Rav4 Crossover

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The ’22 RAV4 Hybrid will again use a version of the 2.5-liter engine combined with electric-motor assist for a net 219 horsepower (Toyota doesn’t specific a torque rating). It has a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which performs the role of a conventional automatic transmission but without stepped gear ratios. Mar 29, 2021 Toyota’s hot-selling RAV4 crossover is also one of the best-selling SUVs on the market, and it’s easy to see why. The RAV4 combines a feature-filled interior with cutting-edge safety systems, all wrapped in expressive styling far removed from previous RAV4 designs.

Express your sense of style with a RAV4 Hybrid that fits you best. From a selection of 17- and 18-in. Alloy wheels to an available two-tone roof, extracostcolor there's a RAV4 that will help you stand out. 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. By Chuck Giametta. What changes will make the 2022 Toyota RAV4 different? Little of consequence as Toyota prepares America’s best-selling crossover for a model-year-2023 refresh. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Is a 302-HP Plug-In Hybrid That Changes the Crossover Game The world's best-selling crossover gets even better with a real PHEV powertrain.

© Marc Urbano - Car and Driver To find out just how far your family crossover can go off-road, we head into the wild with a Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road and a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.Rav4 Crossover

From the June 2020 issue of Car and Driver.

Imagine a rugged trail leading to a wind-swept mountaintop. A small crossover pulls up to the summit and its driver steps out and inhales the crisp mountain air. Ah! Now this is why you bought one with all-wheel drive: adventure. Then the director yells, 'Cut!' and everyone climbs into the helicopter that airlifted the ute to this spot. And sure, we all know that's how it got there, but that's okay. Suspension of disbelief allows millions of Americans to buy the cars they really need dressed as the trucks they think they want. Just get in the Kia Sportage and don't harsh my mood board, Chet.

But let's say you wanted—or needed—to make the cosplay real and steer your family crossover into a mud bog, a sand pit, or a pond. Can a faux off-roader's performance remotely match the promise of its attitude? Or will you end up on an unscheduled hike, contemplating man's hubris, the trees disturbed only by the force of your profanity? We grabbed a Toyota RAV4 and decided to find out.

© Marc Urbano - Car and Driver 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD

Now, the RAV4 in question is a TRD Off-Road model. But lest you think this Toyota was made for the desert-racing grounds of Baja, consider that it has no place to attach a tow strap. No tow hooks, not even a screw-in eye hook. So although it does have some TRD-specific equipment—Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail all-terrain tires, TRD-tuned dampers—it seems as if Toyota didn't think this all the way through. Because when you go off-road, you get stuck. That's how you know you're trying.

And where we're going—a vast off-roading park in North Carolina—anything can get stuck. There's thick mud that'll pull the boots off your feet, whooped-up Mint 400 high-speed sections, steep climbs, and sharp break-overs. Ever see a silodrome, one of those circular stunt tracks on vertical walls? Imagine one made out of sand. Back off the throttle and it's like tossing your crossover to the sarlacc from Return of the Jedi.

© Marc Urbano - Car and Driver 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD

My expectations are low. The RAV4 has decent ground clearance—8.6 inches—but no low range or locking differentials. Its all-wheel-drive system, dubbed Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive with Rear Driveline Disconnect, can send a maximum of 50 percent of the engine's torque rearward. That's fine, because that's what a locked center diff would do, but the 'disconnect' part has us concerned. What if it decides to disconnect while we're headlight deep in a pond? Hold that thought.

For a body-on-frame counterpoint, we also brought a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. The Rubicon has live axles, a two-speed transfer case, locking diffs front and rear, and a front anti-roll bar that you can electronically disconnect. Our thinking is, if we have a recovery vehicle like this on hand, perhaps we won't need it. Plus, the Wrangler will be a frame of reference for ultimate off-road badassery. The RAV4 is not expected to hang.

Rav4© Marc Urbano - Car and Driver 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

First up, some light calisthenics: the Baja rhythm section. Let's test those red springs, twin-tube dampers, and TRD bump stops. The undulations vary in both wavelength and amplitude. Drive at maybe 8 mph and you settle into a jaunty bounce, trotting across the ruts. But go a little faster and the suspension starts running out of travel, until the front end is cycling through max droop and full compression as the chin spoiler detonates showers of sand across the front end. Whoa, RAVVY!

Now, I'm not confusing the twee Toyota with a Chevy Colorado ZR2, but it actually handles some wheels-up action with reasonable aplomb once I remove the Styrofoam-encased jack that's crashing around under the rear floor. When I stop to inspect the front end, I expect to see a yard sale of underbody trim in my wake. But everything's fine. Okay, TRD. Respectable. Now let's see how you handle some muddin'.

© Marc Urbano - Car and Driver 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

As a veteran of this brand of off-road idiocy, I understand the value of pre-mudding preparedness. First, I pull on my hip waders. Then I grab my tow strap. I plan to hook it up now, before the plunge, and shut the length of it in the cargo hold until it's needed. That way I won't be fumbling around in the cold black soup searching for the tow hook.

Except there is no tow hook. So I crawl under the Toyota and hook the strap's claw to a hole in the rear subframe and cross my fingers that the Jeep doesn't perform an unscheduled differential-ectomy when I need a tow.

The Wrangler is first into the muck, its torquey turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four spinning those big BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2s and immediately enameling its Hellayella paint with a chocolate candy shell. I observe the lines and the depths, and I figure my tow strap will be getting its first workout momentarily. In the RAV4, I direct stability control to take a break, engage Sport mode, and manually select first gear. The TRD Off-Road has a Mud & Sand mode on its terrain selector, but I've got my own terrain selector: my right foot. If I start to get stuck, I'll select more throttle.

© Marc Urbano - Car and Driver 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD

In mud, as with sand, you want to go aggressive from the start. Momentum is your ally. So it goes for the RAV4, which digs in its Falkens and hounds the Rubicon around the wallow, even playfully hanging out its tail. The TRD Off-Road, like the Adventure and Limited flavors of RAV4, uses clutches in its rear diff for a torque-vectoring effect, and you can feel it working, adding agility in the slop. But enough is enough. It's time to get stuck. So I aim straight for one of the deepest holes and auger in.

The bottom, somewhere under the inky water, drops off sharply on the driver's side. I feel the RAV4 heel over as the underbody drags on the soft earth and the front tire disappears entirely underwater. That's it: I'm mired. If I roll down my window, I could dangle my fingers in the sludge. Guess I'll just have to hope the door seals hold while I crawl out the passenger's side.

But first, let's try reverse. Just to be sure. The TRD's 203-hp 2.5-liter inline-four grumbles and lugs, the tires spinning fruitlessly. But then: movement. The Toyota begins inching backward, slowly at first and then gaining speed as the tires find traction. I'm out. Apparently, the RAV4's backup plan is to back up. All right, unibody Houdini, on to the pond.

© Marc Urbano - Car and Driver 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD

Toyota Rav4 Crossover 2019

Again, the Jeep goes first. Taking a line not far from shore, our enthusiastic Rubicon driver gets a tidy bow wave pulsing out ahead of the bumper. It's deep but managea—oh, there goes the front end. About halfway across, water surges over the Jeep's headlights, sluicing across the hood. This might be a sensible time to grab reverse, but it is flank speed ahead for the good ship JL, which casually paws its way up the opposite bank, cleaner than when it went in. That's one way to save money on a carwash.

There's no way the RAV4 could take that route, but the Jeep did serve as a sounding line, showing me where not to go. So I splash in and start tracing arcs, farther from shore each time. I can't really judge the depth until the parking-distance warning system alerts me of water that's up to the forward-looking camera, just under the Toyota badge on the grille. From the rear, a muted burble confirms that the exhaust is underwater, too. Still, I'm not stuck. But when I circle around for another pass, the TRD can't climb the banking. It feels like the rear end is no longer in the game, an impression confirmed by a gauge-cluster message warning that I've overheated the all-wheel-drive system and we're now rolling front-wheel drive only. Which presents a dilemma, because if I open a door to retrieve the tow strap, I'll be having a very unpleasant conversation regarding flood-damage deductibles. So I wait. If the all-wheel-drive system is overheated, sitting in this frigid bath ought to restore its chill. And within a minute, it does. The TRD ambles out of the drink, unscathed once again.

2021 Rav4 Crossover

© Marc Urbano - Car and Driver 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Rav4 Crossover 2019

What follows is a series of increasingly ill-advised exploits, each one preceded by my confident declaration that this time we're really gonna get impossibly stuck. I pitch the RAV4 up onto a steep break-over that seems to guarantee a high-center scenario, but it just drags its belly and keeps going. I drop into the sarlacc pit and the RAV4's rear end slides down toward certain doom. But I punch the throttle and the little Toyota that could crabs back up onto the wall, where torque-vectoring theatrics hold harm at bay. On a wide trail, I ignore a bypass through the trees and ford another menacing water hazard, tailing the Wrangler.

Rav4 Hybrid Crossover

This, I didn't expect. I figured most of the RAV4's day would be spent on the end of a strap, the Jeep disabusing the Toyota of its off-road delusions one obstacle at a time. Instead, the RAV4 proved that it can actually survive some seriously dumb off-pavement exploits. Sure, all-terrain tires help a ton—we would not expect a lower trim's highway-focused rubber to provide the necessary traction for my antics. Nevertheless, this thing is legit. Yeah, I could've gotten stuck if I had followed the Jeep into the deepest slop, and I would have destroyed the vehicle in the process. In this case, it turns out the crossover off-road fantasy is pretty real.

2019 Toyota Rav4 Crossover

On the way home, I pull into an automatic carwash, the Wrangler right behind me. As I'm choosing a wash, the attendant rushes out. 'You can't go through here!' he yells. 'This thing's too muddy. You'll break the carwash. You have to find a place with pressure washers that can handle 4x4s.' I steer into the exit lane leading to the parking lot, annoyed but also kind of proud. Yep. Gotta find a place that can handle 4x4s.