By on February 16, 2017

2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure Trail - Image: Toyota USARidicule it if you must, but the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure gives the people more of what the people want.

Yes, consumers are buying utility vehicles for reasons related to hatchback practicality, all-wheel-drive availability, and peer review equivalency. But they’re also buying SUVs and crossovers — more often than cars now — because they sit up high.

And the RAV4 Adventure sits up a little higher. Improved towing capacity, black wheels, more black cladding, and “dirt-inspired styling” have, however, led Toyota Canada to call the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure the Toyota RAV4 Trail.

Yes, Trail — a name Toyota off-road enthusiasts will know well. Why isn’t Toyota using the Trail name in the United States?

Because the Trail, my friends, has ended.

Just as we wanted to know earlier this month why Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was using different names for a new Ram 1500 special edition north and south of the border — it relates to ZZ Top and Steve Earle — we also wanted to know why Toyota was using different names for this upgraded RAV4.

While Toyota Canada spokesperson Melanie Testani suggested both names imply a similar sentiment, “Trail was chosen because there is history associated with the naming.” Indeed, there have been 4Runners and Tacomas and FJ Cruisers wearing the Trail badge in the past.

“Trail refers to rugged terrain and dirt trails, part of the Canadian landscape that’s ready to be explored,” Testani told TTAC.

Before you mock the thought processes behind such a decision with your #Branding #Lifestyle #Dirt-inspired commentary, give thanks for the fact that Toyota actually puts thought into the process and escaped the trap of alphanumeric gobbledygook.

Toyota Canada believes there’s a degree of recognition for the Trail badge in the brand’s light truck lineup. In the United States, however, spokesperson Sam Butto told TTAC, “Use of Trail was discontinued as part of a larger realignment of grade naming on body-on-frame vehicles.”

Not only will there be no RAV4 Trail in the United States, the days of genuinely rugged off-roaders earning the Trail badge have ended as well.Toyota RAV4 Adventure FJ Cruiser Trail Teams badges - Images: Toyota “Adventure is a fun-spirited name that purposefully allows room for interpretation and imagination,” Toyota says.

According to Toyota, “Adventure will mean different things to different people.”

“Adventure,” the official lines goes, “truly captures the essence of the “Let’s Go Places” spirit.”

Of course, the independent naming decisions don’t have anything to do with the RAV4 Adventure and RAV4 Trail being different vehicles whatsoever. In fact, on Toyota Canada’s media site, the file names for RAV4 Trail images say, “2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure.”

Hey, when it comes to Canadian names, mistakes happen.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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28 Comments on “The 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure Is Not The RAV4 Trail, Or Is It?...”


  • avatar
    runs_on_h8raide

    The only “adventures” these RAV-4s could possibly see is if their owners got carjacked and the police chase that ensued gets filmed by helicopter to watch on your local news station.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      For what it’s worth, I saw plenty of base-model steel-wheeled Rav4s being put through their paces on dirt roads in Costa Rica. Not an ideal partner, I was happy to be in our truer-to-4wd form rental Terios, but I’m fairly confident a Rav4 would have gotten us to our abode in the jungle hills as well (with just a bit more pucker factor).

      As tempted as I am to make fun of the very concept, that extra bit of clearance is exactly what the Rav4 needed to get it back closer to prior iterations that had more like 8-8.5 inches of ground clearance. At the risk of innuendo, that extra inch can make all the difference (off the beaten path).

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I have visions of the Lexus LX climbing hills and pulling an Airstream trailer. Pffft!

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    It’s all just marketing hype and silliness anyway. Trail, TRDPro, Jeep’s whole “Trail Rated” thing. I’d just de-badge the damn thing and call it a day.

    • 0 avatar
      greenbrierdriver

      RAV-4 “DAY”? Hmm that would be a white one. Then they could make a black one and call it RAV-4 “Night”. Yeah! Thats the ticket!!

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      Doesn’t Jeep’s “Trail Rated” actually indicate a certain level of offroading ability? I’m continually impressed by what the Cherokee Trailhawk can actually do. Its offroad abilities do backup its looks. Does this Rav4 Adventure do so?

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Yes, there is some meaning to the Trail Rated badge. A “Trail Rated” Grand Cherokee means that it has been designed to perform in five categories of off-road conditions: traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation, and water fording. But then again, all of the 4wd Grand Cherokees have that sort of basic capability. It’s just that the Trail Rated ones get a few additional things like steel skid plates.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Ugh. Marketing. Blob Trail or Blob Adventure? Blob Trail suggests it can keep up with a 4Runner Trail and it can’t, so best stick with Adventure.

    I’ll give the RAV4 this, though: it may have a cheapo interior and feel a bit dated and not at all special, but if you actually want to use it on a Trail for an Adventure, it has the approach and departure angles to somewhat facilitate that and the powertrain should be bomb-proof at this point.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    I’m imagining it with the smallest possible black steelies, tallest possible sidewalls and dog dishes… nifty.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You didn’t build that.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Come to Costa Rica OMP, all the rental Rav4s I saw were white/grey with hubcaps removed and a wholly unpainted plastic front fascia that we don’t see in the US. Mind you the sidewall profile isn’t super fat like in days of yore, but usefully so to mitigate rim-damage.

      I’d be worried about the suspension tuning, if it’s still the same it was on my in-law’s ’13, those dirt roads we bounded down in our little Terios would have been hell. That Diahatsu had exemplary ride quality btw, I suspect they underinflate tires a bit to prevent rock damage and that ends up smoothing out small road imperfections.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    We Who Sit and Judge might find it amusing that anyone would think of driving a CUV on “rugged terrain and dirt trails,” but I can tell you that it does happen, here in Colorado, anyway. Should no one do that, ever, unless they have a proper Jeep? At least this options package makes a step towards true trail capability, which is useful to someone.

    But can we please get over the fascination with sitting up high? Raised ground clearance and seating height does little for visibility. It’s like standing up in a theater where 3/4 of the other people are standing up, too- you see no more than when everyone was sitting down. And that additional height spoils the ride/handling balance. The main difference between my GTI and my wife’s Tiguan is a seat that’s a foot higher off the road. That magnifies the motion I experience whenever one side of the car hits a bump or pothole. It’s a simple principle of leverage, always true. Our Tiguan, with SEL sports suspension, rides like a truck, while my GTI, though twice the age, just glides over road imperfections.

    There was a fad for wearing elevator shoes in the ’70s, too, but thankfully it passed…

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      Ingress/egress, average buyer age in the 50s, concern for “handling” limited to 1% of the buying public.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        *Condescending voice*

        “Can a CAR make you FEEL good about driving it?”
        “When it’s a Mazda… and all is designed around YOU, the DRIVER, it can.”

        “Driving matters.”

        -I hate that guy’s voice. He’s lecturing me and instructing me to care about Mazda.-

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Correct. My parents bought an Escape mainly due how easy the ingress/egress is. Previous vehicle was a Sonata which was decidedly too low.

        Handling to most people means vehicle goes in the direct they turn the steering wheel using minimal effort and not spilling a latte in the process. You have to push a vehicle pretty hard to encounter its true handling characteristics… and by then the OEM tires have been yelling in protest enough to warn this action is not advised.

        • 0 avatar
          scott25

          Agree that the ride height obsession is mostly about ingress and egress, except to certain people with inferiority complexes, but those women usually drive jeeps and the men drive jacked up trucks, and some particularly gender-comfortable individuals do the opposite, with “silly boys trucks are for girls” stickers, but strangely, there are no “silly girls jeeps are for boys” stickers (I should start making them)

          My in-laws bought an Escape (base, FWD) despite my protestations solely because it was easier to get in and out of. They owned a Cruze and Matrix previously.

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      And a big BOF GM SUV, which are trucks, will isolate you from road imperfections better than either a Tiguan or GTI. Suspensions and seat design as well as construction heavily influence ride.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I once drove my 1981 Toyota SR5 5-speed Liftback off road with some buddies. I could go anywhere my friend’s light truck could, as long as I didn’t stop. We drove up some seemingly impossible hills and parked at the plateau on top. Then, we jumped up in down in triumph, celebrating our own version of the “Oh What a Feeling, Toyota!” ad campaign from just a few years earlier. I think this car is true enough to that same spirit.

    However, it might not make it through the DNR chase we endured following that fun – we were on State land! A car that you don’t care about can be damaged and you’ll not cry so much…

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      cognoscenti I’ve had similar experiences seeing old RWD Ladas going places “typical” SUV owners might balk at. A bit of decent ground clearance, a solid rear axle out back, and reasonable overhangs front and rear make for a very decent dirt road steed. In our case our rental Lada 2107 forded a decently deep water crossing (2 feet or so), and traversed some rocky steppe roads near the border with Mongolia (only casualty was a jack-mount on the underside that got crushed flat).

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    The Adventure logo looks very late 80s or early 90s, and I suspect they should’ve gone a different direction with it.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Meh who cares?

    Maybe this will actually lead to more NAMED packages that include the towing package goodies the RAV4 Adventure has. It would make it easier to identify the most desirable vehicles in dealer inventory without reading the Monroney Sticker in detail or running the vin.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Adventure,” the official lines goes, “truly captures the essence of the “Let’s Go Places” spirit.”

    I’d have to agree with that.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    So does this thing have a the factory receiver hitch already installed? I know it’s an option on the regular RAV. Is it behind a plastic bumper panel? Seems dumb that they would offer it with a 3500 lb. tow rating which is 2000 lbs. more than the standard RAV and not have that as part of the package. The outdoor/active type often install them even if they don’t tow for bike racks. How about trailer wiring? 7 pin connector? Even a boat trailer with surge disc brakes needs the reverse lockout so your standard 4 pin connector won’t work.

  • avatar
    stuki

    At least follows motorcycle classifications. A trail bike is a bike specifically built with trails, as opposed to roads, in mind. While an adventure bike is built to have an “adventure” on, whether on paved or unpaved roads. Or, even, if one is feeling unusually adventurous, on a trail.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    The should put red tow hooks on it and call it the RavTrailHawk


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