Should You Take the 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road Off Road?

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road has the off-road chops to hit the open trail, but it’s not quite ready to blaze any new ones.
Written by R.E. Fulton
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The 2021
Toyota TRD Off Road
takes Toyota’s best SUV and outfits it for the trail. It fits the bill for casual off-road adventurers, but anyone looking for a serious trail warrior should look elsewhere
A good off-road vehicle is a passport to adventure. When you’re able to leave paved roads behind, the world opens up—but which vehicles are true off-road champions and which just look like they’re ready for the trail? 
We're here to break down the off-road specs of the 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road. We’ll look at the key factors, like ground clearance and torque, that go into making a true off-road vehicle, and we’ll also consider some alternatives you should consider if you’re thinking of buying this SUV. 

Can the 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road go off road?

Yes—if the name wasn’t a dead giveaway, we’ve got the confirmation for you right here. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road won’t be a serious enthusiast’s first choice, but it’s got decent off-road chops at a much more affordable price point than most hardcore off-road vehicles. 
Starting at $37,295, the 2021 RAV4 TRD Off Road combines the sturdy base of the
RAV4
crossover with the rugged aesthetics with a well-tuned suspension designed to soak up bumps on uneven terrain. 
What else makes the 2021 RAV4 TRD Off Road a good for your trail-chasing adventures? Let’s take a closer look at some of the key specs. 

Ground clearance

When it comes to off-roading, ground clearance is one of the most important numbers to keep your eye on. The 2021 RAV4 TRD Off Road’s minimum ground clearance is 8.6 inches, making it a passable off-road vehicle. 
Ideally, you’d want to see a ground clearance number between 8.8 and 10.8 inches for ideal off-roading ability. The higher your vehicle’s minimum clearance, the freer you are to tackle a range of terrains without worrying about damaging the car’s undercarriage. Compare the 2021
Jeep Wrangler’s
9.7 inches of minimum clearance, and it’s clear the RAV4 is a step behind its competition—but it’s still capable of tackling the trail. 

Torque

The best off-road vehicles pack a big punch with low-end torque—that is, high amounts of torque at lower rpm. Because turning power matters more than speed when you’re off road, low-end torque is key to an ideal on-trail experience. 
The 2021 RAV4 TRD Off Road’s 2.5-liter inline-four engine gets a maximum torque of 184 @ 5000 RPM. That’s not a lot of power, and you won’t be able to access it all at a lower rpm, making it less than ideal for more intense types of off-roading. 

Tires

Here’s where the 2021 RAV4 TRD Off Road shines: a sturdy set of Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail 01A tires. If that meant nothing to you, here’s what you need to know. 
All-terrain tires
, or A/T tires, are designed for drivers who want to mix off-roading with everyday driving on paved highways and roads. They won’t last as long as standard all-season tires—increasing the cost of ownership for this RAV4—but a more open, aggressive tread pattern offers better traction that will keep you steady on the road. 

Drivetrain

All-wheel drive is a must for off-roading, and it’s standard on the 2021 RAV4 TRD Off Road. Most of the RAV4’s trims come with front-wheel drive, which isn’t ideal for trail driving, but the Adventure and TRD Off Road trims keep it real with standard four-wheel drive. 

Angles

Off-roading is all about angles: specifically, the approach angle and departure angle: 
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
Here’s another place where the 2021 RAV4 TRD Off Road reveals its highway-based foundations, with approach and departure angles of 19 and 21 degrees respectively. That’s enough to handle some gentle rises and dips, but it won’t stand up to serious rock crawling. 

Off-road rating: Rough and ready

We’ve rated the 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road using
Jerry’s
super-technical DIRT rating system, broken down in the table below:
Rating
Meaning
Description
D
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
I
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
R
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
T
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
The 2021 RAV4 TRD Off Road earns an R rating: though its name suggests that it’s built for off-roading, it’s better seen as the trail-ready version of a crossover built for paved roads. You’ll be fine on most dirt roads and fairly level trails, but if you’re looking for a dedicated off-roading vehicle, look elsewhere
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The best off-road alternatives to the 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road

If you’re looking for a fantastic crossover with a little more confidence off the beaten path, the 2021 RAV4 TRD Off Road is exactly what you need. But for some drivers, this capable little SUV won’t cut it. Maybe you’re not prepared to pay the $37,295 starting price, or maybe you’re just looking for something with a little more guts when it comes to rough terrain and undiscovered country. 
Here are the best alternatives to the 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road—no matter what your priorities are.
Alternative
Model
Price
Description
Best affordable alternative
2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness
$34,695
The 2022 Forester Wilderness sits higher than the RAV4, offers better low-end torque, and—best of all—comes in at a starting price that’s $3,000 cheaper.
Best eco-friendly alternative
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe
$57,660
This burly hybrid won’t come cheap, and its low ground clearance makes it less than ideal for serious off-roading, but if you’re looking for an SUV that can get you out in nature without killing the planet, it’s a great choice.
Best alternative for serious off-roading
2021 Ford Bronco Wildtrak
$48,475
Four-wheel drive, an intercooled turbo V6 engine, and approach and departure angles of 43.2 and 37 degrees, respectively, make this super-rugged version of the reborn Bronco your ideal trail chariot.
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How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

One major drawback of owning an off-road capable vehicle is that they’re often more expensive—both to buy and to insure. Off-roading poses a higher risk to your vehicle, even if you’ve got the best specs and the coolest mods, so insurance companies will charge you a higher rate. 
What’s the solution? Shopping with
Jerry
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By shopping with Jerry, users save an average of $800+ per year on car insurance. Those savings could go towards some savage off-road mods like a lifted suspension, or you could save up for the off-road vehicle of your dreams! 
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