Originally Posted by NickRav4
For more rugged and uneven terrain, would you guys recommend the sports feel or the base model feel to absorb more of the bumps and such?
No experience with Rav4s as I'm just looking myself. Long time from the past owner/enthusiast of Toyota trucks though.
You don't want to absorb bumps when driving on rugged and uneven terrain. You want to dampen them. A softer suspension you won't feel so much, but something stiffer like on the Sport, you will still feel it. It's hard for me to explain the feel, but for example, with a good shock (Rancho 5000's I ran) on a 4x4, you can feel the suspension compress and immediately rebound to neutral. That means that you feel the bumps more, just not worse. A softer road suspension is going to oscillate more and get more bouncy.
I test drove a Sport V6. I hit some rough sections of pavement. Wifey commented, "it runs a bit rougher than my Mazda (Tribute)." I commented, "I love it! Reminds me of my old Toyota truck with the Ranchos." It hit the potholes, the car jolts a bit, and then the suspension stops moving abruptly and settles back to neutral. You don't feel that with more of a road going suspension because the tire and shock would be oscillating up and down a few cycles while keeping the actual vehicle body stable.
Now on driving rough roads such as the softroading I am seeing mentioned around this forum, at higher rates of speed, that stiffer suspension keeps up with the bumps and jolts where a softer suspension will start to skip around as it is compresses then the tire moves to the valley of a bump, it can't react fast enough so you start skipping along hitting bumps midway instead of the suspension absorbing everything. Stiffer more off-road capable suspension reacts faster where it compresses and falls more in sync with the bumps.