The 2018 Toyota RAV4 compact crossover SUV is powered by a 2.5-liter inline-4 engine with an output of 176 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. That is mated with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive can be specified for all trims. Upon the initial press of the pedal, the RAV4 SE accelerated immediately to get things going. However, there was little grunt left in the top-end of the power band, which was quantified by the nine seconds it needed to reach 60 mph. While navigating busy streets in the city was not a problem, catching up with the highway pace seemed like a chore. Through the turn, it handled with good composure and body roll was minimal. There was enough grip to track accurately since the limit for its cornering speeds wasn’t high, to begin with. The steering was responsive and changing direction was prompt. The effort required to steer wasn’t too light nor too cumbersome. The brakes were average in its category and it took 175 feet to stop from 70 mph. There was no abrupt reaction when braking and the stopping force was linear. The firm pedal had a good response such that controlling the bite from the brakes was easy.
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The base LE trim comes standard with Bluetooth, an auxiliary audio jack, a CD player, voice commands and an infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen and a six-speaker sound system. Several advanced safety and driver aids come standard. The XLE trim adds foglights, heated mirrors, a power liftgate, a power-adjustable driver seat, heated front seats, and automatic climate control. Standalone options include navigation, satellite radio, and HD radio. The Adventure trim adds a raised suspension and a 120V power outlet. The Cold Weather package adds heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver seat, a heated steering wheel, and a wiper de-icer. The SE trim adds automatic LED headlights, LED running lights, LED taillights, paddle shifters, and power-adjustable lumbar support for the driver seat. The Limited trim adds a keyless entry and ignition, driver-seat memory functions, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a bigger 7-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system. More advanced safety and driver aids are added. The top-of-the-line Platinum trim adds a hands-free power liftgate, a heated steering wheel, and an 11-speaker JBL sound system. More advanced safety and driver aids are added.
The 2018 RAV4 was tested by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and it earned four stars in the frontal crash test, five stars in the side crash test, and four stars in the rollover test. Overall, it achieved a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA. It was also tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and it scored “Good” in the majority of the crashworthiness tests and “Superior” in front crash prevention. Overall, it received the 2018 Top Safety Pick recommendation from the IIHS. Advanced safety and driver aids that come standard with the base trim include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assists, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and a rearview camera. Additional features are added to higher trim levels, which are blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree camera.
The 2018 RAV4 has a length of 183.5 inches, a width of 72.6 inches, a height of 67.5 inches, and a wheelbase of 104.7 inches. The headlights and foglights are recessed into the front bumper, which makes the front fascia more imposing with its angular jawline. The protruding rear bumper also has a boxy profile, which seems coherent with the front bumper. The base trim starts with 17-inch wheels and higher trim levels starting with the Adventure trim have 18-inch wheels. Roof rails are an option starting with the base trim. The Adventure and higher trim levels have skid plates added to the front bumper, side skirts, and rear bumper.
Getting into the cabin wasn’t difficult because the ground clearance is fairly low. The doors opened wide enough and the entrance was tall enough such that six-footers found it easy to get in. The front and rear seats can accommodate up to five passengers and they were spacious enough even for passengers with above average height. The seats were comfortable and weren’t fatiguing to the lower body during long drives. The rear seats lacked the lateral support of the front seats. Despite having only cloth upholstery, they were more breathable compared to the faux leather of the higher trim levels. While it can handle with good poise on the road, the compromise of a stiffer suspension setup is evident. The ride quality on smooth roads was stable but rough patches felt unsettling. Road noise and wind noise were heard from the cabin and they could be a nuisance to anyone looking for a more relaxed interior ambiance.
There is 38.4 cu-ft of space behind the rear seats, and folding the seats down opens up 73.4 cu-ft of space available for cargo.