Crossover & Midsize

The Toyota RAV4 TRD is Overpriced and Incapable of Off-Roading

The Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road is the latest off-roading model from Toyota. Toyota has built some excellent off-roading vehicles like the Toyota Tacoma, Toyota 4Runner, and Sequoia, but how does the little RAV4 compare? Will it live up to the TRD name or let us down?

The Toyota RAV4 TRD goes off-roading

The Fast Lane Car took the Toyota RAV4 TRD off-roading on a rocky mountain trail to see if it could live up to the hype. As the most expensive RAV4, it’s also supposed to be the most capable, despite only having all-wheel-drive instead of four-wheel-drive.

To really test the RAV4 TRD, the driver got it stuck in some rocks on an incline on purpose. The digital cluster display showed which tires were slipping. With tires in the air, and coming to a complete stop, the RAV4 was able to get unstuck. It passed the first test with impressive capabilities.

Toyota RAV4 TRD off-roading issues

But don’t get too excited. The Toyota RAV4 TRD doesn’t come with protective skid plates, and very early on, about 20 feet down the trail, it got a significant scrape. This made the driver worry about the plastic undercarriage’s ability to provide proper protection.

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road trim driving on dirt trail
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road | Toyota

When going up a steep trail in the dirt driving mode, the torque vectoring system did a great job of sending the right amount of power to each wheel to prevent getting stuck. However, the driver went up very slowly.

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But then during the three-wheel slip test, with both of the back tires getting stuck, the RAV4 TRD ran into some trouble. Switching to trail mode and turning traction control on and off failed to get the RAV4 free.

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road trim at campsite
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road at campsite | Toyota

The driver placed the Toyota RAV4 into neutral and let it roll back to try and accelerate over the hill with momentum to get back on the trail. The AWD system did a great job of imitating electronically locking rear differentials, but the limited ground clearance at 8.4” made things tough.

The 2020 Toyota RAV TRD wasn’t able to be thoroughly tested. It isn’t equipped with the protection and capabilities needed for together challenges. However, the AWD system is excellent in slippery situations, so this SUV should be fine for going camping.

What comes with the 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road?

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road starts around $35k, making it very expensive compared to off-roading rivals like the Jeep Renegade or three-row options such as the Nissan Pathfinder. It can also only tow 3,500 lb, which is a weak amount for an SUV at this price.

A Lunar Rock 2021 Toyota RAV4 in a field with a mountainous backdrop
2021 Toyota RAV4 | J.D. Power

It has a TRD tuned independent MacPherson strut suspension in the front and a multi-link suspension in the rear. It also has red coils and shocks that pop. However, without a transfer case of skid plates to protect the undercarriage, don’t less this look fool you into putting more off-roading confidence in this vehicle.

The Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road also only comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, when other options for $35k have a V6 engine. But at least tons of safety features like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, and more come standard.

2020 RAV4 TRD edition driving on dirt road
2020 RAV4 TRD | Toyota

Also, you don’t get leather seats, heated seats, soft-touch materials in the dash, remote start, or other luxurious amenities. When you pay more for the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road trim, you’re paying for a beefy suspension that you can’t even fully utilize.