2019 Chicago Auto Show – First Look: 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road
Substantial Suspension Upgrades Help RAV4 Hit the Dirt
The new-for-2019 Toyota RAV4 looks much more aggressive and rugged than the vehicle it replaces, and for many owners’ rough-road adventures, it fits the bill just fine. But for the most demanding crossover shoppers, even the tough-looking RAV4 Adventure is a bit too tame.
For those people who require the most of their crossover SUVs, Toyota will offer the RAV4 with a new-for-2020 TRD Off-Road model. Don’t snicker, because this SUV might actually be pretty good when the going gets rough, since it takes much of its design and engineering inspiration from the TRD-optimized Rally RAV4 campaigned by off-road legend Ryan Millen.
Starting from the RAV4 Adventure, the TRD Off-Road gets revalved twin-tube shock absorbers with internal rebound springs, improving control in rough driving. Unique red coil springs are likewise tuned for off-road driving. New bumpstops help improve body control and maximize wheel travel. It’s not clear if the RAV4’s retuned suspension adds ground clearance compared to the Adventure’s 8.6 inches, but even if not, the improved suspension should help it keep up with the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk.
The RAV4 TRD Off-Road also gets unique rolling stock compared to the Adventure. Flow-formed 18-inch wheels are wrapped in Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail tires, with a square shoulder design preventing cuts and punctures over bad terrain. Traction is optimized thanks to Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive, which sends up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels, distributing it left and right as needed. Multi-Terrain Select also helps mete out power and stability control intervention as needed.
The RAV4 TRD Off-Road soldiers on with the same 2.5L I-4, producing a healthy 203 hp and 184 lb-ft. Paired with a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road is capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds, more than enough for some dirt bikes, a pair of personal watercraft, or compact camp trailer.
The TRD Off-Road’s exterior enhancements mirror those of the Adventure, with high-rise roof rails, a unique front clip with aggressive styling, and bold fender flares. Inside, the TRD Off-Road gets red-accented trim and seat stitching, with “TRD” embroidered into the Softex seats’ headrests. All-weather floor mats come standard, fitting for a machine that aims to get people into the dirt and mud.
While most hardcore off-roaders would be better off purchasing a pre-owned 4Runner or Jeep Wrangler, the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road should nonetheless offer a slightly more rugged experience for folks whose favorite fishing spots or hiking trails are at the end of a rough mountain road. Sharing a long list of practical virtues with the regular RAV4, the TRD Off-Road could be a great compromise for a daily-driven adventure machine.