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MSRP: $24,660 - 36,400

2018 Toyota RAV4 Review

The 2018 Toyota RAV4 radiates practicality, as demonstrated by its wealth of standard safety features, expansive cargo area, and easygoing handling. Its less-than-exciting performance and styling don't condemn the RAV4, but do lower it to the bottom half of our rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Lots of standard safety features
  • Large cargo area for the class

 

  • Uninspiring interior styling and materials

 

New for 2018

  • New Adventure trim level
  • Maximum towing capacity increases from 1,500 to 3,500 pounds

 

Is the Toyota RAV4 a Good SUV?

The 2018 RAV4 is a good SUV. It offers a wealth of advanced safety features and has an above-average predicted reliability rating. It earns praise for being solid and well-built, and its cargo space is among the largest in the class.

Should I Buy the Toyota RAV4?

You should buy the 2018 RAV4 if you're looking for a compact SUV that offers lots of room for passengers and cargo. With strong safety credentials, this Toyota also makes an excellent family hauler. Still, there are more well-rounded class competitors that outperform the RAV4 in our rankings. You also might consider the Mazda CX-5, which delivers many smiles per hour, or the classy and cavernous Honda CR-V. The Nissan Rogue is another solid choice that is comparable to the RAV4 in many ways.

Compare the RAV4, CR-V, and CX-5 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Toyota RAV4?

For 2018, the RAV4 sees an increase in its towing capacity from 1,500 pounds to 3,500 pounds. There's also a new Adventure trim, which boasts higher ground clearance, specific exterior styling, a standard tow package, and a three-prong household-style outlet in the cargo hold. If these improvements do not matter to you, consider shopping for a used RAV4 to potentially save some money. The 2016 and 2017 RAV4 are nearly identical to each other.

To research some other models in this generation (dating back to 2013), visit our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Toyota RAV4. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Toyota RAV4 »

We Did the Research for You: 44 Reviews Analyzed

For our 2018 Toyota RAV4 review, we researched 44 professional evaluations, along with safety scores, reliability data, and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best buying decision possible. This 2018 Toyota RAV4 review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2013 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking and reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our editorial team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our full reviews are unbiased, we don't accept expensive gifts or incentives from car companies, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Toyota RAV4 Cost?

Prices for a new Toyota RAV4 start at $24,510, which is on the high end for a compact SUV. In addition to the base LE trim, the Toyota offers this crossover in XLE ($25,600), Adventure ($27,800), SE ($28,890), Limited ($31,005), and Platinum ($34,850) trim levels. Front-wheel drive is standard in every model, and you can upgrade most to all-wheel drive for $1,400.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

Toyota RAV4 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V?

The Honda CR-V is one of the best compact SUVs out there. This two-row family vehicle offers plenty of room for passengers to stretch out and get comfortable, and its large cargo hold easily stores everyone's gear. The CR-V also has a slightly higher crash test rating than the RAV4. Overall, the CR-V is the superior SUV.

Which Is Better: Toyota RAV4 or Mazda CX-5?

Those looking for an exciting ride will likely prefer the driving dynamics of the Mazda CX-5 to those of the RAV4. The CX-5 has a peppy engine and lithe handling that make it fun to drive. It's also refined on the inside, thanks to comfortable, spacious seats and a smooth ride. The RAV4 has a much better predicted reliability rating than the CX-5, but the Mazda dominates in most every other category.

Which Is Better: Toyota RAV4 or Nissan Rogue?

Like the RAV4, the Nissan Rogue offers a spacious interior for people and cargo. Its cabin has premium materials, and you can opt for upgrades like leather seats (which aren't available in the RAV4) and a panoramic sunroof to add some class. These two SUVs are fairly evenly matched.

Compare the RAV4, CR-V, and Rogue »

RAV4 Interior

How Many People Does the RAV4 Seat?

The RAV4 seats five people on two rows of seats, with the most comfortable accommodations located in the front. The cabin is on the narrow side, but that's typical for a compact SUV.

RAV4 and Car Seats

The LATCH hardware in the RAV4 is exceptionally easy to use, and all anchors are easy to find. LATCH points include two sets of lower anchors and three tether anchors.

RAV4 Interior Quality

The interior of the RAV4 seems to be built pretty well, with materials including some nice plastics. Still, you’ll find some drab, bargain-basement elements.

RAV4 Cargo Space

When it comes to cargo space, the RAV4 joins the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Subaru Forester as one of the roomiest options. Behind the back seat, the RAV4 offers 38.4 cubic feet of room. Laying the 60/40-split rear seats down will reveal a 73.4-cubic-foot cargo hold.

RAV4 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Every RAV4 comes with a touch screen and an easy-to-use version of Toyota's Entune infotainment interface. While Toyota still doesn't offer Apple CarPlay, it does have an upgraded system with some smartphone integration abilities. You can link your phone with the available Entune App Suite to access iHeartRadio, Pandora, Yelp, Facebook Places, and more. Make sure everyone's phone is fully charged first, though, or you'll have to fight over the SUV's sole USB port.

Read more about interior »

RAV4 Performance

RAV4 Engine: Energetic Enough

The 2018 RAV4 – though not scorching fast – feels reasonably peppy. This 176-horsepower SUV has no trouble cruising down the highway or through the city. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission is the only powertrain available. In the RAV4 Adventure trim (which comes standard with a towing package), this four-cylinder has enough grunt to pull up to 3,500 pounds.

RAV4 Gas Mileage: About Average

The RAV4 gets 23 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, which is a typical rating for a vehicle in this segment. Toyota also offers the RAV4 Hybrid (reviewed separately), which gets an EPA-estimated 34/30 mpg city/highway.

RAV4 Ride and Handling: Balanced and Smooth

The front-wheel-drive RAV4 takes little effort to wield, rewarding occupants with a smooth, stable ride. Test drivers have no major complaints in this department, but they do note that this class is full of rivals with smoother or more responsive handling (the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape are two examples). With its 6.1 inches of ground clearance and available all-wheel drive, the RAV4 is capable of tackling the occasional uncivilized road.

Read more about performance »

RAV4 Reliability

Is the Toyota RAV4 Reliable?

The 2018 RAV4 has an above-average predicted reliability score of four out of five from J.D. Power.

Toyota RAV4 Warranty

Toyota covers the 2018 RAV4 with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

RAV4 Safety

RAV4 Crash Test Results

The 2018 RAV4 has a five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It received five out of five stars for its side crash test and four stars in the rollover and frontal crash test categories. The RAV4 aced nearly every Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash test, though it received a Poor rating (the lowest score) in the passenger-side small overlap front crash test. Despite that, the IIHS named it a 2018 Top Safety Pick.

RAV4 Safety Features

Every RAV4 comes with a rearview camera and Toyota Safety Sense P (which consists of a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control). Available safety features include front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a bird's-eye-view camera that provides a 360-degree view around the car.

Read more about safety »

Which Toyota RAV4 Model Is Right for Me?

For 2018, the Adventure trim joins the RAV4’s previous variations (LE, XLE, SE, Limited, and Platinum). This model is ready for play, with raised ground clearance, boosted towing capacity, and trim-specific styling. Scroll down for more details on this trim and several others, including the sporty SE model and the top-of-the-line Platinum. All trims come with front-wheel drive, and you can add all-wheel drive to most for $1,400 (or $700 in the RAV4 Adventure).

Shoppers searching for the best bang for their buck will want to pay particular attention to the RAV4 XLE. For about $1,100 over the base price, you’ll get an enhanced infotainment system that includes goodies like navigation and Siri Eyes Free. You can add on a few extras through the numerous packages Toyota offers for this trim. One of the best deals is the aptly named Extra Value "Plus" package, an $890 bundle with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a proximity key. Other available add-ons include enhanced smartphone integration, heated front seats, and front and rear parking sensors.

Toyota RAV4 LE

The base RAV4 LE ($24,510) comes with a full array of advanced safety features. A rearview camera and Toyota Safety Sense P (a safety bundle comprised of a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control) are included in every edition. Other standard features include a 6.1-inch touch-screen infotainment display, six speakers, a USB port, Bluetooth, voice recognition, and cloth seats.

Toyota RAV4 XLE

Extra infotainment goodies in the RAV4 XLE ($25,600) include navigation, Siri Eyes Free, satellite radio, and HD Radio. This trim also has dual-zone automatic climate control and a power liftgate.

Toyota RAV4 Adventure

Most of the differences that set the $27,800 RAV4 Adventure apart from the other trims are styling elements or mechanical components (such as the standard Tow Prep package). This trim level builds off the standard features of the RAV4 XLE, adding a few tidbits like a household-style power outlet in the cargo area.

Toyota RAV4 SE

The RAV4 SE ($28,890) is the athletic sibling, with paddle shifters on the steering wheel and a sport-tuned suspension. It comes with synthetic leather seats, power-adjustable heated front seats, a proximity key, push-button start, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Toyota RAV4 Platinum

The range-topping RAV4 Platinum boasts an 11-speaker JBL sound system, smartphone integration via the Entune App Suite, a 7-inch touch screen, a bird's-eye-view camera with a 360-degree view around the car, a heated steering wheel, and a hands-free liftgate with height adjustment. Prices start at $34,850.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

See 2018 Toyota RAV4 specs and trims »

The Final Call

The RAV4 is a smart buy for shoppers surveying the highly competitive compact SUV segment. It aligns with Toyota's well-established reputation for reliable, high-value vehicles, and it is a practical and appealing choice for families or adults with an active lifestyle. Where it falters in comparison to the competition is in its lack of a "wow" factor. Rivals like the Mazda CX-5 bring more fun to the driving experience, while the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue have classy and roomy cabins. We don't advise passing over the RAV4 outright, but we do recommend checking out a few alternatives before you buy.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the Toyota RAV4 reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "You'll Like This Car 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 This Car 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." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 2017 Toyota RAV4 doesn't really stand out in a crowd or rise above its top competitors, but then again, it's hard to argue with its reasonable pricing, impressive fuel economy, high resale values, huge interior and a strong reliability record. It's a utility-oriented small SUV that does just about everything you'd expect, and for 2017, it goes a bit further with newly standard collision-avoidance tech." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "It's easy to see why the 2017 Toyota RAV4 is a popular choice among those shopping for a compact SUV. It simply delivers everything expected from full-time family transportation, including a comfortable ride, strong fuel economy, plenty of cargo space, an abundance of safety features, ease of operation, and a good reputation for reliability." -- Edmunds (2017)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: November 9, 2018

Dominant Sales: The Toyota RAV4 continues its popularity in 2018 as it leads the compact SUV class sales race. The RAV4 is also currently the best-selling vehicle among crossovers and SUVs, while selling about as many units this year as were sold in 2017.

Research more buying advice »
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