Try not to laugh too hard, but Toyota is taking the little RAV4 racing, and we’re not talking about finding the quickest route to the local Trader Joes to load up on cookie butter. Toyota Racing Development (TRD) is actually entering the Rally America Series with a two-wheel-drive version of the RAV4, of all things, and it’s doing so with a completely straight face.
The RAV4 actually will be competing in the 2-WD Open Class, so the lack of four-wheel drive shouldn’t put it at a disadvantage. Still, it’s comical to think of the RAV4 as a racer in any class.
Both the transmission and engine are bone stock. The team did shed about 500 pounds of curb weight by taking off various parts, which is like ditching two hefty friends riding in the backseat. They also added a roll cage and a TEIN suspension in the front and rear. Improved grip will come via BFGoodrich all-terrain DOT 215/75R15 tires. Other than that, it wears some aggressive exterior colors, announcing that it’s a RAV4 that’s not to be trifled with.
Toyota is taking this endeavor so seriously that it’s tapped Ryan Millen to pilot the vehicle. Millen took first place in the 2014 Baja 1000 behind the wheel of a Tundra TRD Pro, which is quite a bit different from a RAV4. He’s also been involved with Toyota’s motorsports efforts since he was a kid. Either Millen is a great team player, or he knows something about the RAV4 that others haven’t discovered. Whichever it is, Millen says that he’s excited to flog the little crossover around different Rally America courses, which include Gorman Ridge in California and Prescott, Arizona.
So far there’s no word on if Toyota will create a TRD Pro version of the RAV4, which could either be really cool or completely laughable, or maybe even a mixture of the two. Perhaps now is the RAV4’s time in the sun. After all, the 4Runner, Tacoma, Tundra and Land Cruiser have been hogging all the off-roading glory.