At its conception in the early ’90s, the Toyota RAV4 was created to be a vehicle that mixes the light off-road capabilities with on-road comfort. The name actually means “Recreational Active Vehicle with 4WD”. Some may have argued that it strayed from those roots a bit in recent years. However, there’s no denying it’s reconnected with its intended purpose in the newest iteration, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road.
Honestly, I blame Kanye for any previous qualms I may have had with the RAV4. It’s always done its job and done it well. As a reliable, efficient, and capable vehicle designed to get you where you’re going in comfort, you won’t find a problem with the previous generations. What you may have missed in some of those older releases was that feeling of purpose. The soul of the vehicle went soft. I don’t think anybody would deny that. It had settled into its easy suburban role as a crossover SUV that will get you from A to B. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it never felt quite right either.
The RAV4 Returns
The powers that be at Toyota have made it right, though. The reworking of the RAV4 has been pretty spot on in the 5th and freshest generation of the SUV. Even the standard base model has seen vast improvements. But the TRD Off-Road edition was just the overhaul this vehicle needed. Right away, it looks great. Matte black six-spoke 18” TRD wheels wrapped in Falken AT tires make it a tougher vibe than the other models. A more aggressive front grille pairs well with black-trimmed LED fog and headlights. An edgier look to the exterior is completed with black badges and package specific body panels.
The RAV4 TRD Off-Road isn’t just a cool outfit on the same old ride, though. It’s a whole new feel behind the wheel too. A capable 2.5-Liter 4 cylinder DOHC engine provides economic performance or on-demand power. The SUV is equipped with three selectable modes. An 8-speed automatic transmission with Dynamic torque Vectoring puts the appropriate power to the All-Wheel Drive system. Flawlessly utilizing the AWD Integrated Management (AIM) in the process. The push of a button puts you in the best configuration for whatever sketchy terrain you’ve put yourself in with settings for MUD & SAND, ROCK & DIRT, SNOW, and NORMAL modes. There’s even a downhill assist setting.
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road
The interior is comfortable and geared for the long haul. Power adjustable front heated and vented seats are wrapped in SofTex and take the multi-zone climate control to the next level. The JBL highs, mid, and Subwoofer bring the audio to life from the 8” touch screen display with Bluetooth streaming. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make staying in control and connected a breeze. Toyota Safety Sense has many features designed to provide that extra level of protection from the things we just can’t predict either.
It’s safe to say the new 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road was a well-executed return to it’s more adventurous roots while maintaining the everyday drivability the crossover SUV has made a name for themselves with. The improvements were made with a clear intention, and they hit the mark on every angle. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 was as at home in the woods as it was running to Target jamming to some Kanye on CarPlay.
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