Toyota added the TRD Off-Road trim to the RAV4 lineup in 2019, giving this down-to-earth family crossover a chance to get a little closer to earth with a host of dirt-friendly upgrades. The hybrid didn’t receive the same treatment, but the 2023 RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition attempts to bridge that familial gap, though it falls short in a few key areas.
Before you start dreaming of tackling Moab on your way to Meijer, it’s worth noting that the Woodland Edition isn’t a pixel-perfect adaptation of the TRD Off-Road. You don’t get the TRD’s extra half-inch of ground clearance, nor do you get its specific all-wheel-drive system, since all hybrid RAV4s drive their rear axles through a single 54-hp electric motor with no mechanical connection to the engine.
What you do get in the Woodland Edition is a melting pot of form and function. The TRD Off-Road borrows its 18-inch bronze alloy wheels wrapped in 225/60R-18 Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail 01A all-terrain tires. The Woodland Edition also borrows the TRD’s springs, dampers and bump stops. Otherwise, this RAV4 gets some mild aesthetic tweaks, including a roof rack and mud flaps, as well as a 120-volt outlet in the trunk.
Fuel economy hit
The RAV4 Woodland Edition unfortunately takes a hit on its fuel economy, which poses an existential threat because it undermines a big reason to buy a hybrid in the first place. But if you want to decorate your hybrid with roof racks and tires with higher rolling resistance, a sacrifice has to be made. In our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, the Woodland’s 32-mpg result was a full 5 mpg below that of the last RAV4 hybrid we tested and 3 mpg below its EPA estimate, which is specific to the Woodland.
All terrain tires can provide additional grip on loose surfaces, but they are generally not as strong on pavement. On our 300-foot skidpad, the RAV4 Woodland Edition managed 0.78 g, less than the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid Limited’s grippier 0.81 g.
Braking and acceleration tell a slightly happier tale. It took the Woodland Edition just 179 feet to stop from 70 mph, beating the standard hybrid by three feet. Sprints end in a dead heat, with both variants needing 7.3 seconds to reach 60 mph and 15.6 seconds to pass the quarter-mile mark. No matter which RAV4 hybrid trim you choose, the powertrain remains the same, pairing a 2.5-liter inline-four with three electric motors—including the aforementioned one that motivates the rear wheels on its own, and only when additional traction is necessary. The system combines for a total of 219 horsepower.
Another high water mark comes by way of interior noise. You might think that the Falken Wildpeaks would add demonstrable noise, but no — at 68 decibels at a 70 mph cruise speed, the Woodland Edition is actually 1 decibel quieter than the RAV4 Hybrid Limited. In more subjective experiences, you will be hard pressed to find a difference. The planetary gearbox that mixes the electric and gas drives and mimics a continuously variable automatic transmission does a good job of picking out the efficient segments of the rev range without adding any drone. This is good because the engine note is not pleasant at any speed.
Toyota claims that the Woodland’s TRD-specific suspension components are tuned to soften bumps and drops of all shapes and sizes, and it proved true in our experience. Southeast Michigan’s roads feel like glorified dirt tracks most of the time, and the RAV4 Woodland sailed over them with confidence, providing competent cushioning without feeling lethargic.
If your idea of adventure includes hauling things out in the middle of nowhere, a gas-powered RAV4 might suit you. An unchanged powertrain means the Woodland Edition carries the same 1750-pound tow rating as the other hybrids, while the TRD Off-Road and Adventure trims can handle double the rear mass.
On the plus side, no amount of beefcake death adderery can mess with the outright practicality baked into the RAV4. Visibility is good, and all three mirrors are twice as large as they should be. The dashboard storage bin on the passenger side is a nice touch, and there’s plenty of room to toss tchotchkes under the center armrest and in the tray in front of the gear lever. In the rear, the cargo area can handle 10 carry-on bags behind the second row or 22 with the rear seats folded down.
Looking for some songs? Rejoice in the fact that Toyota has sent its old Entune infotainment software to the shadow lands. In its place is the same upgraded setup you’ll find in other new Toyota models, and it’s a big improvement. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the 8.0-inch touchscreen, and Google-based navigation is available. A 10.5-inch touchscreen is available on higher trims, but not on the Woodland.
You know what else isn’t available on this off-road oriented model? Heated seats. In fact, the option package on the RAV4 Woodland Edition is downright confusing. Less expensive than the $34,860 Woodland, the SE can be optioned with packages that add heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, a power liftgate and a sunroof, none of which are available on the Woodland. Expense, but everything sure sounds nice to have when you’re taking a break from civilization. Maybe it’s always 75 degrees and overcast in whatever forest is closest to Toyota headquarters.
Therein lies the rub. The 2023 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition is a simulacrum that offers some flashy image, but sacrifices much of the hybrid’s raison d’etre. It’s good to add variety to a lineup, but the Woodland Edition’s drawbacks make it hard to recommend when every other variant seems more fully baked.
2023 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition
Vehicle type: front engine, four-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $34,860/$36,104
Options: running boards, $620; door sill protector, $199; frameless HomeLink mirror, $175; door-edge guard, $150; fog light accent trim, $100
DOHC 16-valve Atkinson cycle 2.5-liter inline-4, 176 hp, 163 lb-ft + 3 AC motors, 118 and 54 hp, 149 lb-ft and 89 lb-ft (combined output, 219 hp); 1.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
continuously variable automatic
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 12.0-inch ventilated disc/11.1-in disc
Tires: Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail 01A
225/60R-18 100H M+S
Wheelbase: 105.9 inches
Length: 180.9 inches
Width: 73.0 inches
Height: 67.0 inches
Passenger volume, L/H: 52/47 ft3
Cargo Volume, Rear F/R: 70/38 ft3
Curb weight: 3817 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 7.3 sec
1/4-mile: 15.6 sec @ 90 mph
100 mph: 20.4 sec
Results above show 1 foot deployment of 0.3 sec. away.
Acceleration, 5–60 mph: 7.4 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.8 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 5.2 sec
Top speed (gov ltd): 115 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 179 ft
Road holding capacity, 300-foot skid road: 0.78 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 30 mpg
75 mph highway driving: 32 mpg
75 mph highway range: 460 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 37/38/35 mpg
C/D TEST EXPLAINED