Toyota RAV4 Modifications for 5th Generation Models on Any Budget

/ / Car Accessories
2023 Toyota RAV4 off-road

All generations of the Toyota RAV4 have been hugely popular crossovers that a wide range of drivers own and love for different reasons — like its excellent build quality, good off-road capability for a vehicle in its class, and the peppy performance that the plug-in hybrid variant provides. Some RAV4 owners like to modify and accessorize their vehicles, and the aftermarket scene for the latest fifth-generation model is huge.

Some like to modify their RAV4 to make it more capable off-road, so they replace the standard suspension with an aftermarket kit that raises the ride height, allowing them to also give the vehicle larger wheels with off-road tires. That’s one way of doing it, but others just like to stick to cosmetic mods, so they get a different-looking aftermarket grille and matte black emblem overlays, which will go excellently with the blacked-out exhaust tips that are also available.

You can also make your RAV4 a better vehicle for camping with a roof-mounted tent, a retractable awning, or an actual fridge in the back. With such a large number of available accessories, browsing through all of them to find what you need might seem daunting, so we’ve compiled a list of the six coolest ones that we could find.

Cargo Liner and Custom Mats

Custom Toyota RAV4 mats

If you want a more carefree ownership experience, one simple but very effective upgrade would be custom rubber mats. They are more durable and longer-lasting than factory mats and extend further, including protecting areas such as the transmission tunnel in the rear. Since this sticks out and is not covered by a mat from the factory, it usually gets quite dirty, so a mat that covers it will save you a lot of time cleaning.

The same goes for the trunk, where you can fit a custom liner to simplify cleaning your trunk. Once you have one installed, something getting spilled in your RAV4’s trunk won’t be something you worry about. This is because these trunk liners usually have high edges that keep any liquid that may have been spilled from escaping and contaminating the carpeting, saving you a lot of time that you would have otherwise spent scrubbing.

Side Step Running Boards

2023 Toyota RAV4 running boards

Even though running boards that you can use as an intermediary step to climb aboard the vehicle are usually reserved for larger SUVs and trucks, they are also available for the RAV4. The fifth generation of the RAV4 (in all-wheel drive hybrid spec) has a ground clearance of 8.1 inches, so kids might struggle to step in, and they should make access into the vehicle a little bit easier for everyone else.

Running boards also make the RAV4 look much like bigger trucks, giving it additional road presence. They will impede the vehicle’s ability to go over some obstacles or hill crests, as they do make it a bit lower. Still, if you don’t plan on using your RAV4 to go off-road and just want to make it usable and practical for everyday use, it makes sense to give it running boards.

Toyota officially offers running boards for the RAV4, and they are well-integrated into the design, but if you want something that looks like it came off a bigger vehicle, you should look for an aftermarket solution.

Roof Rack

Custom RAV4 roof rack

Putting a beefy roof rack on your RAV4 instantly opens up new cargo-carrying options. It will not only make the vehicle look cool in a utilitarian way, but it will also enable you to — in a pinch — carry some very long or awkwardly shaped items, which you should be able to safely strap to the roof rack. Kayaks or a pair of mountain bikes can also be carried on top of an RAV4 with a roof rack, although you will have to be mindful of low bridges or other potential hazards for a taller-than-normal vehicle.

You will have to check the roof rack’s weight limit and never overload it, and you should also consider the kind of gear you want to carry atop your RAV4 before deciding which one to order. Installing it is a job you can tackle at home if you have tools and some wrenching experience, but it’s better to leave that to a professional shop where this is a routine operation that they do very well.

Hood Protection and Headlight Covers

Toyota RAV4 hood deflector

If you want to use your RAV4 as a vehicle to go on long road trips on different kinds of terrain, some of which are unpaved, then you should look at ways of protecting the car’s front from stones or anything that could fly off the road and cause damage. For instance, you could invest in a pair of headlight covers that you can either stick on or affix to the car, like small, clear shields in front of each light.

After you’ve given your RAV4’s headlights protection, you could do the same for the vulnerable upper part of the front fascia. Many different models of hood protectors are available for the fifth-generation RAV4, made from different materials like plastic, plexiglass, or even metal. Still, they all serve the same purpose of keeping stone chips at bay. Installing all of these can be done at home with simple tools, although you will need to ensure they are secured so they don’t fly off the vehicle on the move.

Console Vault

Console vault in a RAV4

If you want to have a lockable box where you can leave valuables in your RAV4, you might want to invest in a console vault. There are several models available, but they all seem to be designed to slot into the bottom of the front armrest storage cubby, where they integrate neatly and can easily be hidden. The most popular models seem to have a three-digit combination code, which should be enough to deter a would-be thief from trying to find the combination as it would take too long.

You can even get a special kind of console safe that can hold a firearm, but these are more expensive and look like much heavier-duty pieces of equipment. They have even four-digit combination locks, digital keypads for inputting the unlock code, or just a simple key to open, and if you’re legally allowed to carry a gun and want a safe place to store it in your RAV4, this seems like a worthwhile investment.

Speaker Upgrade

Toyota RAV4 speaker grille

The base six-speaker sound system in the Toyota RAV4 is not bad by class standards, but it’s also not particularly impressive. If your RAV4 doesn’t have the optional JBL sound system — which has significantly better clarity and volume — you might want to invest in an aftermarket speaker solution to make your car’s interior a better place to listen to music.

Many dedicated kits come with all the necessary speakers, wires, and anything else you may need for installation. More expensive kits that promise a bigger difference in sound quality will also come with additional means to amplify the sound.

While you can replace just the speakers at home in your garage, if the kit you’ve bought also comes with an auxiliary amplifier or a subwoofer, which will require additional wiring, this is best left to a professional who will make sure the new audio system isn’t also a fire hazard.

Lift Kit

Lifted Toyota RAV4

Installing a suspension lift kit is the most expensive and involved operation on this list, but it also makes the biggest difference to the vehicle. Not only does lifting the vehicle help make it better off-road, since it can go over bigger obstacles than in stock form, but it also transforms the look and allows you to fit those big off-road wheels and tires that also make a big difference to the aesthetic.

Two types of lift kits are available for the RAV4 or any similar vehicle. The more affordable kind comprises different kinds of spacers, brackets, and top plates that essentially allow you to keep the car’s stock suspension but have it sit higher off the ground. The more involved way is to completely replace your RAV4’s suspension with an upgraded kit that not only lifts the car but also becomes more heavy-duty and makes off-road driving a little bit more stress-free.

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