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The Toyota RAV4 is one of the most popular compact crossover SUVs globally. Everyone loves it because of its reliability, luxurious interior, sleek design, and, most importantly, affordability. There’s only one thing it’s never been able to do: drive off-road. Finally, there’s a TRD Off-Road trim level for the RAV4 for anyone who wants it. It seems like an excellent idea from the automaker, right? Well, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road isn’t ready for off-roading.

2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road features aren’t very good

2022 Toyota RAV4 XSE compact crossover's TRD Off-Road package isn't worth the price of admission.
2022 Toyota RAV4 XSE | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

What makes the RAV4 TRD Off-Road worthy of wearing an “off-road” SUV title? Going with this compact crossover gets you a few upgrades for conquering various terrains. However, according to MotorTrend, “off-road” means “unpaved road,” it doesn’t mean mountains, boulders, snow, and mud. Firstly, the RAV4 doesn’t gain ride height when customers opt for the TRD Off-Road trim. It’s precisely the same, 8.6-inches, as the Adventure model.

Next, the Dynamic Torque-Vectoring All-Wheel Drive is unimpressive. A system designed to detect a spinning wheel and send power to the correct side of the vehicle doesn’t do any of that well. MT reported that driving over bumps or ruts easily put one or more wheels in the air, and the AWD system didn’t do its job. In short, the system would “half-heartedly” attempt to transfer power to the proper wheels, then shortly after give up and let the wheels spin endlessly.

It isn’t all bad, but don’t expect the RAV4 to replace a Tacoma or 4Runner

A white 2022 Toyota RAV4 XLE Premium, what features are in the TRD Off-Road package?
A white 2022 Toyota RAV4 XLE Premium compact SUV is parked outdoors | Toyota

Not everything about the RAV4 TRD Off-Road is terrible. MT suggested that knowing your limitations makes it an excellent option. Having “off-road” in the title can be a bit misleading. We, as consumers, expect those models to traverse boulders and rip through the snow. The RAV4 is never going to do that as well as other options. In short, don’t consider the TRD package a replacement for your 4Runner or Tacoma with off-road capabilities. It certainly isn’t close to competing with the Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco SUVs.

MT took the compact crossover through sand and mud, and the bigger tires and AWD performed well. As the owner of a RAV4 with some off-road capability, your definition of the phrase must be limited to bad weather and unpaved roads. However, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road isn’t much better than the Adventure model at off-road driving, so is it really worth the price?

Upgrading to the RAV4 TRD Off-Road isn’t worth it

On and off the road, this RAV4 model is underwhelming, to say the least. It’s stiffer to drive than other RAV4 models on the road, and the shock absorbers aren’t doing anyone any favors. Off-road, even the most minor bumps will throw drivers and passengers around. While other models usually offer softer, more absorbent shocks, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road is worse than the standard models.

In conclusion, the TRD Off-Road’s Falken all-terrain tires cost less than $1,000. Those are the highlight of the model. Other than the better gripping and cornering tires, other off-road features fail to impress. For $3,700, the package is not worth the price. That’s why the 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road isn’t ready for off-roading.


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