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TRD Off-Road model brings new skills to Toyota RAV4 lineup Featured

Posted On Saturday, 14 November 2020 23:04 Written by
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The Toyota RAV4 gets a new TRD Off-Road trim level for 2020 The Toyota RAV4 gets a new TRD Off-Road trim level for 2020 Photo courtesy of Toyota

With a multi-year run as one of the best-selling SUVs, it would have been tempting for Toyota to not tinker with the RAV4 lineup. But with competitors always stepping up their game, so must Toyota.

One new angle they introduced for the 2020 model year is the TRD Off-Road trim level. At first it’s a shock to hear the words “TRD” and “Off-Road” associated with the traditionally more mundane SUV segment, but it’s a wise move by Toyota to grow the vehicle’s brand with a new option aimed at more adventurous types.

I recently spent some time in a 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road, and I’m back with a full report.


LOOKS
The interior of the 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road is comfortable, but not fancy. It's got enough room to seat five passengers comfortably, but the rear seat is a bit tight. Seat surfaces are covered in Black SofTex, which is lighter than leather yet still durable.

The design of the infotainment system is user-friendly, but looks a bit dated. You do get a handy wireless charger in the front of the vehicle for your smartphone, and easy buttons to switch from Eco to Normal to Sport drive modes. This is not a vehicle aimed at the luxury seeker, as it is much more utilitarian without being plush. You do get some quality red and black stitching on the seating as a nice visual touch.

The exterior of the vehicle aims to have a more bold and rugged look to it. Based on the personality of Toyota’s off-road race vehicles, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road features high-rise roof rails, large over-fenders, and aggressive bumper and grille designs.

Exterior features include LED headlights, fog lights and daytime running lights; an attractive power moonroof, and power liftgate.

Inside you get an 8-inch touchscreen, six speaker audio system, hands-free Bluetooth phone and music streaming, a handful of USB ports, and 3 free months of satellite radio.

The TRD off-road weather package — a good choice for cold weather climates — includes: Heated leather trimmed steering wheel, heated and ventilated front bucket seats, rain-sensing variable intermittent windshield wipers with de-icer function.

All-weather floor mats and rear cargo mats help capture mud, sand and other elements  dragged in from the outside.

HOW’S THE RIDE?
The 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road I tested featured a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Total output was 203 horsepower, and 184 lb.-ft. of torque.

In terms of power, it offers decent acceleration, but it's definitely not going to win any races, with a 0-to-60 time around 8 seconds. The engine is also a bit noisy.

Even on the regular roads, this off-road version of the RAV4 handles very well, and is responsive to driver input. It does a decent job of getting you around, but isn't anything that will be a thrill to drive. Its high points come in what it can do in off-road situations.

The TRD Off-Road version of the RAV4 features dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive with multi terrain select. Options include Mud and Sand (go for a spin on the beach), Rock and Dirt (trail riding), and Snow (ugh, winter). This is in addition to the eco, normal and sport driving options.

The ground clearance is a healthy 8.6 inches, and the Off-Road trim level features AWD.
It comes with a TRD-tuned suspension with improved springs and shock to boost control and limit the impact of rough trails and aging city streets.

The Off-Road edition features 18-inch TRD alloy wheels and all-terrain tires, which are less likely to puncture and designed to more easily shed all forms of debris. It’s also capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds — allowing you to take a boat or other toys on your adventures. Trailer sway control allows you to limit the swaying of what’s behind you.

TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY
The technology setup in the RAV4 is easy to use, and very intuitive. The voice commands work well for audio controls, as well is navigation and phone calls. The look and design of the infotainment setup is far from fancy, but it’s easy to use and that’s what really matters.
There is also smartphone mirroring capability via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The RAV4 gets nearly perfect government crash test safety ratings, which is no surprise as Toyota always does good in this category. It’s one of their hallmarks.

The included Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 system includes: Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, full speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane tracing assist, automatic high beams and road sign assist.

The Star Safety System includes: Vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, brake assist and smart stop technology.

A backup camera with dynamic gridlines is very helpful for seeing what’s behind you and guiding your way, and you get eight airbags plus a LATCH system for child safety seats. Other helpful safety features include a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and downhill assist control.

Navigation system worked very well and included POI searches. There’s an option for in-car Wi-Fi, too.
For those purchasing the TRD model, its Off-road technology package includes: Front and rear parking assist with automatic braking, digital rear view mirror with Homelink, Qi compatible Wireless smartphone charging, and a Bird's Eye View camera with perimeter scan, overhead 360 degree view, and curb view.

MPG
The official fuel mileage numbers on the RAV4 TRD Off-Road are 25 city/32 highway/27 combined. During my time in the vehicle, I averaged 27.4 mpg.

If you opt for the hybrid version of the RAV4, FYI, the average mileage is 40 MPG.

PRICE
The RAV4 TRD Off-Road I tested was priced at $41,418, and the base price for the TRD Off-Road trim level is $36K. The base version of the RAV4 starts at a more affordable $26K.

Toyota offers a  36-month/36,000 mile new-vehicle warranty, a 60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and normal factory-scheduled maintenance is covered for 2 years.


BOTTOM LINE

With its new TRD Off-Road edition of the RAV4, Toyota is aiming to get a boost on its rivals who want a little more off-road confidence. They won’t pull in any Jeep lovers, as the changes aren’t that dramatic, but it could make a difference for folks choosing between Toyota and other rivals like Honda or Nissan. 

The RAV4 has long been one of the top-selling vehicles in its class, and Toyota’s expansion of the RAV4 lineup should help it continue to compete well into the future.

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AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.



Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road   
  • Price as tested: $41,418 (TRD Off Road starts at $36K; base RAV4 starts at $26K)
  • Best feature: Off-road friendly features, Toyota reliability and safety features  
  • Rating: 3.5 out of five stars  
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Toyota fans who want an SUV with basic off-road abilities
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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