The Toyota 4Runner has been around for a long time, and most would say against the backdrop of modern crossover SUVs that have replaces its kind, has become old-fashioned and outdated. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Sometimes when you stick to your guns and hold true to your ideals you become the elder statesman that stands alone with your resolve, respect, and your leadership. This is the case with the Toyota 4Runner, now literally the last truck-based SUV in the mid-sized segment available without getting up into the luxury brands.
For 2018 it arrives again unchanged from its last major freshening in 2014, our tester being the mid-grade TRD Off-Road Premium. This places it right in the middle of the lineup between the SR5 and Limited, the TRD Pro being top-end for maximum off-reading abilities.
In the case of the TRD OffRoad, previously known as the Trail model, it gets a more purpose oriented drivetrain starting with the 4.0-liter V6 and 5-speed automatic transmission, manual transfer case and adds an electronic locking rear differential.
Gained also in this trim is the additional software driven helpers of Crawl Control and A-Trac, both of which utilize the ABS, traction control and modes to the transmission and throttle mapping to control power and braking to each individual wheel in ways no driver can no matter how talented.
By using the knobs to set and control your speed and desired modes, the computer can just about push or pull the 4Runner up, over and through about anything. Add this to its native 9-inches of ground clearance and you have one of the most capable vehicles in this size class this side of a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
Styling tweaks with the TRD OffRoad include a unique front fascia and grille with a deep jowled bulldog look and a lower skid-plate chin treatment. It’s a visual aid, not a real skit plate, though it does have them down below, just not as styling elements.
The 4Runner makes due with projector-beam headlamps and halogen fog lights up front and LED tail lights at the rear. Back there you will also find a power roll-down rear glass in the tailgate and optioned on ours was a trailer hitch receiver.
Included here are 17-inch alloy wheels in a unique style but tires here aren’t really what you would consider heavy treaded offroad rubber but more dialed in for pavement and inclement weather where most drivers will use them.
Inside the TRD OffRoad are unique trims that start with SofTex simulated leather seating surfaces with red accent stitching. That red thread extends to the door panels and center console where you will also find a handsome carbon fiber look shift bezel.
The dash design here is traditional and trucky, old-school in its Japanese big knob wall-in-your-face style that is somewhat refreshing these days. It looks and feels rugged in a way nothing else really does anymore.
Comfort is plenty both in the front and rear seats where there is plenty of adjustment range. The rear seat folds down in a 40/20/40 split hybrid, 40/60 in total for a near flat load floor. We were impressed also with its slide out package tray at the rear though it does eat up about 3-inches of cargo area height.
On the road we found the 4Runner to handle soft and cushy like most off-road tuned vehicles do, thus on the highway and around town it does have significant roll in corners, dive and pitch when braking and accelerating.
It all becomes worth it when you leave the pavement however where the suspension absorbs all the bad and rough, serving it up with the poise and confidence, the comfort and refinement of a high quality tool. This cannot be said for most crossover SUVs its long time competitors have become.
Power delivery from the 270 horsepower 4.0-liter V6 is sometimes strained as it does push a heavy brick around through its 5-speed automatic transmission. This truck could used Toyota’s 8-speed transmission quite well.
Fuel economy as a result is somewhat compromised. The EPA rates it at 17 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and18 mpg combined. In our week with it we achieved 17 mpg combined which is pretty close to what’s promised.
In all, while there are a lot of tradeoffs in city and highway life behind the wheel for the extra offroad abilities it has it always remains comfortable and enjoyable day to day. At its price as tested at $42,020 we find the 4Runner TRD OffRoad to be an excellent value when compared to its nearest foe the Jeep Wrangler.
Here you get the same abilities and size, but with the quality and longevity that Toyota has earned a long term reputation for. In that way it makes our TestDrivenTV “Id Buy It” list, highly recommended.