Toyota RAV4 Adventure vs RAV4 Hybrid, Street-legal Side-by-Side and 1993 Mercury Tracer LTS [Ask Nathan]

The Toyota RAV4 Adventure vs RAV4 Hybrid? Yep, we’ve compared RAV4s before.
Photo: TFLcar

By Nathan Adlen – April 21, 2019

Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and full name will be omitted – leaving your first name, initials or nickname, your preference. 

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Toyota RAV4 Adventure vs RAV4 Hybrid? 
  • How do you make a side-by-side street legal? 
  • 1993 Mercury Tracer LTS! 

The first question comes from a fan who wants to know more about the Toyota RAV4 Adventure vs RAV4 Hybrid.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure Photo: TFLcar

Q: Hello folks, I watched your guys video on the 2019 RAV4 when you were out in Monterey Ca. titled:  2019 Toyota RAV4 Review: Can It Actually Go Off Road and have a question for Nathan.

At the end of the video, he said his favorite trim level of the RAV4 was the Adventure. 

Nathan, if you get this email and have time to reply, that would be awesome.  I’m just curious as to why your favorite is the Adventure?  I’m stuck between the Adventure and the Limited Hybrid.
Thank you Nathan and or TFLcar guys.

p.s. – your car reviews are AWESOME!  Thank you for what you do!
Paul Santa Cruz, Ca.

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 XSE hybrid is a unique hybrid-only trim. Photo: TFLcar

A: Hi Paul!

Thanks for the email. I was very satisfied with both vehicles, but I was seriously thinking about the Toyota RAV4 Adventure for my spouse “She-who-must-be-obeyed.” Primarily, based on its character and the all-wheel drive system (AWD).

I like the torque-vectoring system which works in conjunction with its terrain management/AWD system. It enhances cornering and the traction off-road. While the hybrid can move smartly, it’s not quite as athletic off the pavement.

Finally, and this is me being totally honest here, I know what my spouse likes and the cute little character details in the Adventure, along with the overall appearance, would appeal more to her. Actually, my kids were pretty happy with the Adventure when I showed them too. Remember: this is something that I think my family would enjoy based on what I personally know about them.

On many other levels, tech, mpg, range and green-quotient – the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is superior.


Mahindra ROXOR
Mahindra ROXOR – technically, it’s a side-by-side and is not street legal… or is it?
Photo: Mahindra

The next question comes from a fan who wants details on legalizing side-by-sides (ATVs).

Q: Hi Nathan and all! I saw lots of videos where people in some towns were driving their side-by-sides like daily cars.

Is this even legal? Do the authorities look the other way? Most of these vehicles don’t have safety devices like airbags and turn signals. So I’m having a hard time understanding how its okay to do.

Do you see what I mean?


A: Great question!

ATVs can be made legal in several states for in-town transportation. Each state has their own mandate on what is and what is not legal. In most cases, large cities and highways are off limits. Usually, these vehicles are kept to speeds under 45 mph.

In some cases, as long as you stay off the main highways, all you need is a license plate (with light) and turn signals. In other cases, you are required a proper windshield, wiper, proper driving lights and horns.

Some states require a license fee, just like a passenger vehicle.

Arizona, Colorado, North and South Dakota, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Texas, Wyoming, Washington, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin have laws that (in some places) can legalize ATVs/ORVs. Check with your local DMV for more details.

Best of luck!


This is the Mercury Tracer LTS. If you get one – DON’T get the 1.9-liter in the regular Tracer. The 1.8-liter in the LTS is better in every way. Photo: Mercury Brochure

The last question comes from a viewer who saw an old (2013) post regarding the 1991 Mercury Tracer LTS.  

Q: A while back I read an article you wrote about the 1991 Mercury Tracer LTS. 

You said it was a great car for cheap. I liked your article, but I was wondering if you had experience with the car or were you simply looking at other older reviews. Not that I don’t trust you Nathan, I just want to know how you came to be in the know.

I have a friend whos mother has one sitting with less than 90,000 miles on it and she’s willing to sell it to me for $500. It’s in great shape and its barely driven. I’m broke and this could be a good car to get me through a tough time.

Let me know what you have to say. I am very curious.  

Salamander 88

This is a 1991 Mercury Tracer LTS. It’s closely related to the Ford Escort GT of the same time. I had one just like this – but mine was black.

A: Boy do I miss that little car. I have intimate knowledge of that particular car as I owned one. Not only that; it was the very first factory-new car I ever purchased. I kept it for four years, paid it off and even loaned it to a sibling when I traveled for a year.

It’s a sporty little bugger with an independent rear suspension, bigger brakes (with discs all around) and a sport-tuned suspension. It’s 1.8-liter (Mazda) 4-cylinder was zippy and it put out 127 horsepower.

You can read more detailed information about the Mercury Tracer LTS (here).

Let me know how that pans out!


This has NOTHING to do with small sporty cars, but it is an AWESOME video. MONTHS in the working I say!

From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at: