Mini-Lexus: The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Platinum

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Toyota RAV4 Platinum
The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Platinum.
Twenty-three years ago, Toyota began the small crossover SUV revolution in earnest with the original RAV4. It was inexpensive, utilitarian and rugged.

Today?  Pretty much the same formula.  Except....if you're willing to go all the way and check all the boxes...you can also get one that could very nearly pass for a model from Toyota's luxury division, Lexus.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Toyota RAV4 Platinum
2018 Toyota RAV4 Platinum.
That would be the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Platinum...and we just spent a week in a front-wheel drive model (all-wheel drive is also available, for a bit more money).

The base price of $34,750 brings you the 2.5-liter, 178 horsepower four-cylinder found under the hood of all 2018 RAV4s, with a six-speed automatic transmission...a powertrain with an EPA estimate of 23 miles per gallon city, 29 highway. 

There's also Toyota's Safety Sense (pre-collision, pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, steering assist, automatic high beams, dynamic radar cruise control),  the Star Safety System (enhanced stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and smart stop technology), a blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, tail lamps and daytime running lights, a foot-activated power liftgate, a power moonroof, roof rails and privacy glass.

Interior view of 2018 Toyota RAV4 Platinum
2018 Toyota RAV4 Platinum interior.
Inside, the Platinum-spec standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control with air filtration, a JBL/Entune audio system with navigation, a birds'-eye view camera, Platinum floor mats and doorsill protectors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls, SofTex-trimmed power adjustable driver seat with memory settings, heated front seats and steering wheel, reclining and flat-folding second row seats, a five-door Smart Key system with pushbutton start, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with Homelink.

Mrs. TireKicker and I drove it from TireKicker World Headquarters in Folsom, California the 207 miles to Monterey for the Western Automotive Journalists Media Days and found it comfortable, quick and smooth.  Even after a day of driving high-end machines, getting back into the RAV4 was no letdown.

Optional equipment on our tester was very limited---$395 for the Blizzard Pearl paint, $90 for a tonneau cover and $95 for a cargo mat.  With $995 delivery processing and handling fee, the bottom line was $36,325.  Yes, that's a high-water mark for this class of vehicle....and perilously close to $40,000.  But if you're not buying your vehicles by the pound or the inch, the RAV4 Platinum makes a strong case for being worth the money.