As the vehicle that started the compact-crossover-SUV segment, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 has consistently been a top seller, right alongside the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Subaru Forester. While not as off-road capable as a Jeep Cherokee, the RAV4 is far more reliable and holds exceptionally strong resale values.
You'll Like The 2018 Toyota RAV4 If...
Toyota’s 2018 RAV4 is the perfect vehicle for those who want a worry-free ownership experience in a compact-crossover SUV that offers a roomy interior, excellent fuel economy and high resale values. Models range from basic to plush and all keep the price well within reason.
You May Not Like The 2018 Toyota RAV4 If...
If you’re seeking a compact-crossover SUV with real off-road ability, a Subaru Forester or Jeep Cherokee makes a better choice. The 2018 Toyota RAV4 doesn’t offer a V6 engine, so passing and towing abilities are somewhat limited, and unlike the VW Tiguan, there’s no 3rd-row-seat option.
A new Adventure trim adds more ground clearance, 18-inch wheels and a 120-volt outlet, plus optional Cold Weather package with heated/power front seats, heated steering wheel and windshield wiper de-icers. A Tow Prep package increases the tow rating to 2,900 pounds with front-wheel drive (FWD) and 3,500 pounds with all-wheel drive (AWD).
With high-quality plastics and soft-touch surfaces, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 offers a comfortable and inviting SUV interior. Base LE models get contrasting colors, adding an upscale look at a price level that usually sentences the buyer to blandness. However, we're not fans of the faux-carbon-fiber cladding around the doorsills and gearshift lever. Interestingly, leather isn't available, substituted with a material called SofTex, which does a pretty good impression of the real thing. The driver's seat is comfortable and supportive, especially the Limited and Platinum models with their added lumbar support. Rear-seat passengers have good legroom, and there's plenty of cargo space.
Overall, we like the looks of the 2018 RAV4 compact-crossover SUV, and its sharp lines are positively aggressive compared to previous models. Owners of those older models may notice that there's no rear-mounted spare tire on the current generation. However, despite it being a fixture since the RAV4's introduction, Toyota was smart in dropping it, as it allows for a swing-up rear door instead of the swing-out design on previous versions, making it easier to load items into the cargo area. A power assist is standard on Limited and Platinum models, and available on XLE models.
While its competitors have grown larger and more powerful, Toyota’s RAV4 SUV for 2018 remains true to its roots. There’s a roomy interior with plenty of cargo space, plus lots of optional features to fit just about any taste. While the Mazda CX-5 offers better handling and a more modern interior, the RAV4 offers a softer, more comfortable ride and a bit more pep under the hood. It’s true the 2018 Toyota RAV4’s 2.5-liter engine isn’t as powerful as some competitors, but its acceleration and fuel economy remain in line with other 4-cylinder compacts like the Jeep Compass, Subaru Forester and Chevrolet Equinox. When it comes to fuel economy, the RAV4 Hybrid pushes 34 mpg, and that’s with the sure-footed traction of standard AWD. The hybrid’s 2-motor setup also makes it a bit quicker to 60 mph than the gasoline-only version.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2018 Toyota RAV4 LE is about $25,500, including the destination charge. The top-of-the-line Platinum model with AWD tops out around $37,200. The XLE Hybrid starts around $30,000. Those prices are right in line with rivals like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, two of its strongest competitors. Other compact SUVs like the Kia Sportage and Mazda CX-5 start lower, but the RAV4's simplified trim levels keep even a loaded RAV4 well below the mid- to high-$30,000 prices that afflict other vehicles in this segment, like the Ford Escape and VW Tiguan. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the new Toyota RAV4. The RAV4 should retain its value on par with the Honda CR-V and better than a Ford Escape, but below the Subaru Forester.
The base RAV4 LE trim comes with Entune, which includes a 6.1-inch display, Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM/CD system with six speakers, and auxiliary and USB inputs to control your iPod. XLE models add a power moonroof, upgraded Entune with satellite and HD Radio, dual-zone climate control, and better front seats with French stitching. The SE trim receives a sport suspension, paddle shifters, SofTex seating, 2-tone paint and rear cross-traffic alert. Limited models add the power liftgate, SofTex upholstery, Entune Premium audio with navigation and apps, push-button start, and more. The AWD RAV4 Hybrid is offered in XLE, SE and Limited trims.
All-wheel drive is available on all Toyota RAV4 models and standard on the Hybrid, enhancing the SUV's traction in wet weather and on dirt roads. Other options include a navigation system with Toyota's Entune telematics -- which has voice recognition and various apps for everything from making reservations to finding sports scores -- JBL premium audio system with 11 speakers, Bird’s Eye View Parking System, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and, on the XLE, a power rear liftgate. The Platinum trim adds body-color side molding, a heated steering wheel, JBL audio, navigation, Smart Key and a foot-activated power rear liftgate.
The Adventure trim gives the 2018 RAV4 a bit more off-road cred, elevating ride height to 6.5 inches and offering available heated cloth seats, heated steering wheel and front wiper de-icers. While no Subaru Outback, the package does make the RAV4 a better winter warrior.
TOYOTA SAFETY SENSE P (TSS-P)
Toyota’s dedication to safety is apparent in the 2018 RAV4 compact-crossover SUV, with every model featuring collision-mitigation braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and auto high beams as standard equipment.
Under the Hood
There are two powertrain choices for the 2018 Toyota RAV4. Gasoline-powered models employ a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with 176 horsepower. Coupled with the standard 6-speed automatic transmission, it's enough to get the SUV from a standstill to 60 mph in a little less than 10 seconds, not exactly quick, but good enough. The standard FWD can be replaced with an AWD system, and the RAV4 will tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped. The RAV4 Hybrid uses the same 2.5-liter engine only with Atkinson-cycle technology mated with two small electric motors (one at each axle). AWD comes standard on the hybrid models, as does a CVT automatic transmission.
176 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
172 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/29 mpg (FWD), 22/28 mpg (AWD)
2.5-liter inline-4 engine + electric motor (Hybrid)
194 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm (peak output with gasoline and electric combined)
206 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 34/30 mpg
Among the numerous compact-SUV choices out there, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 remains a standout. As the vehicle that started the compact-crossover-SUV segment, the RAV4 has consistently been a top seller, right alongside the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Subaru Forester. While not as off-road capable as a Jeep Cherokee, the RAV4 is far more reliable and holds exceptionally strong resale values. Its 4-cylinder engine delivers decent power with good fuel economy, and it has enough ground clearance to tackle most snow and light off-road situations. Better still, every RAV4 comes standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense-P suite of driver assists, and there’s even a hybrid model. Unfortunately, Toyota’s 2018 RAV4 still isn’t compatible with either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.