2018 Toyota RAV4: Release date, price, specs, and features

RAV4 snags the crown as the top-selling crossover or SUV in 2017

If you found this article because you’re considering buying a 2018 Toyota RAV4, you have plenty of company. RAV4 sales have soared in 2017, eclipsing those of the two other top-selling compact SUVs, Honda’s CR-V and Nissan’s Rogue. Through September 2017, U.S. buyers have bought more RAV4s than any other vehicle except the big three pickups, the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado 1500, and Dodge Ram 1500.

Other than the invulnerable light pickup trucks, crossovers are leading in vehicle sales this year, with the RAV4, Rogue, and CR-V scoring fourth, fifth, and sixth place in U.S. new car sales, respectively. This market dominance represents a big change from 2016 ,when positions four through six were held by the Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, and Honda Civic respectively. The crossover lead isn’t only relative to other vehicles, as all three models are each significantly ahead of their own 2016 sales pace for the first nine months of 2017, with the RAV4 in the lead.

If your definition of an SUV requires a truck chassis, then car-based vehicles like the RAV4, CR-V, and Rogue should be called crossovers. Toyota hedges its bets with the classification, listing the RAV4 in the “SUVs and Crossovers” category without differentiating between the models.

What’s new for 2018

The RAV4’s 2017 sales leadership for crossovers and SUVs is official. With final 2017 calendar year unit sales in from automakers, the RAV4 outsold every other model with a total of 407,594 vehicles, a 15.74 percent increase from 2016 when 352,154 new RAV4s sold.  Second place Nissan Rogue sales numbers grew at an even larger rate, 22.30 percent, from 329,904 in 2016 to 403,465 in 2017.  The third spot went to last years chart-topper, the Honda CR-V. The CR-V sold 377,895 units in 2017, up 5.75 percent from 2016, but that increase wasn’t enough to stay ahead of the RAV4 and Rogue sales jumps.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the 2018 Toyota RAV4 as a Top Safety Pick when equipped with LED headlights. The IIHS headlight test has been the downfall for many crossovers and SUVs, but the RAV4’s LED headlamps are a happy exception.

The 2018 RAV4 is the sixth year of the fourth-generation RAV4, which started with the 2013 model. Not much has changed this year other than one new trim version, the 2018 RAV4 Adventure, introduced in September 2017. The Adventure has exclusive exterior and interior styling and functional components that equip the new trim level for outdoor sports activities — but don’t confuse it with an off-road four-wheel drive SUV, because that isn’t the case. See more on the RAV4 Adventure below.

2018 RAV4 engines

All 2018 RAV4s are equipped with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve engine equipped with Dual VVT-i. The gasoline-powered motor produces 176 horsepower at 6,000 RPM and 172 pound-feet of torque at 4,100 RPM with a six-speed automatic transmission. In the three RAV4 hybrid trim models, the engine nets 194 net horsepower when combined with an electric motor and hybrid battery. The hybrids swap the six-speed automatic for a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and gain electronic on-demand all-wheel drive, using the electric motor to add power to the rear wheels when needed.

2018 RAV4 tech

All new RAV4s, like most other Toyotas, have Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) as standard equipment. This package of active safety and driver-assist features includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control.

RAV 4s also include the Star Safety System that features enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock brake system, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist for emergency stops, and smart stop technology.

Four infotainment systems with 6.1-inch or 7-inch touchscreen displays keep the all passengers entertained and the driver informed. The top two premium infotainment systems integrate a navigation system and a third version connects with and displays smartphone navigation information.

How to choose a 2018 RAV4

There are nine different 2018 RAV trim levels, including three hybrids. The hybrid models include AWD, but the gasoline-engine-only versions offer AWD as a $1,400 option. The one exception is the Adventure trim, for which AWD is a $700 upgrade. To help differentiate between the RAV4 trims, we’ve divided them into three trim levels we refer to as “standard,” three “sporty,” and three luxury versions.

Standard 2018 Toyota RAV4s: LE, XLE, XLE Hybrid

The least expensive trim level, the RAV4 LE, starting at $24,410, includes several features that just a few years ago were only available on premium models. The LE has halogen projector-beam headlights with auto on/off, power outside mirrors with integrated blind spot detection mirrors, automatic limited-slip differential, 17-inch steel wheels, a backup camera with static guidelines, multi-information display, and voice recognition and hands-free smartphone controls.

For a starting price increase of just $1,090, the 2018 RAV4 XLE ($25,500) has the LE feature plus integrated fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, a power moonroof, 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display, dual-zone automatic climate control, and fabric seats with sport bolsters.

The 2018 RAV4 XLE Hybrid, starting price $29,030, adds the XLE upgrades, along with a smart key system with push-button, the dual-mode powertrain, and intelligent AWD.

Trim 2018 RAV4 LE 2018 RAV4 XLE 2018 RAV4 XLE Hybrid
Base price $24,410 $25,500 $29,030
Drive wheels Front Front AWD
4WD/AWD? AWD optional, $1,400 AWD optional $1,400 Electronic On-Demand AWD
Base engine 2.5L 4-cylinder engine 2.5L 4-cylinder engine  2.5L 4 cylinder engine
Base horsepower 176 hp 176 hp 194 net hp
Base torque 172 lb-ft at 6,000 172 lb-ft at 6,000 N/A
Transmission 6-speed automatic 6-speed automatic CVT
Fuel Regular gas Regular gas Regular gas
Fuel capacity (gallons) 15.9 15.9 14.8
Fuel economy (mpg) 23 city/30 highway/26 combined 23 city/30 highway/26 combined 34 city/30 highway/32 combined
Base wheels 17-inch steel 17-inch alloy 17-inch alloy
Body style 4-door SUV 4-door SUV 4-door SUV
Passengers 5 5 5
Storage behind 2nd-row seats 38.4 cu ft 38.4 cu ft 35.6 cu ft
Storage behind 1st-row seats 73.4 cu ft 73.4 cu ft 70.6 cu ft
Max towing capacity 1,500 pounds 1,500 pounds 17,50 pounds
Seat upholstery Fabric Fabric with sport bolsters SofTex with sport bolsters

Sporty 2018 Toyota RAV4s: Adventure, SE, SE Hybrid

The 2018 RAV4 Adventure, with a starting price of $27,700, has the LE features plus integrated fog lights and 18-inch black alloy wheels. The Adventure trim also includes black roof rails, unique lower valance panels, rocker panel guards, large over-fender flares, an adventure shift lever, heavy duty all-weather floor and cargo mats, and a 120v/100w power outlet in the rear cargo area. This new RAV4 version has a unique tow prep package that handles up to 3,500 pounds with AWD and includes an upgraded radiator, supplemental engine oil cooler, and transmission fluid cooler.

The 2018 RAV4 SE ($28,700 starting price) bumps up the LE trim package with LED auto on/off headlights, LED daytime running lights, and 18-inch sport alloy wheels. The SE also has 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, SofTex eight-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, and heated front seats.

If the concept of a “sporty” hybrid sounds contradictory, that could be because most of the earliest hybrids’ styling was most politely described as “bland.” But don’t forget that electric power delivers torque instantly. The 2018 Toyota RAV4 SE Hybrid (starting price $31,185) has the features in the XLE Hybrid, plus LED auto on/off headlights, LED daytime running lights, 18-inch sport alloy wheels, the smartphone connected navigation app, and a 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display. The SE Hybrid also includes SofTex upholstery with an eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support and sport bolsters, heated front seats, a remote power liftgate, and a blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.

Trim 2018 RAV4 Adventure 2018 RAV4 SE 2018 RAV4 SE Hybrid
Base price $27,700 $28,790 $31,185
Drive wheels Front Front AWD
4WD/AWD? AWD optional, $700 AWD optional, $1,400 Electronic On-Demand AWD
Base engine 2.5L 4-cylinder engine 2.5L 4-cylinder engine 2.5L 4 cylinder engine
Base horsepower 176 hp 176 hp 194 net hp
Base torque 172 lb-ft at 6,000 172 lb-ft at 6,000 N/A
Transmission 6-speed automatic 6-speed automatic CVT
Fuel Regular gas Regular gas Regular gas
Fuel capacity (gallons) 15.9 15.9 14.8
Fuel economy (mpg)  23 city/30 highway/26 combined 23 city/29 highway/25 combined 34 city/30 highway/32 combined
Base wheels 18-inch black alloy  18-inch sport alloy  18-inch sport alloy
Body style 4-door SUV 4-door SUV 4-door SUV
Passengers 5 5 5
Storage behind 2nd-row seats 38.4 cu ft 38.4 cu ft 35.6 cu ft
Storage behind 1st-row seats 73.4 cu ft 73.4 cu ft 70.6 cu ft
Max towing capacity 2900/3500(AWD) pounds None None
Seat upholstery Fabric with sport bolsters SofTex with sport bolsters  SofTex with sport bolsters

Luxury 2018 Toyota RAV4s: Limited, Limited Hybrid, Platinum

For 2018, the Toyota RAV4 Limited (starting $30,905) includes the equipment and features of the SE plus 18-inch chrome alloy wheels, heated power outside mirrors, an integrated navigation system, and app suite. The Limited also bundles HomeLink, a 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display, SofTex eight-way power driver’s seat with bolsters and lumbar support and memory, and heated front seats, plus a blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.

With a $34,030 starting price, the 2018 RAV4 Limited Hybrid has all the goodies in the SE Hybrid plus 18-inch chrome alloy wheels, and heated power outside mirrors with turn signal and blind spot warning indicators. The Limited Hybrid also has an integrated navigation system and app Suite, a 4.2-inch multi-information display, SofTex eight-way power driver’s seat with bolsters and lumbar support and memory, heated front seats, a remote power liftgate, and the blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.

The top-of-the-line model for 2018, the RAV4 Platinum ($34,750 starting price) bumps up the Limited’s feature set with a hands-free foot-activated power liftgate, front and rear parking sonar, and 18-inch chrome alloy wheels. The Platinum also adds LED auto on/off headlights, LED daytime running lights, heated outside power mirrors, a bird’s-eye view camera with perimeter scan, smart key system, heated steering wheel, ambient footwell lighting, an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat with memory, plus Toyota’s integrated navigation and app suite,

Trim 2018 RAV4 Limited 2018 RAV4 Limited Hybrid 2018 RAV4 Platinum
Base price $30,905 $34,030 $34,750
Drive wheels Front AWD Front
4WD/AWD? AWD optional, $1,400 Electronic On-Demand AWD AWD optional, $1,400
Base engine 2.5L 4-cylinder engine 2.5L 4-cylinder engine 2.5L 4-cylinder engine
Base horsepower 176 hp 194 net hp 176 hp
Base torque 172 lb-ft at 6,000 N/A 172 lb-ft at 6,000
Transmission 6-speed automatic CVT 6-speed automatic
Fuel Regular gas Regular gas Regular gas
Fuel capacity (gallons) 15.9 14.8 15.9
Fuel economy (mpg) 23 city/30 highway/26 combined 34 city/30 highway/32 combined 23 city/30 highway/26 combined
Base wheels  18-inch chrome alloy  18-inch chrome alloy 18-inch chrome alloy
Body style 4-door SUV 4-door SUV 4-door SUV
Passengers 5 5 5
Storage behind 2nd-row seats 38.4 cu ft 35.6 cu ft 38.4 cu ft
Storage behind 1st-row seats 73.4 cu ft 70.6 cu ft 73.4 cu ft
Max towing capacity 1500 pounds 1750 pounds 1500 pounds
Seat upholstery SofTex with sport bolsters SofTex with sport bolsters SofTex

Updated with info on the RAV4’s 2017 sales leadership in the very hot crossover and SUV category.