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Offroading With A Toyota Rav4: Is It A Good Choice?

Toyota designed the Rav4 in the early 90s to give people of a wider target audience the opportunity to have a vehicle like the larger Toyota SUV range for a more affordable price. The Rav4 was the solution for people who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for cars like the Land Cruiser or the Highlander but who still wanted the benefits, like off-roading, of the more expensive Toyota range.

The Toyota Rav4 has a standard and optional all-wheel drive (AWD) feature to suit buyers looking for a little more off-roading-type adventure in their vehicle. The AWD Rav4 TRD Off-Road has some 4-wheel drive (4WD) abilities and can handle unconventional road conditions for some off-road capabilities.

If you’re in the market for a car that is small and compact yet boasts a lot of heart and is reliable on the road and off-road, the Rav4 might be what you’ve been looking for. Especially the latest fifth generation’s introduction of the Rav4 TRD Off-Road model.

If you’d like to find out more information concerning the Rav4 and how well it can handle off-road journeys, keep reading below.

Is The Toyota Rav4 Good for Off-Road?

Earlier models of the Toyota Rav4 were designed to offer drivers better traction and grip for some off-road driving conditions. The Toyota Rav4, before the fifth generation, allows for some light-duty of- road conditions but the Rav4 is not Toyota’s best off-road vehicle on the market, nor is it second best.

The fifth generation of the Rav4 introduced the Rav4 TRD Off-Road trim in 2019 and the Rav4 Adventure trim in 2018 and both are deemed relatively good vehicles for some off-road driving conditions.

While the AWD system in the Rav4 enhances its ability to take the car off-road, we would not recommend straying too far from the path in the Rav4 unless you have a Toyota Rav4 TRD Off-Road or a Rav4 Adventure trim.

Which Toyota Rav4 is Good for Off-Road?

In 2018 Toyota Introduced the Rav4 Adventure trim for outdoor enthusiasts who needed a compact, yet off-road worthy vehicle to suit both conventional and adventure driving. The Rav4 Adventure can handle some off-road driving conditions and is recommended as a more superior off-road vehicle than other Rav4 base trims.

In 2019 Toyota brought in an even more off-road capable vehicle with the Rav4 TRD Off-Road which is like the Adventure trim with some minor differences which you can read about further below.

Is the Toyota Rav4 Off-Road Good for Off-Road Driving?

It might have the name Off-Road, but as the Rav4 is a compact crossover without much power and torque, you might question if the Rav4 TRD Off-Road is in fact good for off-road conditions. Let’s find out!

Some superior features the Rav4 TRD Off-Road SUV has is:

  • Broader fender flares
  • Unique bumpers
  • 18-inch wheels with Falken wild peak all-terrain wheels for enhanced grip
  • Twin-two shock absorbers
  • Better body control with bump stops when driving on rugged terrain
  • Powers all four wheels with an AWD system
  • Can route up to 50% of the torque to the rear tires and can control between the left and the right for improved handling when necessary
  • The AWD system can be disconnected when it’s not needed to improve the fuel economy
  • 8.6-inch ground clearance
  • 2.5-liter dynamic force 4-cylinder engine with 203 horsepower and 184 torque for smooth and quick gear changes

A couple of downfalls to note with the Rav4 TRD Off-Road is:

  • No skid plates
  • Engine slightly noisier than others
  • The towing capacity is only 3500lbs, but this is enough to at least carry a small boat or a couple of jet skis or snowsafetymobiles

The interior features of the TRD Off-Road are also superior to other trims and Toyota has gone above and beyond in style and comfort, especially for those who want to take this little SUV for a ride in and around the mountains.

  • Plenty of storage space including headspace and legroom
  • Red-sports stitching for style
  • The rear cargo area has 38 cubic feet or 70 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded flat
  • Rubber materials for extra comfort
  • Safety sense 2.0 features enhanced safety technology including lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, auto high-beams, rear cross-traffic alert, and pre-collision sensor
  • 5 additional USB ports for the whole family and wireless charging

How Does the Toyota Rav4 Perform Off-Road?

Check out this YouTube video by TFLoffroad who takes the 2021 Toyota Rav4 TRD Off-Road Hybrid for a test run up Tombstone Hill in Colorado to see what it’s really capable of.

The TRD Off-Road has numerous drive trains including Trail, Eco, Sport, and normal, and the Trail Mode is specifically designed for “off-roading”.

Here is what FTLoffroad found throughout their review of the Toyota Rav4 TRD Off-Road Hybrid

  • The Rav4 TRD Off-Road doesn’t have underbody protection
  • The ground clearance isn’t enough
  • It doesn’t handle off-kilter situations well
  • Careful tire placement is needed
  • It was hard work to get up Tombstone Hill, but it will take you on “softer” journeys just fine
  • More ground clearance would be ideal especially in the front of the Rav4
  • TFLoffroad give the Rav4 a five out of 10

Driving Sports TV is another YouTube review platform for reviewing new cars and seeing if they live up to their name and their supposed specs and features.

Their vehicles were delivered by Toyota specifically for being reviewed and in this review Driving Sports TV delve deeper into the 2020 Toyota Rav4 TRD Off-Road and the Toyota Rav4 Adventure trims.

Driving Sports TV was delivered a high-package car worth around US$42,507. Some features included the audio upgrade and technology package, roof racks, and a weather package.

Here is what Driving Sports TV found in their review of the Toyota Rav4 TRD Off-Road Hybrid:

  • No skid plates which isn’t ideal
  • Standard fog and LED headlights
  • An 8-speed automatic is the only drivetrain option for this trim
  • Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD for enhanced handling, grip, and traction
  • Completely lined in the cargo space with TRD which is an advantage
  • Comes with a spare tire and tire jack
  • Comes with AC and 12V power in the rear of the car
  • Power adjusted seats add to the interior design
  • Push start for convenience
  • Dual-zone aircon and ventilated and heated seats for extra comfort

This version of the Rav4 TRD Off-Road has 4 modes for off-roading:

Normal mode

The power stays mainly up the front of the FWD system

Rock and dirt mode

More power is sent to the back with traction control engaged to reduce spin

Mud and Sand mode

Allows for slip momentum

Snow mode

No fast launching and optimizing of traction control for slippery and icy roads

Here is how the Toyota Rav4 TRD Off-Road Hybrid drives according to Driving Sports TV in the cold and snowy mountains of the Pacific Northwest:

  • The ground clearance is only 0.2 inches higher than a standard Rav4
  • Gets from 0-60 in around 9 seconds with 203 horsepower which isn’t the worst they’ve seen
  • Shocks do a remarkably good job
  • The AWD gage shows how much power is being distributed between the tires
  • Handles well on the road
  • Alternating tires are helpful to retain grip where it’s needed
  • Pushes power where it needs to be
  • Some slight slip but the system corrects it well
  • Can overcome slip with more momentum and force
  • Ryan from Driving Sports TV thinks the Rav4 TRD Off-Road did a really good job up the snowy mountain considering the icy and wet conditions gives the Toyota Rav4 TRD Off-Road a score of 8 out of 10 and loves the standard driver-assistance technology, the interior, the smooth engine, and the good steering feel. What they didn’t like were the low-resolution cameras and the steep price.

Is the Toyota Rav4 Adventure Trim Good for Off-Road?

Another off-road vehicle that Toyota has introduced to the Rav4 line is the Adventure trim.

The Rav4 Adventure is almost like the TRD Off-Road with some minor differences including:

  • 19-inch wheels
  • Front and rear skid plates
  • Delivers 222 horsepower

The Toyota Rav4 Adventure is one of the most capable off-road compact crossover SUVs according to Alex on Autos and here’s why:

  • The vehicle senses slip on the wheels and adjust power automatically where needed
  •  The Rav4 Adventure feels secure and handles well in muddy and flood conditions
  • Has a multi-terrain select
  • The wheel slipping sensors take direction from the driver choosing the multi-terrain option


While the Toyota Rav4 has some off-road qualities it is not a 4WD vehicle and is best used for some off-road terrains only.

The Toyota Rav4 handles well in slippery and wet conditions and also on other terrains too, but it’s not recommended that you take the Toyota Rav4, even the TRD Off-Road and Adventure trims too far on the beaten path or the path might beat the Toyota Rav4.