With the 2019 model year, there is an all-new RAV4 in Toyota’s workshop, with a new look, new interior and even more safety features than ever from Toyota. So it just makes sense that new to the 2020 line up would be a TRD enhanced off-road version of this best-selling Ute.

Every time we have a week with a Toyota TRD enriched vehicle, we are nothing if not extremely impressed by what this team can come up with.

This time out, again, the new RAV4 did just that, as we had the opportunity to take it off-roading on a trip through southwest Utah County. Sometimes, we just head out and see where our adventure will take us, and this time it was down to the southern extremes of the county.

As we headed out through Santaquin and west through Genoa and the even smaller town of Elberta, we took a hard left on 12800 West and headed toward the mountains! Not long thereafter, the road turned to dirt and we were able to continue off-road for an over 75-mile round trip as we tested out the TRD extras on the RAV4.

With the addition of a new off-road suspension system that has been inspired by the Rally RAV4 Race Team, the small SUV handled very well for the entire drive. Even as we approached speeds of up to 45 mph on the dirt, we never felt out of control in any way, even on the curves.

As the road climbed into the mountains and more and more ruts appeared from a long winter, we were still able to navigate through the uneven terrain with ease. The standard Dynamic Torque Vectoring on the all-wheel drive system was a huge help.

The RAV4 has become the best-selling vehicle in the Toyota line, even with the top trim Limited starting at just $36,880 — really a bargain considering all the other accoutrements that are included. After our week with the newest TRD, it was more and more evident why the small “Ute” is a top choice not only at Toyota but among all mid-sized SUVs.

Having owned a mid-sized SUV for the past six years, we were very impressed with the new RAV4, especially liking the transmission where there were actual gears and not a continuously variable transmission (CVT). This was connected to a very nice 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces a respectable 203 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque.

We found having over 200 ponies in the mid-sized SUV to be a great addition, as ours normal daily driver came in at only 170. This extra punch was very noticeable and enjoyable. On top of that, the best news is that we averaged 28 mpg for the week, which included around 350 miles along with our jaunt into the mountains.

Starting with the new 2019 version, the RAV4 comes with an awesome design both inside and out. With the new exterior design, the new small “Ute” has taken on a much more aggressive look, getting its inspiration from the tried and true look Toyota has given to the Tundra and Tacoma.

During our week with the RAV4, we had people asking every day what kind of new SUV it was, a testament to the designers and the look they have chosen. To us, we liked the more aggressive look, as it made us feel younger and perhaps more recognizable in the SUV.

It almost seems to have an angry face that implies the RAV4 wants to get going on the next adventure its owners have in mind, not wanting to stay parked in the drive. One of the best parts of the drive was how easy and maneuverable the SUV was. Getting into a tight parking spot was never an issue.

Inside, the designers just kept the good stuff coming with an all-new dashboard and high definition upgraded 8-inch touchscreen surrounded by sleek high-polished piano black trim adding a very upscale look and feel. The dashboard was covered in SofTex with a beautiful red stitching that continued through the seats and an embroidered TRD logo in the front seat headrests.

Of course, keyless entry was the norm in the RAV4 along with pushbutton start and a fabulous JBL 11-speaker system that kept our music sounding fantastic.

Integrating our phones and using the Toyota Entune 3.0 app was a breeze, allowing us to make calls, text and get navigation through the use of Apple CarPlay. Making a call or getting directions was as simple as pressing the voice activation button and telling Siri exactly what we wanted.

Our test ride was also upgraded with a navigation system that would predict traffic and find us a new place to eat or even the cheapest place to refuel.

As the RAV4 has developed over the years, it has quite literally grown up and is now roomier than ever, providing 35.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and over 70 cubes with the seats folded down. Speaking of the rear seats, they will recline up to 24 degrees, giving those in the rear as much comfort as possible.

On the safety side, the SUV comes with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 standard that combines a pre-collision system with a pedestrian detection program, along with lane departure alert and steering assist that will help keep the vehicle in its lane. Automatic high beam headlights, dynamic radar cruise control and lane tracing assist are also part of this package.

These are all great additions, and ones that usually are an added cost to any vehicle. We applaud Toyota for making them available on almost all of its line. A backup camera and hill start assist also come as standard features, with blind spot monitoring being an addition — one that we would always recommend along with updated rain sensing wipers.

The new TRD off-road version of the RAV4 would be a great addition to anyone’s household — athletic, strong, and stylish, along with being a joy to drive. It all adds up to one great SUV!

Base price: $35,280

Price as driven: $42,902

Craig and Deanne Conover have been test-driving vehicles for over eight years and have had the opportunity to drive many makes and models. They receive a new car each week for a weeklong test drive and adventure. They both love having the unique opportunity of trying out new cars. They reside in Springville, Utah.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!