A Toyota RAV4 that may be used as an overland off road rig.

Toyota RAV4 Overland?

The Toyota RAV 4 has been a very popular mid-size SUV in this country. As such, there are a number of devote owners and a large amount of used vehicles on the market. Given the reputation that Toyota has for dependability, it is no wonder that many people are starting to look to it as a possible overland build. But is the RAV4 up to the task. Let’s take a look.

Overlanding means different things to different people. While you might think that you have to build a hardcore off road capable rig, the truth is quite different. For the vast majority of people, a vehicle that allows them to travel is all that they need and the craziest terrain they will conquer is a gravel parking lot. That is okay because overlanding is really more about traveling than tearing up the countryside.

Given the way that most people overland, it is perfectly reasonable to consider the Toyota RAV4. Let’s take a look at how the RAV4 stacks up in various categories.

Purchase Price

If you already own a RAV4, great.

For those of you looking to buy and build, cost should be a major deciding factor. After all, the more expensive a vehicle is, the less you have to spend on gear and the less likely you will be to want to modify it. It is just so much easier to tear up a cheap rig.

Prices will vary from area to area, but in my neck of the woods, the average price of a RAV4 comes in at around $25,000. For that price, you get a 5 year old vehicle with roughly 50,000 miles and AWD. This price puts it at the upper end of used mid-size SUV’s, but you have to consider the reputation of Toyota. You are going to pay for reliability even if it is only perceived.

Storage Space

As you know, storage is critical with an overland vehicle, so let’s see where the Toyota RAV4 stacks up. Assuming that you want to keep the rear seats in use, you get slightly under 40 cubic square feet of storage space. With the rear seats down, that space moves up to close to 70 cubic feet.

While this number will not blow anyone away, you can supplement storage with a roof rack.

Fuel Economy

When we think about overlanding, we picture running some trails or setting up a campsite, but the truth is that most of your miles will be on the highway. If you want to stay on budget and keep yourself from wasting all of your time fueling up, you need to consider fuel economy.

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This is an area where the RAV4 shines as an overland build. Getting an average of 22 MPG city and 29 MPG highway, you should be able to squeeze out a good average of around 25MPG, even if you opt to put a roof rack up top.

Four Wheel Drive

The ability to drop it into four low is great but overrated. In truth, for the average user, all wheel drive will do just fine. You could even get by without it, if you already have a RAV4 equipped with front wheel drive. If that is the case, do not sweat it, your rig will be just fine for most overland activities.

If you are in the market for a “new to you” Toyota RAV4 however, it would be best to splurge on the all wheel drive system for a little more off road capability. The AWD system was available on all models of the RAV4, so finding one so equipped should not be a difficult task.

Aftermarket Availability

The ability to tap the aftermarket for overland and off road specific parts is nothing to skip over. Not having to go full custom will save you money and give you a lot more options in how you build your rig.

This is an area where Toyota in general shines. There is a huge aftermarket because the vehicles are very popular. The RAV4 will not let you down in this regard. There are a number of aftermarket parts available, including lift kits to give you a little more off road prowess.

To Wrap It Up

Depending on the kind of overlanding you do, just about any vehicle could become a candidate. That being said, the RAV4 is a good choice, especially if you already own one. With decent storage, terrific mileage ratings, aftermarket support and the availability of all wheel drive, it could most certainly be a capable off road or overland vehicle. The only concern would be the high purchase price for those looking to buy a used vehicle for their project. For the entry price of $25,000, there may be better options.

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James is a computer generated character. A fictitious dad of three, he enjoys camping in the great outdoors and the idea of off roading.

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