(Image Credits: Toyota)

Compact crossovers: practical, affordable... not all that inspiring. But what if you slap a black sticker on the hood and raise the suspension a few fractions of an inch? Eh? Seemed to work for the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, and Toyota noticed. And now we’re getting the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure.

In a press release from the Chicago Auto Show, Toyota announced that it was going to offer some extra farkle and mild shock upgrades for the Tundra pickup and Sequoia SUV to create a “TRD Sport” lineup.

But more interestingly the company introduced the RAV4 Adventure, which gets underbody armor(!) fender flares(!!) and a lift kit(!!!) over the regular RAV4 along with black headlight bezels, roof racks and foglight housings. It also unfortunately skips leg day.

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The RAV4 Adventure will also get Toyota’s upgraded radiator, oil and transmission coolers that normally make up the RAV4’s towing package.

As exciting as the prospect of an off-road RAV4 is, I’m sure you’ve already noticed from the photos that the lift is not particularly dramatic. (You’re not missing those chunky black fenders though!)

A Toyota representative told me that the Adventure only picks up 0.4-inches of ground clearance (moving from 6.1-inches to 6.5-inches in total), using a unique set of springs to achieve the lift. The rep clarified that there’s no “puck”-style spacer in the suspension and that no ancillary systems (axles, control arms) had to be changed to accommodate the ride height increase.

But it should give you the space to squeeze just slightly larger tires under there. And any real adventure driver will tell you– that’s what it’s all about.

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Why am I so excited about a vaguely off-roadish RAV4? Partially for your amusement, a little bit because I think it’s funny how completely and directly Toyota is ripping off the idea of the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, and just a tad because I actually do think the RAV4 Adventure is a good idea.

If we must surrender to the idea of crossover SUVs as the future of personal conveyance here in America, I’m glad to see at least the idea of enthusiasm is being baked into the segment somewhere.

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I also think something like the RAV4 Adventure would be pretty much perfect for the vast majority of “off-road” trips (National Park truck trails, fire roads) so many of us city-slickers end up taking and fancying ourselves true overlanders. Meanwhile, this thing is probably about twice as fuel efficient and half as loud as a Wrangler on the highway.

Obviously, the RAV4 Adventure is no Wrangler rival when it comes to hardcore rock crawling. But, if I had to own a practical peoplemover, I’m glad I could get one with the idea of, well, “adventure,” slathered on it a little bit.