The RAV4 has long held the title of one of the best selling small SUV’s out there. It’s affordable, reliable, dependable and comes in enough flavors to satisfy most. Whether it’s a little more luxury, fuel economy, off-road aptitude or spartan base model pricing. The RAV4 just about has something for everyone. Adding to the already eclectic mix for the first time in 2020, is the extra rugged TRD Off-Road edition.
Exterior styling takes on a more rugged approach. Modern niceties like LED lighting, power lift gate, roof rack cross bars and a moonroof still make a welcome appearance. Matte black TRD 18” wheels are perfectly sized under high wheel-wells, and look great with the red coil springs tucked behind. The combination suggests plenty of suspension travel and enough ground clearance to really get the job done off-road. Plastic trim will protect unique paint colors specific to the TRD model. My Lunar Rock color was perfectly named and unlike anything else on the road. Overall, the muscled, bulging shape of the TRD RAV4 has endowed it with more edge and attitude than any other model from past generations.
Climb aboard and you’ll find generous amounts of legroom in the front and back. Cargo space is competitive with some of the best in this segment as well. The style of the interior is practical but delivers some surprising frills. There’s 11 nice sounding JBL speakers including a subwoofer. An easy to operate 8” display helps you control it all. Heated and ventilated leather trimmed seats are comfortable enough. The Qi charger paired well with smartphone integration. A heated and leather wrapped steering wheel will come in handy on the those cold mornings. There’s even a 120V/100W power outlet in the back.
Some removable, heavy duty rubber mats will keep the dust and mud from becoming too big a mess. I loved the useful shelf that stretched the length of the dash for convenient storage of all the small things we like to dig out of our pockets and toss into cupholders. Though there’s a generous amount of plastic used, the finish and texture is nice and mixed in with soft-touch surfaces for an elevated effect.
Powering the RAV4 TRD Off-Road edition is a familiar 2.5L 4-cylinder engine, making just over 200 horsepower. Though Toyota recently blessed the RAV4 with more engine power in 2019, it’s still pretty underwhelming. Driving dynamics around town and on the highway can best be described as drab and uninteresting. With an 8-speed automatic transmission that fumbled through plenty of gear changes. Certainly not on-par with the confident and sporty Mazda CX-5. when you turn off the road though, the TRD package flips the script. Dynamic Torque Vectoring with multi-terrain selections help squeeze the most out of the TRD-tuned suspension. The bird’s-eye view camera with perimeter scan and 360 degree overhead view in low-speed driving really comes in handy when carefully navigating around tricky sections of trail.
Even if the RAV4 borders on boring with the day to day stuff, at least it packs all the best driving aides and technology to help you through it. Lane-departure alert and assist, pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, downhill and parking assist, blind-spot monitoring and on and on and on. Everything works well together and helps you feel a little more spoiled behind the wheel.
While their may be a RAV4 for everyone, you won’t be challenged to find other models that hold higher appeal depending on what’s most important to you. Like I mentioned already, the CX-5 is a much more dynamic, entertaining driving experience on-road. The Hyundai Tucson offers a much better value. If you only want to do a little light off-roading, the Subaru family might be a good place to look. Even within the RAV4 family, you’ll find that the Hybrid model is obviously more fuel-efficient, but quicker as well. Whichever you decide on, the TRD Off-Road edition is a welcome new flavor with the looks and off-road equipment to take you further down the beaten track than any RAV4 before it.
Price as tested: $42,902.00