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We Push The All-New Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road Hard Up 10,666-Foot Vail Pass

This week we drive the new for 2020, Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road over Vail Pass. Check out the latest upgrades here.

The new-generation compact SUV received upgrades last year like more power, new safety tech, and modern exterior styling. In the second year after a complete remodel, the 2020 RAV4 gets some needed upgrades and a new TRD Off-Road trim we will be testing this week. We"ll see how it does in the high-altitude environment of Colorado.

What's new for 2020?

The Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road is a new trim level for the 2020 model change. The RAV4 also gets newly added Android Auto smartphone integration and minor revisions to standard feature availability.

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road

Features & Options

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road ($35,180) comes standard with push-button start, keyless entry, a power-adjustable driver's seat, blind-spot monitoring, dual-zone automatic climate control, and extra USB charging ports. It also comes with bigger wheels, a slightly raised suspension, simulated leather upholstery (SofTex), and soft-touch dashboard materials.

Other upgrades over the standard model include fender flares, taller roof rails, selectable terrain drive modes, hill descent control, an 8-inch touchscreen, unique black trim elements, sunroof, power liftgate, and unique interior trim. The new TRD Off-Road pushes the off-pavement level with all-terrain tires and off-road-tuned suspension.

This RAV4 tester included the optional TRD Off-Road weather page ($1,015), Premium sound system ($1,620), and the Technology package ($1,950). Total MSRP including destination: $42,902.

Interior Highlights

The cabin is sporty, modern and looks much like the standard RAV4 layout. The main difference is the multi-terrain select knob on the console, TRD Off-Road all-weather floor mats, and TRD logo on the headrests. The front seats are comfortable and came with an upgraded heated and ventilated feature for all-weather comfort.

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road

The power driver's seat and tilt/telescoping steering wheel allowed us to find the perfect driving position, and we think the synthetic leather feels close to the real thing. The radio and climate controls are easy to find and use.

Technology abounds in the 2020 TRD Off-Road, with a laundry list that starts with Toyota's Entune 3.0 Audio system, expands to Verizon Wi-Fi, and now comes with Android Auto smartphone integration. It also comes standard with an array of advanced driver safety aids such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

In the back, your passengers will be comfortable, and there's enough room for taller people, even behind a taller driver. There's enough headroom in the back seat even with the raked roof and a seat recline feature if you want to get comfier on a long trip.

The RAV4's cargo room is one of the biggest in class, and that's true whether the seats are up or down. There are 37 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and 57 cubes behind the front. It's also low and easy to load as we had some extra big boxes to carry this week. The power liftgate made it more convenient too.

Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

The RAV4 TRD Off-Road comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard on all trim levels aside from the Adventure and the TRD Off-Road, which get all-wheel-drive.

TRD Off-Road and the Limited possess an upgraded system with a torque-vectoring feature that can shift power distribution between the rear wheels to enhance traction when driving on dirt or snowy roads. The RAV4 Adventure tows up to 3,500 lbs., while all other trim levels can only pull 1,500 lbs.

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road

TRD Off-Road gets an EPA-estimated 25/32 city/highway and 27 combined. Overall, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 is one of the most fuel-efficient compact SUVs available, but this trim gets one mile less mpg because of the larger A/T tires.

Driving Dynamics

The RAV4's engine got a small bump in horsepower last year and improved as it may be, we think it still needs more power. Toyota only offers one engine option in the RAV4, and the turbocharged option is what we'd like to see. We drove the TRD Off-Road in the high altitude of Colorado, so you will likely have different sea levels.

We gave the RAV4 tester a good test and took it over Vail Pass on our way to Glenwood Springs. The compact SUV struggled as we pushed it hard up to the 10,666-foot summit. On the open road, the RAV4 does well and has a smooth ride.

The eight-speed is smooth, and there's no reluctance to downshift if you need power for passing. We did get the TRD Off-Road onto a dirt trail and dialed the shift knob to Dirt and Rock mode, and it's suitable for some off-roading. The A/T tires helped grip the trail and took us where we needed to go.

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 significant. There was more attention from the TRD side, but to tell you there's a significant difference, there's no way to try to do that."

Overall, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road stands out with its unique appearance. The advanced torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, traction control system with multiple terrain settings and styling help the RAV4 stand out.

Pros: unique styling, all-weather and light-off-road capable

Cons: Lackluster power, options add up quickly

You Might Also Like: Subaru Forester Vs Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road - Which SUV Is The Real Dirt Road Warrior?

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press and the founder of Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Toyota