2018 Toyota RAV4 Review and Comparison in Colorado Springs, CO

Everything you love about the Toyota RAV4, done better in the newest SUV model

"Versatile" isn't a strong enough word to describe the true personality and functionality of the new Toyota RAV4, but it'll do--besides, those who own and drive a RAV4 are usually too busy pursuing their hobbies and going on trips to ponder on verbiage.

Toyota has painstakingly built a reputation on creating long-lasting and affordable vehicles that would withstand the test of time. And, it's not uncommon at all to see older-style Toyota RAV4 SUVs trucking around town with 150,000; 200,000; or even 250,000 miles on the odometer. Take care of your Toyota, and it'll take care of you.

The versatility of the Toyota RAV4 goes beyond just durability and the usual SUV capability through all-wheel-drive traction. It's powerful, but efficient enough to be both an affordable commuter and a fun weekend adventurer. It's compact and easy to handle, but spacious enough to handle a ton of gear and equipment for when you want to travel. It's a little minimalistic on the inside, but its low-maintenance design is great for shoppers who don't want to spend the time and money on extensive detailing.

If you're not looking for a top-of-the-line luxury crossover, and you want something that's going to last and give you a lot for the money, you can't ignore the genuine value and functionality of the Toyota RAV4.

Good looks and a classic feel

The most-recent RAV4 has expanded its exterior color options, giving you over a dozen designs to choose from: Galactica Aqua Mica, Electric Storm Blue, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Blizzard Pearl, Super White, Black, Ruby Flare Pearl, Black Currant Metallic, Silver Sky Metallic, Black Sand Pearl, S-Code Black, S-Code Electric Storm Blue, and S-Code Super White. (S-Code colors represent the stylish new dual-tone colors available on select RAV4 models.

Across the whole new lineup--RAV4 LE, XLE, Adventure, SE, Limited, and Platinum--Toyota relies on a tried-and-true style that doesn't exactly push the envelope of automotive design, but looks attractive, solid, and clean in just about any environment. It's built to last, not to thrill, and even after a decent refresh, it shows. We might be seeing some major changes for the next-generation RAV4 when it's released, but we can be satisfied with the well-balanced and comfortable style of Toyota's iconic compact SUV.

Inside, the thoughtful layout of the interior gives you a roomy 38.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, with many models bringing a standard all-weather mat for easy cleanup after moving messy or wet gear. Fold that second row flat, and the RAV4 opens up an impressive 73.4 cubic feet of total cargo space.

Capable, practical performance

Spoiler alert: this SUV's performance isn't going to get your heart racing or send chills down your spine. But, you wouldn't expect your trusty, comfortable pair of hiking boots to help you dominate in the 100-yard dash--and the performance you expect from a crossover like the Toyota RAV4 focuses more on just working, when you need it and in any condition.

Like a hiking boot, the RAV4 functions on solid materials and good traction: under the hood, you'll find Toyota's 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, paired to a six-speed automatic. It's good for 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque, which isn't the most powerful in its class, but isn't a slouch. Front-wheel-drive does come standard to keep prices low and fuel economy ratings high, but Toyota's AWD system is available on every RAV4.

The Toyota RAV4 utilizes the same engine, and offers a standard all-wheel-drive system, but LE Hybrid, XLE Hybrid, SE Hybrid, and Limited Hybrid models use the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system, which--when paired with the hybrid electric motor--boosts combined horsepower up to 194 net HP and increases fuel economy ratings to 34 MPG city, even with AWD.

The new RAV4 Adventure model bumps up towing

Long-time RAV4 fans will notice an all-new addition to the most recent lineup: the Toyota RAV4 Adventure. It's taller, more powerful, and more capable than the usual model run--but you might not be able to tell at first look. An extra 0.4 inches of ground clearance doesn't make a big difference visually, but it does when you need to get over a rocky road. That increase boosts the RAV4 Adventure to a total ground clearance of 6.5 inches.

But ride height isn't the only thing that changes: the RAV4 Adventure gets trim-exclusive design features like black bezels, bigger fender flares, 18-inch wheels, and black roof rails, and adds available features like a heated steering wheel, heated seats, and wiper de-icer. The standard Tow Prep Package also gives the RAV4 Adventure a boost, with a max tow capacity of up to 3,500 pounds. For comparison, the standard RAV4 line can tow about 1,500 pounds.

This travel-ready and surprisingly-muscular RAV4, we hope, is subtly setting the stage for a future TRD or TRD Pro model of the popular crossover--maybe a mini-4Runner? Fingers are crossed.

The wrap-up

There are some things that some other crossovers do better than the Toyota RAV4, but there's no other small SUVs on the market that can do as much as the RAV4 can, as efficiently and with the same legacy of durability and reliability.

If you're looking for a solid daily commuter, a friendly small-family car, or a great first car to chase down adventures, the new Toyota RAV4 is always going to be a good first choice.

Compare the Toyota RAV4 vs the Competition