Test Drive: Toyota RAV4 Adventure a perfect fit for Chattanooga outdoor enthusiasts

Test Drive: Toyota RAV4 Adventure a perfect fit for Chattanooga outdoor enthusiasts

August 10th, 2018 by Mark Kennedy in Business Around the Region

The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure features black wheels and a hood decal. / Staff photo by Mark Kennedy

Photo by Mark Kennedy /Times Free Press.

A two-tone interior and rugged floor mats add visual interest to the RAV4 Adventure. / Staff photo by Mark Kennedy

A two-tone interior and rugged floor mats add...

Photo by Mark Kennedy /Times Free Press.


* Model: 2018 RAV4 Adventure AWD

* Exterior color: Silver Sky Metallic

* Interior color: Black and white

* Engine: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder

* Horsepower: 176

* Transmission: six-speed automatic

* Fuel economy: 28 mpg highway, 22 mpg city

* Local Dealer: Capital Toyota, Toyota of Cleveland, North Georgia Toyota

* Price (as tested): $31,445

Driving the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure crossover this week was like saying goodbye to an old friend.

As we have noted in previous test drives, the current-generation RAV4 seems better than the sum of its parts. Not the most powerful or technologically advanced small SUV, the RAV4 nonetheless remains the most user-friendly vehicle in its class. It's like your go-to pair of jeans: safe, reliable and comfortable.

Integrated roof rails are standard on the RAV4 Adventure. / Staff photo by Mark Kennedy

Integrated roof rails are standard on the RAV4...

Photo by Mark Kennedy /Times Free Press.

Later this year, Toyota will restock its Chattanooga-area showrooms with the all-new 2019 RAV4, which has big shoes to fill. The current generation of the compact crossover has become the car-maker's top-selling model, a turn of events that would have seemed inconceivable 20-plus years ago when the RAV4 was first introduced.

View other Test Drive stories by Mark Kennedy

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In 2017, Toyota sold more than 407,000 RAV4s in the United States, surpassing the perennially best-selling Camry in the car-maker's line-up. At car shows earlier this year, Toyota showed off a new, tougher-looking 2019 RAV4 which is scheduled to show up at North American dealerships beginning in December. The new model has a more truck-like countenance (think Tacoma) and updated electronics. We expect it will meet or surpass current sales volume.

In the meantime, customers looking for a closeout deal on the excellent 2018 model might want to look at the Adventure trim RAV4, which features black wheels, a black hood decal, black accented side mirrors and halogen headlights with black bezels. The 2018 RAV4 Adventure also has taller ride height and a towing prep package that includes a heavy-duty radiator and oil cooling system.

We checked the digital inventories of all our Chattanooga-area Toyota dealerships and all have a good supply of 2018 RAV4s still in stock.

WHAT IS IT? The 2018 RAV4 Adventure is a five-passenger, compact crossover with a 176-horsepower, four-cylinder engine and available all-wheel-drive. Our Silver Sky Metallic tester is shown in Adventure trim and has an MSRP of $31,445 including options and a $995 processing and handling fee.

HOW MUCH? There are five RAV4 trim levels available with asking prices ranging from $24,660 for a base LE to $31,155 for a Limited model, before options. Toyota also offers two versions of the RAV4 Hybrid ranging from $29,280 to $32,435. At the moment, 2018 RAV4s have attractive factory discounts.

WHAT WE LIKED Some of our favorite exterior flourishes include the 18-inch black wheels, the hood decoration and the tough-looking wheel-arch cladding. Inside, we liked the two-tone cloth seats, the dash architecture with padded inserts, the beefy steering wheel and the sunroof.

WHAT IT LACKED The styling is conservative, some might call it generic. There were no rear AC vents in our tester and the rear seats were too firm for our liking.

WHY IT'S GOOD FOR CHATTANOOGA BUYERS Chattanooga is a value-oriented city and the RAV4s excellent resale values make it a smart buy.

WORTHWHILE OPTIONS Toyota groups its options in big packages. Our tester comes with the $2,490 "Power Premium" Extra Value package which includes a power lift gate, smart key system, a host of safety-tech features, premium audio with navigation, six speakers and satellite radio (by subscription).

BOTTOM LINE Whether you look for a bargain on 2018 RAV4 models today or wait for the promising new 2019 RAV4 later this year, expect comfortable, trouble-free driving, great utility and excellent resale value at trade-in time.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.