• The Rav4 is one of Toyota's biggest success stories.
• A new off-road package is scheduled to debut in Toyota's domestic market for the Rav4.
• The kit sees a retuned suspension and increased ground clearance.
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Toyota is not short on SUV success stories, and the Rav4 is one of them. Effectively a Camry/Corolla platform SUV, it has brought Toyota durability to family car customers who require more ground clearance and gravel travel ability.
Hardened off-road explorers will admit that the Rav4, with appropriate tyres, is a great deal more capable than most people could ever imagine. Toyota might be cautious of triggering too much adventure driving enthusiasm amongst its Rav4 customers, but the vehicle's fundamental engineering integrity can certainly handle a lot more than expected.
Tougher looking – with reason
The global trend with compact SUVs that do not have low-range gearing is for manufacturing to add some styling and protective body cladding. This is an attempt to project 4x4 attributes that might not always be applicable.
Unlike many other brands that market an array of SUVs, Toyota's 4x4 and adventure vehicle heritage is real. The Land Cruiser and Fortuner model ranges are regarded as unrivalled off-road touring vehicles, and some trace of that engineering philosophy also applies to Rav4.
Despite the Rav4 lacking a low-range transfer case, many of these Toyota SUVs find their way into Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia, as adventurous owners explore South Africa's bordering countries. This often results in Rav4s travelling on routes that would never have been considered appropriate for their factory specification tyres.
But what if Toyota sold you an upgrade kit, that would make your Rav4 a more comprehensive expedition vehicle?
Do you think the off-road kit for the Toyota Rav4 should be made available in South Africa? Please email us your thoughts here.
A Rav4 for exploring more than gravel roads
An indication that product planners at Japan's largest automaker are now reimagining the Rav4 user experience is a new off-road package scheduled to debut in Toyota's domestic market.
Current Rav4 owners will not notice much difference with regards to this new off-road package's appearance, but the details are significant. Pay attention to the wheels, and you might notice that Toyota's new Rav4 off-road package, gives the SUV a much more purposeful stance.
Protected fender cladding aside, those matte black 18-inch alloy wheels rolling in the wheel arches are shod with all-terrain tyres. In a world where most SUVs owners have become accustomed to mild tread patterns that produce minimal road noise and have low rolling resistance, Toyota's has chosen very aggressive Falkens for its Rav4 off-road package.
The all-terrain tyres have a tougher sidewall and larger tread blocks than what you would ordinarily find on a Rav4. Road noise is sure to increase with the bolder tread pattern, and those reinforced sidewalls might debit the Rav4's ride quality a touch too, but the traction gains over sand, mud or loose rocky terrain are well worth it.
Beyond the right off-road tyres, Toyota has also reconfigured the Rav4's suspension. It is understood that 10mm of additional ground clearance has been found with this off-road package Rav4 set-up, allowing for 205mm of total underbody clearance and smoother damper and spring responses, when rolling over rough terrain.
If you require some perspective on how much of a difference that might make off-road, Toyota's current Fortuner classifies at 225mm of ground clearance. With the Rav4's shorter wheelbase any gain in overall clearance is significant and 10mm, with grippier tyres, will most definitely enable Toyota's off-road package equipped Rav4 to follow most Fortuner convoys.