2018 Toyota RAV4 Expert Review

4.4 Overall Score
Performance 3.8 Comfort 3.9 Styling 3.7 Value 4.3

Editor's Overview

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.

What's New

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).

Interior Features

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.

Exterior Features

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.

Driving Impressions

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.

Pricing Notes

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.

Notable Equipment

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.

Notable Options

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.

Favorite Features


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’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.

2.5-liter inline-4

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

Editors' Notes

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.

Road Test Video Reviews

  • 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure – Should You Wait For The New One?
    2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure – Should You Wait For The New One?
  • 2018 Toyota Rav4 SE AWD in Alpine White Review and Walk Around Test Drive
    2018 Toyota Rav4 SE AWD in Alpine White Review and Walk Around Test Drive
  • Toyota RAV4 2018 SUV in-depth review | Mat Watson Reviews
    Toyota RAV4 2018 SUV in-depth review | Mat Watson Reviews
  • 2018 Toyota Rav4 XLE | Full Review and Test Drive
    2018 Toyota Rav4 XLE | Full Review and Test Drive
  • 2018 RAV4 XLE Honest Review
    2018 RAV4 XLE Honest Review
  • 2018 Toyota RAV4 XLE - Ultimate In-Depth Look in 4k
    2018 Toyota RAV4 XLE - Ultimate In-Depth Look in 4k

Owner Reviews


542 Reviews

76% 20% 4% 2 star 0% 1 star 0%

Owner reviews are verified by our team and cannot be altered or removed.

Love the overall features of this vehicle.

The car is easy to handle especially in heavy traffic. The features I like about it is it has the blind car view light in outside mirrors indicating when it is not safe to change lanes. When it is on cruise control the vehicle will slow down if a car is traveling to slow in front of you and resume speed when car in front has moved on. It had several speeds. One is eco where it will save you on gas and another speed when you are wanting to pass another car. The car gets great gas mileage too. I like it that I can lay the back seats down if I am hauling items and it has a cover in the back end where you can hide your purchases as to not being exposed to anyone. I like having the back door lift with the touch of a button. The beautiful sound of the radio. The heating of the front seats in cold weather. The adjustable front seat and can it to my comfort and anyone else driving can use the other setting and not have to readjust mine. It is set just like I love it to be.

- Joyce A

My RAV4 makes me smile! My new RAV4 makes driving a lot of fun.

I love my RAV4le because I can see better sitting a bit higher. The safety features are awesome. I get beeped if I touch the next lane, the back up panel shows me if someone is approaching as well as who is in back of me. There are 8 airbags all total. The car has great pickup when needed. I have all wheel drive that can be turned off and on when needed. I live in the northeast so snow and snow banks are an obstacle at times. Now I don't have to worry about getting plowed in at the end of the driveway. This vehicle will plow right thru or over it! The seats are contoured and very comfortable. The mirrors signal if you are in a blind spot and someone is coming along that you can see. All the safety features really sold me! The colors are attractive as well. We chose the light grey which has a slight metallic look in the paint. The high and low beams adjust automatically as well. The radio is even high tech. It lets download music from your phone.

- Susan M

The lane departure alert beeps when I have left my lane without using my signal.

This is my 1st time purchasing a non-Chevrolet vehicle. This is my 1st SUV. I love the Toyota RAV4. It is not too big, not too small. The vehicle rides smoothly. For this to be a "basic" vehicle, it has "bells and whistles". The dashboard has lots of information. The sound system is great, the speakers can be adjusted. The seats recline. (my son likes this. ). Even the back seats recline. The front passenger seat basically lays flat. The windows are darkened. During the summer, after sitting for several hours, the vehicle was warm. This tends to make me believe a lot of cold air will not be coming in during the winter. I have gotten many compliments from people thinking this is a non-basic vehicle. There is lots of cargo space.

- Dawn B