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Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-road Is The Best One To Get

Despite being one of the more expensive Toyota RAV4 models, the TRD Off-road is a champion in most regards.

Toyota RAV4 has been the Japanese company's best-selling compact SUV since 1994. However, it is the fifth-generation RAV4 that brought a level of excitement previously unseen in the model. The current Toyota RAV4 has been around since 2018 and sometime this year, the company will announce a mid-cycle refresh for the 2025 model year.

Even so, the RAV4 is already set to appeal to a much broader audience. Between the six different trim levels and a plethora of hybrid and non-hybrid powertrains, there is a Toyota RAV4 for everyone. However, if we look at versatility and what you are getting for your money, I found a few reasons why Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-road is the one to get, despite at $39,645, being the second most expensive, after the RAV4 Prime. 

TRD Off-road is the most versatile Toyota RAV4 

2024 Toyota RAV/4

Although most Toyota RAV4 buyers will spend the majority of their driving on public roads, it is good to know Toyota's compact SUV has some off-road capabilities. They are best pronounced in the TRD Off-road trim, which boasts cladding all around the exterior and a metal skid plate that protects the underbody from rocks and debris.  

More importantly, Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-road boasts the highest ground clearance of any RAV4 - 8.6 inches. The base RAV4 offers 8.1 inches of ground clearance while the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid, although the most powerful, only offers 7.1 inches of ground clearance.

The TRD Off-road's 19-degree approach angle and 21-degree departure angle are nothing to write home about, but this isn't the type of vehicle to take on serious off-roading. Toyota is offering the old-school, but rugged Toyota 4Runner for the more hardcore off-road enthusiasts, although a new, likely, more tech-heavy 4Runner is on the way in 2025.

That said, the RAV4 TRD is still meant to go off the beaten path, which is why the uniquely tuned, TRD suspension features special bumpers to reduce shock on harder impacts.

Adequate performance for the RAV4 TRD Off-road 

The vast majority of Toyota RAV4 buyers don't have performance at the top of their list, which is why the RAV4 TRD Off-road comes with an Atkinson-cycle, 2.5-liter, naturally-aspirated inline-four, producing 203 horsepower at 6,600 RPM and 184 pound-feet at 5,000 RPM.

Performance is meant to be adequate at best, and the 8.0-second 0 to 60 mph sprint proves that. The range-topping Toyota RAV4 Prime with its 306-horsepower, PHEV powertrain is much more potent, sprinting to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds.  

In terms of fuel economy, the 2024 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-road gets 28 mpg combined with 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg highway, according to the EPA rating. Toyota is expected to turn more of its SUV models into hybrid-only variants like they did the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser, and considering the RAV4 clients' demographics, it will likely happen with the facelift.

Granted, the RAV4 Prime's 38 mpg combined EPA makes it a superior candidate for long-distance trips, but at the cost of added complexity, and yes, I know Toyota hybrids are, generally, as reliable as their non-hybrid counterparts. 

No CVT in sight 

Aside from performance models like the Toyota GR Supra and soon-to-arrive Supra GRMN, most of Toyota's offerings are rather distanced from the thrill of driving. That explains why most Toyota customers have no issues with the CVT transmission, offered on many of the Japanese carmaker's models. 

I don't like any of them, but I have to say Toyota's continuous variable transmissions seem to be performing best in terms of reliability and the way they operate. I particularly enjoy them in manual mode for their ability to emulate a traditional automatic with a torque converter. 

To me, the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-road is one step more engaging because it comes, as standard, with an eight-speed traditional automatic from Toyota subsidiary, Aisin. It is a version of the same transmission we find in Toyota's Camry and many Lexus models of late, and while not the sportiest (in most applications), I would take it any day over a droning CVT. At the moment,

TRD Off-road is the only trim where Toyota's RAV4 is available with a traditional automatic. If only Toyota had given the RAV4 TRD Off-road a bit more power than what it currently has.

The RAV4 TRD Off-road comes with a plethora of standard features 

In true Japanese fashion, Toyota's popular SUV model comes with a wide array of standard features. Among the RAV4 TRD Off-road's available features, I found these are the coolest:  

  • Heated and cooled, Syntex leather seats with TRD logos 
  • Heated steering wheel 
  • Mud mats for when you decide to go Overlanding 
  • Sunroof 
  • Wireless charging 
  • 10.5-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay 
  • Digital rear-view mirror 
  • Four cameras – two side cameras, rear-view, and an optional front one 
  • Multi-terrain mode selector for optimized off-road capabilities 

About the author

Dimitar Angelov's automotive interests made him an expert in a wide variety of vehicles. Japanese brands like Toyota are closest to his heart, although performance cars in general are his favorite segment, which is why he is constantly on the lookout for the best deals on the market. Dimitar Angelov's car passion and knack for the written word led him to complete a Master of Arts in Media and Communications, and classic car restoration. Dim is happy to get behind the wheel of any car and share his impressions. You can follow Dimitar on XLinked-inInstagram, and Facebook.