4Runner doesn’t mess with off-road success

For 2019, the 4Runner tweaks a lineup that ranges from roughly $46K-$56K prices with five- or seven-passenger models, and with broad trim choices that include a new upscale Nightshade version.

But tested here, we jump to the top of the 4Runner food chain with this year’s new 2019 4Runner TRD Pro model.

Toyota’s Racing Development (TRD) division has a history that dates as far back as the 4Runner’s and it made its bones with off-road offshoots for Baja racing and other rigourous racing challenges.

The TRD Pro models, borne of that experience, lean towards off-road specialization with add-ons, accessories and annual exclusive colour changes, like the new funky Voodoo Blue for 2019.

Like all 4Runner’s, our TRD Pro harnesses a tried, true and somewhat dated drivetrain – Toyota’s 4.0-litre DOHC VVT-i V6 mated to a five-speed automatic that puts power to blacktop or back roads via a part-time selectable 4WD system, bolstered by active traction control, hill start assist control and downhill assist control.

Power is rated at 270 hp and 278 lb/ft of torque, enough oomph to earn a 2,268 kg (5,000 lb) tow rating.

Acceleration is linear enough but the power package all feels very yesteryear with fuel economy numbers coming in at a throwback rating of 14.3/12.0L/100km (city/hwy). My real world results averaged 13.8L/100km (comb).

Wrapping the retro powertrain in traditionally styled bodywork, the 4Runner poses with all the authentic expected profile cues – the truck-like design lines, aggressive stance and pronounced fender flares. Any time-teleported fan from the ‘80s would recognize it instantly.

The TRD Pro package adds $10,425 to the 4Runner starting price and bumps up the off-road ante significantly.

Although the TRD Pro 4Runner doesn’t get the Tacoma pickup’s high-mounted TRD Desert Air Intake (we could only wish), it starts out strong with black-accented bumpers, a unique heritage “TOYOTA” black grille, 31.5-inch Nitto Terra Grappler all-terrain tires on 17-inch matte black alloy TRD wheels, and with the boy-racer hood scoop that 4Runner fans love. Black “TRD Pro” badges are mounted on the C-pillars and tailgate.

New for 2019, the TRD Pro now also boasts LED fog lamps, a prominent silver TRD-stamped aluminum skid plate and a rugged, piped roof rack, along with the new Voodoo Blue paint job mentioned earlier.

All of the above go a long way to separating this 4Runner TRD Pro from an otherwise anonymous automotive herd.

Under the skin, off-road performance upgrades continue with an automatic disconnecting differential, a rear diff lock, TRD-tuned front springs and TRD Bilstein high-performance shocks with rear remote reservoirs, along with a multi-terrain ABS system to improve off-road stopping ability.

Inside, the 4Runner features a utilitarian ambiance – traction controls oddly mounted on the overhead console, big knurled knobs, a keyed ignition and traditional dash layout.

Again, it’s all retro but delightfully so, despite the drawbacks of smallish displays, off-the-shelf econo window buttons and the lack of heated steering.