While most owners never take their SUV off-road, many adventure enthusiasts do. Besides Jeep, Subaru is one of the original small off-road vehicles and Toyota wants to be. Toyota brings the new RAV4 TRD Off-Road model but is it as good as the standard Crosstrek when it comes to extreme off-road adventures? One feature could be the difference for getting away from civilization.
RAV4 TRD Off-Road
Toyota brings the new 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road ($33,995) to the party to compete with Subaru. Here’s a quick rundown of the TRD goodies on the RAV4. It comes with 8.6-inch ground clearance (Crosstrek has 8.7-inches) and the TRD Off-Road suspension. It features a Multi-Terrain Select with Mud & Sand mode for beach driving, or Rock & Dirt mode for trails, and Snow mode for wintery conditions. Outside it gets 18x7-inch matte black TRD alloy wheels with Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail all-terrain tires.
What Toyota says
In an interview with Motor Trend, Jack Hollis, Toyota North America's general manager told them the RAV4 TRD Off-Road isn’t any different than the Adventure RAV4. He says, "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.”
And don’t expect the RAV4 to get any significant Pro upgrades, Hollis goes on to say, "The TRD Pros have traditionally been based upon body-on-frame vehicles. So do I think there's any potential for a RAV4 TRD Pro?...that's not our plan right now.” The RAV4 Off-Road is little more than an appearance package. It should allow for a more “comfortable” ride over rough terrain and the tires are puncture resistant. The best way to view the 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road is as a more aggressive-looking, highly optioned compact SUV with upgraded suspension and severe winter-rated tires.
One of Subaru’s core values that sets the Japanese automaker apart from the rest of the family vehicles is their “go-anywhere” attitude. Subaru Crosstrek, around since 2012, is a popular choice with adventure enthusiasts who like its all-wheel-drive capabilities for snow and ice and delivering the family safely to their destination. But one feature sets it apart from the RAV4 TRD OFF-Road.
What is X-MODE?
All Crosstrek models come equipped with the X-MODE extreme off-road system that gives it improved off-pavement capabilities. With a flip of a switch, X-MODE will get you out of a sticky situation. When the wheels begin to slide or slip in sticky slick mud or deep snow, the average all-wheel-drive vehicle will still get stuck. The 2019 Crosstrek with X-MODE changes that and is easy to engage with the push of a switch located on the center console. X-MODE allows you to keep your foot off the brake and let the system do the work, and you can keep your attention on the road.
X-MODE is the difference
On rocky and steep trails, when torque is not distributed evenly to all four wheels, or when one wheel comes off the ground, the vehicle can lose traction leaving you stuck. X-MODE will get you out, and won't leave you stranded.
How it works
Crosstrek’s X-MODE reduces accelerator input for increased control of engine output, helping control wheel-spin for better traction while on an off-road trail. When you activate the system, wheel-spin is reduced and grip enhanced by controlling the engine, transmission, AWD system, brakes, and the Vehicle Dynamics Control System (VDC).
For extreme off-road adventures, the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek with X-MODE is the better choice for those wanting to get deep into the high-country and away from civilization.
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Photo credit: Instagram. Subaru