$19,818 - $27,658

2018 Toyota RAV4 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Toyota RAV4 was new.


Performance: 7.2

The 2018 Toyota RAV4 has middle-of-the-road performance. Its ride quality and handling are respectable, and engine power is similarly adequate. These traits make the RAV4 a decent choice as a daily driver, though it doesn't stand out from rivals in any distinct way.

  • "On the whole, the 2017 Toyota RAV4 is capable and easy to drive, and it's especially easy to park in confined spaces. If you're thinking about adventures out of town, the all-wheel-drive version has some limited off-road capability. The RAV4 is really about safe, all-around transportation at the right price, so don't expect the engaging personality found in its competition. Nevertheless, the all-around capability of this crossover will surely satisfy the majority of drivers." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "In the end, however, like the rest of the RAV4, the handling is simply outdone by that of competitors. The Honda CR-V in particular is more responsive, comfortable and refined to drive, with a stronger and more efficient engine to boot. The Mazda CX-5 and Ford Escape are also more responsive to drive." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "[The RAV4 SE] may not be the fastest RAV4 money can buy, but it's certainly the most entertaining to drive. We'd consider it a worthy competitor to the Mazda CX-5 when equipped like this, but keep in mind that Mazda doesn't have an SE equivalent. Any CX-5 you buy is the sporty one." -- Left Lane News (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The 2018 RAV4 comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. This 176-horsepower setup is energetic enough for most situations, though it isn't extraordinarily brisk. You can adjust this somewhat by switching the RAV4 from Eco mode to Sport mode for better acceleration. The RAV4’s fuel economy rating of 23 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway is about average for a compact SUV.

  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Most drivers will find that the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivers power that's adequate for moving people and cargo around town. Throttle response isn't as immediate as we'd prefer, and the transmission has a tendency to indecisively hunt for the correct gear on inclines. Unlike other compact SUVs, the RAV4 does not offer a more powerful engine in an upgraded model." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "As for performance, the 2.5-liter is acceptable in most circumstances – although we found that when left in Eco mode, the 6-speed transmission delivered a rather sluggish and unresponsive feel. Leave it in Sport mode and you'll be much happier, with almost no real difference in fuel economy." -- Autotrader (2015)

Handling and Braking

The RAV4 comes standard with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is available in every trim level. It's composed and comfortable on the highway, and while this Toyota doesn't boast any class-leading handling traits, it's easy to drive and relatively smooth.

  • "Its ride is smooth and controlled without being overly soft or floating. We prefer it to the stiff ride found with the Mazda CX-5 and Kia Sportage." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "Overall, the RAV4 rides and handles very well, especially considering its tall ride height. The electric power steering is reasonably precise and provides good feedback in tight turns. Likewise, the suspension soaks up most bumps yet doesn't allow the car to lean or bob about uncontrollably when pushed hard (we would think twice about the available 18-in wheels, though, which can add impact harshness)." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "The ride also draws praise for its smooth, compliant feel, though the 18-inch tires do transmit more road imperfections than the 17-inchers. At the same time, the well-tuned suspension keeps the RAV4 composed through turns, so this crossover feels reassuring even when you're beyond the city limits." -- Edmunds (2017)

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