2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road gives compact SUV a rally makeover

The Toyota Racing Development team continues to have its way with the automaker's SUVs, and now it's the turn of the new 2020 RAV4 to get the rally-inspired treatment. The 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road takes the fifth-gen compact SUV and gives it an even more rugged makeover, as previewed at the Chicago Auto Show 2019 this week.

It's the first time the RAV4 has been given the TRD service, with the SUV joining vehicles like the Sequoia and Tacoma. What's important is that this isn't some design package, changing the 2020 RAV4's looks but leaving the mechanics unmodified.

So, the Toyota Racing Development team started with the new RAV4 Adventure trim, and then changes up the suspension, wheels, and tires. The goal was to make a trail driving monster, the automaker says. That means TRD 18-inch Flow-Formed matte black aluminum wheels, shod in Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail All-Terrain Tires.

The 2.5-liter Dynamic Force engine is the same, its four-cylinders delivering 203 horsepower. It's still paired with an 8-speed Direct Shift Automatic Transmission, too, and has three drive modes; Sport, Normal, and Eco. It's rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds.

However, there's now Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive as standard. That can push up to 50-percent of the SUV's torque to the rear wheels, whereupon it can then be direct left or right according to which has the most traction. There are multiple off-road drive modes, too, using the Multi-Terrain Select system: Mud & Sand; Rock & Dirt; and Snow.

Torque distribution is shown in the multi-information display on the dashboard, as is slip control data. Hill Start Assist Control, Trailer Sway Control, and Downhill Assist Control are all standard. At the opposite extreme, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road can also disconnect the rear wheels from the driveline altogether, to save on gas.

Outside, TRD throws on high-rise roof rails, larger over-fenders, and new aggressive bumpers. There are also new grilles and new fog light surrounds. The Rally RAV4 inspires the off-road suspension tuning, with new red coil springs tweaked for off-road use. Twin-tube shocks get new valves, along with new internal rebound springs for more rebound control. Updated bump stops improve how the SUV handles large bumps and dips.

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On the inside, meanwhile, there's red accent stitching and trim elements, while the seats get SofTex for more durability than normal leather. There are TRD logos stitched into the headrests, along with TRD all-weather floor mats and a matching rear cargo mat. Toyota Safety Sense TSS 2.0 – with pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with lane departure alerts and steering assist, lane tracing assist, road sign assist, and automatic high beams, is standard, as are blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alerts, and rear cross traffic braking.

Toyota will offer the 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road in two-tone Magnetic Gray Metallic paired with an Ice Edge Roof, which will be exclusive to the model. Midnight Black, Lunar Rock, Ruby Flare Pearl, and Super White will also be offered. Pricing will be confirmed closer to availability later in the year.