2020 Toyota 4Runner 4x4 TRD PRO V6 Review by David Colman
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
TRD PRO is Toyota shorthand for cowboy and cowgirl. Everything about this newest TRD issue says "I'm not mainstream, just a little crazy." From the petulant exhaust note of the throbbing V6 to the chiseled sidewalls of the model specific Nitto Terra Grappler tires (265/70R17), this 4 Runner sits at the other end of the corral from lesser 4Runners. After a day or two of acclimation to its high riding ways, we came to respect this Toyota for its unembellished honesty. The choice of color - Army Green - is perfect for a ranch hand's ride meaning to blend in with the scenery. Adding to the camouflage of the discrete paint, all exterior embellishments are covered with a film noir (Blackout Emblem Overlays: $160 extra). The addition of a massive flat black Jungle Gym of a roof rack (Black Roof Basket") adds to the prairie nostalgia motif. Unlike other recent TRD PRO efforts like the flashy Tacoma pickup, the 4Runner is happiest running under the radar.
And make no mistake, off-roaders, this one will run just about anywhere. In addition to those Nitto rollers which mount on 7Jx17 model specific matte black rims, Toyota has endowed this Rubicon-ready beast with the following standard goodies: TRD-tuned Fox shocks and springs, TRD stamped front aluminum skid plate, TRD all-weather floor liners, High Performance LED Fog Lights, and a TRD capped shift knob. These mechanical and visual enhancements abet the 4Runner's standard sturdy equipment list. A hefty 4 liter V6 is tuned to produce 270hp and 278lb.-ft. of torque which feeds through a 5-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox features electronic control (ECT-i) which allows you to select gears from a fully automatic gate or an adjacent manual override lever position. A locking rear differential feed power to the rear tires. 4 wheel drive is available when needed, with low and high range on offer via a stubby selector stick mounted next to the main gear shift.
Serious off road endeavors will benefit from the multi terrain selection knob as well as the available crawl control settings. Hill start assist is also part of the basic package here, along with traction control which Toyota calls TRAC. The command seating position in the front row of the cab affords excellent sight lines in all directions. Unfortunately, the front row seats, which the 4 Runner shares with the Tacoma, are slab faced tablets that offer virtually no side support. So if you're bouncing through the outback, or carving a sharp turn on the pavement, you'll want to hang tight on the steering wheel. Your front seat passenger is gifted a substantial grab rail for tether. Climbing into the cab of the TRD PRO is eased by a set of optional ($345) Running Boards, which add to the truck's rugged appearance. But the step-up to the cab from the ground is substantial, as is the departure tumble back to earth. Think of life with the TRD as a ride on the mechanical bull at Gilley's in Urban Cowboy.
As roads in our immediate area become more impassably clogged every day, it makes more sense to own and operate a rugged, bulletproof high rider like this TRD PRO then it does to drive a low slung sports car or an SUV with sporting pretensions. Look at it this way. That sports car is never going to sling you past all those gawkers in their stodgy slow slugs. So you might as well give up the fight to get where you're going ASAP, and try going with the flow in the TRD PRO. You will see more of the countryside from the 4Runner's glassy cockpit than you ever will hunkered down low in a Corvette, or Porsche 911. The TRD's more than lively enough to take advantage of passing opportunities when need be, but let's face it, this is no ballet star. We quickly came to that conclusion after we pitched the 4Runner into a quick directional turn and felt the Nitto Grapplers lose their grip and whine about it too.
Given the 4Runner's heavy environmental footprint (3/10 on the fuel economy and greenhouse gas rating, 5/10 on smog rating), earth savers will not be lining up to buy this Toyota. Cowboys and Cowgirls, on the other hand, will love most everything about the TRD PRO, from its unembellished earth tone finish to its gravity defying off-road capability. And at just $52,147, it's a lot cheaper than terrain comparable equipment from Porsche, BMW and Range Rover.
2020 TOYOTA 4RUNNER 4x4 TRD PRO V6
ENGINE: 4.0 liter V6, DOHC, 24 Valve, Dual Independent VVT-i
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 16MPG City/19MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $52,147
HYPES: The Bullitt Mustang of Trucks
GRIPES: Slab Sided Seats
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10