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  • Writer's pictureMarc Gonzalez

Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro review

The Toyota 4Runner, unlike so many vehicles on the road, is a body-on-frame SUV. However, calling it Sport is a bit of a stretch here. The 4Runner has gained a cult following thanks to its legendary reliability and off-road capabilities, especially the version we had the chance to drive. This raises the question: is it worth the hype it receives in various social media groups and forums? Our test model had an MSRP of $70,266.50 and was built at the Tahara, JPN plant.

Toyota 4Runner TRD pro
Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

The 4Runner's longevity is impressive; it's only in its fifth generation since Toyota introduced it in 1982. The current generation 4Runner sold over 120,000 units in the US in 2022 despite being on sale since 2010 with minor improvements over time. People also love the 4Runner for its iconic boxy styling and wide range of colours. Our test model stood out in a parking lot with its Solar Orange paint. The TRD Pro trim (which stands for Toyota Racing Development) contains a host of additional equipment to meet the needs of off-road driving: TRD FOX Shocks, 31.5" All-Terrain Tires mounted on 17" Matte Black Aluminum Wheels, TRD Front Skid Plate and Basket Style Roof Rack just to name a few. The black front grille with Toyota spelled looks rugged, and the black hood scoop drives home the point that it is a seriously tough vehicle. Due to its high ground clearance of 9.8" (249 mm) to enhance off-road performance, the vehicle sits quite tall and requires a slight jump if you're under 5ft 6 (168 cm). The off-road wheels stand out quite nicely with the orange paint; the same applies to the TRD badge on the C pillars.

The interior of the Toyota 4Runner draws a bit of controversy. Many like the retro style of the cabin since it has stayed the same since Toyota introduced this generation way back in 2010. Others, like us, found it a bit laughable to find a ridiculously large gear selector still. It's a no-frills interior, but for a $70,266.50 price tag, we expected better to compete against strong competition from the Detroit manufacturers. That being said, everything is easy to reach and understand: the gauge cluster, the climate controls and the Lever-type 4WD Selector, namely. The seats are comfortable and can handle any terrain you take your 4Runner to. The interior room is excellent; this vehicle can seat five people with their luggage in the back without any trouble. If you have a four-legged friend, the power tailgate window is ideal for enjoying the fresh air without the excess drag from the lateral windows. The second-row seats are equipped with identified ISOFIX ports and rear anchors, so no worries there. Infotainment-wise, it's pretty straightforward. You will find a small 8-inch touchscreen, a decent 15-speaker JBL sound system, available Apple Carplay and Android Auto and a separate display for climate control. Many people like the large knobs to adjust the temperature or the volume, and we agree as they also look pretty rugged.

Toyota 4Runner ISOFIX ports
Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

Under the hood, the Toyota 4Runner TRD PRO distinguishes itself from the competition with its old-school yet reliable single powertrain: a 4.0L V6 engine combined with a 5-speed automatic transmission. This combination develops a decent 270 hp and a respectable 5,000 lbs towing capacity. The 4Runner feels slow on the road due to its weight and lack of a turbo. You can expect a 0-100 kph time in the high seven, which was expected. While the transmission is sluggish in changing gears, the loud exhaust note brings a hint of vintage to the ensemble. Steering is vague, and there's a lot of body roll when you take a hard turn. When you brake, the whole weight shifts from the back to the front, and it can get old quickly.

That being said, the 4Runner shines the most off the pavement. The TRD Pro gets many goodies, such as a Locking Rear Differential, TRD-Tuned Front Coil and rear Leaf Springs, TRD FOX Shocks and a TRD Front Skid Plate. The legendary, reliable powertrain, associated with the abovementioned features, makes this vehicle sought after by off-road enthusiasts; honestly, it works! Reaching the Multi-Terrain selector can be tricky since it's positioned on the ceiling; it is time to play in the dirt once that's done. The vehicle responded as expected in the sand; the tires were only partially adapted for this particular terrain as they're All-Terrain and not entirely off-road. One big issue is the fuel economy, which is below average today. We averaged 16.8L/100km in combined driving during our week; the official figure is 13.8L/100km.

Toyota 4Runner drone shoot
Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

Closing out, the Toyota 4Runner isn't like any other in Toyota's portfolio. It's ancient, boxy and off-road focused, all characteristics buyers have liked consistently for the past 13 years. It's due for a refresh, but the future is a bit uncertain at this point, with the reintroduction for the North American market of a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser. How can the next-generation 4Runner keep its spot is a difficult question to answer right now. If you're looking for a spacious, reliable vehicle with simple technology and high resale value, consider getting one of these vehicles.

Toyota 4Runner dog
Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

Toyota has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Toyota Canada. The above reflects our personal opinion of the car referred to above.

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