2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road
Class: Compact Crossover
Miles driven: 809
Fuel used: 24.9 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 32.4 mpg
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B+|
|Power and Performance||B-|
|Fit and Finish||B-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||203-hp 2.5L|
Driving mix: 10% city, 90% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 25/32/27 (city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $35,280 (not including $1120 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: TRD Off-Road Weather Package ($1185), Premium Audio/Dynamic Navigation ($1620), TRD Off-Road Technology Package ($1950), two-tone paint ($500), door-sill protector ($199), running boards ($549), door-edge guard ($140), mudguard ($129), blackout emblem overlays ($65)
Price as tested: $42,567
More RAV4 price and availability information
The great: Cargo capacity, available high-tech features, towing capacity (for a compact crossover)
The good: Fuel economy, pleasant road manners despite off-road-focused gear
The not so good: Front-seat space isn’t great for big and tall folks, engine gets a bit noisy during fast acceleration, non-linear transmission feel
Automakers spent a good 25 years softening the sport-utility vehicle into something more “carlike.” The result was the crossover, a vehicle type that has succeeded perhaps beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, even seriously threatening the survival of the sedans and station wagons from which they richly borrowed.
All pendulums swing, however. Lately, there have been moves by some manufacturers to toughen up the crossover. One of the newest comes from one of the oldest—the Toyota RAV4 that essentially pioneered the crossover field in the mid 1990s. For 2020, it adds a TRD Off-Road model designed to make the compact crossover more capable in the terra incognita that lies beyond the shopping-mall parking lot.
Toyota actually began moving in this direction in 2018, when the RAV4 added an Adventure model with a few terrain-taming technologies and a huge boost in towing capacity, wrapped up in a look that was more rugged than other RAV4s. It was continued when a redesigned fifth generation of Toyota’s top-selling vehicle came out for ’19. The TRD Off-Road, which starts at $36,400 with delivery—$2225 more than the Adventure—takes that concept to another level.
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Toyota Racing Development supposedly tapped some things learned from its RAV4 rally program to give the Off-Road a suspension with specially tuned red coil springs, twin-tube shock absorbers configured for better rebound control, and new bump stops for improving body control over large bumps and dips. The TRD Off-Road rides on black flow-formed 18×7-inch wheels (one inch shorter in diameter than the Adventure’s wheels) wrapped in rugged Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail all-terrain tires. Appearance details include LED fog lights, dark-gray front and rear lower fasciae, red interior stitching and trim elements (including TRD logos sewn into the headrests), and TRD all-weather floormats and cargo-area liner.
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The Adventure and TRD Off-Road are all-wheel-drive-only models—no surprise there—with dynamic torque vectoring that can send as much as 50 percent of torque to the rear wheels, and also disconnect the rear driveline when front-wheel drive is enough to move the vehicle. Ride is firm and the tires can be a little noisy on the highway, but they didn’t produce the wandering tramlining effect we’ve experienced on some other off-pavement specials where constant small steering corrections were required.
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All gas-only RAV4s have a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine of 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, and an 8-speed automatic transmission. Power output is acceptable for most driving situations, but transmission shifts are not the timeliest. “Sport” driving mode seems to have more effect—and slight at that—on steering than it does on acceleration. The TRD and Adventure both have a 3500-pound towing capacity that is tops among RAV4s—by at least 2 to 1—and about as good as it gets in the entire compact-crossover class. EPA fuel-economy estimates for the TRD Off-Road are 25 mpg in city driving, 32 on the highway, and 27 combined, which Consumer Guide’s experience backed up. In fact, in a test that consisted primarily of a long highway road trip, we averaged 32.4 mpg–a bit better than the EPA highway number.
Android Auto smartphone compatibility is added for all 2020 RAV4s. (Apple CarPlay connectivity already was included.) Otherwise, the TRD Off-Road’s standard-equipment complement was much like that of the ’19 RAV4 Limited that CG tested: LED headlights; power moonroof; power liftgate; SofTex leatherette upholstery; dual-zone climate control; satellite radio; and Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite with pre-collision warning and pedestrian detection, dynamic cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist, lane-tracing assist, automatic headlight high-beam control, and road-sign recognition. It shares the Adventure’s raised roof rails and a 120-volt power outlet in the right side of the cargo compartment. An extensive load of options that raised the final price to $42,567 added things like navigation, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, Qi wireless smartphone charging, and an overhead-view camera.
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Like some previously tested fifth-gen RAV4’s, the TRD Off-Road has a nicely done cabin with generous use of soft-touch surfaces, easy-to-use controls and infotainment system, but middling cabin-storage capacity. There’s good passenger space for four adults (a fifth might squeeze into the middle of the back row). There’s good cargo space in back, and 60/40-split rear seats fold almost flat for plenty more capacity.
The TRD Off-Road is docile enough for the middle-school drop-off lane but ready for the trails beyond.
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Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road Gallery