Crossover & Midsize

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 Handles Off-Road Torture as Well as the Jeep Wrangler

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 made a splash this year, especially with the Prime version breaking new ground. Not only does it have a 40+ mile range on battery alone, but huge leaps forward in speed and acceleration make the RAV4 a challenger for the top vehicle in its division–a title that’s traditionally been held by other vehicles. Jeep Wranglers (and other Jeep vehicles) have led the class when it comes to off-roading. But some versions of the 2020 Toyota RAV4 have performed surprisingly well up against similar Jeep models.

Car and Driver recently put the 2020 RAV4 TRD to the test against the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. While the 2020 Jeep Wrangler performed well, the Toyota RAV4 managed to exceed expectations. Jeep’s off-roading pedigree is well-established at this point, but it’s heartening to see that other automakers haven’t given up in the race.

Where the 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD shines

One of the most exciting takeaways from the RAV4 TRD’s test was its extreme tenacity in deep water. Every driver should know the dangers of standing water, especially on the street. But when it comes to off-roading, fording through puddles and mud and sand is half the fun.

The author of the Car and Driver article explained that they kept expecting to pull the RAV4 out of the mud with a tow strap at every obstacle. Surprisingly, it made it out of spots that the Rubicon couldn’t.

The Toyota RAV4 TRD is a massive feather in Toyota’s cap, and its off-roading performance is just one reason why. Jeep’s monopoly on off-roading is finally threatened, and it’s due to the breakout 2020 model year of the RAV4.

In addition to beating the Jeep Wrangler in Car and Driver’s off-roading challenges, the RAV4 has plenty of charm to offer. For the 2020 model year, Toyota seems to have finally grasped that consumers aren’t off-roading in their cars 24/7. The RAV4’s interior is nicer than any SUV in its class, and it’s no longer a drag to drive on the road.

The history of the TRD

For over two decades, Toyota RAV4 sales have steadily climbed. Toyota struggled to find an identity for the RAV4 at first, but it’s quickly become a cornerstone of the market. And not only is the 2020 model year as good as the fabled Jeep when it comes to off-roading, but it also delivers stunning fuel economy in its hybrid combo.

SUVs simply weren’t designed to get 38 mpg, but the RAV4 doesn’t care. For the 2020 model year, Toyota managed to develop a vehicle that can go off-road, through mud and sand, and make it back home on a single tank of gas.

This year’s Toyota RAV4 TRD offering

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RELATED: The 2020 Toyota RAV4 Out Jeeps the 2020 Grand Cherokee

Feature-wise, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 shines in a variety of trim levels. LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, and the aforementioned TRD Off-Road are all available for the RAV4 buyer. The 2020 RAV4 comes with a five-star safety rating, as expected for a well-built car that takes up most of the road. As you go up in trim levels, the sleeker variations of the RAV4 feature more and more eye-catching design, but even the LE model boasts an impressive look.

Beating the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon in an off-road test might have come as a surprise, but the rest of the features on the standout 2020 Toyota RAV4 certainly didn’t. Toyota has been refining their SUV class for a long time, and it’s no shock that they’ve managed a great offering this year with the 2020 RAV4. We’ll have to wait and see if they continue to impress with the 2021 and 2022 models, but this year’s RAV4 is a great step up for a company that’s already near the top.