CHATHAM, Mass. – Like nature coming across a vacuum, when the product planners at Toyota sees a promising automotive niche, they designate one of its numerous models to fill the niche. For compact sport-utility (SUV) consumers who want some rough-road capability without going to an extreme, in 2019 Toyota added the Adventure trim to the RAV4 range.
The Adventure — with standard all-wheel drive (AWD), bigger brakes and tires than lesser models, multi-road drive modes — slots just below the Off Road trim level which gets a more robust suspension system and even larger tires.
The 2023 RAV4 Adventure in which I spent a week provided a nice mix between tackling challenging road surfaces and providing a comfortable, capable daily driver.
A platform set for leaving the pavement
Toyota offers 10 gasoline-fueled RAV4 models powered by a 2.5-liter Dynamic Force 4-cylinder, 24-valve double-overhead camshaft, aluminum alloy block engine with aluminum alloy cylinder head. Output is 204 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque. The transmission is an electronically controlled eight-speed automatic.
The Adventure, not just a stripe and paint trim, builds on this powertrain package by adding active grille shutters, an engine oil cooler, automatic transmission cooler and an upgraded 150-amp alternator to help handle the increased stress of motoring where the pavement stops.
In addition, the Adventure’s Torque Vectoring all-wheel drive system features Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) which allows the driver to choose between four modes (MUD & SAND, ROCK & DIRT, SNOW and NORMAL) for traction engineered to the surrounding conditions.
When activated, the system is designed to sense slippage and regulate wheelspin by automatically adjusting the engine throttle, brakes and drive-force distribution—helping to maximize driving performance on different surfaces.
The suspension borrows from standard RAV4 design – MacPherson-type struts with stabilizer bar up front, multi-link with stabilizer bar at the rear – but ups the wheel/tire combination to 19-inch split 5-spoke matte-gray alloy wheels with 235/55R19 tires.
Does it all work? I was not able to do any serious off-roading, but I readily took a few jaunts along heavily rutted dirt roads and paths in Chatham and Wellfleet without anything bad happening.
I never felt like I was pushing the RAV4 Adventure beyond its capabilities. I never bottomed out the suspension or scraped the SUV’s underbody.
Getting back on macadam, the RAV4 Adventure provided a relatively smooth ride (poor surfaces were felt inside); the handling quite solid in everyday activity.
Technology enhances driving safety through ADAS
The Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 is standard on the Adventure with: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian detection; Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Lane-Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Land Tracing Assist; Automatic High Beams and Road-Sign Assist.
Other standard advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) include Blind-Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Backup Camera with Dynamic Gridlines.
Inside filled with modern amenities and technology
Regardless of where you might travel in a RAV4 Adventure, the two-zone automatic climate control system keeps the interior environment quite comfortable. The test vehicle added a number of option packages which further enhanced the SUV’s livability.
The Adventure Grade Weather Package ($815) brought a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel; heated front seats (the driver’s with power adjustment); rain-sensing and intermittent wipers with de-icer function.
The Adventure Grade Convenience Package ($1,265) features height-adjustable power liftgate and power tilt/sliding moonroof.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, SiriusXM satellite radio and an eight-inch LCD touch screen come standard. The tester added the new-for-2023 10.5-inch touch screen infotainment system featuring an 11-speaker JBL premium audio system with subwoofer and amplifier and upgraded anti-theft system ($1,400).
The sum of these parts equal an enjoyable compact SUV
The RAV4 Adventure provides an efficient daily driver for anyone looking for a vehicle in this segment, while being capable of heading off the pavement for outdoor activities.
I was able to get almost 29 miles from each gallon of gas, a bit better than the federal Environmental Protection Agency rating of 28 mpg (25 urban, 33 highway).
The excellent gas fuel economy of the RAV4 Adventure when coupled with the Toyota’s well-earned reputation for quality of design, engineering and construction, and reliability further build its claim as a good value.
The SUV’s pricing furthers this concept. The 2023 RAV4 (gas-fueled) lineup ranges from the $22,975 LE front-wheel drive to $36,280 Limited AWD.
The Adventure I drove carried a $33,770 base price. The option packages mentioned above plus the two-tone paint ($500), carpeted floor mats ($309), frameless HomeLink mirror ($175) and roof-rack cross bars ($315). When the delivery, processing and handling fee ($1,335) is added, the as-tested price comes to $39,894 – a very competitive number for a very-well equipped compact SUV (and the others are not set up for heading off road).