Toyota Still Has Some Rough 'n' Tumble - 2020 4Runner TRD Pro

I give credit to Toyota for truthfully describing the paint color - Army Green. Of the four colors available for the 4Runner TRD Pro this is the one I would not choose. You could opt for Super White, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Midnight Black Metallic, or Army Green. Not a lot of choices. I'm willing to bet that it won't be long before you see an Army Green 4Runner with a white star on the door.

I do prefer the body color/blackout look over the 4Runners that use more chrome on the nose.

All 4Runners regardless of trim use Toyota's 4.0-liter V6 and 5-speed automatic transmission (the only transmission available). The engine is a really sweet V6 but it makes it's peak torque (of primary importance when off-road crawling) of 278-lb-ft at 4,400 rpm. This might concern true off-roaders (down low grunt is best) but for the majority of buyers if it looks like it could conquer the Rubicon that's enough. It's 270 hp provides acceptable performance especially considering the 4Runner's weight of 4,750 pounds.

I, and many others, would prefer a manual transmission but you get what you get. I am surprised that Toyota has not opted for the 6-speed automatic used in some of their other SUVs and trucks. It is conceivable that an extra overdrive gear would increase fuel economy. Fuel economy, at least on paper, is okay. The 4Runner is rated at 17-mpg city and 20-mpg highway with 4WD (2WD is available of some models).

There are eight - count 'em eight - 4Runner models; SR5, SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, Venture Special Edition, Limited, Nightshade Edition, and TRD Pro. Base prices run from $36,020 up to $49,765. You know I got the most expensive version to drive.

I'm not much of an off-road fan. In the vernacular of my generation it just isn't my bag. I can appreciate the abilities but for me four-wheel-drive is a safety need for specific conditions not something so you can take the really long way "over the river and through the woods" to Grandma's house. I didn't take a trip to Grandma's house, nor did I go off-road so I cannot attest to the 4Runner TRD Pro's abilities.

But if you are one of those types who like to climb boulders and ford raging rivers (or at least trickling streams) I guess you'll appreciate the 9.6" of ground clearance, 33 degrees of approach angle, and 26 degrees of departure angle.

The 4WD system is part-time. The top three buttons (below) control (from left to right) Vehicle Stability Control, Active Traction Control, and 4WD light (to let you know when you've engaged 4WD). There is a Downhill Assist Control that can be engaged when you're going 15 mph or less to modulate downhill speed.

The two twist knobs are for Crawl Control (left) and Multi-Terrain Select. Crawl sets a crawl speed so all you have to do, along with your spotter, is steer around obstacles. The Multi-Terrain switch lets you select a program suited to what you're driving over.

I"m more of a traditionalist and like to see a lever to engage 4WD (high or low). Although this lever is a little stubby guy it is a real lever.

The transfer case lever sits up and to the right of the gearshift lever.

Most buyers will never even fiddle with the switches but my advice would be if you buy a 4Runner, or any modern 4WD vehicle, you familiarize yourself with the controls before you need them. I actually got out the owners manual so I knew what was what.

Some models have a roof "basket" like the one on the test 4Runner. I couldn't find a spec for how much it will carry but I feel sure someone will overload it. Try to remember that a lower center of gravity helps in handling.

Although this is a very capable off-road truck (make no mistake, it is a truck) that doesn't mean that it can't have creature comforts. There's a very good sound system, dual zone climate control, heated seats, power seats and windows, huge moonroof, plus.

I was not impressed with the narrow running boards. You young folks can probably just hop in and out but us grown-ups like that extra step. With a skinny running board I am always worried I'll slip off. I don't mend as fast as I used to when I fall.

Towing is an important feature for many folks. Whether it's a boat or a utility trailer (mostly boats around my area) people want to tow. The 4Runner will handle up to a 5,000 lb trailer.

My observed fuel economy was close to the EPA's highway mileage but a fair bit less than the stated city mileage. Tow a 5,000 lb trailer and it's going to dip pretty low. 

Despite my criticisms I liked the 4Runner TRD Pro. Even the aggressive tread of the P265/70R17 Nitto Terra Grappler tires didn't bother me. Either Nitto has done an excellent job of design (aggressive tread and quietness) or Toyota has done a great job of sound attenuation.

Some may think - "Off-road? Must be a stiff ride." Nope. Off-road is about suspension travel and (hopefully) keeping the tires in contact with whatever you're driving over. The suspension is relatively soft but not bouncy. Toyota uses TRD Fox high-performance shock absorbers and TRD specific front springs. 

Although few 4Runners end up being used off-road (at least when new) Toyota did not build a poser. The TRD Pro is equipped with equipment to make off-roading viable.

TRD aluminum front skid plate.

There are a couple of ways I know I'm getting old. The first, and my mom used to say this, is you no longer have any idea what the age is of anyone younger than you. The second is you go, "How much is that car!?" I hate to admit it but I'm at that point. The test 4Runner TRD Pro was $52,147. That is a lot of money to me but hey it does include a full-tank of gas! Vehicle prices seem awfully high to me yet auto sales are still fairly strong. Go figure.

If I were a 4WD kind of guy, which I am not, a 4Runner would be on my list. Not necessarily because of its off-road ability but more for its Toyota reliability. 


Bill Haskins said…
Thanks Bruce! Interesting article on the TRD. I'm not a Toyota fan but if I was an "off-road" junkie it would certainly fit my needs.

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