The 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road is the newest member of the automaker's TRD family. While the off-road capability is a given, we were taken back by how comfortable this RAV4 is on dry pavement. It was a pleasant surprise to discover this off-road rig was still pretty good in the city. Although we are not sold on the exterior styling, the interior is sharp and that makes up for it.
Safety & Tech Features
Chassis & Suspension
Road & Wind Noise
Feels Top-Heavy Sometimes
Suffice it to say; we had a ton of fun with the 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road! During our week-long test drive, rain was often in the forecast across Southeast Michigan. We used the occasion to head north of Detroit and hit some muddy and washed-out gravel roads. With selectable off-road modes (Multi-Terrain Select), the RAV4 TRD Off-Road certainly has the off-pavement chops, but what about everyday driving?
While off-road capabilities have their allure, things like fuel economy and comfort are also important. How does the new RAV4 TRD Off-Road stack up? Here is what we found during our week-long test drive.
Toyota RAV4: What’s New for 2020?
All RAV4 models receive Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa functionality. The LE and XLE grades, both gas and Hybrid, receive a three-month trial of SiriusXM. Limited models receive a special JBL Audio package with an 800-watt amplifier.
The TRD Off-Road is a new trim level for 2020, while the RAV4 Hybrid receives only minor updates.
RAV4 TRD Off-Road Performance Upgrades
Inspired by Ryan Millen’s Rally RAV4.
8.6-inches of ground clearance and off-road suspension.
Multi-Terrain Select modes: Mud & Sand, Rock & Dirt, and Snow.
Twin-tube shocks are re-valved and feature internal rebound springs.
Bump stops maximize compression-direction and improve body control.
Tires are “Severe Snow Rated” with open shoulder grooving for harsh terrain.
Standard Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive with Driveline Disconnect.
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road Press Vehicle
Our press vehicle came from the factory with Dynamic Torque Vectoring (all-wheel drive), a TRD-tuned suspension, and the Multi-Terrain Select system mentioned above. Under the hood was a 2.5-liter four-cylinder.
The TRD Off-Road Technology Package gave us front and rear parking assist with automated braking, wireless charging, bird’s-eye view camera, and a cool digital rearview mirror. We enjoyed the Premium Audio, Dynamic Navigation w/ JBL Package (which is a mouthful!). That package includes niceties like an eight-inch touchscreen, 11-speaker JBL stereo with a subwoofer, and Toyota’s Dynamic Navigation system with a three-year trial.
Our RAV4 TRD Off-Road press vehicle included these helpful features from Toyota Connected Services: Safety Connect w/ one-year trial, Service Connect w/ 10-year trial, and Wi-Fi Connect w/ up to two GB on a three-month trial.
The TRD Off-Road Weather Package added heated and ventilated leather seats and rain-sensing wipers with de-icer. Meanwhile, the Safety & Convenience package included the following safety feature as part of Toyota Safety Sense 2.0:
Road Sign Assist
Lane Tracing Assist
Automatic High Beams
Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
Our 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road came standard with eight airbags, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and the LATCH system (lower anchor and tether) for car seats.
What Does The 2020 Toyota RAV4 Cost?
The base price for our 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road came to $35,180. With the packages outlined above, some one-off add-ons, and a destination fee of $1,120, total MSRP was $41,418 for our press vehicle.
By comparison, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 starts at $25,950.
Interior Highlights: Initial Impressions
The 2020 RAV4 rides on Toyota’s New Global Architecture, sometimes called the “TNGA-K” platform. On the one hand, this makes the vehicle more rugged and capable when the blacktop ends (sorry, I was listening to Keith Urban). On the other, it helps the RAV4 feel roomy inside, despite being smaller in stature.
Inside, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road looks sharp with its red accents and black SofTex leather seats. Stitched into the headrests is the TRD logo, and the all-weather floor mats are a nice touch. In terms of tech and connectivity features, everything about the RAV4 TRD Off-Road is solid. Our concern was not so much with things like this, but how it would ride on the open road.
Interior Highlights: Surprised In a Good Way!
The concern for us was how the 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road would feel on dry pavement. We were skeptical at first, but the TRD Off-Road is surprisingly smooth and comfortable on the highway, despite its off-pavement leanings. While wind and road noise will enter the cabin on occasion, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road was remarkably pleasant for us on I-75 through the Detroit metro.
The TNGA-K platform makes all the difference here in our minds. The RAV4’s unibody chassis is 57 percent more rigid than the previous model, and it makes a significant difference on the open road. While off-road, this rigid structure has numerous benefits for sure. On the interstate or during normal road conditions, however, it helps the RAV4 TRD Off-Road feel more composed from the driver’s seat.
The RAV4 TRD Off-Road may feel top-heavy at times with the additional ground clearance, but backing off a few mph will mitigate that, especially through tighter corners on the highway. Otherwise, the interior is stylish and functional, and pleasantly surprising in terms of ride comfort.
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road Powertrain
The 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road employs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with direct injection, dual overhead cams, and variable valve timing. Complete with an aluminum alloy block and cylinder heads, the engine produces 203 horsepower (6,600 rpm) and 184 lb-ft. of torque (5,000 rpm). Attached to the engine is an eight-speed automatic with a differential radio of 3.177.
When properly equipped, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road can tow 3,500 lbs.
EPA fuel economy ratings are 25/32 city/highway and 27 combined. During our week-long drive, we were right at that and even a little better at times.
The week we had our RAV4 TRD Off-Road was a rainy one in the Detroit metro. Given the weather and the off-road upgrades of our press vehicle, we started at the Stone Railroad Bridge on Indian Lake Road, just off M-24 near Lake Orion, Michigan. Indian Lake Road is unpaved and twists around a wooded area past Indian Lake and another unnamed inlet lake.
It was the ideal place, especially in the rain, to test our RAV4 TRD Off-Road press vehicle. We placed the Multi-Terrain Select system into Rock & Dirt and hit the gas!
2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road: In The Mud
Through the rough and muddy corners, Toyota’s Dynamic Torque Vectoring system shined for us. When necessary, it can send up to 50 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels, but it can also distribute torque between the left and right rear wheels. Despite giving the RAV4 some grunt through the wet corners, Toyota’s torque vectoring technology kept us balanced. Likewise, the meaty Falken Wildpeak tires dig in and don’t let go.
Once again, the rigidity of the TNGA-K platform is critical when trouncing through the dirt and mud. The same platform, chassis, and suspension that gave us a composed ride on the way up I-75 was now taking hits from the rougher, wet terrain. Based on our drive, we believe the chassis, suspension, and tires work in unison with the torque vectoring and Multi-Terrain select systems to deliver a confident (and fun) ride when the pavement disappears.
The video below was filmed with our Garmin Tandem dash camera.
Should You Buy a 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road?
The 2020 Toyota TRD Off-Road is a blast when plowing through the north forty, but it’s comfortable enough for city cruising. Add to that a stylish and sporty interior, and Toyota has a winner here. If you don’t need all the performance upgrades, we recommend looking at the RAV4 LE or XLE. Both of those trim levels offer all-wheel drive but have a lower MSRP than the TRD Off-Road.
However, if you don’t mind spending the extra dough, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road is one fun machine.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Society of Automotive Historians. He serves on the board of directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, is a past president of Detroit Working Writers, and a loyal Detroit Lions fan.