Toyota RAV4 Tuning

"Tuning guide to the most effective Toyota RAV4 modifications."

We review and look at RAV4 tuning and provide tips on the choicest modifications.

Toyota RAV4s make awesome project cars and with the right uprated parts you can substantially maximize your driving fun.

Originally designed as a practical family car it's just crying out for some performance upgrades.

It is a smart modern looking SUV class vehicle which is incredibly reliable and great to work on.

We have seen some awesome RAV4 tuning projects and there seems to be quite a loyal fan base of RAV4 owners.

Sadly though we see many people wasting money on their RAV4 doing the wrong mods and then having to start over. Follow our articles to avoid wasting your money

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums


Improving the handling for people often first priority in your RAV4 tuning project.

We would go to a maximum drop of 35mm on most models. You risk ruining the stance and practicality of the car if you go lower than this.

Our aim in RAV4 engine tuning should be to increase peak power and Torque at the top end.

With our pointers your RAV4 can become an awesome performer and yet still reliable daily run around.

The best power gains come from larger engine sizes. The more you start with the bigger the return on investment so engine swaps are good value mods for small engined cars.

RAV4 Engine Tuning.

Engines fitted to the RAV4

First generation (XA10; 1994)

  • 2.0 L 3S-FE I4 (petrol)
  • 2.0 L 3S-GE I4 (petrol)

Second generation (XA20; 2000)



  • 2.0 L 1CD-FTV I4-T

Third generation (XA30; 2005)



  • 2.2 L 2AD-FTV I4-T
  • 2.2 L 2AD-FHV I4-T

Can the RAV4 be tuned?

Yes and we are pleased to report that in most areas there is a growing number of aftermarket parts for this.

Can the RAV4 be remapped?

Most recent models can be easily mapped but early models will require an aftermarket ECU or piggyback ECU to change the mapping parameters.

This list of the stages and performance modifications are usually installed by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you begin.

Getting the right uprated upgrade kits for your planned usage of the car is a time and money saver. Stage 3 competition upgrades just won't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your RAV4

    1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most power in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives on older RAV4's.
    2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
    3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
    4. Suspension Upgrades - improving the handling of the RAV4 really improves your enjoyment of this well designed chassis.

RAV4 Tuning stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include:
Alloy wheels,Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm),Sports exhaust,Lighter flywheel,Panel air filter,Remap.

Typical stage 2 mods often include:
Fast road cam,Power clutch,Fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,Ported and polished head,.

Typical stage 3 mods often include:
Competition cam,Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger),Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves),Sports gearbox,Engine balancing.

Peak power is nice in motorsport but for a daily driven car you need a long torque band and perhaps extending the rev range.

The point of our tips is to give a little insight into the world of modding mods and point you in the right direction, our forum is the place to go for detailed advice and tips on your tuning project, the best sport modifications and all aspects of modding cars.

RAV4 Suspension Mods

Suspension Modifications & Upgrades for the RAV4

Suspension geometry dictates how a vehicle handles, and hence improving it is an excellent method to boost performance.

Lowering Springs

Reduce the height of your vehicle to enhance handling. There are various brands of lowering springs available, but we would strongly recommend you stick with a quality kit, and we prefer coilovers that are adjustable wherever they are available.

Suspension Kits for the Toyota RAV4

Investing in a suspension package is another cost-effective method of achieving a premium appearance and performance.

Coilover Kits for the Toyota RAV4

Coilover systems often, use rubber top mounts on both the front and rear ends to offer a comfortable ride at any speed and allow you to adjust the ride height and spring characteristics.

They are intended to efficiently absorb heavy impacts, providing drivers with a very pleasant ride.
Therefore, if you're seeking for a comparable sensation, consider investing in one of the high-end coilover kits.

Shock Absorbers for the RAV4

As its name implies, shock absorbers are designed to absorb shocks and hence provide a more pleasant ride.

RAV4 Performance Camshafts

A fast road camshaft proves to be one of the best NASP power modifications you can do with a single part fitted to your engine.

Performance camshafts increase the power at higher RPMs and are more suited to gasoline engines than diesel engines. On the majority of engines, you can typically increase top-end power using performance camshafts.

Because the cam profile has a significant impact on the engine's power production, cam modifications may make a significant difference. Due to the fact that the intake and exhaust durations will vary depending on the cam profile used, substantial engine power improvements are possible with cam changes.

Fast road camshafts often boost performance over the rev range; you may lose some bottom-end power, but top-end performance will improve.

While race camshafts increase the top end band, the vehicle will not idle smoothly and bottom end power will almost always suffer.

On a daily driver, you'll want to match the horsepower range to your driving style.

I'd never find a RAV4 Motorsport cam to be a joy to drive in congested traffic. This is because a competitive cam profile produces a very lumpy idle and makes the vehicle more prone to stall or jerk along in stop-and-go traffic; unfortunately, many disregard this and wind up ruining a perfectly decent car by reverting to a fast road or OEM cam profile.

Each engine reacts differently when cams are installed owing to the head and flow characteristics, as well as the cam being less aggressive cam durations. Therefore, see each engine and camshaft as unique due to manufacturing tolerances and quality variances, and set your engine up on a rolling road.

Enhancements to the RAV4's airflow

The intake and exhaust flow play a large part in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car hard to drive in traffic.

You'd need to follow a cam upgrade with other mods and finish with a reflashed ECU to fully realize your gains. Don't forget to uprate the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty.

Using higher octane petrol is another option if you find you are suffering from detonation or premature ignition on your Toyota project after fitting other upgrades.

Uprated injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine. If have increased your fuelling with bigger injectors you will also need to get a bigger fuel pump to supply it.

RAV4 Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Breathing mods are usually next up. Please note that WE DO NOT RECOMMEND INDUCTION KITS, unless you have tuned your car extensively and are finding that the standard air intake has become a restriction.

Induction kits can work well on turbo engines and larger engines (if supplied with a suitable cold air feed or air box), generally though we'd just recommend for RAV4 engines you should just fit a sports panel air filter preferably made from cotton.

It is essential for any engine tuning work to get as much air as possible into your RAV4 engine, with the goal of removing any restriction that may arise after extensive tuning.

Air intake manifolds transport air from the air filter to the engine cylinders during the suck phase.

Upgrades to the RAV4 air intake system

Upgrades to the air intake system are the most critical component of any automobile modification. It is often the first area on which most car owners concentrate their efforts.
An air intake system increases the vehicle's air gulping capability as compared to the factory arrangement.
Improved airflow enables your RAV4 to get a more efficient mixing of fuel and air, hence increasing the combustion rate. As a result, the vehicle's power and torque output will be increased.

RAV4 Performance Panel Filters

Another method of increasing airflow to the engine is to use performance air filters. These components have been particularly engineered to be less obstructive. As a result, they allow for more airflow.

On the RAV4, doing large valve conversions, porting, and head flowing will also improve bhp, and as an extra advantage, will let you to enhance the bhp increase from other modifications.


Sports exhausts balance the flow of air through the engine. But if the exhaust is too big, ie: it's over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose much of your flow rate and end up lacking power and torque.

Getting a professionally ported and polished head with larger valves can fully release the engines power.

A good fast road upgraded clutch will help to keep that power going where it should.

Never cut corners or assume a standard clutch to cope. Remaps offer significant power gains on all turbo charged cars. On NA (naturally aspirated) engines the benefits are doubtful.

However a tuned/remapped ECU on a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will help unleash the potential if you have done a lot of mods.

We've also come across some owners playing with twin charging conversions and making some impressively high power figures.

The most phenomenal power gains for NA (naturally aspirated) engines usually involve the addition of forced induction. Turbos are generally harder to add than a supercharger. It is difficult to map fuelling with a turbo as the boost comes on exponentially with engine speed.

It is easier to map a supercharger because the boost is proportional to engine speed on a linear curve. Decreasing the engines compression ratio will allow you to add forced induction, water injection may also help prevent detonation.

RAV4 Alloy Wheel Upgrades.

Alloy wheels will help the brake cooling and are usually less heavy than the steel ones.

We'd like to point out although they can look cool on the RAV4 big alloy wheels will actually decrease your performance. The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this to the change in your effective final drive ratio.

For this reason we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 18 or 19 inches, although we know some of our members have gone larger than this with no problems with low profile tyres but this just doesn't seem right on the RAV4.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our car forums where you can discuss RAV4 options in more detail with our RAV4 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Toyota tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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2 Responses to “RAV4 Tuning”

  1. Cory says:

    Where do you buy the stage one upgrade kits from for a 1az-fe thanks

  2. mike costello says:

    I have a 2004 Rav 4 T3 which is in mint condition 70,000 full history. I `want to give this motor a lift suspension light bar grabber tyres etc for that additional opportunity for some soft green laning etc. due to its short wheel base and 2 litre petrol off road capability makes it ideal. can you assist?

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