By on February 26, 2015

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Ladies and gentlemen, there are road tests, and then there are off-road tests. In a typical road test, writers use the car on their daily commute, playing with all the features and determine which bother them and which don’t. There may be some family activities thrown in, like going on a weekend trip or driving around the soccer team carpool. Sometimes, they might attempt to verify the manufacturer-reported performance numbers and use their smartphone to record 0-60 acceleration times and lateral g-forces in the corners. Other times they might go to the hardware store and fill the trunk with bricks to cargo volume and payload capacity. But most of the time, writers just utilize the car for day-to-day activities, evaluating a product in the most mundane of circumstances.

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In an off-road test, the writer has to set aside a day or two of his or her time and plan an excursion that doesn’t involve driving on paved roads. Their smartphone probably won’t work unless they’ve scaled the top of a hill with their vehicle. The only features worth using are the radio (if it can pick up any stations), and the transfer case to shift into low range so you can climb up the nearest mountain for the ultimate photo of your off-road test car. There won’t be any other people, let alone cars, for miles, meaning you can avoid loud stereos and your carpooling buddies’ conversations about how they now have to watch Birdman since it won a lot of Oscars. You won’t have people staring at you in the Home Depot parking lot with a stack of bricks that can collapse on you at any time. Nothing around you during the test is ordinary.

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Such was the case I was presented with when I found out I’d be getting the 4Runner TRD Pro for a week. Beyond driving on the road, I had to discover how the truck performed off the concrete, since that’s what most buyers would buy a 4Runner TRD Pro for. It was perfect since a) I don’t like going to Home Depot, and b) testing the 4Runner off-road was a great reason to spend the day away from civilization.

First, let’s start focus on the looks of the 4Runner TRD Pro. With the black wheels and 31.5-inch Nitto Terra Grappler tires, the “TOYOTA” lettering on the grille rather than the emblem, and the TRD suspension kit, the TRD Pro looks the business. The exterior colors offered are a solid black, a solid white, and a solid red-orange color called “Inferno,” color choices that are oddly very similar to what the BMW 1-Series M was offered with. All the interiors have black SofTex (think a very nice-feeling vinyl material that most people will mistake for leather) seats and black interior trim with red stitching. Again, very similar to the 1-Series M. You can’t get any other interior color choices from the factory.

Toyota didn’t focus too much on on-road performance of the 4Runner TRD Pro. They stuck with what they knew in the 4.0-liter V-6 and 5-speed automatic combination that’s found in all new 4Runners. Sure, you might want more power, but I wouldn’t be comfortable dealing with a faulty turbocharger or supercharger in the middle of any desert in the world. I will admit it doesn’t accelerate to 60 miles per hour very quickly. As for handling, even with those immense Nitto tires and the TRD Bilstein shocks, the TRD Pro still drove well. It isn’t available with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System like the Trail model, so the handling isn’t as sharp. However, don’t expect U-turns to go perfectly. Three-point turns will become the norm if you suddenly decide to go in the other direction. I learned that the hard way.

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Regarding comfort and ergonomics, considering the off-road modifications, the 4Runner remained a refined vehicle, especially compared to some Jeeps and modified Nissan Xterras that the 4Runner was hanging with. The heated front seats were power-adjustable with two-way lumbar support, while the back seats provided plenty of legroom. On the highway the 4Runner rode like any normal car. After five hours round-trip of highway driving and off-roading, there were no complaints of discomfort or soreness from any of the passengers. Unlike the Limited, the TRD Pro only seats five people, so it is not for large families. Cargo room is plentiful, and I was able to fit two bikes with two-thirds of the rear seat folded down.

The TRD Pro comes standard with the Entune premium audio system and navigation. The audio system was fairly good for a base unit and I can only imagine what the JBL unit in the Limited sounds like. As for operating the navigation system, the same Toyota quirks apply. There’s limited use of the system while driving, so I found myself shifting into Park at some stoplights; however, using voice control on the go (which understood what I said surprisingly well) eliminates a good deal of the problem. You can install apps on the Entune system as well, while the screen doubles up as a back-up camera display.

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This thing was absolutely exceptional off-road. And all things considered, I wasn’t easy on it. Since driving into the creeks around my house to test the 4Runners off-road capabilities would likely earn me a visit from local law enforcement and looks of scorn from my neighborhood, I took it to the Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area. Think of it as a skate park, but for people with off-road vehicles rather than wearing skates. There are trails and obstacle courses to take your 4WD vehicle on. When you’re there, the views are secondary to the driving.

The key off-road features in the 4Runner were the Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control. Those controls were located on the overhead console, and were very simple to use in tandem with the driver information screen in the gauge cluster. Multi-Terrain Select came in handy plenty of times when going in the mud, traversing the rocks, and doing the mogul obstacles. All I had to do was make sure the 4Runner was shifted into low range with the correct mode selected, and the Multi-Terrain Select managed to find grip on such surfaces, even with a wheel in the air.

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Crawl Control could be thought of as an off-road cruise control system. It worked by engaging low range, pressing the on/off button on the overhead console, selecting a speed (Low, Medium, High), and then the car would work both the throttle and the brakes while I steered the 4Runner. Steering input from the driver is a must, but your feet can be off the pedals when the Crawl Control is on. Putting a foot on the throttle or brakes disengages Crawl Control. The system worked exceptionally well when ascending and descending steep and rocky dirt roads, and working without fault when doing the adventure course at Hollister Hills.

When it came to Hollister Hills SVRA’s 4×4 Obstacle Course, where the avid four-wheelers bring their rock crawlers and production vehicles with plenty of off-road upgrades, the 4Runner held its own very well for a truck that was entirely stock. Some obstacles which Jeeps couldn’t climb, the 4Runner managed to do, while on muddy roads, the 4Runner managed to keep going without requiring me to select low range. On one particularly steep obstacle, the locking rear differential helped tremendously, as otherwise, the vehicle would have had a more difficult time climbing up. Overall, I enjoyed the 4Runner TRD Pro off-road and the vehicle (without any modifications whatsoever) was very, very capable.

On the trails, the 4Runner was delightful. It was able to climb up the rockiest of trails in order to get to a nice overlook to have the lunch I brought. When descending or ascending some of the trails, all I had to do was engage Crawl Control, point the 4Runner in the correct direction, and the onboard systems did the rest of the work. The size of the truck wasn’t an issue; there were no dents on the bodywork of the car and few moments where I preferred the size of a Jeep Wrangler. I left Multi-Terrain Select on most of the time as an added line of defense, which was extremely helpful when ascending some steep trails at Hollister Hills.

As for downsides with the TRD Pro, there are a few. One is the fuel economy, where I got 17 mpg during my time with the 4Runner both on- and off-road in 2WD, 4WD, and low range enabled. On the bright side, the fuel tank is 23 gallons, meaning the range is quite good. On the other hand, get used to long fill-ups (both a Yaris and a Cavalier filled up at the same pump during the time it took me to refuel the 4Runner) and $60+ gas bills. Another downside is that there are only going to be 3,400 units of the 4Runner TRD Pro for 2015. As such, the only available options on this model are only the dealer-installed accessories. A sunroof, leather seats, and a factory-installed high-end sound system aren’t available.

However, Toyota knows the 4Runner TRD Pro isn’t for everyone if they’re offering only 3,400 of them. If you need a third seat and/or leather seats, you should choose the Limited (or spend $30,000 more for a Land Cruiser). If you have to have a sunroof and want the option of more adaptive and dynamic suspension (KDSS), you can go with the Trail. If you don’t want to spend more than $40,000, and I don’t think dealers will lower the price much on the TRD Pro, get the SR5. If fuel economy is your thing, get a Highlander. And if you want more power, consider a Tundra TRD Pro with the 5.7-liter V-8 or getting the Land Cruiser, as it too has Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select.

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As for pricing, the 4Runner TRD Pro I tested stickered at $43,134, with some accessories installed. Oddly, the base price on my test car was $200 lower than the base price on the Toyota website, which is $41,310 before the $885 destination charge. Additionally, be aware that many TRD Pros will come equipped with the sliding rear cargo deck for an extra $350, so factor that into the final price. Despite the price increases, with an MSRP of around $43,000, I think the 4Runner TRD Pro is a steal. Normal 4Runners are generally listed towards the top of Kelley Blue Book reports of projected resale value, and the 4WD TRD Pro is certain to depreciate less due to its low production numbers.

Now, be aware that procuring a 4Runner TRD Pro is actually pretty tough at the moment. After going on the forums, many people have to order their TRD Pros and wait a few months. Some have even had to pay over sticker due to where they live. When I tried searching for a 4Runner TRD Pro in the San Francisco Bay Area, I had an extremely tough time finding one. After my search and contacting local dealers, it looked like I would have to order the car (and even pay over sticker in some cases) to get my hands on a new TRD Pro. If anything, I think the depreciation will be a lot less than any of us ever would think.

In the end, I am enamored with the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, especially its off-road and even on-road capabilities. If you’re considering a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, Xterra PRO-4X, Land Rover LR4, or a Grand Cherokee with the off-road package, take a good look at the 4Runner TRD Pro. It’s rare that I write this of any car, but if you can manage to get your hands on one at MSRP, you should seriously think it over. Considering that it’s being made in limited quantities, is reliable, managed to do some very tough trails that some highly modified off-road vehicles can’t do, looks really good, and is still your normal, closed, comfortable 4Runner at the end of day, the TRD Pro is phenomenal.

Toyota provided the vehicle, a full tank of gas for this review, and insurance. That last one was important since I returned it with a couple gashes on the underbody.

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78 Comments on “Review: Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro...”


  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Be still, my beating heart!

  • avatar
    jrmason

    I really dig it. My wife could use this right now just to run up and down our road. Weve actually been looking at the 4Runners lately to replace her Mountaineer. I Just put in the 3rd set of balljoints on her Mountaineer, and she is a conservative driver. First set was done under warranty at under 35k, second set lasted a tad over 50k but not long enough in my book. Going to do a set of Bilsteins all the way around this spring if we still have it.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I traded my 2010 4Runner with 38k miles in winter of 2014 and the trade was only $4500 shy of what I paid new. The car I replaced it with was bought at invoice, so they didn’t make it up on the new car’s price. I gave a chuckle when I saw it on the dealer’s site for approximately what I paid new. I checked a few weeks later and it was gone. Amazing resale on that vehicle.

    I want a TRD Pro 4Runner in a bad way. On the forums, there was a thread about your “perfect” 4Runner. The TRD Pro nailed every item I would have changed on my 2010 SR5 (all black interior instead of black/gray), TOYOTA on the grille, better approach and departure angles, better suspension. I loved my SR5 but it didn’t fit in with my needs, so I had to let it go. That vehicle was so willing to do whatever you asked. Terrible backcountry roads to get to trailheads were handled with aplomb. It ferried all the gear on the annual group camping/offroading trip. As another owner said, I’m just between 4Runners at the moment. I’m excited to see what they do for the next generation. Maybe the life situation will be right to get another one.

    Did you try out the ATRAC when you were out and about? That traction control system is the bees knees.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      As a prospective future buyer of a 5th gen 4Runner, it was painful for me to see how expensive the used trucks were, basically makes no sense not to buy new.

      I’m curious to try out ATRAC for myself, I hear the latest ATRAC II+ is quite a marvel at how fast it detects slip and how well it controls individual wheels. It’s been said it can replace lockers in function, but a locker AND ATRAC is of course even better. I’ve heard of people overheating their ABS pumps on longer trails where ATRAC is constantly working, everything is fine after letting it cool off a bit. The straightforward and durable nature of an old school locker has the edge under those circumstances.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I really don’t understand it when resale value is like this. It’s the same way with Subarus in the PNW. Who are these people buying used cars for the same price as you can get on a new car after discounts?

      I intended to buy a late-model used Subie. I bought a new one instead because it was a smarter financial decision.

  • avatar
    Dan

    The TRD Pro package, a $1,600 set of shocks and a different grill for a $5,000 sticker premium. Closer to $8,000 after the non-existent discounting on a limited production special. For that money there are no 33s, no shorter axle, Toyota couldn’t even put in the decent radio from the Limited.

  • avatar
    Fonzy

    I was just at the dealership asking about the TRD Pro this past weekend. I’m really thinking about trading my FJ in for this. I would love 4 real doors and that roll-down back window. They said I would need to put a deposit down and wait a few months. This review just made me want this even more. Decisions decisions…

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    This past winter I was back home in Central NY visiting family, and drove out to a local hiking trail with my father for a decent little day hike (Abbott Loop in Danby NY, highly recommended). The last 100 or so yards of the fire road through the forest that goes by the trail head were very fun to tackle in my 4Runner: a steep climb with deep ruts, loose rocks of varying size, frozen over puddles, all of this coated in snow. 4Hi made short work of it, and something like a Subaru Outback would probably handle it with ease if the right line was taken. The only other vehicle we saw up top was a 2nd gen Xterra Pro 4X on Goodyear Authorities (hybrid mud/all terrain tire). On our way back down the road we encountered a guy and his wife in their new CRV slowly approaching. They took one look up the trail and (wisely) chose to turn around, the guy’s wife was giving him a total death stare. We then bounced our way down and gave them a friendly wave :)

    Long story short, there is still a place for vehicles like the 4Runner, and obviously people still interested in buying them. I just hope it’s a large enough market to justify the business case, especially in the current environment of CAFE standards and whatnot.

  • avatar
    anti121hero

    Not a big fan of toyota styling but these are much more capable than almost any other offering on the market today, except the Wrangler. Although I have seen one, albeit a base model, get stuck on the first mud hole in the park I usually romp my jeeps in.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Probably on stock highway/mileage friendly tires. Doesn’t matter what sort of power/lockers/articulation you have if you don’t have any grip! Mud is especially tough to deal with, even for a lot of otherwise decent all-terrain tires. Big lugs and wide sipes are the order of the day to spin and clear mud out of themselves.

      • 0 avatar
        anti121hero

        Oh I know!! My cherokee is sitting on 31″ bf Goodrich mud terrains and i will tell you it makes a world of difference. I have had good luck with certain all terrains, I have Goodyear wranglers on my grand and it is very capable, much more so than the dunlop radial rovers that were on it before. With a few inches of lift on both for clearance I have been able to go through anything with both.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Nice truck. I’ve been looking at the Tundra Crew Max TRD Pro and like it a lot. Just wish it was available with a sunroof.

    One thing that bugs me is the people who say “it’s no Raptor”. It’s not trying to be. Appreciate it for what it is- a more off road focused Tundra.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    ” 4Runner TRD Pro I tested stickered at $43,134″

    You can get a fairly loaded Jeep Grand Cherokee for that kind of money minus the creepy clown face with the runny mascara

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Totally different markets IMO, and from a capability standpoint I think you get more for your money with the ‘yota. The latest JGCs, in their most potent Overland form, rely entirely on ‘whizbang’ tricks to attain capability and good numbers (on paper). The ground clearance, for example, is 11.3 inches or something like that. A seemingly fantastic number until you realize that that is with the optional air suspension extended to its limits. Now there are a few issues here: first off, when the air struts are this extended, there is very little wheel travel left, and the suspension has very little compliance. This negatively affects articulation and the ability of the suspension to conform to the terrain to help find grip for individual wheels. This upper most setting is basically designed to help you get over a single obstacle (a fallen log, say), then lower the truck back down as soon as you are over. To run it in full extend for a whole trip would leave the passengers worse for the wear. Secondly is the notoriously finicky and fragile nature of these systems. Land Rovers are an obvious example, but even these very same Grand Cherokees (2011+ wk2 body) are starting to experience air suspension issues. It’s happened to Land Rover Discovery guys before that they are left on bump stops to get to civilization after they spring a leak and the compressor overheats and quits.

      Next, Jeep uses a very advanced traction control system to basically overcome the aforementioned issues with a stiff, raised air suspension. In most cases this works well, but I am of the opinion that a real, mechanical locking rear differential still has no equal in the traction control world, atleast from a reliability standpoint. Maybe a drivetrain/traction control engineer can set me straight there.

      EDIT: as far as mechanical lock vs TC, Jeep themselves made sure to put a real diff lock in the rear end of the new Cherokee Trailhawk, a vehicle that spends most of its time offroad teetering on 2 wheels due to poor articulation. Traction control systems can overheat the brakes with repeated use, so for something that constantly NEEDS assistance with traction due to articulation constraints, a solid mechanical lock seems to be the way Jeep’s engineers decided to go.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        The grand Cherokee has better departure angles than this has better articulation ,i know not of these air suspension issues and the Quadra drive system is very robust and pushing 30 years old, as long as one wheel is on the ground you’ll have traction. not to mention it has an engine and transmission from the 21st century, v8 torque and power and an 8 speed transmission. 236 horsepower and a 5 speed transmission is simply just not acceptable in 2015 I get the same mpg and off road ability out of my 19 year old grand Cherokee orvis

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Source on the articulation claim?

          Not all quadradrives are created equal, the one in the current GC no longer has the original ‘spin then lock’ vari-lok differentials front and rear, it instead only has what is still called a vari-lok in the REAR diff ONLY but is actually an electronically controlled and automatically engaged (when the truck thinks it’s right) locking rear differential. Besides that it has the standard ABS-brake “simulated” differential locking that is standard on just about every SUV with off road aspirations. Jeep calls it BLD (brake lock differential) but it is the same exact thing as Toyota’s ATRAC II+ in concept. The difference may come from the logic and how it detects slip and what the driver may want to do given certain circumstances. So in summary the Toyota gives the driver more control by allowing him to lock the rear diff, and it will stay locked. With the Jeep you just have to put faith in what the computers decide for you. And then both have their traction control systems to brake the free spinning wheels to transfer torque to the other side.

          Regarding air suspensions:
          Think about how an air spring works. As it is extended, the range of motion is becoming constricted at the top end of the travel, you’re basically forcing the wheels to ‘droop.’ Now if there is an rut even lower than your now fully extended wheel, there is no travel left to descend to the ground. Additionally, driving around in the fully extended mode yields a brutally stiff and non-compliant ride, again due to the lack of remaining travel. I was briefly looking at current gen GCs, specifically the more capable variants and reading the forums scared me off from the air suspensions.

          plenty of stuff like this out there:
          linkhttp://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f309/2012-gc-air-suspension-failure-1990602/

          The 4Runner’s 1GRFE is the stronger 278 hp variant.

          I get the same mpg and offroad ability in my 19 year old 4Runner Limited, and I could get better mpg and superior off road ability in a Suzuki Samurai but that’s not exactly the point is it?

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      I’m a huge Jeep fan (hence name) but the GC can’t touch this off road. GC much nicer on the road and better off road than most need.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        It’d be neat to see a remake of the original ZJ (1993-1998) grand Cherokee: something between the Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee. Either solid axles all around or independent front end with a solid rear, with some solid ground clearance and less low hanging plastic.

        I had a friend with a clean 1998 Laredo with the 4.0 I-6 and the selec-trac (?) full-time/part-time 4wd system. Very nice truck that actually rode incredibly smoothly on washboard roads. I thought the interiors on those were very nice and comfy as well.

        I would gladly drive one of those 4.0L ZJ grand Cherokees today, as long as the transmission and suspension/steering checked out and minor maladies were sorted.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    “It’d be neat to see a remake of the original ZJ (1993-1998) grand Cherokee: something between the Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee.”

    They already are 90% of the way there with the four-door hardtop Wrangler. In just about any quantifiable metric it’s an exact XJ successor. To be a ZJ successor it would just need a bit more sound deadening and a luxury package for the interior.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Well I was of the same opinion until I actually drove one. The interiors on the JKUs are just too dang tight. Chasing that incredible departure angle the Jeep people don’t leave much of a trunk length-wise. And that cool removable roof means that there are huge roll bars intruding on both passenger and cargo space inwards into the interior. The rear row of seats is impossibly upright, uncomfortable for any trip longer than 15-20 minutes IMO. But NVH wise, I was thoroughly impressed. The ride was a bit stiff and bouncy, a bit more so than I remember my friend’s ZJ being, but not bad.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        What people forget with their rose-tinted nostalgia is that the XJ was incredibly small inside as well. The ZJ was a bit bigger, but not as big as current GCs. It’s really, really hard to put legit off-road capability and interior space into the same package.

        Maybe Jeep could hit the spot you want by further beefing up the car-based Cherokee Trailhawk.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Oh I agree, I looked at a 1996 XJ a few years ago and was astounded at how tiny it was.

          The ZJ has 40cu ft with seats up and 79 with the second row folded, likewise my 4runner (this really must be nails on a chalkboard for some by now, shout out to CoreyDL!) has about 43 cu ft seats up, 80 seats down.

          The JKU has just 31 seats up, 70 down, and more of that space is vertical, potentially obstructing view rearward once you load all your things up.

          The new Cherokee has a tiny trunk, probably smaller than even the XJ.

          For my kind of off the beaten path travel, space to hold gear, people, and dogs sometimes outranks ability to climb boulders per say. I just need to be confident that my truck will be able to take a beating and to get me out of some tight spots.

          So as far as marrying interior capacity to off road ability, just look at the 4Runner in this review: I’d argue it’s the second most capable factory stock 4wd vehicle on sale in the US right now (after the Wrangler Rubicon), and yet it holds a massive 47.2 cu ft behind the rear seats and 90 cu ft with seats folded. That’s just plain huge, and better than most midsize crossovers.

          • 0 avatar
            carve

            The XJ was small, but people forget how well packaged it was. It had 36 cu ft seats up, 72 cu ft seats down, and is about 18″ shorter than a 4-runner. It’s pretty tough to find something with similar dimensions with more cargo volume. When I camp in my ’95 XJ, I take out the seat bottom, move the front seats forward, fill the gap with backpacks, and can sleep comfortably at 6′ tall with my 5′ 9″ girlfriend.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Hmm I dunno, there’s no way I could have fit everything I took down to the Outer Banks last summer in an XJ, no way no how.

            2 medium dogs (Airedale and a bulldog), they had the run of the entire trunk rearward of where the rear seats normally would be
            2 large dog crates (collapsed, about the size of a 47″ flatscreen each)
            beach chairs/umbrella
            16 quart cooler
            clothes for 2 people for a week in a duffel bag and a suit case

            I was still able to pack in such a way that I had an unobstructed view rearward out the back.

            With the back seats folded (cushion tips forward then the, seatback folds down flat) we were able to lay in the back comfortably (I’m 5’11”). We had the perfect setup for the beach, laying back there drinking Coronas and relaxing, the hatch opened up towards the ocean. If that’s not perfect product placement for an SUV I don’t know what is!

            But I agree with your point, for being as long as a Honda Civic, XJs are fantastically capacious rigs.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I had an ’89 XJ Laredo, what a nut-buster

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’m just thrown off by spending this sort of coin on something that doesn’t especially work on the road, and screams I LOVE ADVENTURE AND BACKPACKS when you drive it to work. That means this is relegated to play status like the Raptor. But it’s not as cool as a Raptor, because it still says 4Runner on it. If it’s gonna be relegated to play car status, you can get a Wrangler. If you want a play car offroader plus another car, you can spend much less and get an Xterra, as we discussed yesterday.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I thought the author specifically mentioned that this was still a very usable package in day-to-day driving. Heck a combined real world average of 17 mpg for something with that much clearance and all terrain tires is not bad at all!

      I agree, the rims scream “It’s TRD Bro, let’s jump some dunes BRO, have you seen my Monster cap BRO?” let alone that monstrous fascia that afflicts all new 4Runners.

      They should make just the suspension package a stand-alone option, along with the rear locker (now I’m dreaming). You could take a plain jane SR5 and have all of the capability of the highest trim package, without the “BRO” stigma, or the cost.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I just don’t think it is – with the massive AT tires causing noise, and all the height, and turning circle… I’m sure it’s not easy to park. The image problem would be a big issue for me. Embarrassing to drive to a meeting in that.

        EDIT: Also in white it looks much too like a utility or United Nations vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I wonder if the turning radius is worsened by the larger wheels (ie they put stops on the rack to prevent the larger tires from ever rubbing the fender liners). The ones I’ve driven, both on short test drives and as a day long rental, I never found that hard to maneuver around in, short of the slightly marginal rear visibility due to smaller windows than the old ones I’m used to. Heck a 4Runner isn’t much longer than a decent sized sedan.

          But the author seemed to state that it was a comfortable vehicle to drive on the highway, for all passengers included. Now getting into and out of this thing might be a different story.

          I see loads of ‘respectable’ older people at work drive up in upper trim level JK Wranglers, Rubicons with the factory mud terrain tires and all. Heck the wealthy suburb north of work is absolutely crawling with JK Unlimiteds. It’s like the second coming of the SUV around here. It looks butch, is still usable as a family vehicle, and on top of that the top comes off in the summer! Add to that it’s cheaper than an RX350 or especially something like an X5, and a whole lot more interesting looking.

        • 0 avatar
          brkriete

          I have a 2014 Trail Edition in white. :)

          It works adequately on road (the handling is….poor), is quiet and comfortable on the highway for longish trips, scoots when you give it gas, and holds two enormous infant car seats and two good sized dogs all at once while completely ignoring our terrible rim-bending potholes, letting me see over snow banks and over other cars, and getting me home easily and safely in the massive snowstorms we have recently had.

          I do like BACKPACKS and ADVENTURE so it’s also a perfect fit for me image-wise and I’m looking forward to taking my boys camping in it in a couple years. It also doesn’t hurt that when and if I buy something new it will still be worth a bigger fraction of what I paid for it than almost anything else on the road.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          What massive AT tires? 31″ P-rated Nittos with 13/32 of tread are probably the first thing a dudebro (or in 7% of cases, an actual offroader) will replace.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    How much money do I have to pay Toyota to put a better looking front end on it?

  • avatar
    JayDub

    I want to love this truck. I’ve considered it as my next truck purchase. I would use its off-road capabilities to their full potential.

    However…I think I will buy the 4Runner Trail Premium. Maybe in black or silver.

    The Trail Premium tones down the look, handles better on-road, adds moonroof and other features, and still offers ? 95% ? of the TRD Pro off-road capabilities. It is also less expensive, at approx. $42K.

    With the TRD Pro, I’d be embarrassed to have business meetings or client lunches in the city. The face (especially in white) reminds me of Insane Clown Posse. And the rims are too TRD BRO-ish.

    The Trail Premium seems more of a wolf in khakis.

    One of my other choices is the LR4. But that is bloody expensive, less reliable, worse residual, and slightly blingy for my rural area.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    17 MPG is very good if it includes the offroad run, that’s a lot of idling and heavy load on the engine.

    I really love the basic form but they would do wonders if they stopped integrating the bumpers so damn much, if they want to put the mall-mommy plastic bumpers on it at least don’t integrate them. Building a actual bumper sucks when you have to build a complicated design just so the bumper doesn’t look stupid. And if your going to buy one that just increases the costs. And let’s be honest that front end is terrible, the rear bumper isn’t much better.
    The computer controlled modulating goes full stop against offroad needs, it overheats, can cause systematic failure, and doesn’t offer any advantage to anyone that is knowledgable enough to be in a situation where it’s use is intended to be called for.

    Toyota should also bring back the V8 option as they now produce the only offroad focused vehicle aside from the wrangler. The V8 would bring a good number of buyers if it’s not priced ridiculously.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      Agreed on the V8. A 5.7L 4Runner would be a beast.

      I also really like the “TOYOTA” grille. Would like to see it on the Tundra, Tacoma, Sequoia, Highlander and RAV-4 as well.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I have a 2014 4runner SR5 as a rental this week. It does seem like a sturdy beast, but you sure pay in on-road capability for that off-road capability! Truly terrible ride and handling on this thing, and pretty poor fuel economy. I don’t get why you would want one unless you were using it off-road all the time. Really cramped and hard to see out of too. My Range Rover is much less compromised on-road, but of course, you pay in $$$$ capability for that, both upfront and in maintenance costs.

    If you are going to go offroad in a Land Rover with air suspension, you really should have a spare airbag with you. The system is designed to be field serviceable, and you can change a bag with the factory jack and a pair of long-nose pliers. It’s just held in with a couple of clevis pins. Air suspension requires maintenance, but it really does greatly add to the ability of the vehicle both on the road and off. A low CoG when on the highway, and a lift kit when you need it. Best of both worlds.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Having something that works and doesn’t need field repairs is the best of both worlds for many.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Like I said, you pay one way or you pay another way. You can have crude and uncomfortable and bouncy on the (relatively) cheap, or you can have expensive and comfortable. I’m willing to pay to be comfortable. To me in the price range of the 4Runner a Jeep Grand Cherokee seems like a much better compromise unless you truly are a hunter/fisherman/off road nut. In which case, the 4Runner makes a great case for itself. But like I also said, you sure pay a price for that added off-road capability on the daily school run.

        I spend 99% of my time on paved roads, but it is nice to have the capability to do things like get a boat trailer out of a field with a foot of snow on it, or get up the “road” to my uncle’s cabin that is really a 4-wheeler trail. But it’s not my only vehicle, and I only paid pocket money for it.

        • 0 avatar
          brkriete

          The JGC was one of the other vehicles I seriously considered however plural anecdotal evidence (i.e., not quite “data” but much more than “my dad owned one 30 years ago and it was a lemon”) convinced me it was a poor choice.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “If you are going to go offroad in a Land Rover with air suspension, you really should have a spare airbag with you. ”

      You really should have a spare Land Rover with you

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      But it is so much more than airbags that can go wrong on such a system. The level sensors, the compressor, the wiring, all of the air fittings. Each of those components adds yet another failure point that could leave the whole system inoperable. And see my comments regarding the current Grand Cherokee air suspension system as far as shortcomings off road.

      All that said, I have (manually) adjustable air shocks on the rear of my 4Runner, to help level heavy loads. But I have good old steel coil springs doing most of the support, and losing one or both of the rear air shocks wouldn’t leave me in a predicament offroad.

      As far as ride and handling goes on the new ones, you are probably right, in the context of more road biased or much more expensive SUVs. Apparently the KDSS system does a lot to counter body motions, and is standard on road-biased Limiteds and optional on Trails. But in the realm of sturdy “real” offroaders, the ride and handling are perfectly well sorted (IMO). Yes it leans, yes there is brake dive, yes you feel expansion joints more. But take one of these down a rutted farm road at 45 mph and it comes into its own. It doesn’t bottom out, and you can maintain control over the vehicle. Fuel economy is competitive not only for a BOF SUV, but even compared to sedan based midsize crossovers. The reviewer got 17 even with offroading, I saw 21 on the highway with my rental, and I know Quentin got very satisfactory numbers from his 2010.

      I’m not trying to (at least consciously not) defend these 4Runners with tooth and nail just because I own one and want a new one. But rather to dispel some of the ‘black and white’ distinctions that people assume about “old school BOF SUV” vs “modern efficient crossover/SUV.” I’ve driven some of the new crossovers and they simply aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. They give up what makes SUVs so useful and interesting, and I’m not sure exactly what they gained in return.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Yeah, air suspension sucks. I can’t think of any car that ever had it that it wasn’t problematic

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          It’s not problematic if you maintain it properly. Problem is that hardly anyone ever does. It’s not “set and forget”. You need to replace the bags when they get old. You need to replace the O-rings periodically. If you do this, the system will work very well. Neither task is particularly difficult or expensive.

          In return for this effort, you get a vehicle that can drive much like luxury car on road, and be nearly as capable as a Jeep off-road.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Is this like maintaining a BMW properly by replacing every part of the cooling system every 70k miles?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @gtemnykh

            Yes, if that is what it takes. If you want reliability, deal with the known potential issues before they become actual issues. In the Internet era, the information is readily available for anything that has been on the road for a few years.

            I’d love it if Toyota could build a car that drives like a BMW while having the consistent reliability and general inexpensiveness of a Toyota. But they can’t (or I assume they would), so if you want a car that drives like a BMW you have to deal with the downsides of owning a BMW. If it’s not worth it to you, buy a Toyota, spend the difference on whatever floats your boat. There is no such thing as a perfect vehicle, you need to find the compromise that works best for you.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Fair enough Khrodes1, spoken like a true gentleman. I agree in full on being aware of shortcomings and addressing them preemptively. In fact, Toyotas are not immune from known weak spots either. I’m about to install an external transmission cooler to prevent the risk of the current cooler that is built into the radiator from corroding and allowing for cross contamination of ATF/coolant (instant death to the otherwise rock solid Aisin tranny). The front brakes on my 4Runner are off of a Tundra, the stock units are undersized for the weight of the vehicle and constantly warp under certain driving conditions.

            As an engineer (and a Russian, that plays a factor maybe) I prefer simple and robust mechanical solutions, at the expense of comfort, and even performance.

            I guess we can think of it like a T-34 vs a Panther tank. The t-34s were very crude and hard on their crews, but they were rugged, easy to service, and relatively reliable. The Panther was a much ‘better’ tank in most technical respects, and much more comfortable and pleasant to use. But most of the first Panthers were absent from combat on the Kursk Salient, their engines having caught fire or transmissions ruined just driving out to the field of battle.

            How’s that for a totally random analogy?

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I typed up a 3 paragraph response but decided against it.

        But yes, today’s CUVs are clearly an effort to keep auto sales up. They lose all the capability of a true SUV and only gain a fractional increase in fuel economy over a similar sized SUV, if that. That’s why true SUVs are expensive, they last a long time because they have better quality and can be modified with relative ease, keep people buying the CUVs as you can only replace so much on a unibody vehicle before it has zero value.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          The number of people who need the capabilities of a true SUV are very limited. Fundamentally, nearly all of the CUVs are station wagons with delusions of off-road grandeur, with a fairly small amount of added on-road utility due to the added ride height. I think much of the actual appeal is due to the lack of fashion-victim aspect ratio tires and mostly decent outward visibility. Nobody has any illusions of taking a CRV to Moab.

          Realistically, the only reason I have a big SUV is I regularly tow a 6500lb boat with it every summer. The fact that it will also get out of my driveway without my having to snowblow a couple feet of snow is strictly a bonus. If I get the snowblower out first, my BMW is actually better on slippery plowed pavement than the Rover is. We don’t really have much of a pothole problem in Maine, we have a frost-heave problem 4 months out of the year. The BMW deals with those infinitely better than a truck.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      I’m shopping and wanted a 4Runner. It seemed perfect. Great cargo, comfortable seats front and rear, sturdy, looks manly in any guise, bulletproof reliability and amazing residual (which hurts since I usually buy used). But after four test drives of different models, I just decided it compromises too much on road. The JGC compromises work better for me, although reliability is a concern. Looked at the Cherokee Trailhawk too, which is a decent vehicle.

      Next 4Runner should stay body on frame and keep its proportions, but needs a new direct injected V6 and transmission. It needs to get off the line faster and worry less about towing, that’s Tahoe duty.

  • avatar
    bludragon

    How was the comfort of the “pleather” over the week and whilst out enjoying yourself in the sunny hills? Having only ever owned cloth or leather seats, I’m curious if the breath-ability of the pleather (or lack thereof) ever becomes noticeable.

  • avatar
    200Series

    Great read on air suspension, especially the comments….

    http://jalopnik.com/my-air-suspension-failed-again-another-carmax-warran-1683787880

    I had a 2008 v8 4-runner, the last year of the V8. It was a bullet proof tank that towed well, was surprisingly fast, but the brakes and handing did not inspire confidence for any kind of spirited driving. That’s ok….trucks should be good at doing truck things.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      A bag failure is a maintenance failure the overwhelming majority of the time. They are supposed to be inspected at regular intervals, and replaced when they start to get cracked and aged BEFORE they fail. It is possible to have an accident like running over a branch and spearing one, which is why I feel you should have spares when off-roading. But you could just as easily run over a branch and damage some other part of any truck. There are other modifications you can and should make if you are doing serious off-roading with these trucks. Which they are perfectly capable of doing, but aren’t really intended to do in the way that a Wrangler is.

      The biggest problem with Rovers is that the system is too good at covering for the leaks that happen as the system ages. You end up overrunning the compressor duty cycle and burning it out. Should they have used a beefier compressor? you bet, in my opinion. But they didn’t so you have to deal with staying on top of the maintenance to prevent having to replace the really expensive bits. The bags and O-rings are cheap, and in the grand scheme of things last a pretty long time. DeMuro’s truck is up to the age where this maintenance is due – probably way overdue for a truck that lived in a hot urban climate. But since his CarMax warranty won’t pay for maintenance, he just lets it fail. But he gets to make a living writing about it too.

      I will be the LAST person to say that Land Rovers are the highest quality vehicle around. They are certainly not, they are a blend of the inspired and the stupid (don’t even get me started on the subject of the main fuse relay panel stupidity, or the HVAC system), just like a lot of other low volume vehicles. But an awful lot of what gives people pain with them is simply not doing the maintenance that they need. And yes, often the maintenance is the result of design stupidity. But a properly sorted one is a pretty sublime experience, on and off the road.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    My observations as the ex owner of a 2012 SR5 4runner.

    The sheet metal is very thin. Fear the parking lot door dings, a lot. My hood would shimmy in the wind going down the highway. The doors were very light. I think Toyota was trying to cut weight to help with the gas mileage, and it needed help.

    My 012 was a dismal daily driver. Lots of brake dive, body roll and over all poor handling. I know it’s a SUV designed for some off-road, got it. But this thing handled old-school when trucks were trucks and they didn’t know how to make them better. It was bad enough that I didn’t feel very confident driving it on slick surfaces. The stability/traction system was very abrupt and not confidence inspiring. Maybe unfair as I was comparing to the system in our X5 which is seamless.

    The seats are uncomfortable on long trips. Research this, it’s a sort-of common problem. They looked great and had all of the gimmicks, leather, heat, lumbar, etc. I could not get comfortable after about 2 hours, I’m 5”11 and 165lbs.

    Toyota Tru-trac or whatever it’s called is pretty lame in snow. I managed to get my 4runner stuck twice in situations it should have managed to get out of. Mine had the base drive train, open difs, and stock tires, so that didn’t help but it was either all wheel spin or none, the system had a hard time managing the power like it was supposed to.

    Resale was great, thankfully.

    Needless to say I was not impressed with it. I like Toyotas and own a 82’ 4×4 SR5 truck which is bullet-proof. I would think the Pro model would be better in many ways off-road but I felt he trucks integrity was pretty poor. Not as solid as previous runners.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    On offroad ability where does this stack up to the Xterra Pro 4x?

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      It was definitely same off-road as the Xterra PRO 4X, if not better. I only know this since the Xterra Club had a meet-up at Hollister Hills too and I ran with them on the obstacle course for a little bit. They were impressed at what the TRD Pro could do for a stock truck.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    THREAD BUMP

    I worked 80 hours this week – work is crazy now.

    Anyways, I thought of this article/essay as I had a quick chance to peruse truck prices on a couple lots this week.

    IF I were to buy a truck, there’s no doubt this is the one I’d get.

    The 2nd choice would be a stripped down RAM Ecodiesel.

    Most new trucks are WAY too expensive, because dealers are stocking incredibly “optioned up” versions at a high % mix of their dealer lot.

    I saw 50k to 63k F150s, Sierras (Vortec to Duramax versions at 63k), etc., and it’s insane.

    This Toyota has better quality, will last forever, and has everything most truck buyer needs, and is a truer truck, with fantastic resale value, with a proven, rock solid power train, than the gadget soaked full sized and mid sized GM and Ford offerings that cost way more because they’re stuffed full of bullsh!t.


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