The Toyota RAV4 was one of the first crossover SUVs when it first debuted nearly 25 years ago, back before that became one of the fastest growing auto segments in America. Today’s RAV4 is still combining the best parts of compact sedans and small trucks, but it is leagues more sophisticated than the car that was leaving the assembly line in 1994. It is larger, with more space for passengers and cargo in its ample cabin, it is equipped with a stronger engine, and it features some of the latest innovations in auto technology.
With this year’s addition of the Adventure model into the mix, Toyota now offers six different configurations in which the RAV4 is available, from the base LE to the prestigious Platinum.
Compare the 2018 RAV4 LE vs XLE Trims. What is the difference?
While the RAV4 LE is simple and straightforward, you should not think of it as basic. Gone are the days of roll-up windows and mechanical door locks. The LE comes standard with keyless entry, a rearview camera and the smart Entune™ infotainment system. That includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, voice recognition, a USB port and six speakers.
The RAV4 LE also comes with the Toyota Safety Sense P bundle that includes adaptive cruise control with a forward collision warning, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, a pre-collision system and Pedestrian-Detection with automatic emergency braking. The cloth interior and the 17-inch steel wheels with hubcaps are probably the only clues to the fact the the LE is the least-equipped of the RAV4 family.
The XLE builds on the LE’s strong core of features with a few extra amenities for both comfort and peace of mind. The steel wheels are replaced with alloy ones, and the model also adds a moonroof and dual zone climate control to the LE features.
On top of that, the XLE also allows you to select from a large selection of customizable packages that can be used to add a lot of useful technology to the XLE. Among the features that can be added are blind spot monitors with a rear cross traffic alert, a navigation system, push button start with a smart key, a power liftgate, heated front seats, and sonar-based front and rear parking sensors.
For a base model, the RAV4 LE offers a very good deal, thanks to the included advanced safety features and touchscreen infotainment. For many drivers that are not looking for too much fancy upgrades on their cars, the LE makes for an excellent proposition. While the features that the XLE adds are not too exciting, the upgrade is also not that expensive. If you add the optional blind spot monitors and rear cross traffic alerts, you can have the entire range of safety equipment for only $1,500 or so over the car’s starting price.
Compare the 2018 Toyota RAV4 XLE vs Adventure Trim Levels. What is the difference?
The Adventure trim level is all new in the 2018 Toyota RAV4, and it is a bit of an oddball in the already established model hierarchy. It is very similar to the XLE in terms of equipment and packages, but it adds a lot of its own styling into the mix. It has its own headlight design and adds a number of trim pieces throughout the body to make the car look a little more rough and off-road capable.
Outside of the badging, it comes with a standard tow prep package, enabling it to tow up to 3,500 pounds, bigger wheels and a slight suspension lift. It’s optional packages are almost identical to the XLE ones, but come with a slight discount and also include options for a heated steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icers, a powered driver’s seat and unique Adventure-model mudguards.
For the most part, the Adventure model is all show, as it’s upgrades only marginally improve on the RAV4’s off-roading ability. If you are planning on using your RAV4 to tow, then its unique towing package can be a great help, as the other models are only rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds. Buyers in snowier climates can also benefit from some of the cold adaptations that the optional packages of the Adventure trim include, such as the windshield wiper de-icers.
Compare the RAV4 XLE vs SE Trims. What is the difference?
Similar to the Adventure trim described above, the RAV4 SE distinguishes itself with some athletic styling, though in this case it is more of the on-road kind than the off-road kind. Those include 18-inch wheels and a slightly lowered suspension, as well as sport paddle shifters on the steering wheel that let you take manual control of the car’s automatic transmission. It is trimmed out in leatherette upholstery and comes with a powered driver’s seat. It also includes several of the optional features from the XLE, such as the power liftgate, push button start, and the blind spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert.
The optional packages on the SE are the premium audio and navigation package, which includes high-poweredJBL speakers, a navigation system and the Honda App Suite. While short of the flexible smartphone integration that Apple Car Play or Android Auto, which are not available on the RAV4, the App Suite lets you use some common smartphone apps like Facebook through the car’s infotainment system.
The other package available on the SE is the Advanced Technology Package, which includes the above as well as a 360-degree view parking camera with perimeter scanning.Most of the options that the SE adds, other than the synthetic upholstery, the wheels, suspension and paddle shifters are available on the XLE as optional packages, and the XLE ends up being roughly $1,000 less when so equipped. If you like the paddle shifters or the leatherette seating, going with the SE can be worth it. Otherwise, the XLE offers slightly better value, especially if you choose only some of the optional features.
Compare the RAV4 SE vs Limited Trim Levels. What is the difference?
The RAV4 Limited offers mostly incremental upgrades over the SE, making some of the optional features standard and adding some new options to the available packages. The auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink, driver seat memory, built-in navigation and the App Suite are all standard on the Limited. It also substitutes out some of the sporty SE elements, such as the wheels, which stay the same size but get a different look. The steering wheel-mounted paddle shifter also don’t make a return for the Limited.
The same optional packages are available as on the SE, barring the components that the Limited makes standard. Both JBL audio and the 360-degree camera are both available. The new optional feature, available as an upgrade if you choose to get both, is a foot-activated automatic liftgate that lets you open it without using your hands.
While the Limited adds little over the SE, it is also only marginally less expensive, which can make it an attractive option for those who don’t like the more sporty appearance elements of the SE.
Compare the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Limited vs Platinum Trims. What is the difference?
The Platinum is the all-in-one option when it comes to the RAV4 feature selection. It has no optional packages, with only small bits like the cargo cover or body side mouldings available as extras. Instead, it includes all of the optional equipment that is available on the Limited as standard features.
On top of that, it adds a few unique options like a heated steering wheel, special Platinum-only floor mats and a special full-body color scheme which gives the entire car a single uniform color, including the bumpers, wheel arches and rocker panels. In all other ways however, it is pretty much identical to a fully-equipped RAV4 Limited.
The full body color scheme and the heated steering wheel are the only major reasons why you may want to select the Platinum over the Limited, and the latter is also available on some Adventure models as well, making it less of a notable feature. The cost for the single-color visual effect of the Platinum is nearly $1,500 over a similarly loaded out Limited though.
Which Trim Level to Choose?
The new lineup of the 2018 Toyota RAV4 offers several different tantalizing possibilities dripping with value. The base model scores rather well with us thanks to its built-in advanced safety technologies and standard touchscreen infotainment. In the same vein, the XLE adds a large package of nice and useful features like the moonroof or the optional blind spot monitors without adding too much the the bottom line.
It is also very customizable, making it easy to tailor it specifically to your preferences. For higher end features and synthetic leather upholstery, the SE and the Limited serve the same purpose. The Adventure model has a few unique features that can make it worthwhile, such as the big boost in towing capacity or the available cold weather conveniences, but is not likely to offer as much value as the XLE or the SE and Limited models to most customers.
The RAV4 Platinum is the only trim level that seems somewhat overpriced for the features that it offers, but it could still be a good choice if you want something visually unique. In general, you are likely to get the most impact for your money from either the XLE or the SE trims, especially when bundled with a package or two of useful upgrades.
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