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Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

Add A Bull Bar For Front End Protection

One of the best mods you can make to your Rav4 for serious off-roading is adding a bull bar to the front end. A quality bull bar, also called a push bar or brush guard, provides extra armor and protects your vehicle’s vulnerable front end components like the radiator, headlights, and body panels from impacts with rocks, trees, and other obstacles when venturing off-road.

Bull bars are typically made from heavy-duty steel tubing or aluminum and bolt directly to existing mounting points on the frame for a stable and secure installation. They feature a rugged welded skid plate that acts like a shield to deflect brush, branches, and other debris away from the grille and radiator as you drive through forests or overgrown trails.

Many bull bar kits come powder coated in a black or raw steel finish to resist corrosion and also include integrated LED or halogen lighting for improved visibility. The extra lighting is useful when driving remote backcountry roads or trails at night. Some models even have pre-drilled holes that allow you to mount an auxiliary winch for vehicle recoveries when needed off-road.

Adding a quality Rav4 bull bar kit not only boosts the SUV’s rugged looks but also significantly improves its front end protection for serious off-road use while exploring remote areas far from help. The marginal extra weight is well worth the enhanced capability and peace of mind a bull bar provides.

Install A Roof Rack For More Cargo Space

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

One of the best upgrades for maximizing your Rav4’s cargo and gear hauling abilities is adding an aftermarket roof rack. This allows you to securely transport bulky or oversized items by mounting them on top of your vehicle.

Base model Rav4’s don’t come equipped with roof rails or cross bars, so installing an aftermarket roof rack kit is the ideal solution for expanding your cargo capacity. Quality racks mount directly to the roof’s sheet metal using specialized clamps or pads that won’t damage the paint.

Look for kits that include broad load bars in a durable anodized finish to provide a stable platform for mounting loads. Many roof racks also include additional accessories like bike mounts, ski carriers, cargo baskets, and even rooftop tents for camping adventures.

With a solid roof rack installed, you can haul kayaks, surfboards, cargo boxes, camping gear, and other bulky equipment easily on top of your Rav4. Just be sure to securely tie down items and check the overall height clearance when loading tall objects.

Adding a roof rack greatly increases your Rav4’s overall cargo versatility. The minimal drag and wind noise are well worth the convenience of having abundant secure roof storage.

Upgrade The Suspension For Improved Handling

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

One of the best ways to instantly improve your stock Rav4’s off-road performance and handling is upgrading to an aftermarket suspension lift kit.

Quality kits replace the factory struts and springs to provide increased ground clearance and wheel travel. This allows you to clear larger obstacles like rocks or ruts without damaging the undercarriage components.

A modest 1.5-3 inch lift gives adequate clearance for most off-road terrain like fire roads, desert trails, and overgrown forest paths. It also retains a balanced on-road ride quality and handling that isn’t too bumpy or bouncy.

Many Rav4 lift kits include heavy-duty shocks and skid plates to complement the increased clearance and provide optimal damping and underbody protection when venturing off-road.

Installing a suspension lift kit is one of the best bang-for-buck mods for transforming your stock Rav4 into a much more capable overlanding rig. The relatively easy bolt-on installation can be done at home with common tools in a weekend.

Add All-Terrain Tires For Better Traction

One of the quickest ways to instantly boost your Rav4’s off-road traction and capabilities is mounting a set of aggressive all-terrain tires.

The factory road tires that come on most SUVs, including the Rav4, simply don’t cut it on loose gravel, muddy trails, or slippery rocks. The shallow tread depth and hard rubber compound can’t grip effectively.

Upgrading to a tire designed specifically for off-road use makes a huge difference. Look for all-terrains featuring chunky tread blocks, deep siping, and durable sidewall construction to withstand off-road abuse.

The deeper lug depths dig in for enhanced traction on loose surfaces. Wide spacing in the tread pattern ejects mud, snow, and debris to keep biting edges engaged on the terrain.

Mounting a set of all-terrains like the Falken Wildpeak or BFGoodrich KO2 gives your Rav4 dramatically improved traction for exploiting its off-road potential to the fullest wherever your adventures may lead.

Install A Skid Plate To Protect The Underbody

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

One of the most vulnerable areas of any crossover SUV like the Rav4 is the fragile underbody components. The suspension, fuel tank, transmission, and differentials are all exposed to damage from impacts with rocks, stumps, and other trail obstacles.

The best way to protect these critical components is installing skid plates. These sturdy metal shields bolt to the underbody using existing mounts to provide heavy-duty armor against all types of debris and obstacles.

Quality skid plates are made from thick aluminum or steel plate and feature angled surfaces to help glide smoothly over rocks and stumps that would otherwise dent or puncture the underbody.

Rav4 skid plates usually come in modular sets to shield the entire underside from front to back. A full set protects the engine oil pan, front suspension crossmember, transfer case, fuel tank, and differentials for comprehensive underbody protection.

Investing in full skid plating is cheap insurance against potentially disabling and expensive underbody damage far from help out on the trails.

Add Fog Lights To Improve Visibility

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

Exploring remote forests or navigating dark desert trails at night is extremely challenging with the Rav4’s standard halogen headlights. Fog lights help expand your illumination for improved visibility and safety.

Auxiliary driving lights mounted in the bumper provide a wide swath of additional forward lighting that works with the headlights to brighten dark areas. Off-road fog lights feature durable housings, waterproof wiring, and high-power bulbs.

Wiring kits make installation easy with plug-and-play connections to your Rav4’s electrical system. Choose combo kits with both spot and flood beams to illuminate both close-range terrain and distance.

Great visibility is crucial for safe off-road driving. Adding high-quality fog lights to your Rav4 allows driving remote backcountry roads and trails with confidence at night or in bad weather.

Upgrade The Exhaust For More Horsepower

One of the easiest ways to free up extra horsepower and torque from the Rav4’s four-cylinder engine is installing an aftermarket exhaust system.

The factory exhaust is restrictive and heavy to meet strict emissions regulations. An aftermarket cat-back or axle-back system provides free-flowing pipes and a less restrictive muffler for reduced backpressure.

Popular upgrades like a Borla or Magnaflow exhaust liberate extra power while enhancing the Rav4’s sound with a much more aggressive tone. Just be sure to choose a system with minimal drone for comfortable highway driving.

A cat-back exhaust paired with a performance air intake can unlock a nice 5-10% power gain for livelier acceleration and response when passing or merging. The extra grunt helps maintain momentum in off-road terrain.

Install A Lift Kit For More Ground Clearance

As mentioned earlier, one of the best mods for increasing your Rav4’s off-road prowess is installing a suspension lift kit. This boosts ground clearance to easily clear rocks, stumps, and other trail obstacles.

A budget-friendly spacer lift uses blocks or spacers above the strut assembly for a quick 1-2 inch lift that retains the factory suspension and geometry.

For heavy off-road use, a suspension lift replaces the struts and springs with longer, heavier duty components tuned for off-road performance. These kits lift the Rav4 2-3 inches for enhanced capability.

A small lift strikes a great balance between off-road clearance and daily drivability. Driveway scrapes become a thing of the past!

Add Rock Sliders To Protect The Side Body Panels

One vulnerability of the Rav4’s body is the lack of side protection. Sharp rocks, overgrown tree stumps, and other trail obstacles can easily dent and scratch the doors and rocker panels.

The ideal solution is mounting heavy-duty rock slider bars along the sides. These sturdy steel bars attach using existing body mounts and provide rugged protection.

Quality rock sliders are designed to slide smoothly over off-road obstacles, protecting the sheet metal bodywork from dings, dents and abrasion on the trails. They also provide a solid step when accessing items on the roof rack.

Rock sliders are relatively inexpensive protection that make a huge difference in keeping your Rav4’s body pristine when subjected to off-road scrapes and scratches.

Upgrade The Wheels For A More Aggressive Look

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

One of the easiest ways to instantly transform the look of your Rav4 is upgrading to an aftermarket set of wheels. This allows installing larger tires while showing off some eye-catching style.

Durable alloy wheels designed specifically for crossover SUV fitments come in a wide range of finishes like black, bronze, and gunmetal. Popular designs include multi-spoke, split-spoke, and mesh-style wheels.

Sticking with the factory diameter but going up 1-2 inches in width provides room for mounting aggressive all-terrain rubber without rubbing issues. This achieves a wider, more muscular stance.

New wheels bundled with all-terrain tires kill two birds with one stone – achieving a customized look while gaining enhanced off-road traction and performance!

Install A Roof Rack For More Cargo Space

One of the most useful upgrades for maximizing your Rav4’s gear-hauling versatility is adding an aftermarket roof rack system. This provides abundant secure storage space up top for oversized cargo that won’t fit inside.

The factory crossbars on some Rav4 models have weight limits and don’t allow mounting of larger items. An upgraded aftermarket rack provides heavy-duty steel or aluminum bars rated for carrying heavier loads.

Look for a rack specifically designed to fit the Rav4’s roof profile without any overhang. It should mount securely and evenly distribute weight. A powdercoated or anodized finish protects against the elements.

Many roof rack kits include additional attachments like bike/ski mounts, cargo baskets, and mounting tracks for securing gear tightly. Some even have integrated lighting for loading at night.

With a solid roof rack, you’ll be able to transport bikes, cargo boxes, kayaks, surfboards, luggage, and other bulky gear easily. Just be mindful of overall vehicle height when loading tall objects.

A quality rack expands your Rav4’s cargo flexibility tremendously. You’ll wonder how you ever managed without abundant roof storage before.

Here are some tips for outfitting and loading your Rav4’s roof rack:

  • Get mounting feet or clamps that evenly distribute load without pressure points
  • Tightly secure all bars and accessories to prevent wind noise
  • Use weatherproof cargo bags to protect gear from elements
  • Tie down items securely using ropes, straps, bungees
  • Distribute weight evenly for best handling
  • Load heavier items low and centered on the bars
  • Check vehicle height with objects loaded to ensure clearance
  • Allow extra stopping distance when fully loaded
  • Reduce speed and avoid abrupt maneuvers for stability

Adding a well-made roof rack to your Rav4 really expands the cargo versatility over a stock setup. You’ll be able to haul bikes, cargo boxes, kayaks, and other bulky items anywhere you wander.

Just take care to distribute weight evenly across the bars, tie everything down tightly, and adjust driving for the additional height and mass up top. Follow these roof rack tips and your Rav4 will have unlimited cargo potential for wherever the journey leads!

Upgrade The Suspension For Improved Handling

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

One of the best ways to instantly improve your stock Rav4’s off-road performance and capabilities is upgrading the suspension. This provides increased articulation and wheel travel for greater control and stability navigating uneven terrain.

The factory suspension is tuned for comfortable daily driving, not bashing over rocks or crawling through mud. Changing out the struts and springs for more heavy duty components transforms the handling for rugged use.

A modest 1.5-3″ suspension lift gives the extra clearance needed to clear larger obstacles without crunching the underbody. Retuned shocks and progressive rate springs provide a plush ride both on and off the pavement.

Quality lift kits retain good on-road manners while improving the suspension’s compression and rebound traits for flexing over off-road obstacles smoothly and safely.

Upgraded sway bars and fixed-length control arms can also be added for increased tunability and articulation. This prevents twisting and binding of the chassis for superior performance in uneven terrain.

Here are some tips when upgrading your Rav4’s suspension:

  • Choose a reputable brand lift kit for proper engineering and fit
  • Have a shop install for alignment and safety
  • Wheel alignment is critical after installing
  • Adjust headlights to avoid blinding other drivers
  • Re-torque components after first 100 miles
  • Inspect steering and suspension periodically

Installing an upgraded Rav4 suspension lift kit costs more than a simple spacer kit, but provides a much higher quality ride both on and off-road.

The ideal balance of ground clearance, damping, progressive springs, and articulation transforms the crossover’s capabilities. Just take care to have proper installation and alignment done.

With a dialed-in lift kit, your Rav4 will cruise highways comfortably while also having the suspension performance needed to conquer demanding trails far from civilization when adventure calls!

Add All-Terrain Tires For Better Traction

One of the most impactful upgrades for instantly improving your Rav4’s traction and off-road prowess is mounting aggressive all-terrain tires.

The road-biased tires equipped from the factory simply can’t provide adequate grip on loose gravel, muddy trails, or slick rock. They spin easily and slide around.

Quality all-terrain tires transform your Rav4’s capabilities with enhanced traction, braking, and handling when going off-road. The deeper tread pattern and stiffer sidewalls perform where road tires fail.

When choosing new all-terrain rubber, look for a model with open void space to eject mud/debris, interlocking tread blocks for bite, and siped edges for increased surface area grip.

Trusted tires like the BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2, Goodyear Wrangler AT Adventure, and Falken Wildpeak AT3W excel on a wide range of surfaces thanks to smart designs engineered specifically for rugged traction.

Here are some tips for choosing and running all-terrain tires on your Rav4:

  • Select a tire sized appropriately for your Rav4’s rim width
  • Aim for a model with a treadwear warranty of 50k+ miles
  • Consider increased road noise from aggressive tread
  • Expect slightly reduced fuel economy around 1-2mpg
  • Inspect tires regularly for damage, punctures, wear
  • Maintain proper air pressure for even wear and handling

While more expensive than road tires, a quality set of all-terrains pays for itself by enabling you to exploit your Rav4’s full off-road potential.

The enhanced traction transforms slippery, insecure travel on loose terrain into sure-footed confidence to explore remote areas safely.

Running rugged all-terrains truly unlocks your Rav4’s capabilities. Trails once out of reach become easily conquerable with the superb traction. Just be ready for slightly more road noise and reduced mileage.

With wise tire selection and proper care, all-terrains will affordably transform how your Rav4 performs beyond the pavement. The traction gains open up a whole new world of remote adventure!

Install A Skid Plate To Protect The Underbody

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

One of the most vulnerable areas on crossovers like the Rav4 are the exposed underbody components. The suspension, drivetrain, and diffs are unshielded from obstacles that can dent, scratch or puncture them.

Adding aftermarket skid plates provides heavy-duty protection to prevent potentially disabling damage from rocks, stumps, debris and other trail hazards when going off-road.

Skid plates bolt to existing mounts using hardware provided in the kits. Made from thick aluminum or durable plastic, they shield critical components from direct impacts and scrapes.

Models like the ecoological Base Element provide full underbody coverage of the engine, transmission, transfer case, fuel tank and differentials in one affordable package.

Here are some tips when installing and using Rav4 skid plates:

  • Ensure all hardware is tight for noise/vibration prevention
  • Watch for overheating without proper ventilation
  • Inspect plates periodically for damage
  • Carefully crawl obstacles to prevent binding
  • Modify if needed for access to routine maintenance
  • Always have tow points accessible

Skid plates add minimal weight yet provide invaluable protection against punctures, leaks, or other damage from off-road impacts.

They turn vulnerabilities into armored strength to take on trails with confidence. No more worrying about cracking an oil pan or puncturing a brake line far from help!

Full skid plating does come at a cost, but one disablement avoided pays for itself many times over. The insurance of underbody protection brings peace of mind tackling remote terrain.

Installing skid plates is one of the wisest investments you can make to safeguard your Rav4 for intensive off-road use. Let the skids take the abuse so you can journey on!

Add Fog Lights To Improve Visibility

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

Upgrading your Rav4’s stock halogen headlights with auxiliary fog lights greatly improves visibility driving remote back roads or off-road at night.

The added illumination from fog lights mounted in the bumper expands your field of vision, allowing you to see obstacles and terrain ahead more clearly in the dark.

Quality fog light kits include a matched set of halogen or LED lamps with durable housings, brackets, wiring harnesses, and switches. They are designed for easy DIY installation.

Driving fog lights in conjunction with the headlights reduces strain on your eyes and attention. You’ll be able to react faster to hazards like animals, potholes, or debris in the road.

Here are some tips for installing and using fog lights on your Rav4:

  • Consult local regulations for street legality
  • Aim lights properly to avoid blinding other drivers
  • Use yellow tinted bulbs to cut through fog/rain/snow
  • Turn off when following other vehicles or in clear conditions
  • Periodically inspect for cracked housings or damaged wiring
  • Carry spare bulbs when traveling remote areas

Bad weather, pitch darkness, or winding trails all become less formidable with enhanced fog light visibility. You’ll be able to navigate unfamiliar routes and challenging conditions with greater awareness and control.

Auxiliary lighting relieves eye strain while reducing reaction times to hazards that are obscured or appear abruptly after dark. Just take care to aim fog beams properly and avoid blinding oncoming drivers.

Whether exploring remote forests or winding canyon roads at night, Rav4 fog lights pay for themselves many times over by potentially preventing an accident or mishap. The added visibility brings confidence and security.

Upgraded lighting is a simple yet profoundly impactful upgrade for your Rav4’s off-road safety and performance after sunset. Sharply reduced visibility doesn’t have to mean reduced adventure!

Upgrade The Exhaust For More Horsepower

If you’re looking to get a little more oomph out of your Toyota RAV4, one of the best mods you can make is upgrading the exhaust. The stock exhaust on the RAV4 is designed more for quiet operation rather than performance. By installing an aftermarket exhaust system you can free up some extra horsepower and torque while also giving your RAV4 a great sound.

The exhaust system on a car serves two main purposes – routing wasted gases away from the engine and controlling the sound. The stock system uses narrow pipes and mufflers that restrict flow. This allows the engine to run quietly, but it also creates backpressure that hampers performance. An aftermarket exhaust opens up the pipes and uses less restrictive mufflers. This reduction of backpressure is where the power gains come from.

Where The Power Comes From

As the engine’s pistons move up and down during combustion, they force exhaust gases out through the exhaust valves. These hot gases have to squeeze through the exhaust system on their way out of the car. Any restrictions in the pipes or mufflers create resistance – this is the backpressure. An engine has to work harder to expel the gases against this pressure, which robs some of its power potential.

By installing a free-flowing exhaust like a cat-back system or axle-back kit, you remove that restrictive pressure. Suddenly the engine can breathe easier and doesn’t have to work as hard pumping out exhaust. You also improve the scavenging effect – the process of drawing fresh air/fuel mixture into the cylinders. The results are more torque and horsepower sent to the wheels.

Picking the Right Exhaust

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

There are a few different options available when looking at aftermarket exhausts for your RAV4:

  • Axle-back – replaces the muffler(s) and pipes after the rear axle
  • Cat-back – replaces everything from the catalytic converter back
  • Header-back – replaces the exhaust manifold and everything rearward
  • Full system – replaces the entire exhaust from head to tailpipe

An axle-back or cat-back system is generally the easiest and most cost-effective option. You can expect gains of 5-15 hp depending on the specific system. Going with long-tube headers, a high-flow catalytic converter, or a full exhaust replacement can yield even bigger horsepower numbers but is more complex and pricey.

Performance vs. Practicality

When choosing your RAV4 exhaust upgrade, you’ll also want to consider the sound. More aggressive systems with bigger pipes and less muffling will be louder. That may be perfect if you want your crossover to really roar. But if you need to maintain a comfortable daily driver, look for an exhaust that balances performance and practicality.

Manufacturers like MagnaFlow, Borla, and CORSA all offer systems for the RAV4 that add power while still controlling noise. Their mufflers use advanced technology to reduce restriction without letting sound get out of control. That gives you extra ponies under the hood and a subtle rumble, but not too loud to live with every day.

Easy DIY Bolt-On Install

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

The great thing about installing an aftermarket exhaust on your RAV4 is that it couldn’t be easier. These bolt directly in place of your stock system using simple hand tools. Just support the exhaust, remove the clamps and hangers, swap the factory pipes for the performance ones, then reinstall the hangers and clamps to secure everything.

You can typically change over a cat-back or axle-back exhaust in an hour or less with basic mechanical skills. Just be sure to use high temperature gaskets and good clamps so you don’t end up with any leaks. Then you can fire up your RAV4 and enjoy the extra sound and power!

Upgrading your exhaust is one of the best value-for-money mods you can make. For a few hundred dollars you can unlock extra horsepower that really makes your RAV4 more fun to drive, while also giving it a great exhaust note. If you’re looking for a little more excitement from your crossover, a new cat-back or axle-back exhaust system is an easy upgrade that pays big dividends.

If you love taking your Toyota RAV4 off-road but find its stock ground clearance limiting, installing a lift kit can provide the extra inches you need to clear rocks, ruts, and other obstacles. With the right lift kit, you can increase your RAV4’s capability and open up new possibilities for off-road adventures.

Install A Lift Kit For More Ground Clearance

A lift kit lifts your RAV4’s body and frame up and away from the wheels and axles. This creates more space for larger tires and provides additional clearance underneath. How much lift you get depends on the kit – 1-3 inches is common. Going above 3 inches requires more modifications.

Here are the basics for installing a lift kit on a RAV4:

1. Choose the right lift kit

Lift kits are specifically designed for certain years and models. Make sure you get a kit made for your RAV4’s generation, suspension type, and desired lift height. The kit should include all necessary components like spacers, extended struts or springs, and adjustable rear arms.

2. Get the right tools

You’ll need standard mechanics tools – wrenches, ratchets, jacks, jack stands, etc. A torque wrench is essential for tightening parts to spec. Stripped or overtightened bolts can lead to component failure. Autospecific tools like a balljoint separator may also help.

3. Install the strut spacers

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

Strut spacers go between the strut assembly and chassis to raise the suspension’s ride height. Secure the wheel first so the brake caliper and rotor don’t hang. Loosen and remove the upper strut nuts, then install the spacers on top according to the kit instructions. Reinstall the strut assembly and tighten everything to spec.

4. Install extended struts or springs

For more lift, some kits include complete extended strut assemblies or longer replacement springs. Remove the wheels and unbolt the struts from the knuckle. Disassemble and reassemble with the new components per instructions. Make sure the spring seats properly in the perch.

5. Adjust the rear arms

Extending the rear lower control arms corrects the suspension geometry after lifting. Remove each arm and install the extended replacement arms. With the suspension still uncompressed, set them to about the stock length until an alignment is done.

6. Realign the suspension

Lift kits alter the suspension alignment so it must be realigned to avoid uneven tire wear. Alignment shops can set front camber, caster, and toe to the kit or factory specs. For the rear, ensure the toe is close to neutral.

7. Load test and inspect

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

Before hitting the trails, load up the RAV4 as you would for off-roading. Check for any suspension binds or odd angles that may indicate issues with the install. Get it back on a lift and inspect all lift components and fasteners. Recheck torque specs and adjust as needed.

With proper installation, a lift kit can provide that precious extra ground clearance for your RAV4. Take care of any rubbing or stability issues it may introduce. Once everything checks out, you’ll be ready to explore more off-road trails.

In addition to a lift kit, there are several other great mods to transform your RAV4 into a more capable overlander:

All-Terrain Tires

More aggressive all-terrain or mud-terrain tires improve traction and allow you to pneumatically lift your RAV4 another 1-2″. Go up one tire size if allowed by the lift.

Skid Plates

Beefy skid plates protect the engine, transmission, gas tank, and differentials from obstacles and debris. They bolster off-road survivability.

Rock Sliders

Rock sliders are heavy bars that run along the rocker panels. They prevent the body from impact damage and allow you to slide over rocks and obstructions.


A winch pulls you out of situations where you get stuck. Electric models up to 12,000 lbs. are common for midsize SUVs like the RAV4. Add a winch-compatible front bumper.

Roof Rack and Cross Bars

Expand your RAV4’s cargo capacity for overlanding gear with a roof rack and cross bars. You can carry anything from spare fuel, recovery boards, camping gear, and traction mats.

Outfitting your Toyota RAV4 for off-road exploration? A lift kit can provide crucial ground clearance to get you further into the backcountry. Do your research, take your time with the installation, and address any issues that arise from the modification. Soon you’ll be ready to challenge more intense 4×4 trails.

Taking your precious Toyota RAV4 off-road exposes it to rocks, stumps, and other trail obstacles that can damage the vulnerable side body panels. Adding rugged rock sliders is an excellent protective modification for off-road RAV4s.

Add Rock Sliders To Protect The Side Body Panels

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

Rock sliders (also called side armor or nerf bars) are heavy-duty bars that attach to the frame or body, running along the rocker panels. They serve several vital functions for off-roading:

1. Protection from obstacles

The thick steel construction of rock sliders takes the brunt when you slide over rocks, logs, and other objects on the trail. They prevent dents, scrapes, and punctures to the RAV4’s sheet metal body panels, keeping your paint pristine.

2. Increased clearance

Rock sliders add several inches of clearance as they hang down lower than the rocker panels. This helps overcome the RAV4’s low breakover angle and can allow you to clear obstacles you’d otherwise high-center on.

3. Recovery and traction

The treadplate surface provides traction when negotiating terrain. In a pinch, they give you a stepping point for manuevering or self-recovery. They’re also great for jacking the RAV4 up for repairs on the trail.

4. Styling and protection

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

Rock sliders give your RAV4 a tougher, more rugged look for taking on the trails. They also protect passengers from brush, mud and debris when getting in and out.

Here are some tips for adding rock sliders to your RAV4:

Choose factory vs. aftermarket

Toyota offers official accessory rock sliders for certain RAV4 models that integrate cleanly with factory brackets and mounting points. Aftermarket brands allow more customization and XL sizes for maximum protection.

Steel construction is best

Look for rock sliders made from thick DOM or box steel at least 1/4″ thick. This provides durability and bend-resistance from impacts. Steel also slides over objects better than aluminum.

Full-length maximizes protection

Full-length rock sliders that span from wheel well to wheel well protect the entire rocker panel. Partial sliders are cheaper but leave parts of the body exposed.

Coat for corrosion resistance

Bare steel will eventually rust and corrode. Look for rock sliders powdercoated black or with a galvanized zinc coating. You can also spray on truck bedliner for DIY protection.

Add reinforcements

Some brands offer additional skid plates that integrate with the rock sliders to protect mechanical parts hanging down low like the fuel tank, differentials, and transfer case.

Install securely

Follow all instructions to mount the rock sliders securely. Use all factory holes and attachment points for stable mounting. Leave sliders loose until all bolts are in to aid alignment.

With rock sliders added, your RAV4 can slide over off-road obstacles with reduced risk of body damage. Take it slow over rocks and objects – the sliders protect but aren’t indestructible. Take care to avoid hanging up on the sliders and bending them underneath.

Other useful protective mods for off-road RAV4s include:

Skid Plates

Skid plates shield mechanical components like engines, transmissions, transfer cases, and differentials from underbody impacts.

Brush Guards

Brush guards mount to the front bumper to fend off branches, brush, and vegetation on the trail.

Suspension Lift Kit

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

A lift kit raises ground clearance, allowing you to clear more obstacles before hitting the sliders and underbody.

Bumper Replacements

Aftermarket steel bumpers provide more clearance while protecting the RAV4’s vulnerable front and rear plastic bumper covers.

Underbody Armor

Belly armor, gas tank guards, and other underbody protection products add a further layer of defense for your RAV4’s underside.

Rock sliders are a great way to protect your RAV4 for light to moderate off-roading. Combine them with skid plates, proper clearance, and smart spotting, and your RAV4 can conquer an impressive variety of overland adventures in protected style.

The stock wheels on most Toyota RAV4 models are fairly conservative and optimized for road use. Upgrading to new aftermarket wheels is a great way to personalize your RAV4’s look while also boosting capability for off-road use.

Upgrade The Wheels For A More Aggressive Look

New wheels allow you to change the styling and size of your RAV4’s wheels and tires for an upgraded customized appearance. Here are some benefits of upgrading your wheels:

More aggressive appearance

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

Aftermarket wheels come in many rugged off-road designs to match lifted and accessorized RAV4s. Black wheels with machined accents paired with all-terrain tires transform the look.

Larger diameters

You can go up one or two inches in wheel diameter while remaining in your RAV4’s range of approved tire sizes. This fills out the wheel wells better for a tougher stance.

Wider widths

Wider wheels paired with wider tires improve traction and allow you to air down further for off-roading. Make sure wider wheels have the proper backspacing to fit without rubbing.

Weight savings

Aftermarket wheels made from materials like aluminum alloy are often lighter than heavy factory steel wheels. This reduces unsprung weight for improved suspension performance.

Tips for picking new wheels for your RAV4:

Stick to approved sizes

Consult your owner’s manual for approved wheel diameters, widths, offsets, and lug patterns. Going too far outside OE specs can cause problems.

Consider the speed rating

Match the new wheels’ speed rating and load capacity to your usage. Highway-focused drivers need a high speed rating. Off-roaders can relax this requirement.

Know the bolt pattern

RAV4 wheels use 5×114.3, 5×100, or 5×127 bolt patterns depending on the generation. Match this exactly for wheel compatibility.

Mind the offset

Wheel offset impacts handling and whether wheels will rub. Conservative offsets around +35mm are a safe bet for most lifted RAV4s.

Retain the spare

Keep your factory spare tire and wheel as a backup unless you add an aftermarket spare carrier and oversized spare to match.

Here are some types of wheels worth looking at:

Steel off-road wheels

Tough matte black steel wheels with machined accents look great on builds like lifted trail RAV4s. A budget option too.

Aluminum alloy wheels

Aluminum wheels reduce weight and allow more complex styling. Popular for gravel rally and overland RAV4s.

Beadlock wheel capable

Best Mods For Your Toyota Rav4 Off-Road: Increase Performance And Looks

Wheels with beadlock rings allow you to mechanically lock the tire bead for super low tire pressures off-road.

Hybrid street/off-road

Multi-spoke hybrid wheels work great on RAV4s that split time between street and trail driving.

With stylish new wheels mounted up, your RAV4 will have a custom look and added capability. Take care to re-torque the lugs and perform a vehicle alignment to dial in the new setup.

Some other exterior mods that complement upgraded wheels include:

Suspension Lift Kit

A lift kit increases clearance for larger diameter wheels and tires.

Fender Flares

Aftermarket fender flares allow you to run wider tires without rubbing at full lock.

Light Bars

LED light bars mounted on the roof, bumper or hood add eye-catching nighttime presence.

Rock Sliders

Heavy duty rock sliders protect the sides and complement the rugged wheel and tire combo.

Bumper Upgrades

Steel bumpers with pre-runner light bars and cutouts for off-road jack mounts finish off the look.

Upgraded aftermarket wheels let you customize your RAV4’s look while improving its capabilities. With smart planning, you can achieve an aggressive off-road style without compromising reliability or performance.