I'm in Southern California's dusty wine country, doing 50mph on a deceptively difficult dirt course. I'm having a great time, learning how completely different and yet totally similar driving on a racetrack and a rally course really are. I finally get my footwork right and slide through a few corners in such a way that, at least in my head, feels like a classic rally shot you'd see in a short film. What manner of beast am I driving? Well... a Toyota RAV4. Hybrid. A mostly stock one, at that. Not exactly the image you had in your head, is it?
It's a common misconception that, to have fun on pavement, you've gotta have a fast car, and to have fun on dirt, you need a serious off-roading monster of a truck or SUV. For the fortunate few who have ever done any serious driving, you know how completely and utterly full of crap that is. You can have an absolute blast in any vehicle, even one you might not have otherwise considered. So when Toyota asked if I'd like to head out to play in the dirt with a lightly prepped RAV4, the answer was pretty obvious. Any car can lead you to fun if you know how to find it.