Amazingly this is my first time driving a 4Runner in all my years of reviewing cars…..I’ve certainly seen plenty of them though, Toyota moved 131,864 of them in 2019 and despite the Corona virus, are on track to sell 100,000 in 2020. Amongst the Toyotarati the 4Runner is something of a cult vehicle, which explains Toyota’s ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ position, so as not to upset current owners or potential buyers. Let’s face it most 4Runner owners wouldn’t be seen dead in a crossover. The 4Runner is a body-on-frame vehicle that Toyota has produced for almost a decade now and has undergone mostly minor changes every year.
My 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD PRO tester simply oozed character, due to its snazzy Army Green paint job, rooftop cargo basket, and chunky off-road tires. Apart from the Nitto Tires on 17 inch alloy wheels, for 2020 the 4Runner makes Toyota Safety Sense P standard on all models. This advanced suite of driver-assist technologies includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Sway Warning System, Automatic High Beams and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. The TRD PRO goes beyond the standard TRD by offering a cat-back exhaust
The only engine available in the 4Runner is a 4.0-liter V-6 with 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque that is perfectly adequate for on-road driving and very capable if you ask it to crawl up to the top of a rocky hill or navigate a muddy path. Don’t expect good fuel economy though, we achieved 15.7 mpg for the week that included both on and off-road driving. The good news is it has a 23-gallon fuel tank so based on our numbers you should be able to get 360+miles from one tank full.
Did we get it dirty?
Yes, we did by taking it out East to some challenging trails on Otay Mountain, however, it turns out they weren’t much of a challenge for the TRD PRO. The drive there was fairly uneventful, the TRD PRO rides well, and can maintain a good speed even in the twisty sections. Of course, there is body roll but just hang on and the car behaves itself vey well, the steering is good, the brakes are good, it does most things well.
Toyota has a host of off-road tools at your disposal including a Rear Locking Diff, 4 high and 4 low and Crawl Control. My favorite feature is the A-Trac System which stands for “Active Traction Control” and comes standard on some of Toyota’s 4-wheel-drive models.
You have to manually turn this feature on and off, to activate you must first engage neutral, shift into 4LO and then press the “A-TRAC” button, located on the roof console in the middle. Once it’s on, it automatically detects wheel spin and distributes torque between the front and rear wheels to suppress unnecessary wheel spin and control skidding. A-TRAC detects when one or more wheels have lost traction and automatically applies the brakes to the wheel with no traction, allowing it to send power to the wheel with traction. It works brilliantly!
We also tested the Crawl Control system which allows the driver to set a crawl speed from 1 to 5 mph when navigating steep terrain. The system once set automatically adjusts the throttle and brakes and allows the driver to concentrate on steering inputs and avoiding obstacles. From inside the car, it makes an unnerving clanking noise which I heard is normal, but I must say I was somewhat alarmed when I first heard it.
Given that this is a loaned vehicle and we didn’t want to get stuck we didn’t try anything too challenging but I have no doubt that the TRD PRO could stand toe to toe with a Jeep Wrangler.
SEE the video here.
Despite the interior dating back to Victorian times, everything is in the right place and fully functional. There’s plenty of cubby space, in the doors, center console, and a sizable glove box. All seats have durable faux leather making them easy to wipe down and they are supportive and comfortable all around.
For 2020 the TRD PRO gets a new display, instrument panel, and push-button start. The most important update is the new multimedia system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. This is a huge improvement over the previous 6.1-inch screen, which was small and outdated. The new display is standard across the board in all models.
Above the drivers head in the center are the controls for the Crawl Control and the A-TRAC traction control system and the sunroof controls.
Rear seat space is generous and the seats fold flat to create a total of 89.7 ft³ of cargo space and in my tester, an optional cargo loader on rails can support up to 440 lbs.
I enjoyed the TRD PRO much more than I had expected and if your goal is to get out and enjoy the wilderness, the 4Runner is an excellent choice. My only gripe is the 5-speed transmission which simply needs more ratios which would improve the poor fuel economy.
2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD PRO numbers
BASE PRICE: $49,785
PRICE AS TESTED: $52,147
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, RWD/4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door SUV
ENGINE: 4.0 liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
POWER: 270 hp @ 5,600 rpm
TORQUE: 278 ft-lb @ 4,400 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
0-60 MPH: 7.8 seconds
CURB WEIGHT: 4,789 lbs
CARGO VOLUME: 47.2 ft³, 89.7 ft³ with seat area
WHEELS: 17 inch Alloy
TIRES: Nitto™ Terra Grappler
FUEL ECONOMY Combined/city/highway: 17/19/38 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 15.7 mpg
PROS: Terrific off road, decent ride quality on road, ready to go on safari looks
CONS: Dated interior, not very fuel efficient, transmission could use more gears