For the 2018 model year, Toyota added a new Adventure grade for the RAV4 crossover. The new trim point adds body clearance, ride height, and other changes to the 2018 Toyota RAV4 as a last hurrah before the small crossover undergoes its transformation into a new generation for 2019.

The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure is very much like the RAV4 XLE model, which has a lower-end list of amenities and simpler, less flashy interior. The Adventure adds about half an inch to the RAV4's ride height, making it 6.5 inches (16.51 cm) above ground, versus 6.1 (15.49 cm) on the standard model. All other changes for the Adventure model are in appearance only.

The 2018 Toyota RAV4 is not likely to win beauty contests for its boxy design and oddly double-chinned front fascia. Yet somehow, adding some beefed up fender guards, thicker "high impact plastic" lower body cladding, and more aggressive-appearing front and rear lower fender guards, makes it look more rugged. From there, Toyota went about creating a new brand identity with mountain-shaped insignia that appear all over the RAV4 Adventure, making sure everyone is aware that this is the adventure-grade model.

Other changes include a standard hood stripe, 18-inch black alloy wheels, a roof rack, and a factory towing package. We will say that the added body height on the RAV4 Adventure, which is most prominently seen around the wheel wells, gives the Adventure trim a more robust look than its standard model counterparts. This additional clearance is also seen on the RAV4 SE package, but without the robust guards and flares, and thus not as easily noticed.

The 2018 RAV4 Adventure also has changes to its interior over the more sedate XLE model, adding rubber floor mats and a rear cargo mat with that Adventure logo, and some faux carbon fiber inserts for the dashboard and center stack.

It's clear that Toyota is aiming for the REI-shopping, Teva-wearing buyer with this new RAV4. The RAV4 Adventure retains, unchanged, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission found in all other RAV4 models and even leaves front-wheel drive as the standard for the Adventure grade. All-wheel drive is an option, at an additional price. Speaking of which, the 2018 RAV4 Adventure is about US$3,000 more than the base model RAV4.

We like the idea behind the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure, but we think it needs more than is being offered. Infotainment, for example, is sub-par and not very likable. Daily driving in the RAV4 is good, but not stellar with a sluggish feel to the power output. The engine takes a lot of work to get to its full 176-horsepower (131 kW) potential.

That realization comes after spending a day driving the 2018 RAV4 Adventure on an icy lake in Colorado and a week driving it as an everyday family transporter. The 2018 RAV4 is a functional, well-designed vehicle for the compact crossover class, but this generation of the vehicle trails behind others in the segment.

Roominess inside the Adventure is good for a small family and those who need some utility space for cargo hauling. Accoutrements in the RAV4 are, however, not up to par with expectation and design elements, like the oddly-shaped dashboard, are outdated compared to others today. Cheap plastics are also a problem in the 2018 RAV4 Adventure, which feels far less upscale overall than do competitors like the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, and the Mazda CX-5.

View gallery - 10 images