2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road AWD: adventure on wheels

At some point, fair-minded consumers might come to the confusion that Toyota is “just showing off.”

For the first time ever, my 2020 Toyota RAV4 tester is a TRD (Toyota Racing Development) Off-Road model featuring standard dynamic torque vectoring AWD with a rally-inspired suspension. After making the RAV4 its best-selling model and the bestselling non-pickup small SUV vehicle in America for the past two years, Toyota broke the segment mold yet again with the new generation RAV4 in 2019.

Powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the duo delivers 203 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. It seats up to five adults, and is rated at 27 miles per gallon by the EPA in combined city/highway driving.

The TRD Off-Road echoes the persona of Toyota’s legendary off-road racers. The RAV4 TRD Off-Road model shares high-rise roof rails, large over-fenders, and aggressive bumper and grille designs and fog light surrounds with the RAV4 Adventure grade, but with a TRD personality.

It joins the LE, XLE and XLE and Adventure RAV4 trim levels, giving buyers a wide range of choices and price points.

Building on the 8.6-inch ground clearance of the RAV4 Adventure, the TRD Off-Road goes above and beyond with suspension, wheels and tires engineered specifically for rugged trail driving. To take more adventure equipment along, such as personal watercraft, dirt bikes or a small enclosed trailer, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road is rated to tow a trailer up to 3,500 pounds.

Using standard Multi-Terrain Select, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road driver can maximize traction by matching the drive mode to the conditions: Mud & Sand for beach driving, Rock & Dirt for trails, and Snow for wintery conditions. I just missed testing Snow. Too bad for me.

The RAV4 TRD Off-Road is, in addition, equipped with hill-start assist control (HAC), trailer sway Control (TSC), and downhill-assist control (DAC) for on-road and off-road performance and safety. The multi-information display (MID) shows torque allocation and slip-control data.

My ride came with an exclusive two-tone Magnetic Gray Metallic coat of enamel along with Ice Edge Roof combination. The RAV4 TRD Off-Road is accented by a dark gray front and rear lower fascias and front LED fog lights are standard.

Completing the long list of features delivered at this trim level were red stitching and red trim cabin accents. Seat surfaces are covered in comfortable Black SofTex, which is lighter than leather yet highly durable, and the front seats have the TRD logo stitched into the headrests. Exclusive TRD all-weather floor mats and rear cargo mat capture the mud, sand and water dragged in from the outside and easily shake out for cleanup.

Creature comforts that remind one that they’re not really roughing it are highlighted by dynamic navigation, premium JBL audio, with 11 speakers including a subwoofer, Apple CarPlay, four USB ports, dual-zone climate control, power moon roof, and more.

Base Price: $36,300

Price As Driven: $42,507

Base price includes destination charge. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer and list price may vary at local dealerships.

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