The Japanese giant comes out with an off-road version of its successful compact crossover

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Toyota had an eventful time at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show. It was not just the Sequoia getting honored with the TRD Pro badge, or Toyota presenting the 2020 Tacoma. The automaker revealed the TRD Off-road version of the RAV4. Toyota’s trusted compact crossover was beefed-up and launched with more off-road capability. Does the RAV4 TRD Off-Road make a compelling case for itself as an ’off-roader"?

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Exterior

  • New skid plate
  • LED headlights
  • Increased ground clearance
  • New 18-inch lightweight TRD alloys
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD
- image 820259

The RAV4 dresses a little sportier while retaining its original charisma. It loses all its chrome accents in favor of the black theme. Toyota models have been called bland, quirky, attention-seeking, and many other adjectives, but none of the models have attributed with the words smart, or good-looking. Well, the RAV4 is that exception. Up front, it features angular LED headlights that extend all the way to the fenders. The grille, is getting larger and larger with every generation but does not look absurd. This is how a design needs to be incorporated to look charismatic. Hope you’re taking notes, BMW. Unlike the TRD Pro models that which have TOYOTA lettering on the grille instead of the badge, the RAV4 Off Road comes with the standard logo. The LED fog lights are placed a little higher than the conventional positioning and are almost level with the grille. Toward the bottom, there is a skid plate that is more than just an accessory.

The RAV4 TRD Off-Road sports the Adventure trim's 8.6-inch ground clearance which makes it look more upright.

It also offers a longer wheelbase, which in turn offers more interior room. However, the longer wheelbase architecture means reduced break over angle. So, expect the RAV4 TRD Off Road to scrape its underbody more than any other RAV4 model. The RAV4 TRD Off-Road receives 18-inch, lightweight, TRD alloys painted in black and Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail all-terrain tires that are Severe Snow Rated. The alloy design looks absolutely stunning. There is black cladding on the wheel arches and the side skirts, thus making it less prone to body-damage when driven on undulated surfaces. The RAV4’s roof sits low, but don’t worry; it’s not raked or sloped and does not hinder with the rear passengers’ headroom.

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD
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As there are no changes to the dimensions of the RAV4 TRD Off Road, it carries over the cons along with the pros.

The rear is quite smart and looks very unlike-Toyota.

The tail lights have a very Volkswagen/Skoda kind-of-a-feel to them thanks to the boomerang shape. It comes a single exhaust pipe on either side. A two-pipe setup would have spiced up things, even if it was fake. The bumper has black plastic cladding with slim reflectors on the top and a fake skid plate in the bottom. The RAV4 TRD Off Road will come in four shades:

  • Ruby Flare Pearl
  • Super White
  • Midnight Black
  • Lunar Rock
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD
- image 820261

The darker colors will be available with the optional Ice Edge Roof two-tone look, and all will come with dark-gray front and rear lower fascias. The stunning Army Green shade from TRD Pro models are not featured here.

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Interior

  • SofTex material used on seats
  • Finally supports Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa
  • Now comes with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0
  • Red accents and stitching around the cabin
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD
- image 820263

The interior has remained largely untouched compared to the standard model. Now, there are two ways to look at it - either you whine about the cabin not being ’transformed’ into something that goes more with the Off-Road theme, or you can rejoice over the fact that the cabin still maintains its clean, well-finished look.

The basic changes and add-ons over the standard RAV4 are the red accents on black, which basically pleases all and offends none unless you have claustrophobia and prefer lighter shades for a brighter cabin.

The fit and finesse of everything inside is nice. Toyota has used SofTex material on the seats, a material it claims to be "lighter than leather yet highly durable." The seats are well-bolstered and comfortable. There are TRD logos on the headrests and all-weather floor mats to remind you every time that this is not a regular RAV4 that you are driving. The center console also has red accents to match the rest of the cabin.

The cabin, however, is not as spacious as it should be as per segment standards. The sharply raked front windshield is strong enough to bump you on your head every time you step in or out. Headroom is strictly average, and the moonroof worsens the case as anyone over six-feet tall will brush his or her head. The rear doors do not open wide, and you have to sit ’in’ on the low seats. Although the headroom is better than the front, the legroom is a luxury. To encapsulate the ’space talks,’ I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the cabin cramped, but it is not a President’s suite either. So, unless you have Michael Jordan’s genes in you, you are good to go. The RAV4 TRD Off Road has about 57 cubic-feet of cargo space.

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD
- image 820262
Although not revealed officially, the RAV4 TRD Off Road will most likely come with the same 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system as seen on the top-of-the-line trim of the RAV4.

Like all other models launched at the Chicago Auto Show, we expect this one also to finally support both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with Amazon Alexa. There will be five USB ports in total all around the cabin. The feature-list includes stuff like:

  • Heated and Cooled Front Seats
  • Hands-Free Power Liftgate
  • Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control
  • Blind-Spot Monitors
  • Keyless Ignition
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD
- image 820265

The RAV4 TRD Off-Road will sport a few more features along with Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0. These features include:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Active Lane Control
  • Blind-Spot Monitors
  • Trailer Sway Control
  • Rear Cross Traffic Braking
  • Pedestrian Detection

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Drivetrain

  • Same engine with insufficient torque
  • Comes with Dynamic Torque Vectoring
  • All-wheel drive, of course
  • Toyota Multi-Terrain Select System now standard
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD
- image 821751

Since this is a TRD Off Road and not a ’TRD Pro,’ don’t expect it to get the palette of features like its other siblings. In simple words, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road is not superior to the standard RAV4 models. It is mechanically same but will offer better-tuned, off-road suspension and more aggressive off-road-capable tires from the factory.

It comes with the same 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder that churns out 203 horses and 184 pound-feet of torque.

Power is sent to all the wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Toyota has worked with the Rally RAV4 race team to equip the RAV4 TRD Off Road with stuff like a re-tuned suspension with twin-tube shocks that have been re-valved. There are new internal rebound springs, plus new bump stops to improve body control and enable the crossover to tackle non-tarmac surfaces smoothly. It also comes with a Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel-Drive System. It allows for a 50/50 front-to-back power split when needed and sends power to specific wheels to enhance handling on and off the road. Rear Driveline Disconnect also optimizes fuel economy when the all-wheel-drive system isn’t needed.

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD
- image 821747

It will also come with hill-start and descent assist and Trailer Sway Control.

The RAV4 TRD Off Road comes with Toyota's Multi-Terrain Select system as standard.

Depending on the road condition, the SUV’s performance can be tweaked by toggling between Mud and Sand, Rock and Dirt, and Snow modes. The RAV4 Off Road’s MID will show torque allocation and slip control data while in off-road mode.

Engine 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated unit
Power 203 horses
Torque 184 pound-feet
Transmission Eight-speed automatic transmission
Mileage (combined) 28 (estimated)
Towing Capacity 3,500 pounds

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Prices

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD
- image 821748

Pricing for the 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road has not been revealed yet, but we speculate it to be around $36,000, marginally higher than the Adventure trim.

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Competition

Jeep Cherokee

2019 Jeep Cherokee Exterior
- image 759345

A crossover with off-roading in its genes, the Jeep Cherokee makes a compelling case for itself as a worthy competitor to the RAV4 TRD Off-Road. Although the sales figures may not reflect the same, the Jeep Cherokee is a tried-and-tested product when it comes to going off-road. It shines in mud and dirt conditions.

On the outside, the Jeep Cherokee comes with its signature seven-slat grille up front. The LED headlights come with integrated daytime running lights and fog lights below it. Other than the that, the Jeep Cherokee is rather generic. However, the trim that would take on the RAV4 TRD Off Road, the Trailhawk, comes with blacked-out bumpers, wheel arches, and bumpers. It also comes with skid plates and red tow hooks. The Trailhawk is equipped with an off-road suspension and taller 17-inch tires.

On the inside, the Jeep Cherokee is cramped. It does not a very spacious cabin, but the material quality used is above par. The dashboard, door panels, and armrests are all soft to touch and feature low-gloss surfaces that absorb light, making the cabin feel roomier and bright. NVH levels are well-controlled, and the cabin remains silent at moderate speeds. The Trailhawk adds a 7-inch instrument panel screen, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, and blind-spot monitoring. Opt for the Heavy Duty Protection package, and you can avail skid plates for the fuel tank, front suspension, transmission, and underbody, plus a full-size spare tire.

The Jeep Cherokee is offered with three different powertrains - a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 180 horses and 171 pound-feet of torque, a 3.2-liter V-6 that churns out 271 horses and 239 pound-feet of torque, or a new 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that packs 270 horses and 295 pound-feet of torque. The Trailhawk comes with a 3.2-liter engine, but the 2.0-liter engine is an option. Power is sent to all wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission. This gearbox doesn’t enjoy a very good reputation and is known for its jerky shifts and confused nature.

The Trailhawk, as mentioned earlier, is an off-road focused model. It features Jeep’s Active Drive II, which delivers a simulated low range and a crawl ratio of 51.2:1 via the automatic transmission’s low set of gears. The crossover can conquer two-track mud paths, rocky surfaces, and steep hills with ease. It offers Selec-Terrain which helps choose between Snow, Sand/Mud, and Rock drive modes. All of the modes work with various vehicle systems, including the transmission, throttle, and traction control to help the Cherokee deal with various types of terrain. It can also declutch the rear axle to conserve fuel. The Active Drive Lock has a two-speed transfer case with real low-range gearing, plus a mechanically locking rear differential that is electronically actuated.

2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk drivetrain specifications

Engine 3.2-liter, V-6 / 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged unit
Power 271 / 270 horses
Torque 239 / 295 pound-feet
Transmission Nine-speed automatic gearbox
Mileage (combined) 21 / 22 mpg
Cargo Space 25.8 with seats in place / 54.9 cubic-feet with second row folded down
Towing Capacity 4,500 / 4,000 pounds
Ground Clearance 8.7 inches
Wheelbase 107 inches
Price $24,800 onwards (Trailhawk $34,000)

Read our full review on the 2019 Jeep Cherokee

Nissan Rogue

The 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport Is Semi-Autonomous But Still Only With An N/A Engine
- image 820605

The Nissan Rogue is the Toyota RAV4’s biggest rival. These two Japanese crossovers have been dilly-dallying for the first spot for a long time. Nissan sold 412,110 copies of the Rogue in the States, settling for the second spot in 2018; 15,000-odd units less than the RAV4. However, it has been trumping the RAV4 for the last two months. Do you think 2019 could see a new champion?

Let’s be clear though - the Nissan Rogue is solely here because of its name and fame. It does not even have an off-road trim. The Rogue has the generic, tall crossover body. It comes with the trademark Nissan face and looks proportionate from all the angles. There’s nothing to write about here. The interior, however, is where the Rogue excels. There is no dearth of any sort of space inside the cabin, and even five people can be seated comfortably during long drives. It is also more utilitarian. Unlike the RAV4 which has a 60:40 split-ratio seat arrangement, the Rogue has a 40:20:40 foldable arrangement. With seats down, the Nissan Rogue offers 70 cubic-feet of cargo space. The top-trim is loaded with features like a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Nissan’s ’ProPilot Assist’ features, adaptive cruise control, navigation, surround-view camera, and power adjustable front seats.

The Rogue comes with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder that packs 170 horses and 175 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a CVT. If you are an enthusiast, this engine will not put a smile on your face. Even though it is refined, it is not a ’fun’ engine. It is tuned to extract mileage instead of performance. It comes with a ground clearance of 8.4 inches, and this is the closest thing you get in terms of its off-roading capabilities. However, this ride height is nullified because of the long overhangs.


Engine 2.5-liter, four-cylinder unit
Power 170 horses
Torque 175 pound-feet
Transmission Continuously Variable Transmission system
Mileage (combined) 29 mpg
Cargo Space 39.3 cubic-feet with seats in place / 70 cubic-feet with second row folded
Towing Capacity 1,100 pounds
Ground Clearance 8.4 inches
Wheelbase 107 inches
Price $25,000 onwards

Read our full review on the 2020 Nissan Rogue


2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD
- image 821762

Don’t have high hopes with this model getting an overdose of off-road features. Toyota has made it clear that the TRD Pro lineup will be exclusive to body-on-frame vehicles only, and the RAV4 does not qualify for it. Speaking to MotorTrend, Toyota North America’s general manager, Jack Hollis, said, “The TRD Pros have traditionally been based upon body-on-frame vehicles. So do I think there’s [potential for a RAV4 TRD Pro]? There may be. But that’s not our plan right now. Our plan is really finishing with Sequoia to round that out”.

As you would have noticed, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road actually shares a lot of its tidbits with the RAV4 Adventure; be it the dimensions, specifications, or even the equipment. When asked what someone in a TRD Off Road could do that someone in an Adventure couldn’t, Jack Hollis honestly answered, “You know, it’s funny because the technical changes are not totally significant. Obviously, there was more attention from the TRD side, but to try to tell you there’s a significant amount of difference, there’s no way to try to do that”.

If you ask us, we would recommend the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk over the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road if off-roading is your main priority. However, if you are looking at a more balanced package that has bits of everything, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road makes for a better case. It seems very unlikely that the RAV4 TRD Off-Road will be available as a hybrid, so don’t expect a hybrid model anytime soon either.

  • Leave it
    • It can be called a mild-off roader at best
    • Special touches to the interior would have made a lot of difference in the long term
    • Does not offer anything new or different when compared to the Adventure trim

Toyota RAV4 Background

2019 Toyota RAV4 - Driven
- image 805197

The RAV4 has been Toyota’s reliable steed for the last 25 years. The crossover made its debut on U.S. shores in 1996; two years after its birth. The RAV4 is one of the very few cars that can be credited with starting the whole crossover concept. Toyota built the RAV4 for customers who wanted the practicality of an SUV, but the maneuverability of a car. The RAV4 was a runaway success right from its launch, having tasted success all over the globe. In fact, this induced so much confidence in the company that Toyota launched an EV version of the same in 1997 - back when electric cars were not a ’thing.’

Fast forward to 2019, the RAV4 is currently in its fifth-generation and was the top-selling crossover of 2018, beating the Nissan Rogue by a very small ’edge’ (pun intended). The Nissan Rogue and the Toyota RAV4 are always juggling for the apex spot, showing how competitive this segment actually is. Hence, Toyota had to come up with a way to hold that crown and voila, the RAV4 TRD Off-road arrived. Toyota has ample experience in TRD-fying its vehicles, and adding the RAV4 to that category is a wise move. Although it is not being injected with the full TRD Pro dose, the RAV4 is getting prepped for it with the TRD Off-Road treatment. And, it makes sense because the company has two full-size SUVs - the 4Runner and the Sequoia - which also come with TRD Pro shenanigans. The Toyota RAV4 Off Road will be slotted above the RAV4 Adventure in the lineup.

Further Reading

2019 Toyota RAV4 - Driven
- image 805476

Read our full driven review on the 2019 Toyota RAV4.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 775546

Read our full review on the 2019 Toyota RAV4.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 775546

Read our full review on the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

Sidd Dhimaan
Sidd Dhimaan
Senior Editor, Truck Expert, EV Expert -
Sidd joined the team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. Fast forward to today, and he is currently serving as a senior editor, pickup truck expert, and EV expert.  Read full bio
About the author

The all-new, fifth-generation Toyota RAV4, which launched just two months ago, is already looking ahead with the unveiling of the 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road model at the Chicago Auto Show. Arriving in the fall, the newest addition to the RAV4 family will be outfitted with a full array of special Toyota Racing Development engineering and design features for greater trail-driving capability and standout style.

The vehicle that started the segment 22 years ago is now the best-selling non-pickup truck in the U.S. With the latest generation, it is bringing even more sport and more utility. For 2020, the new TRD Off-Road is designed for customers who make the great outdoors a second home.

For the first time, the RAV4 will join a formidable team of Toyota TRD Off-Road SUVs and pickups inspired by the brand’s legendary off-road and desert racers. Beneath the new-generation RAV4’s bolder design, the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA-K) platform provides an ideal base for TRD’s renowned go-anywhere capability and style. Building on the 8.6-inch ground clearance and design features of the RAV4 Adventure grade, the 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road goes above and beyond with suspension, wheels and tires engineered specifically for trail driving.

The Dynamic Force 2.5-liter, 203-horsepower four-cylinder engine, paired with an 8-speed Direct-Shift Automatic Transmission, provides get-up-and-go-anywhere performance and exemplary fuel efficiency. The driver can choose from Sport, Normal and Eco modes. To take more equipment along, such as personal watercraft, dirt bikes or a small enclosed trailer, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds.

Standard Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive can direct up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels, as well as distribute torque to the left or right rear wheel to enhance handling on or off pavement. When AWD isn’t needed, such as on long highway stretches, Rear Driveline Disconnect optimizes fuel economy.

Using standard Multi-Terrain Select, the driver can maximize traction by matching the drive mode to the conditions — Mud & Sand mode for beach driving, or Rock & Dirt mode for trails, and Snow for wintery conditions, for example. The Multi-Information Display (MID) shows torque allocation and slip control data. The new-generation RAV4’s short front and rear overhangs enhance trail-driving capability. In addition, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road will include Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), Trailer Sway Control (TSC), and Downhill Assist Control (DAC) for optimal on-road and off-road performance and safety.

Thoroughly TRD

The 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road takes cues from Toyota’s rich off-road racing history. It shares high-rise roof rails, large over-fenders, and aggressive bumper, grille designs and fog light surrounds with the RAV4 Adventure grade, but with a uniquely TRD personality.

Inspired by TRD’s successful learnings with Ryan Millen’s Rally RAV4, TRD Off-Road suspension is engineered to enhance body control and small-bump isolation to help smooth out trails and rough city streets. Unique red coil springs are tuned for an off-road focus. The twin-tube shocks are re-valved and feature new internal rebound springs to improve rebound control. New bump stops maximize compression direction wheel travel and help improve body control over large bumps and dips.

The 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road exclusively rolls on lighter and more rigid flow-formed 18x7-inch matte black TRD alloy wheels with Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail all-terrain tires. These all-terrain tires mean business, with a unique tread pattern and compound developed to TRD technical requirements. A rugged square shoulder design helps protect against punctures, on or off road, and the tires are Severe Snow Rated with open shoulder grooving to shed debris, mud and snow.

Available in an exclusive two-tone Magnetic Gray Metallic w/Ice Edge Roof combination, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road is accented by dark gray front and rear lower fascias, and front LED fog lights are standard. TRD Off-Road is also available in Midnight Black or Lunar Rock, both of which are available with optional Ice Edge Roof. Other available colors include Ruby Flare Pearl and Super White.

Inside, striking red stitching and red trim accent the cabin. Seat surfaces are covered in comfortable SofTex, which is lighter than leather yet highly durable, and the front seats have “TRD” 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.

Next-Generation Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0)

Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0), which is already standard on all 2019 RAV4 models, includes a long roster of active-safety technologies and capabilities:

Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD)
Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA)
Automatic High Beam (AHB)
Lane Tracing Assist (LTA)
Road Sign Assist (RSA)

Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Rear Cross Traffic Braking (RCTB) system will also be standard on the 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road.

Limited Warranty and ToyotaCare
The 36-month/36,000-mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles and corrosion with no mileage limitation. Toyota dealers have complete details on the limited warranty.

RAV4 also comes standard with ToyotaCare, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release

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