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Japanese automaker Toyota produces the most popular small SUV in America. When it comes to sales, the Toyota RAV4 is indisputably the most popular small SUV nameplate on the market. Whether its sales make the RAV4 the best small SUV for the money or not is debatable. The RAV4 comes in several different trim levels to suit different types of drivers. The Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road is geared toward more adventurous drivers. Is the 2023 Toytota RAV4 TRD Off-Road really worth over $37,000?

Is the 2023 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road worth the money?

A white Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road is parked.
The Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road | Toyota

If you want to hit the trails in a factory RAV4, there’s really only one option that makes sense. The 2023 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road is the most capable RAV4 trim by a long shot.

The RAV4 TRD Off-Road comes with a 0.5-inch lift, bringing its total ground clearance to 8.6 inches. This amount of ground clearance isn’t necessarily anything to write home about in the world of off-road SUVs, but a 0.5-inch lift can make a huge difference when off-roading.

The small SUV comes standard with a front skid plate. It includes hill-start assist control, downhill assist control, an independent MacPherson front strut suspension with a stabilizer bar, and a multi-link rear suspension with a stabilizer bar. The TRD Off-Road comes standard with Falken all-terrain tires. Toyota also throws in dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive.

A suspension upgrade, a lift kit, all-terrain tires, skid plates, and plenty of driver assistance features perfect for off-roading vehicles, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road checks all the boxes. Its starting price of $37,195 is steep, but Toyota jam-packs its small off-road SUV with value. Ultimately the RAV4 TRD Off-Road is worth the money for drivers that want a RAV4 with real off-road capability. If you want the best small off-road SUV on the market, that’s another story entirely.

What is the best small off-road SUV?

A yellow 2023 Ford Bronco Sport is driving on the road.
The 2023 Ford Bronco Sport | Ford

If you’re looking for the best small off-road SUV on the market, there are better places to start than the 2023 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road. One small SUV that’s quickly making a name for itself in the off-roading world is none other than the Ford Bronco’s little brother, the Ford Bronco Sport.

The 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands is the gnarliest Bronco Sport off-road trim. The Ford Bronco Sport Badlands starts at $37,340, and it comes with many of the same great features as the most capable Bronco trims, including an excellent terrain management system. The Bronco Sport Badlands is included on a list of best off-road SUVs compiled by U.S. News & World Report.

The 2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness is also a great small off-road SUV option. It starts at $34,020 and has an incredible 9.2 inches of ground clearance. The Forester Wilderness is designed to tango with difficult terrain.

Should you get a 2023 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road?

A white 2023 Toyota RAV4 is driving through the water.
The 2023 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

Does the 2023 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road provide enough value to justify its high starting price? Sure. Is it the best small off-road SUV for the money? Nope. While Toyota’s off-road trim is nothing to scoff at, there are plenty of automakers with more experience in the off-roading space. That experience shines through with models like the Ford Bronco Sport Badlands and Subaru Forester Wilderness.