tuning, an upgraded rearview camera, steering-wheel shift paddles, the power driver seat (plus power lumbar adjustment), heated front seats and SofTex simulated leather upholstery.
On the SE, you also get the Entune Audio Plus with Connected Navigation package that adds satellite radio, HD radio and a Scout GPS navigation app that works through your smartphone connection. It's optional on LE, XLE and Adventure.
The Limited reverts to the XLE's ground clearance, suspension tuning and styling, but keeps its equipment upgrades. It also adds different 18-inch wheels, chrome exterior trim, a height-adjustable power liftgate, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, keyless ignition and entry, driver-seat memory functions, an auto-dimming mirror, and the Entune Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite package (optional on XLE and Adventure) that adds a 7-inch higher-resolution touchscreen and a Toyota navigation system.
Most of the Limited's other functional upgrades can be added to the XLE, Adventure and SE trim levels through a variety of "extra value" packages.
At the top of the RAV4 lineup is the Platinum. It includes front and rear parking sensors, a hands-free liftgate, fancier exterior trim, a 360-degree parking camera, a heated steering wheel, and the Entune Premium JBL Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite package (optional on SE and Limited) that adds an 11-speaker JBL sound system to all the other items featured in the Entune packages. All of the Platinum's extra functional upgrades can be added to the SE and Limited through an Advanced Technology package.