By on October 8, 2021

2022 4Runner front

With every mainstream automaker on the planet seeking to pad their bottom line with tasty SUV profits, the number of jacked-up wagons on offer is truly dizzying. Most of them are car-based, of course, including several in Toyota’s own wheelhouse – witness the mystifying Corolla Cross introduced this year.

This makes the 4Runner something of a glorious throwback. Perched on its toes and looking out into traffic with a lantern jaw, this SUV may be old as the hills but is enjoying some of its most robust sales to date.

It’s also more expensive than ever, with this year’s base price some $540 north of the 2021 model. There is often heated debate around these parts as to the 4Runner’s value, with Toyota seeming to charge these prices because they can, even though the truck itself hasn’t changed substantially in well over a decade.

This author will opine that buying a two-wheel-drive 4Runner is pointless, equating such a machine to owning a sleeveless winter jacket. Why the company chooses to offer a 2Runner is beyond my comprehension since they are surely not chasing an attractive price point given the base model Monroney. With this in mind, the Trail Special Edition is $40,650 while a TRD Off-Road is $41,135. That’s not a huge spread, less than some of us have spent on a snazzy meal. The mighty TRD Pro, if you’re wondering, is an eye-watering $52,120.

No matter the trim, 4Runner is powered by a 4.0L V6 engine making 270 horsepower and roughly a like amount of torque. Lashed to this engine is a five-speed (yes, five) automatic transmission. A big advantage of the TRD Off-Road trim is the addition of a locking rear differential, which can make all the difference between hauling oneself out of a mudhole and having to call for help. Or, it makes for bragging rights if you’re into buying SUVs but not using them for their intended purpose. I feel these part-time 4×4 systems in these 4Runner trims are superior when compared to the full-time system in the Limited with its Torsen limited-slip center diff lock. Feel free to duke it out in the comments about this point.

2022 4Runner front

The TRD Pro trim goes on to add Fox-branded shocks with remote rear reservoirs and TRD-tuned front springs yet add little in terms of approach/departure angles and total ground clearance. Given the price walk of nearly 10 grand, there’s an argument to be made that money is better spent in the aftermarket if one is hell-bent on building the baddest 2022 4Runner on their block. There is no shortage of well-crafted parts available for this thing from any number of off-road suppliers.

It’ll have not escaped your notice we haven’t said much about interior differences between the trims – that’s because there aren’t many. All 4Runners pack the same pathetic infotainment system, and only top-drawer examples get the likes of dual-zone climate control and panoramic view monitors. The latter doubles as a trail cam on the TRD Pro, by the way.

2022 4Runner front

Will the crew at Toyota soon introduce a new 4Runner? Maybe. Look how long they kept the old Tundra in production, not to mention the current Tacoma. Neither of them, particularly the Taco, seems worse for wear in terms of sales. As for the 4Runner, we’ll recommend the TRD Off-Road and its locking rear diff. Hey, at least you’re likely to rake in the bucks come trade-in time.

Please note the prices listed here are in United States dollars and are currently accurate for base prices exclusive of any fees, taxes, or rebates. Your dealer may (and should) sell for less (obscene market conditions notwithstanding). Keep your foot down, bone up on available rebates, and bargain hard.

[Images: Toyota]

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54 Comments on “The Right Spec: 2022 Toyota 4Runner...”


  • avatar
    MrIcky

    Trail special edition>4wd>color of choice>floor mats – done.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    4WD version is miserable to live with. Incredibly overrated. High floor, not a lot of interior space for the size and weight of this thing. But I supposed if ALL of your driving requires off-roading ans there are NO paved roads on your special commute then you NEED it. Have fun.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Even Consumer Reports rates this with a low 64 out of 100 and only middle of the pack. So much for reliability of something old ad this must be really bad!

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Consumer Reports doesn’t even attempt to rate reliability under the sort of use where a 4R makes more sense than a CUV.

        The Corolla is likely more reliable than a Raptor per CR, but if your use consists mainly of jumping and dessert running….

        People who use 4Runners, for 4runner stuff, claim they hold up way better than stuff like Outbacks etc. It’s a time proven platform, even if not necessarily the most reliable if all you do is idling around Manhattan.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    There is no right spec for this one. It is just not driveable.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Ex-4-Runner owner here…
    For starters, the fact that the truck is rated at 16 city/19 highway and yet has an Eco Driving monitor in the gauge cluster is pure comedy at its best. I, maybe, was lucky to get 20 on the highway. But I used the 4Runner like it was built for – lots of offroading so that made my selection easier.
    Avoid the top trim model because that includes blacked out wheels, and after one offroading trip, they will be trashed.

    2022 4Runner TRD Off-Road Premium
    Army Green, Premium Package w/ Options (moonroof, sliding cargo tray), all weather floor mats, cargo cover, dual power port/quick charge cable package, usual fees, minus $750 rebate:

    $46,572

    I’d find one off lease that I’d beat up instead. There are better choices for that amount of money. And the high floor, legs splayed driving position isn’t the most comfortable after a while.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Do my eyes deceive me, or is that an actual TINT BROW on the windshield?! I thought that ship had sailed years ago!

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      My 2017 Chevy Cruze does not have it, and I definitely miss it. I put up some cheap cling on tint, but really it doesn’t work.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Hmmmm.. I just looked on Toyota’s site, and even the Camrys don’t have it anymore — they were one of the last holdouts.

        I wish someone made tint material that looked like the blue gradient stuff, complete with the blend at the bottom. My guess is that a halfway decent shop could make it look almost factory. Problem is that you’d have to have it reinstalled again if you had to replace the windshield.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Remember when the Detroit automakers used to get regularly pilloried for selling outdated junk?? Somehow Toyota always gets a pass.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @ dwford Sir, body on frame, anvil tough V-6, and insane resale value. When you get it right straight of the box you get to stay around for awhile.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “anvil tough V-6, and insane resale value.”

        Sorry nothing to like about that gutless and thirsty V6. I doubt it’s as tough as the LS V8 that sits under the hood of my ‘Hoe.

        Anyone that’s shopped a used Toyota truck knows the smart move is to just buy a new one. At least that’s what I did. Like this 4Runner, the V6 engine was the weakest link in that truck.

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          @ Carlson Fan Sir, the LS series of engines are some of the best engines on the planet. Now if GM could engineer vehicles that would hold up where Ak-47’s are carried on the street.

      • 0 avatar
        ras815

        “Anvil tough” is sort of anachronistic. Most modern engines (yes, even the Americans) last for an absurd amount of mileage. It’s everything else that starts to go to hell to varying degrees. The whole “bulletproof” engine thing isn’t really something to brag about anymore.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “The whole “bulletproof” engine thing isn’t really something to brag about anymore.”

          Well it’s your money.

        • 0 avatar
          tomLU86

          “It’s everything else that starts to go”

          If you change your oil, agreed.

          Toyota has a reputation for reliability with “everything else”.

          The fact that this is “outdated” means this is probably even less troublesome.

          That and resale value make a good case for it.

          Also, are there any other BOF SUVs left that are not huge?

          Many of us think BOF is just more robust.

    • 0 avatar
      GoNavy99

      Simple: You can get the latest fashions from Forever 21. Or you can buy some nice equipment for life from Filson.

      You may not look the best showing up as a Filson-clad lumberjack, but you’ll probably fare better in the long run than the person who shops at Forever 21, no matter how fashionable or new the clothes they sell are.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    More 2WD bashing from TTAC.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The right spec is Lexus GX coming in from a 2 year lease.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    As the off-road craze of the last few years has just grown more and more of these are being sold purely for the look. Thus 2WD sticking around.

    I wouldn’t buy one. My off-road needs are limited to bumpy two-track. Any CUV can handle that fine. I don’t need to make the packaging, comfort, or fuel economy sacrifices this thing takes. So the right spec is the best 2019 Highlander Hybrid you can find, which is the last year before they neutered it by taking out the V6. (And, in fact, I own a 2016 HiHy, Limited Platinum + factory tow hitch + “protection package.”)

  • avatar
    Luke42

    The Rivian R1S is going to be a better 4Runner than the 4Runner.

    Should be released in December. I’ve seen the truck version (R1T) in person, and they’re definitely looking to sell to the 4Runner/JGC crowd with this vehicle.

    It costs more than the 4Runner (about the same as the upper spec Grand Cherokees), but you get 4 independent motors (one dedicated to each wheel) and a nice interior.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      If Toyota trucks, aside from Tacoma, have not made a sales dent they never will now with BEV trucks coming!

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        @NormSV650 Sir, think it through on these things. Toyota is regularly the number one or number two car maker in the world. Do you think they might have a BEV truck in the pipeline? Toyota does not, has not, and never will depend on North American truck sales profits to remain in business. Meanwhile, truck and SUV sales keep the lights on at GM and Ford. Toyota will sell every loaded Tundra and every Tacoma they can at the price they want.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I don’t see how someone coming from anything other than a pre-Pentastar Wrangler would be satisfied with the half assed powertrain in these, the right spec is a different car.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Having had an ’84 Jeep Wagoneer withe the part time 4wd system, I have to disagree with your negative comments about the available full time system. Yes, if all you want is the maximal off-road machine, then the part time system is ok. However, you lose the advantages of the full-time system on-road in, for example, snow.

    The bigger question is whether the “right spec” is a Lexus GX460 for not much more money. You get a butter-smooth V8, the more advance KDSS suspension system, (obviously) a much nicer interior and a torsen center diff with locking capability standard. Yes, its a gas sucker, too . . . but a smoother one. Many available body mod kits to remove some of the low-hanging body bits to get better approach and departure angles. The GX and the 4runner are, as they say, “related.” The GX is sold outside the US as the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, with a wider range of engine choices. According to CR data, the car is absolutely bulletproof.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    I can see the purpose of a 2wd 4Runner; considering that off-road for most of these will be a parking lot (which, technically, is not a road), why would 4wd and its added expense and fuel cost be necessary? Of course, an SUV isn’t necessary either, when Toyota showrooms already have a much better people- and cargo-carrier right in the same showroom, called the Sienna. But who wants a mommy-mobile?

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I keep a list in my head of everything wrong with these, and whenever I see one on the road I run through that list.

    Probably means I want one.

  • avatar
    doughboy

    Dan Edmunds does a deep dive into the Off-Road trim’s suspension (with KDSS):

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=m3BnLLwbScA

    His channel has a bunch of other vehicles that he goes in-depth. Very informative and fun to watch the different suspension setups depending on the vehicle and its intended use(s).

  • avatar
    CammerLens

    While I agree with criticisms about the thrashy, thirsty engine and dated, exasperating transmission, this vehicle has occupied a unique niche for some time now, and there’s still nothing else that offers the unique combination of off-road prowess, reliability, and durability.

    When I was shopping for a 4×4 in 2016, I looked at everything out there and settled somewhat reluctantly on the 4Runner. Like the author, I chose what’s now called the Off Road (“Trail Edition” in 2016, not to be confused with the current “Trail Edition”, which is an appearance package) for its rear e-locker, lever transfer case shifter, and available KDSS suspension. The KDSS does a great job of reining in body roll on the highway while allowing increased articulation off road. Most magazines (including CR) did not test versions with KDSS.

  • avatar
    Polka King

    The small (not this one) high station wagon is the perfect transportation vehicle. Perfect.

  • avatar
    multicam

    Few years ago my wife bought a 2WD Limited 4Runner (basically the luxurious mom spec) while I was deployed. I was pretty stoked that she got a 4R instead of what I was worried she would settle on… a GM product. I think she had looked at a Traverse…? I don’t know. Barf.

    It has been rock solid, despite her treating it like **** and even crashing it into a taxi. And we’ve needed 4WD exactly zero times. We even towed a cargo trailer across the country a few times with it. 66k miles in just under 3 years.

    Edit: I should note that it feels very well put-together, no squeaks or rattles despite the miles. And a lot of people in the comments seem to focus on the engine and transmission. I get your point, but let me tell you that my wife (who is quite typical/representative of most women with regard to how much she pays attention to things like engines and transmissions) has complained about the drivetrain ZERO times in 3 years. It just doesn’t register.

  • avatar
    ras815

    Used 4Runners are currently selling over their ORIGINAL MSRPs. New models, if you can even find one on a dealer lot, are even more of a joke: TRD PROs going for $10-15k over list, etc.

    I cannot fathom why anyone would want to pay OVER list price for these. The driving experience is abysmal, fuel economy atrocious, interior design laughably dated.

    At least a Wrangler has some soul, so the inevitable compromises are worthwhile. The 4Runner is an embarrassment; not for Toyota, but for the idiotic consumers that pay absurd amounts of money for these dinosaurs.

    [Insert a response about “off road prowess” as if that applies to anything more than 0.01% of real world usage among those who buy these.]

    • 0 avatar
      CammerLens

      @ras815, people buy vehicles whose capabilities exceed the owner’s intended use case all the time. No reason for you to be so personally offended by it, unless you regret your purchase of some soft CUV that can’t get up a trail that a 4Runner can.

      Sure, some 4Runner buyers would probably be better off with a Highlander, but those of us who make full use of the vehicle’s “off-road prowess” are far from rare. Your “0.01%” number came straight out of your… well, you know.

      Perhaps you can tell us “idiotic consumers” what other vehicle offers the same blend of off-road capability, reliability, and durability. There’s a reason 4Runners are commanding such a premium, and it’s not just because you’re so much smarter than everyone who buys one.

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        @Cammerlens

        Precisely why I recently bought a 2003 SR5 4Runner with the 4.0L V6. I got it for CDN$11,000 because the seller, who bought it in Boston, thought that the 160,000 on the odometer was in miles. It wasn’t!

        Two months after buying it I got the dreaded VSC/TRAC OFF lights. This required a used brake master/booster/ABS block module to fix at the cost of CDN$1200, as a new one from Toyota was $7000.

        Yes, it requires Premium gas. Yes, it’s heavy and dated and the paint is faded. BUT, it’s a real body-on-frame Toyota with loads of power and torque; great 4X4; and more ‘utility’ than’ ‘sport’: the latter of which I don’t want in a truck.

        Should I need more utility I’ll take my F-150. More sport will require the CTS-V. This rig sits perfectly in the middle – with the classic ability and reliability of Peak Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @ras815 Sir, I”m just too cheap to over MSRP for a USED vehicle. Reference my GX460 remark, power and comfort are taken care of. Wranglers are rarely seen beast outside of North America and perhaps Australia. In third world countries Toyotas are the go to vehicle. The Big Man has a Land Cruiser (Lexus LX), his aspiring flunkies have a Prado (Lexus GS/Toyota 4runner), and the hired help has a Tacoma Hilux (not sold in the US). Shopkeepers and such get Toyota vans and tiny sedans. Nary a Wrangler to be seen. Toyota readily replaced the Land Rover too. I don’t know what, or if, Stellantis sells 4wd’s in third world countries. Wranglers are great vehicles and the best ones are bought used. I’ll drive a Toyota 4wd if I’m living someplace I have to drink bottled water to stay alive and brush my teeth.

  • avatar
    DM335

    Experts and forum commenters have been negative on the 4Runner for years, but buyers continue to buy them in droves. For many, it’s underpowered, cramped, inefficient, harsh-riding, low-tech and antiquated, yet it remains insanely popular, both new and used. Toyota’s gamble of keeping this model around so long has worked out well, but a new model can’t come soon enough.

    • 0 avatar
      CaddyDaddy

      +1 on this comment.

      I usually find 4-Runner and Tacoma owners “coy” about repairs to keep it on the road. To overcome it’s unpleasantness the usual plan is to festoon their rides with cool stickers, upfit with snorkels, rock bars and side mounted water jugs. They will never let you know the $2,500 worth of front end work needed at 90K miles of mall crawling. CaddyDaddy’s observations of new Tacomas are driven by off lease BMW owners who wanted a truck for an image update (perpetual tailgaters). New 4-Runners are usually purchased by females working in mid mgt. .gov positions.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I always respect a car that will do exactly what it advertises without any BS, so I give it up for the 4Runner. Same for the Jeep Wrangler.

    On the other hand, both of these vehicles are notorious for being hard to live with.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      I’m scratching my head at this and similar comments here, the weak motor takes all of the fun out of the drive and it’s a high step in for the infirm but other than that it’s any other two row. Lumping it in with a Jeep that you can’t even take a Bluetooth call in on the highway is a real stretch.

  • avatar
    alexrcp

    Yeah, hard pass. I think I will just keep my ’07 FJ with 91K and drive into the ground. I plan on getting at least another 100K out of it. Sure, it’s nowhere near as fancy, but the seating position is exponentially more comfortable and the lack of all the creatures of comfort will likely mean its more reliable.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    This is why GM stopped making great cars. When a dud like this sells well, why try harder?

  • avatar
    banker43

    What the he** has happened to this website and the comments here? The 4Runner is hugely popular here in upstate NY with both off-roaders and mall crawlers. It is unique in what it offers, and that’s what people want. Geez, so hard to understand, huh?

  • avatar
    picard234

    Cannot believe nobody has commented on the hideousness of this vehicle. It will haunt my dreams forever.

  • avatar
    MR2turbo4evr

    So much hate for the T4R…sad. My parents bought a ’05 V8 Sport Edition new in 2005. It has just over 142,000km on it now. Lots of short distance driving for most of the year but is also used to haul their camper trailer in summer. In the past 15 years, they’ve had to replace: battery (2x), brake caliper piston ($30 from Toyota), 2 lightbulbs (side marker & interior info panel), CV boots. Of course the timing belt & water pump, air filters, oil filters and fluids were replaced as necessary. That’s it. Even the headlight bulbs are original from the factory. THAT is why people buy them.

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