Toyota’s RAV4 is the best-selling compact SUV in the world. And now in its 5th generation, the RAV is available in several versions from on road, off-road, hybrid and plug-in.
It’s also offered in LE, XLE Premium, XSE, Limited, Adventure and TRD Off-Road trim levels, the latter of which we tested.
The 2022 RAV4 TRD Off-Road differs from the some of the other versions as it has a slightly higher ground clearance of 8.6 inches, sports a front skid plate for approach/departure angles of 19/21 degrees respectively, is equipped with an off-road-type suspension, it comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels that are shod with 18-inch, eight-inch wide, all-terrain Falken tires, and much more.
RAV4’s TRD Off-Road (OR) exterior takes on an aggressive look with sculpted lines and cladding around each wheel well, plus sporty dual exhaust tips.
RAV OR’s interior is equally as stylish while maintaining a rugged theme with red stitching on all seam edges and red trim around the cup holders and wireless phone charger. We especially liked the large interior door handles. Best on the market.
An 8-inch dual touchscreen sits midway down on the dash that takes on an iPad look serving the usual compliment of audio, climate selections, apps, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi connectivity, rearview camera with overhead, close-up and revolving views around the vehicle - to mention a few.
Substantial HVAC controls are easy to view and use and below them is the wireless phone charger along with the robust transmission gear selector for RAVs 8-speed automatic trans. It’s augmented with paddle shifters. Our only complaint here is that the interior fan speed could be faster at its highest setting.
At the base of the vertical stack and console top are the driving mode switches offering Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow. As those are push button switches, off-road modes of Mud/Sand, Rock/Dirt are selected by a rotary switch. It’s a nice, logical arrangement for ease of operation that takes the guesswork out of the appropriate mode to use. Back in the old days we only had a choice of 2High, 4High and 4Low gearing.
The gauge cluster is both digital and analog type that includes a driver information display for functions, features, modes and alerts.
RAV’s heated front seats are nicely padded and supportive to soften jarring off-road jaunts. Ditto for the rear seats that have a low 19-inch step-in with decent leg room and ample headroom. And they can actually seat three abreast as the transaxle hump is low and flat.
Back in the cargo area, that has a low 27-inch lift over, and with the rear seatbacks upright, there’s 37.5 cubic feet of space that measures 39 inches deep, 44 wide and 32 high. Flip the seatbacks and space expands to 69.8 cubic feet for 69 inches of cargo loading depth. And beneath the cargo floor is a space saver tire around which some small items can be stowed out of sight.
Power wise, the OR gets its grunt from a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder that generates an impressive 203-hp and 184 lb/ft of torque that when coupled to the 8-speed trans, receives EPA mileage estimates of 25 city, 32-highway mpg. There’s certainly no want for power as the 2.5-liter offers good acceleration from a standing stop to highway passing maneuvers. The engine is a bit noisy under heavy throttle, but it doesn’t strain.
So powered, and with OR’s AWD system, the RAV garners a maximum tow capacity of 3,500 pounds and a GVWR of 4,705 pounds that includes the Adventure model as well. Other RAVs are tow rated for 1,500 pounds.
Ride wise, RAV4 OD’s off-road suspension is somewhat stiffer as compared to other RAV models. But it’s to be expected for an off-road capable vehicle that remains planted in sharp turns with its 3,655 pounds curb weight.
Most impressive are RAV4’s government five-star safety ratings. The RAV earned a full five overall stars, four for driver frontal crash, five for passenger; five stars for front/rear seat side crash; and four for rollover.
RAV’s come with a 3 year/36K comprehensive warranty, 5/60K powertrain, 5/Unlimited corrosion protection and new car buyers receive ToyotaCare complimentary maintenance plan.
Above all, there’s Toyota’s great reputation for reliability. If I had to buy another SUV, the RAV4 would be a major consideration.