What’s Better Off-Road – the 2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk or the Toyota RAV4 Adventure? [Video Review]

In this TFLcar video, we determine whether the Toyota RAV4 Adventure can compete with the Jeep Compass Trailhawk.

In the early days of crossovers, most buyers would turn to Jeep if they wanted an affordable, capable off-roader. Now, more crossovers are increasingly off-road worthy in their own right (within reason). For instance, Toyota’s brought out a new version of its RAV4 to square off against the redesigned Compass. Dubbed “Adventure”, this RAV4 sports some features that set it apart from a normal RAV4 to handle the rough stuff. Jeep’s redesigned its entry-level Compass for 2017. It’s meant to act as a replacement for the old Compass and the discontinued Patriot. The Trailhawk version makes it even more off-road worthy by adding a terrain management system and extra ground clearance. So, both are touted as off-road worthy, but which is the better contender? TFLcar’s Roman Mica finds the answer in this comparison review.

First up: Toyota’s RAV4 Adventure

What's Better Off-Road - the 2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk or the Toyota RAV4 Adventure
The RAV4 Adventure adds a bit of extra ground clearance and some cladding, but not much else. [Photo: Toyota]
Okay, so those of you well-heeled in RAV4 specs will immediately call this out as an apples and oranges comparison. And you’d be right – the Toyota comes into this comparison with one hand tied behind its back. It features the same 176 horsepower, 172 lbs.-ft. torque inline-4 in the standard RAV4. Interior features? Pretty much the same as the normal RAV4. What are the differences, you ask? The Adventure comes with slightly higher ground clearance (up to 6.5 inches), some extra cladding around vulnerable panels, and a matte black stripe on the hood. However, there aren’t any locking differentials and no terrain management system.

Despite those omissions, the RAV4 Adventure handles less difficult trails fairly well, despite momentarily getting stuck. That being said, it’s more of a vehicle for people who want the look of a bona fide off-roader, rather than one that can truly hack it on tough trails.


It’s Competitor: Jeep Compass Trailhawk

What's Better Off-Road - the 2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk or the Toyota RAV4 Adventure
The Trailhawk features 2 inches of ground clearance over the RAV4 Adventure, as well as a terrain management system. [Photo: FCA]
Obviously, the Jeep has more off-road prowess embedded in its DNA than the RAV4. It has a distinct advantage over the RAV4 Adventure with 8.5 inches of ground clearance (versus 6.5). Additionally, it also has a terrain management system, where you can change its setup depending on what surface you’re on. The Compass doesn’t have locking differentials or other equipment that it’s off-road focused siblings – like the Wrangler – possess. However, it’s still Trail Rated, and it’s able to cope with the rough stuff better than the Toyota.

It’s 2.4-liter MultiAir engine is slightly more powerful than the Toyota, and its mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. It also starts out a little cheaper than the RAV4 Adventure, and it gets slightly better fuel mileage. At the Texas Truck Rodeo, it’s able to hack it on some of the more formidable off-road trails. As a result, it’s probably the better bet should you wish to have a more capable “soft-roader”. If you are looking for a focused off-roader, consider upgrading to a Wrangler or Toyota Tacoma.

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