The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure Is No Niche Market Special Edition - It'll Be More Popular Than Most SUVs

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

In late 2015, Toyota revealed that the automaker’s increasingly popular RAV4 would be increasingly leaned upon for major U.S. sales volume.

As of five years ago, Toyota USA had never sold more than 200,000 RAV4s on an annual basis. Toyota didn’t touch the 300,000 marker until 2015.

But the goal set in 2015 was loftier: 400,000 U.S. sales of the RAV4 in 2018. An SE trim level helped. Then the RAV4 Hybrid became a real success. Toyota sold 352,154 RAV4s in 2016 and is on track for 380,000 sales in 2017.

What will put the Toyota RAV4 over the hump?

If all goes according to plan, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure that goes on sale in September won’t be a mere oddball offshoot.

According to Automotive News, the elevated, fender-flared, tow-package-equipped RAV4 that Toyota revealed at the Chicago Auto Show last February is targeted for 40,000 annual U.S. sales.

Toyota is watching while passenger car buyers flee the midsize arena during the 2018 Camry’s launch year. Boosting the volume of the vehicle most likely to take over — the vehicle that’s already taken over — from the Camry as Toyota’s best-selling vehicle is a surefire way to reduce the sting.

Granted, some of those 40,000 RAV4 Adventure (aka RAV4 Trail) sales will siphon away sales of conventional RAV4s. But the goal for 40,000 RAV4 Adventures still means roughly 10 percent of RAV4 volume heading the Adventure’s way.

On its own, Toyota’s goal of 40,000 RAV4 Adventure sales means this one, unique RAV4 trim level will be more common than roughly half of all SUV/crossover nameplates on sale in America. For perspective, Volkswagen sold nearly 44,000 Tiguans in 2016, its best year ever. Mitsubishi sold 26,576 Outlanders. Mazda sold fewer than 19,000 CX-3s. Mini sold fewer than 13,000 Countrymans.

Laugh at the RAV4 Adventure if you must. But Toyota’s going to laugh all the way to the bank.

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

Timothy Cain
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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 07, 2017

    Toyota needs to become more competitive in that they cannot afford to rest on their past. Better interiors and more attractive designs would be a start. The crossover market is a growing market with growing competition. It is too important to just make a few changes and call it a new model. Honda introduced a new redesigned CRV and even Chevrolet has a new Equinox. Toyota cannot afford to rest on their past accomplishments and not all customers buy a vehicle without looking at the competition.

    • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Jun 07, 2017

      The new CR-V is the best reason to buy a new RAV4. Everything else in the class was already disposable.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 07, 2017

    Don't understand your comment, the new CRV is selling well. The RAV4 is selling well but as stated above it has some competition and should not rest on the past.

    • See 1 previous
    • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 08, 2017

      @ToddAtlasF1 Don't disagree about the smaller turbo displacement engines but then all the manufacturers including Toyota either have these engines are will be going to them. I am skeptical of the long term reliability of these engines but time will tell for sure. I am willing to bet Toyota will eventually go the route of small turbo engines, which as you stated is now an advantage of the RAV4 for not having these turbo engines. I also believe that the car makers want you to lease so that in a few years you will come back and get another one of their newest and latest. What I really dislike is the trend toward doing away with oil dipsticks in both the engine and the transmission and having no grease fittings on the idle arms, tie rod, and ball joints on the newer pickups. No part is really sealed for life unless like is not permanent and is just the warranty period. Vehicles are lasting much longer than they did in the past and although this is good for the consumer it is not so good for the manufacturers and the new car dealers. They want you to keep buying a new vehicle every 3 to 5 years and if they can lease it to you then even better. Goes against the way I was raised which is to take care of what I own and make it last.

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