Crossover & Midsize

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road Isn’t as Rugged as You Think

The Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road is a new trail-ready trim level variant for the brand’s fabled two-row crossover. And while attaching the Toyota Racing Development moniker onto any of Toyota’s nameplates typically gives that vehicle a rugged and off-road stamp of approval, we found that the RAV4 variant was a little more “show” than “go.”

The Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road was good on the road

We have had the opportunity to spend some time with the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road for the past week and found it to be pretty comfortable during longer freeway stints. Of course, that shouldn’t really surprise us since that’s what the RAV4 was made for. In our initial impressions of the RAV4 TRD, we commented that the suspension and steering felt a little too stiff for a vehicle like this but we ended up getting used to it over time, and eventually it all seemed to work together.

In fact, we took the RAV4 TRD through some canyon passes in order to get to some dirt roads to take it on and it felt like the stiffened suspension and grippier tires helped the car tackle the corners with ease. Although, this crossover wasn’t made for canyon runs or highway driving, so we had to find some more unstable ground.

RELATED: What Makes the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road Different Than the Other Trims?

A side shot of the toyota RAV4 TRD off road
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road | MotorBiscuit

The RAV4 TRD is great for slight off-roading

When we finally found some dirt roads we were able to get a feel for how the TRD Off Road package made a difference on the RAV4. We’re happy to report that it works well when traversing some moderate off road trails, however, when we got to some of the rockier parts, things turned a little sketchy.

Luckily, the RAV4’s torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system did well in pulling us through some of the rockier parts and up some of the smaller obstacles but we didn’t trust it though anything that a Jeep Wrangler could probably get through. Surprisingly, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine did well at the 8,000 feet of elevation that the car was operating at. We honestly thought that 203 horsepower wouldn’t be nearly enough, but the eight-speed automatic transmission is geared so well that the car had no issues.

RELATED: Is The Rav4 TRD Really An Upgrade?

2020 Toyota RAV4 Off Road slightly going off road | MotorBiscuit

The TRD suspension and tires are the stars of the show

Ultimately, we found that the main highlights of the TRD Off Road package are the refined TRD spring and shock setup as well as the Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires that the crossover is fitted with. These upgrades alone, in conjunction with the torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, allow the RAV4 to traverse some jagged ground but don’t expect it to go up against anything too steep.

The main Achilles heel in the RAV4 TRD Off Road configuration is the car’s 8.6 inches of ground clearance and plastic undercarriage. The TRD-clad RAV4 doesn’t ride any taller than the standard-issue trim and the plastic bumper and skidplate are prone to get scratched and possible even breaking under the wrong conditions. We wished that Toyota would have put on metal skid plates and raised the car a little as they did with the TRD Tacoma and 4Runner models. As it turns out, the guys over at TFL Cars came away with the same observations:

RELATED: Is Toyota Really Making a Hardcore 4×4 TRD-Pro RAV4?

Who is the RAV4 TRD Off Road geared toward?

Ultimately, it’s clear that the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road is meant for those looking for a short weekend adventure and will need a comfortable vehicle for some very light off-road trails. And while it could actually get through some of the rough stuff – thanks to the all-wheel-drive system that can be changed via a dial on the center console – we wouldn’t recommend it for any serious off-road trails, unless you don’t care about keeping the front bumper intact.