The Toyota 4Runner has been one of our favorite SUVs because it is a serious machine. We recently tested the new TRD Pro edition and it has everything we like about the 4Runner and more. The new fifth generation is good looking, strong and capable, and with the TRD Pro kit, it becomes an extremely serious off-road machine as well.

The TRD Pro badge signifies a vehicle that’s capable of going where ordinary pickups and SUVs fear to tread, while still retaining the comfort for daily driving. The 4Runner sticks to a proven formula: rugged body-on-frame construction with four-link rear axle, coil-spring suspension and a choice of 2WD, part-time 4WD with a two-speed transfer case or full-time multi-mode 4WD with a two-speed transfer case and locking center differential. A 4.0-liter, 270-horsepower V6 teamed to a five-speed automatic transmission powers all versions.

The TRD Pro Series comes fortified for trail duty with TRD front springs, TRD high-performance shocks with rear remote reservoirs, Nitto Terra Grappler tires and a TRD front skid plate. The TRD Pro looks the tough part, too, with 17-inch black TRD alloy wheels, unique front grille, black bumper accents and special badges.

Toyota is very proud that the TRD Pro is not only a terrific off-road machine but also very comfortable on the street. It’s no Lexus, but we were impressed by how it drove on the street. It is actually pretty amazing how normal it feels considering how serious the TRD Pro is. The 4Runner’s shocks not only enhance its off-road performance but, paired with the TRD-tuned front springs, the package lifts its front one inch compared to other grades, while also providing nearly one inch of additional wheel travel. The 2.5-inch front shocks employ 46 mm pistons and include seven bypass zones (four compression, three rebound). In the rear, the 2.5-inch shocks feature 11 bypass zones (seven compression, four rebound) to fine-tune the low- and high-speed compression, and 2-inch piggyback reservoirs house additional oil to retain damping performance when it’s needed most. A unique TRD roost shield offers additional protection for the inverted shock design in the rear.

All 4Runners are rated to tow 4700 pounds with a 470-pound tongue weight maximum. Tall four-wheel drive SUVs usually do not do well in towing and we found that the tongue weight was a very important factor while towing. With a strong V6 under the hood, the 4Runner can haul heavy loads with ease but you have to be careful not to overload the rear suspension.

TRD Pro adds a new roof rack for stashing additional gear outside of the cabin (say, dirty gear or laundry after a weekend camping trip). The roof rack looks great but is also very convenient and can seriously increase the cargo carrying capability of the 4Runner. The quarter-inch-thick front skid plate is functional and sports new red TRD lettering. 4Runner features 17-inch matte-black TRD alloy wheels with an offset change to provide it with nearly a 1-inch wider track front and rear for added stability. Nitto Terra Grappler P265/70R17 A/T tires provide all-terrain performance for whatever the situation demands.

Off road performance usually meant barebones interior appointments but the TRD Pro has a standard Entune Premium JBL Audio with integrated navigation and app suite. Other interior appointments include TRD Pro floor mats, TRD shift knob, and red-stitched Softex seats with red TRD logos on the front headrests. Additional TRD Pro exterior features include LED fog lights, blacked-out grille, and projector-beam headlights with smoked trim.

The base 4Runner starts out at $36,120. The TRD Pro is a very special vehicle and includes many upgrades and will cost you $49,865. That is a huge step up from the base vehicle but if you were going to make the upgrades yourself, it would cost you more and the finished product would not be as well done as the factory version and it would not come with an extensive factory warranty.

Engine: 4.0-liter, 24-valve V6
Horsepower: 270 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 278 pound-feet @ 4,400 rpm
Front Suspension: Double wishbone with coil springs
Rear Suspension: Coil spring four-link live axle
Transmission: Five-speed ECT automatic
Axle Ratio: 3.73:1
Curb Weight: 2WD 4,400   lbs.    4WD 4,675 lbs.
Base MSRP: $49,865
Image courtesy of Toyota

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