Off-Roading

2020 Toyota RAV4 fills in the gaps, remains a formidable choice for families

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

It's not uncommon for automakers to introduce a new generation of a vehicle one year and then make zero changes to it the next. That's basically where we are the 2020 Toyota RAV4, not that there's anything wrong with that.

The 2019 RAV4 was a well-executed package when it debuted. The generational difference between the current RAV4 and the previous is transformational for the RAV4 customer. The RAV4 was improved in almost every way.

There were two main areas that the RAV4 appeared to be a miss - tech and blacked out fascia elements. Toyota has remedied that in the 2020 RAV4. Now, the RAV4 comes standard with Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration were already standard. The RAV4 LE and XLE trims get standard satellite radio.

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

There's also a new trim level, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road. The grade has more than just appearance enhancements. It truly earns its TRD Off-Road badging.

The RAV4 TRD Off-Road builds off the RAV4 Adventure grade. It has 8.6 inches of ground clearance and a suspension, wheels, and tires that have been engineered for rugged trail driving (read: not true off-roading). The equipment on the vehicle was inspired by Ryan Millen's Rally RAV4.

The SUV comes with more rigid flow-formed 18x7 matte-black TRD alloy wheels with Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail all-terrain tires. The tread pattern on and compound of the tires meets TRD technical requirements and have strong shoulders to help protect against punctures.

There are re-valved twin-tube shocks with internal rebound springs. These help absorb the jostle of the trail and pass on a smooth-is ride to passengers.

The model comes standard with dynamic torque-vectoring all-wheel drive with driveline disconnect. This technology helps the RAV4 put the right amount of power to the right wheel depending on the terrain so that the SUV does not get stuck. However, the technology doesn't guarantee that the RAV4 TRD Off-Road won't get stuck.

There are several drive modes owners can choose including Mud & Sand for beach driving, Rock & Dirt for trails, and Snow for wintery conditions.

The RAV4 TRD Off-Road can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

Toyota has equipped the model with standard hill start assist, trail sway control, downhill assist control, and a driver's information screen that shows off the torque allocation by wheel as well as slip control data.

The SUV is available in an exclusive two-tone Magnetic Gray Metallic with Ice Edge Roof color combination but other color combinations are available. At the front and rear there are dark gray fascias. LED fog lights are standard.

In its cabin, the model features red stitching and trim accents. Black SofTex covers the seats and the headrests have the TRD logo stitched in them.

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road starts at $35,180.

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Buying guide

How to buy a modified car: Three tips

This is a clean modified truck, but they don't all end up this way.

Bring a Trailer

Modified cars are a mixed bag. Sometimes, they're incredibly well built and better than the original, but too many times they're only partially finished or end up being rushed as their owners get late-project anxiety. Whatever the case, buying a modified car can be a stressful process if you haven't done your homework ahead of time. The good news is that you can get a good deal on a reasonably well sorted project or modified car, but you'll need to be careful. Looking at used Lexus LXs earlier today, it became clear that there are as many modified vehicles for sale as there are clean examples.

This LX got me thinking about the breakdown between buying a rig and building one. The modifications made by this Lexus' seller are almost exactly what I would do if I were building a light overlanding rig. What could go wrong? I'm still on the fence about the Lexus, but the three topics below will help you make the right decision on buying a modified car.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Even if the mods are well done, you'll want to have the vehicle inspected before you buy.Bring a Trailer

Understand your personal taste

I mentioned the LX470 and how the owner's updates were pretty close to what I'd do with the truck. That's an exception to the rule, because 90 percent of the time I walking away from a sales listing because of modifications, rather than the other way around. If you're hoping to find a tastefully modified car that matches your exact tastes, you could be waiting a while. If you're hoping to sell a modified car, the same is true in reverse. Finding a buyer for your extremely personalized project car may not be the easiest thing you've ever done.

2004 Lexus LX 470 It's a good idea to seek out vehicles in solid shape, regardless of mods.Bring a Trailer

Be aware of condition and quality

This Lexus looks to be well maintained and in good shape. It also doesn't hurt that the LX is one of the most reliable vehicles built by one of the world's most quality-conscious automakers. Even so, it's hard to know what you're getting with this, or any other, modified vehicle. There's a little rust in this image, but the lift kit, wheels, and bumper mods all look good. However, even if the truck looked brand-new, you'd want to get a pre-purchase inspection. An independent mechanic can tell you if there are potential issues that are unrelated to mods, and you'll want to be sure that any modifications are installed properly.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Some mods are more useful than others.Bring a Trailer

Keep an eye on the price

Most people are reasonable when it comes to selling their modified cars, but there are hundreds of "I know what I got" memes on the internet for a reason. Some sellers want to recover every penny of the money they spent customizing their cars. They're convinced that the mods drastically increased the car's value and can't understand why the customized car isn't as attractive to you as it is to them. Tread lightly and be careful not to insult the owner, but it's your job to work toward a reasonable, fair price.

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New AWD performance car

The Subaru WRX is all-new for 2022

The new WRX's body cladding is already stirring up controversy.

Subaru

The Subaru WRX is a rally-bred performance car that offers a unique mix of rowdy all-wheel drive fun, a value price, and youthful styling. The car is long overdue for an update, though, and Subaru is doing just that for the 2022 model year. The fifth-generation WRX is all-new, and features a more powerful engine, along with several go-fast upgrades.

2022 Subaru WRX Both a manual and an automatic transmission will be offered.Subaru

A new GT trim joins the WRX lineup for 2022. It features a new automatic transmission, adaptive dampers, and drive mode selections. With various customization options available to the driver, the system offers up to 430 different settings combinations. The GT's interior adds Recaro seats wrapped in Ultrasuede with red stitching. The GT also gets exclusive 18-inch wheels.

Though still a Boxer engine, the 2022 WRX's powerplant is new and more powerful than before. It delivers 271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, as well as a broader torque curve. Subaru says that the larger engine plus an electronically controlled turbo wastegate and air bypass valves improve responsiveness and acceleration.

2022 Subaru WRX A larger 11.6-inch infotainment screen is on board. Subaru

All WRX models come with Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel drive system and active torque vectoring, which can shift power to individual wheels that need the most traction. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but a new Subaru Performance Transmission is available, which features faster shifts and other features to improve performance.

The 2022 WRX also gets a tech upgrade that brings a large 11.6-inch tablet-style touchscreen. It runs Subaru Starlink infotainment, handles HVAC and vehicle controls, and offers split-screen functionality for two apps to run simultaneously. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is Bluetooth, SiriusXM radio, and HD radio. An upgraded version of the system also offers navigation with three years of free map updates.

2022 Subaru WRX Subaru will offer a new GT trim with upgraded suspension and finishes.Subaru

As it has done with many of its other vehicles, Subaru is equipping every WRX with its EyeSight suite of advanced driver aids. The packge includes lane departure prevention, adaptive cruise control with lane centering, and more. A new available automatic emergency steering system works with the car's pre-collision braking feature to help avoid collisions at speeds under 50 mph.

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