The history of the Toyota RAV4 was written with a very peculiar model name. Under the philosophy "Recreative Active Vehicle 4-Wheel Drive", the brand created a small SUV with a lot of charisma, even the roof could be removed. However, over time, subsequent generations were diluted this rebellious character for a much more civilized and softer compact SUV.
The 2020 TRD Off Road is return to form, of sorts. The fifth generation of the Toyota RAV4 reinvents itself with more personality and adherence to its original intention than ever. Does it have enough to succeed in the crowded segment of compact SUVs while still offering what few competitors can (i.e. real off road capability)? Let's find out.
The design of the new Toyota RAV4 is impressive. With a more off-road-ready stance, the high position of the TRD's headlights and the size of the grill are striking. There is good ground clearance and, in a way, the front end is reminiscent of the Toyota Tacoma. No, it is not a coincidence.
To inject character into this new generation, Toyota wants to emphasize the recreational "r" in RAV4, and it does so through this trim level, true to the prototype that shaped it — the FT-AC . Its off-road style is very well defined. It is reflected in unpainted plastic parts, specific design wheels with an 18-inch diameter and a very unique color palette.
If you don't love its rugged outfit, don't worry, there are other versions with similar equipment and a more elegant appearance , with some chrome decorations and elements in the same tone of the body. In all cases there are skulls and LED headlights, as well as 17 or 18-inch wheels.
The other trims are LE, XLE, Adventure, TRD Off Road, Limited and Hybrid. The last four share virtually the same equipment - the only difference is that the Adventure does not have heated seats. The level of amenities is quite complete; Included are: two zone automatic climate control, panoramic roof, wireless smartphone charger, electrically adjustable driver's seat, electrochromic rearview mirror, electric opening tailgate, smart key and electric parking brake with autohold function, just to mention the most relevant.
The highlighted characteristics are seen at the wheel only if we talk about off-road capabilities, because on a day-to-day basis, its behavior is far from sporty in favor of highly comfortable driving . Every reaction is due to softness and, in fact, its walk is so silky that at times it reminds me of the Camry, with whom the RAV4 shares a platform.
The soft suspension perfectly filters road irregularities, although the Falken Wildpeak tires have a lot to dow with that. Its behavior in curves tends to present body-roll with ease , which invites not to go too fast when tracing them; At no time is the feeling of comfort lost, partly thanks to the chassis, but also due to the all-wheel drive system.
The AWD traction of the 2019 RAV4 - included in all versions except LE and Hybrid - distributes power between the front and rear axles to ensure a good level of grip at all times; On the rear axle, moreover, the system can decide how much power to send to the left or right wheel independently.
Its off-road character goes beyond offering four-wheel drive. Toyota included a system that adapts its reaction according to the surface on which we circulate: snow, mud, dirt, sand or rocks . It also has a hill descent assistant and electronic differential lock to get better rid on medium difficulty terrain.
Now, in dynamic terms, the powertrain in charge of moving the RAV4 2019 is a 2.5-liter atmospheric engine , capable of generating 204 hp and 179 lb-ft. Its response is adequate as long as you don't want to break an acceleration record; It is not slow, but it is not fast either. To tell the truth, those who like agile driving will miss a more powerful option - beyond the hybrid version. With this engine, RAV4 is adequate but does not thrill.
The RAV4 TRD is operated through an eight-speed automatic transmission - and not a CVT box. Thank you, Toyota — well programmed to make changes smoothly and effectively depending on the selected driving mode: Normal, Eco or Sport. During our test, we obtained a consumption of 24 mpg in the city , which is not bad for a vehicle of its size, its weight and all-wheel drive.
The previous generation of the Toyota RAV4 was a very interesting SUV if you bought it with your head: it was spacious and reliable - there was no sensible reason to say no. This new generation maintains the attributes of before, but presents them in a much more attractive format for the heart. It has sparkle in its design, charm inside and even real off-road capability.
It seems to us a very complete proposal, which combines the favorite attributes of an SUV in a product that will be able to develop properly against its rivals. Perhaps the option of a more powerful engine or more driving assists would help you to plant yourself more comfortably in front of Honda CR-V, Volkswagen Tiguan, KIA Sportage or Subaru Forester, just to name a few.
Serious off-road capability for the segment
More cramped interior than competitors
Exterior styling not for everyone
Engine: 2.5L I4
Power: 204 hp
Torque: 185 lb-ft
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Comb.): 25/33/28 MPG
Curb Weight: 3,615 lbs
Base Price: $25,950
Price as Tested: $41,489 (incl. dest.)