• Mitchell Weitzman

Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Road Beat Archive, July 29, 2019

Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Review - Matching the Image

Now in its tenth year of the fifth generation (The 4Runner started production in 1984), the 4Runner continues to be a solid, consistent seller for Toyota with a growing following, last year selling almost 140,000 units, more 4Runners than ever before, at least since 1994. That’s almost triple the 4Runners sold in 2013 when I reported about 51,000 units sold for that year. Even more remarkable with sales being stolen by its similarly sized CUV sibling, the Camry based Highlander. They are totally different vehicles with no relationship between them and effectively no parts bin sharing.

4Runner remains a real truck-based SUV, borrowing heavily from the stout Tacoma truck line with a true body on frame design that is about as bullet proof as an M1A1 Abrams tank.  The shape is rugged boxy with a higher belt line giving the 4Runner a chopped look.  Squared off wheel wells with blisters and complex head and tail lights add to its statement that the 4Runner means serious business. Most people are impressed by its strong aggressive looks. It is muscular. Coefficient of drag is a relatively low 0.36.

While it may look big, it is a true midsize at 191 inches long riding on a wheelbase of 110 inches. However, it is wide at 76 inches and tall at six feet with the roof rack. But with that width comes a cabin with almost five feet of shoulder room and a track of over 63 inches which pays dividends when doing the twisties. The cassis from the 4th generation introduced in 2002.

Under the hood is the familiar 4.0L DOHC 24 valve V-6 making 270 hp at a low 5,600 rpm and a stout 278 pounds of twist at 4,400 rpm. This engine also dates from 2002. Interestingly, the Tacoma has switched to the car based 3.5L V-6 which produces more peak power (278 hp, but less torque, 265 pounds). Why not the 4Runner? The V-6 sends its power to either the rear wheels or four wheels via a five-speed auto tranny. The Tacoma gets a six-speeder auto cog-swapper. While not a six or more speeder, the five-speed unit does a great job. A six speeder wouldn’t make much difference with this engine’s broad torque curve, which is table-top-flat from 1,800-5,200 rpm.

Temperature during the road test was over 100 degrees which may have some effect on diminishing performance. Zero-60 mph times averaged 7.95 seconds. Passing performance was quick as well with a 50-70 run requiring 4.17 seconds and the same run up a six percent grade slowing that time by almost two seconds to 5.87 seconds. Excellent times for a 4,750-pound vehicle but slightly off the numbers from 2014 which were 7.78, 3.98 and 5.78 seconds. While Temperature can make a difference, the difference in the numbers is insignificant.

EPA rates the 4Runner at 17/20/18 mpg city/highway/combined.  The 4Runner averaged 17.7 mpg in 480 miles of overall driving including 20 percent highway, San Francisco stop and go, and coastal highway traffic with some rural two lane. At 70 mph on a level highway it returned 22.1 mpg (runs are done two ways to correct for winds and elevation changes). One saving grace is the 4Runner’s huge 23-gallon fuel tank.

Suspension duties are handled by a stout fully independent double wishbone set up in front and a four link extremely well controlled live or solid axle in the rear. Fox 2.5-inch shocks with coils are in all four corners. Seventeen by 7.0-inch alloys mount huge 265/70 series Nitto Terra Grappler. Helping off road control is the CRAWL system to match terrain with five speed levels which keeps off roading smooth and under total control. In addition, it also has a Multi-Terrain system which adjusts wheel slip to match the terrain selected. 

Handling, enhanced by very quick steering, 2.7 turns lock to lock, is very good. When pushed hard in the corners you can feel the wide 265/70 tires working when changing the direction of a nearly 5,000-pound vehicle. Surprisingly, body roll is controlled. Because of its tall sheer size, while handling is powerful, it feels a bit cumbersome when pushed in the corners with significant understeer.

Ride quality was extremely smooth on the interstate to a muted firm in more difficult road conditions. While it wasn’t jarring it could be jiggly. Only when the engine was pushed hard did engine noise enter the cabin, but in normal driving it is very quiet, no wind, road or engine noise. The engine turns a slow 2,000 rpm at 70 mph. It is stiff, but reasonably comfortable ride.

Unless you love the looks or need an impressive, truly capable “real” off road vehicle, perhaps a mid-size Toyota Highlander might be a better choice in a SUV/CUV. But Highlander won’t go where the 4Runner can.

Brakes are powerful with vented discs well over a foot in diameter in all four corners. All the acronyms are standard along with plenty of airbags including a roll sensing side curtain bag for all rows of seats.

With the TRD Pro upgrade, seats go from cloth to a very good synthetic leather called SofTex that will have you second guessing as to whether it’s leather. They seem more comfortable with excellent support. The instrument panel is a joy to use. Yes it has all the bells and whistles but it is very intuitive. Instrumentation is complete and extremely legible and usable as you would expect. Rear seating is huge also meaning cargo room is copious, about 90 cubic feet behind the front seats and almost 50 cubic feet behind the second row. A third row option is available as is a slide out rear table, very convenient for tailgating or loading and unloading.

Pricing for the TRD Pro starts at $46,415 plus $1,045 for the boat ride from Japan. The only option was the $350 sliding cargo deck and you are at $47,810. Everything else is standard including NAV, sunroof, backup camera, the connectivity to talk to the space station and power heated front seats. My unit was done in a deep enamel Voodoo Blue, nice. In 35 years the 4Runner has matured nicely, without much change in the last 18 years through the fourth and fifth generations with sales ever accelerating.


Specifications

Price $47,810 TRD Pro

Engine: 4.0L DOHC 24 valve V-6 270 hp @ 5,600 rpm

278 lbs.-ft. of torque @ 4,400 rpm

Transmission: Five speed electronically controlled automatic (V-6)


Transfer case (switchable locking)

Part time AWD shift on the fly with low range (2.566 reduction)

Full time AWD single speed with locking center differential (Limited)


Configuration: Longitudinal mounted front engine/ rear wheel drive, all wheel drive

Dimensions:

Wheelbase 109.8 inches

Length 191.3 inches (TRD Pro)

Width 75.8 inches

Height 72.0 inches (with TRD Pro roof rack)

Ground clearance (4X2/4X4) 9.0/9.6 inches

Weight 4,750 pounds

GVWR (Trail) 6,300 pounds

Track (f/r) 64.1/64.1 inches

Steering lock to lock 2.7 turns

Turning circle 37.4 feet

Fuel capacity 23 gallons

Cargo capacity (second row up/folded/third row option up) 47.2/89.7/9.0 cubic feet

Wheels 17X7.0 inches

Tires  P265/70X17

Tow capacity 5,000 pounds

 Coefficient of drag 0.36


Performance

0-60 7.95 seconds 

50-70 4.17 seconds

50-70 uphill 5.87 seconds 

Top speed Who cares? It will cruise effortlessly, quietly and smoothly well above all legal speed limits in the United States.

Fuel economy

EPA rated 17/20/18 mpg city/highway/combined.  Expect 18-19 mpg in rural country driving and 22 mpg on the highway at legal speeds