By on February 7, 2019

Image: Toyota

After last year’s Camry and Avalon surprise, it should come as no shock that Toyota’s keen to expand TRD branding beyond its body-on-frame trucks and SUVs. Frankly, the automaker ran out of BOF vehicles to tune for the trail.

Enter the RAV4, redesigned for 2019 and still no one’s idea of a hardcore off-roader. While that impression may be valid, Toyota’s at least making an effort to turn up the brawn on the family-friendly crossover.

Would this derisively nicknamed “soccer mom-mobile” have any hope of delivering a Uruguayan rugby team to safety after a perilous journey through the Andes? Doubtful, regardless of the impressive (and suggestive) backdrop seen in Toyota’s press images.

Entering the scene as a 2020 model, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road carries the same powertrain seen in other non-hybrid trims — a 2.5-liter inline-four making 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic. Toyota designers added to the model’s newly ornery looks with a generous slathering of black exterior trim. Naturally, the slightly more butch RAV4 Adventure was used as a starting point.

So, what makes this model a TRD, you ask? Well, not the Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive (found on both the RAV4 Limited and Adventure), nor the 8.6 inches of ground clearance (also shared with the Adventure). These attributes help the vehicle’s mission, but it’s in the legs where TRD DNA can be found.

Peer into the wheels wells and you’ll see red coil springs tuned for off-road travel, matched with re-valved twin-tube shocks featuring new internal rebound springs. New bump stops join the fray, helping the crossover avoid getting too wild in those … adventurous … off-pavement moments. Filling the wells are 18×7-inch matte black TRD alloy wheels shod with Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail all-terrain tires. This meaty rubber is  Severe Snow Rated and would have come in handy for your author last week.

For conditions where you’ll actually need four-wheel traction, Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select offers a choice of drive modes: Mud & Sand, Rock & Dirt, and Snow. Hill Start Assist Control, Trailer Sway Control, and Downhill Assist Control completes the package.

Adding to peace of mind is the same Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0) package found on all RAV4s, joined by blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear cross-traffic braking. Occupants of this vehicle won’t miss its TRD affiliation — indicators pop up everywhere, from the red trim and stitching to the racing arm’s acronym displayed on the SofTex headrests.

Given the suspension and wheel upgrades added to what’s essentially an Adventure-trimmed RAV4, expect the TRD Off-Road version to leapfrog the Limited in price, which currently sits $600 higher than the Adventure at the top of the pricing ladder. A money-maker since day one, the RAV4 — which sold 427,170 (!) units last year — will continue to generate boffo profits for Toyota, perhaps now even more so.

Official pricing will have to wait until closer to the 2020 model’s on-sale date.

[Images: Toyota, Tim Healey/TTAC]

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49 Comments on “Beyond Adventure: Toyota’s RAV4 – Yes, the RAV4 – Gets the TRD Treatment...”


  • avatar
    Verbal

    Bring back the 3.5l V6.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Back when the V6 Rav4 came out I read somewhere that it was the fastest vehicle you could buy from Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      Owning one I agree. However when you really push the pedal from a stop be ready for a handful of torque steer to stay in your lane.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Speaking of that RAV6 V6, does anyone know when the RAV4 was last offered with a V6?

      I saw it being driven yesterday and asked the driver about the For Sale sign displayed. No price. Just For Sale, best offer.

      I may have an opportunity to buy one at a private Estate Sale, have looked at it, found it clean with 48934 orig mi on the odo, and was told by the heirs that it was driven by an old couple, now deceased.

      Dark Blue, alloy wheels, Black Leather interior, garaged (not baked in the sun), V6 emblem on the driver’s side of the front grille and on the back next to AWD.

      What do you think I should offer, if it passes the road test?

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        2012 was the last year for the V6

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Price will depend a lot on year HDC, but I’d say you’ve found a gem! Assuming you can get comfortable in it. At 5’11,” I personally find the seats in that generation of Rav to be pure torture, very short seat cushions. But then again I have an uncle who’s 6’2″ 230lb who owns one and doesn’t seem to find it objectionable.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Thanks guys. With that in mind I shall go to the Estate Sale and see what develops.

        My approach is to let someone make the first bid, and even the second or third if it is reasonable and may even let it go to “Going Twice” before raising my hand and placing a bid, if it is realistic. I believe the bidding starts at $2K, but if nobody bites, they’ll open lower.

        I’m interested but not optimistic because I’ve been to these Estate Sales before and have missed out on interesting stuff.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    It really ought to have skid plates.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      My thoughts exactly. More than anything else, a cute-ute venturing offroad-ish with 8.5 inches of ground clearance aught to have a skid plate protecting the oilpan and transaxle.

      It’s kind of a silly vehicle, but I’m not as offended at the marketing ploy as I thought I would be. All terrains will be a needless MPG suck and add to NVH. I’d rather just take an “Adventure” with the slightly added clearance and a skid plate, well and maybe those fancier shocks.

      The Rav4 that really has my attention is the Hybrid, seems like it would be a good fit for my wife’s urban commute over bad roads.

    • 0 avatar
      CannonShot

      Agreed! I’ve long wondered why Toyota (and others) have been willing to cede the mild off-road market to Jeep and Subaru. The only complaint I have about my Acadia is that when we go camping or hiking I have to be extra careful when we hit deep ruts or a rocky stretch of road. Some extra ground clearance and skid plates would sure help. If this TRD RAV4 had skid plates it would be the perfect crossover. Much better than mostly cosmetic tweaks on the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek edition that we read about the other day.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    I was shocked at how good the Renegade can hustle off road with just some chunkier tires, so maybe this would work. However my experience with these leaves me doubting. Toyota has some good engineers though so maybe they pulled it off?

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    TuRD

    • 0 avatar
      Vanillasludge

      I came here to post this, so thanks for doing that. I’m still 9 years old mentally and every time I see TRD I start giggling and saying “turd” to my wife, who doesn’t think I’m funny.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    This is the mainstream manufacturer talking to the mainstream buyer. I can hear the dealership conversations now: clueless salesman talks to clueless customer about this “rugged” version of the RAV4. “Highly suitable for your long gravel driveway in a bad rainstorm folks. If you have deep puddles – it’ll get you back to the homestead dry! Just wait to see what it’ll do in winter!”

  • avatar
    slavuta

    So, by the price point…. Base SR5 4runner vs Rav4 TRD. Which one is better to tackle the off-road? Anyone?

    • 0 avatar
      jfb43

      If the base 4Runner is RWD, then probably the RAV4.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        jfb43,

        obviously, I am talking about SR5 4×4 that costs $37,580. Now, there is TRD OffRoad for $38,880.

        RAV4 adventure costs $33,995; so it is expected that TRD will be ~35-36.

        In any case, this is question about off road worthiness per dollar. Will cheapest 4×4 4Runner be better off road than this RAV4 TRD?

        • 0 avatar
          sooperedd

          4Runner…no contest.

          • 0 avatar
            Reino

            Agreed. 4Runner SR5 already has a skid plate, 4 low, and hill descent, and more ground clearance. The stock Bridgestones suck, but other than changing tires, It can tackle some very serious trails with no mods necessary.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          Not sure if this is a serious question or not. But if you’re serious, I think you must not know much about driving offroad. Or maybe just not anything about 4Runners.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            “I think you must not know much about driving offroad.”

            Of course not. But one time, I went so off road that I had to wait 2 days for help to come. So, you might be right – if I was good I wouldn’t stuck with my 6×6 vehicle in a rut. On the other hand, I did go over multiple obstacles for 2 days before I stuck.

            Now, the question really was “per dollar”. I understand that in absolute terms RAV4 is no match. My point was that RAV4 is just too expensive. And I just drove the Adventure. Not impressed at all. The engine sounds buzzy and transmission kind snappy, and at that price point is does not even have leather steering wheel. Also, instrumentation panel is a mess. it displays so much stuff all together that it is hard to understand whats on it, especially when driving – red, green, blue colors , all mixed together…

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Unless we’re talking some seriously slick situations, for most kinds of trail driving, I would honestly feel more comfortable in a RWD 4Runner than an AWD Rav4. When I go wheeling on forest access roads in my 4Runner, I’m able to keep it in 2wd the vast majority of the time, only needing it in a few spots in the winter generally, and even then with snow tires I’m always surprised at how far 2wd gets me. It’s a matter of a) clearance, and b) suspension/wheel durability and underbody protection for a few errant logs and rocks.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    It looks like everyone is trying to “butch-up” their little crossovers. Good to see that a 34 year mom with two kids isn’t their only customer

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    When I was fording streams in Iceland in a rental previous gen RAV4 I was not overly impressed, but I knew to stop before I got in over my head – or even over my wheel wells!

  • avatar

    Another day, another TuRD. Answer to the question no one asked.They better added, as option, machine gun turret on the roof because that’s what their most loyal customers want.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Aww, so cute. Who is ever going to take this thing even soft-roading, never mind actual off-roading? No one, is the answer to that question. No one who’s paying the note on it, at least. The fancy suspension should handle the occasional hard-curbing whilst negotiating mall parking lots, I guess, and the odd gravel road ( followed by a $20 car wash ), but CJ-7s and Suzuki Sidekicks have little to fear from this dilettante.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I heard a Toyota rep on the radio talking about the new Sequoia TuRD. “It’s for the family man with a few kids who still wants to have an off road vehicle for adventure!” I mean, seriously? A family man paying the note on a $55,000 luxury SUV isn’t taking it off road, sorry. No way. That’s scratch the expensive pearl paint job. It’s all about the image.

  • avatar
    Ryan

    This is the right move for Toyota. I enjoy the TRD line. The 4Runner is a long time favorite of mine. A logical step in the TRD wheel. The RAV4 needed this. Softroader all the way, but that is not a negative thing. IMO

  • avatar
    jdowmiller

    Where are all these off road trails all these millions of “off road” vehicles are going?

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    Good lord that thing is ugly.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I remember back in 2019 children.

    We use to have pavement on the roads. Yup. Hard asphalt. Smooth and perfect.

    But after the Federalists convinced the voters that taxation was theft, the government no longer cared for the roads.

    *cough* *cough*

    They privatized them, but the companies went bankrupt. Ay-yup. Seems no on wanted to pay $1 a mile to drive on private roads. Those were dark times it was. The police were used to keep those not paying off.

    Yup.

    Then the roads just crumbled. That’s why we all drive lifted SUVs with offroad packages.

    You know there use to be these things called sedans. They would sit about 5 inches off the ground, and were sleek, and sloped down in the back. Ay-yup. No fancy AWD or lift kits.

    Yup.

    Back when there was pavement 30 years ago, you could drive more than 30 MPH.

    Pavement. Those silly liberal dreamers were promising self-driving cars. You know there used to be paint lines on the roads too…

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Counterpoint: sedans up through the 80s typically had 6-7 inches of ground clearance, 70 series sidewall tires, mostly on steel rims, and had more compliant suspensions that prioritized a smooth ride over precise handling or steering feel. There also used to be a lot more dirt and gravel roads across much of rural America than there are now.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Not sure if this is a serious question or not. But if you’re serious, I think you must not know much about driving offroad. Or maybe just not anything about 4Runners.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Lol

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Me seeing the new RAV 4, every time: “Check out that new Subaru–uh, Jeep Compass–uh, Toyota?”

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