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Review: Toyota 4Runner TRD tears up the dirt


This tough truck wears its TRD performance moniker proudly
Let’s face it, you’ d better have a pretty strong, competent vehicle if you’ re going to give one of its models the TRD moniker.
TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development, and this version of the 4Runner proudly touts TRD name on its haunches.
The test truck was the midlevel TRD Off-Road Premium edition with four-wheel drive and a sparkling Barcelona Red Metallic paint job. It also featured a tough-looking exterior with distinctive nose and a hood air scoop.
This 4Runner is a big SUV. It’s a sizable 15.9 feet long and weighs a hefty 4,750 pounds. So move over midsize crossovers and SUV pretenders. 4Runner TRD version thumbs its nose at rough terrain.
That’s because the TRD packs on Bilstein shocks to absorb off-road rambles, plus extra skid-plating and it’s shoed with NittoTerra Grappler tires. Inside, the seat fabrics are water resistant in case your splash around in the muck manages to seep inside.
Toyota also loads this with more shift levers and terrain-control knobs and buttons than most airline pilots have to face before takeoff. Overhead are two dials for low to high off-road settings and multiterrain selections from mud and slush to rocks.
Ground clearance is a hefty 9.6 inches and there are no running boards to get buried in mud.
Power is solid to say the least. Toyota uses its 4-liter V-6 with variable valve timing. This is a proven power plant that pumps out 270 horsepower and can tow 5,000 pounds.
Some will argue the 4Runner could use a six-speed automatic transmission, but this five-speed works well and seems well synched to the V-6. However gas mileage is pathetic, and that’s where a six-speed along with a stop-start feature could help. I got just 18 miles per gallon in an even mix of city and highway driving, while the EPA rates this at 17 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway.
Ride is decent for a big truck. While the shocks and heavy-duty suspension are aimed at off-roading, they are fairly compliant on normal roads. The 4Runner rides like a truck. It is a body-on-frame vehicle, but bumps are mainly small annoyances. Where the truck’s stiffness comes into play most frequently is over parking lot entry ramps where there’s a bit of rock and roll.
The interior is roomy, with plenty of space for five adults. Controls and gauges are easy to see and use. The test truck came with a black leather interior with red accent stitching on the seats and other trim. The dash top is black with a textured finish while a black gloss finish graces the steering wheel hub’s edges, door pull areas and center stack. There’s a matte gray wood-look trim on the passenger’s side dash. A carbon fiber look trim is used on the console.
Toyota provides big control knobs, but a tiny navigation/radio screen. Yet the radio buttons on the screen do work even if you’ re wearing gloves while punching buttons. The manual tilt/telescope steering wheel also features the usual radio, trip computer and phone functions on the hub. Cruise control is on a stalk and is not dynamic.
In fact, there are precious little enhanced or autonomous safety systems — no lane departure, blind-spot warning systems or automatic braking.
Toyota offers six trim levels, starting at the base SR5 with two-wheel drive, which lists at $35,170 including delivery. Moving to four-wheel drive in the SR5 bumps the price to $37,045.
Consider a Nissan Pathfinder, GMC Acadia and even a Jeep Wrangler as competitors, if you plan to go off-roading a lot. Certainly 4Runner is a strong contender in this segment and stands out from a styling standpoint.
What Stands Out
Performance: Toyota tough in the dirt
Gas mileage: “Pathetic”
Confort: Plenty of room and comfort
2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD
What? A stylish, strong off-road SUV
When?: On sale now
How big? 15.9 feet long.
How much? $35,170 to start in the two-wheel-drive SR5 version, including delivery. Price as tested was $39,395 with a $940 delivery fee
What makes it go?: 4-liter V-6 engine producing 270 horsepower with a five-speed automatic transmission
How thirsty? 17 miles per gallon in the city, 20 mpg on the highway.
Overall? A powerful off-road performer

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