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I'm excited to see an online community for the RAV4. I just purchased the 2017 AWD LE model two days ago, after three years of driving a 2011 Prius. I became reliant on PriusChat when questions needed answering, and am glad a similar website exists for my new car.

It's great to finally have a car I can take on dirt roads. I frequent Mojave National Preserve, and am a regular visitor to other desert parks in California and Nevada... but I was quite limited in my Prius on where I could get to.

Right out of the gate I have a couple questions:


1. I'm reading up on when to use "S-Mode" (Sequential mode), and am still deciphering the right times to use it. It seems pretty clear that its useful to downshift when going downhill, but what about upshifting for uphill? And obviously S-Mode uses more gas, but to confirm this also saves on riding the brake pads? What do all of you do with "S-Mode"?

2. My RAV4 comes with installed roof rails. I can't seem to find if those rails are sufficient to strap on a duffel bag or two, or if I need to purchase cross rails. Any insight on this?

3. Just how "off-road" can these cars go? Yes, it's AWD, but I've read on various sites that its more for safety in rain/snow. I don't want to take this car past its limits in regards to driving off paved roads, but I can't seem to find much on what those limits are.
 

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Welcome! About off roading limits, basically what can be said is that a '17 RAV in stock form is not anything approaching being a serious off-road vehicle. Owners have driven them on relatively level, graded dirt roads without problems. Dangers obviously are situations where the RAV could bottom out, get hung up, get stuck, or be damaged by striking a projection which could damage something on the underside of the vehicle. The 4.4 RAVs don't have much One can measure the RAV's ground clearance from the lowest underside component to the ground and use that as a very general guideline, remembering that irregular driving surfaces can cause serious damage even though a driver thinks that they can "make it" when driving over them.
 

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@Blogson
Thanks for the response!

Okay so the car is fine on graded dirt roads, and dirt roads clear of debris and large boulders.

Follow up question: Should the AWD be used for long durations of time off paved roads? Or only in moments of slippery conditions?
 

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I'm not certain about any ability to switch between FWD (the normal front wheel drive) and AWD with the '17 RAV Hopefully a forum member with a '17 will answer this query.
 
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Welcome to the forum. I've driven my RAV4 in 13" deep snow on steep graded roads with no problem. It got me places I wouldn't have been able to go without AWD. As far as "S-Mode" I've always felt that brakes were cheaper than transmissions so you need to find a good balance between the use of both.
 

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Thanks @mmorgan1865!. I'll definitely ease into driving this car off paved road, but I'm to know it'll be able to get me to a few trails I previously couldn't reach. Regarding S-Mode, I've started experimenting with it. Obviously S-mode is useful going downhill, and I suppose uphill if you needed to go fast, but I've read some people use it for city driving. I tried it last night for a quick drive to the grocery store, and I will say the acceleration and braking is smoother when I had it in the default 4th gear. In what circumstances do you use S-Mode?

@ivan70 from what I was reading in the manual, and after testing it on a basic dirt road, I need to press the AWD button for power to go to both the front and rear wheels - otherwise it only runs on the front wheels. I think 'Sport Mode' also uses power from all four wheels, but I tried that for a few moments and it gives waaaay too much power for city driving imo.
 

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@MojaveDriver: Are you referring to this section? Please see attached... This is not AWD, it more of ..change of power distribution to the wheels. Only used to get out of trouble haha.. like getting stuck. Unless there is another switch? I have 2017 XLE
 

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@ivan70 Right that is the button I'm referring to. Well how is my car considered AWD if it's not AWD?
Is the 2017 more like RAV4 AWD*? Where the * means it's only AWD when your car is in trouble?
 

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@ivan70 Right that is the button I'm referring to. Well how is my car considered AWD if it's not AWD?
Is the 2017 more like RAV4 AWD*? Where the * means it's only AWD when your car is in trouble?
The car is always in AWD mode and will shift power to the rear when needed. If you toggle through the information screens on the dashboard, there is a screen that will show you exactly how much power is being transmitted to each of the four wheels in real time. Its a pretty educational tool as to what is really occuring. The rear is engaged proportionately more under hard acceleration and particularly in accelerating off a turn, once it gets to higher steady speeds the front receives most of the torque.

When you flip the dashboard switch at speeds under 25 mph, it will engage the transfer case fully for more constant drive from both the front and the back, but you are still limited somewhat across the differentials as there are no LSD devices on either. axle. That function is primarily for getting unstuck in difficult situations.
 
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