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

While the Toyota RAV4 has always been known for being a comfortable, practical, and fuel-efficient crossover, we can now add the word “rugged” to the list of attributes. The TRD Off Road is a new trim level for the 2020 Toyota RAV4 and it adds in a healthy dose of ruggedness to the otherwise soft SUV and promises some additional all-terrain capability. And while it’s easy to see that this trim level is different than the rest, let’s take a closer look at how much it sets itself apart.

The Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road looks the part

Toyota calls the new RAV4 TRD Off Road trim a “segment disruptor,” which makes sense because it offers more capability and ruggedness than competitors like the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue. However, we question if it could be a little overkill for the RAV4 lineup. For starters, this “Toyota Racing Development” branded trim is equipped with the same large fenders, more aggressive-looking front and rear bumpers, and high-rise roof rails as the Adventure, but adds a TRD flare via a tuned suspension, 18-inch TRD wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires, and a host of the TRD badging inside and out. On the inside, the seats are adorned with SofTex cloth with contrast red stitching and TRD logos, otherwise, everything else is the standard RAV4 affair.

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A toyota rav4 trd posing in the desert
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road | Toyota

The TRD Off Road feels the part

While we get to test out the RAV4 TRD Off Road over the next week, we’ll go over our findings when we put it through some light-off road paces. But for now, we do have some on-road driving impressions. In the short time that we have driven on the surface roads and short highway cruising, the added “ruggedness” is definitely noticeable. For example, Toyotas are known for their numb and somewhat vague steering as well as their more-comfortable ride qualities. However, a short drive in the TRD model makes it evident that there have been some sportier modifications.

In our initial impressions, the steering feels very tight and almost stiff, which is welcomed because it makes the car feel more responsive to the driver’s inputs. It probably works well when driving over softer gravel or more slippery surfaces, like when off-roading, but on the highway, we find that it can be twitchy. Additionally, the stiffer suspension is apparent, and while the beefed-up twin-tube shock absorbers probably do well on a rocky road, on normal roads, it does feel stiff and almost 4Runner like. So far, we don’t think that the off-road package is by any means unnecessary, however, we do feel that it should be reserved for RAV4 owners that will actually make use of it. Although, our time future time spent with it will tell.

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The toyota rav4 TRD's interior has softex cloth seats
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road Interior | Toyota

So far, the TRD Off Road trim makes sense

Whether the new trim level is overkill or not, our initial impressions are that it makes sense to add a little more adrenaline to the comfy crossover. It’s unique enough that some Toyota enthusiasts that like to hit the trails on the weekend while being able to haul their small family and cargo might actually buy into it. And it’s also different enough to add a sportier edge over other RAV4 competitors. So far, it makes sense, but we’ll report more of our findings soon.