What it is: The 4Runner TRD Pro is Toyota’s big and bad SUV that is designed to take you wherever your heart desires. The TRD Pro trim is certainly not just an appearance package, as it provides a front aluminum skid plate, 31.5-inch Nitto all-terrain tires, FOX shocks, and a beefy black roof rack. Crawl control, which is effectively low-speed cruise control for driving on difficult terrain, lets you focus on steering and will automatically control acceleration and braking to keep you at your desired speed.

The tech stops there though, with the 4Runner providing no advanced safety features. It does have a backup camera, but offers no blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist or others. Toyota has announced that 2020 models will be equipped with several of these new features, but they really should have been equipped prior to this.

This generation 4Runner was originally launched as a 2010 model, and while receiving a few refreshes, is able to rest on its laurels due to the demand for butch SUVs. Sales numbers for the 4Runner have climbed from 44,000 units per year in 2011 to 140,000 in 2018 even with poor gas mileage and safety ratings.

Those beefy 31.5-inch tires may provide great off-road traction, but performed poorly on the highway. I drove the 4Runner media vehicle from Houston to Dallas and back and the 4Runner felt like it was wandering inside the lane and it called for constant attention and light correction. It added an additional layer of stress that was distracting and necessitated an extra break on the drive.

The 4Runner is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 270 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. It was rather uninspiring mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission and got absolutely terrible gas mileage. It’s rated at 17 city/20 highway/18 combined, but driving 75 on I-45 to Dallas, I was getting around 16.5 mpg. Not ideal. The regular 4Runner has the same mpg rating, so it’s not even necessarily the roof rack and tires that make the difference.

The interior is fine. Toyota’s infotainment systems skew outdated, and the 4Runner is no different. A new infotainment unit is supposed to be coming with the 2020 model, so hopefully that will be rectified.

Price: Base 4Runner starts at $37,185. TRD Pro starts at $46,415.

Mileage: 18 combined/17 city/20 highway

Upsides: I loved the Voodoo Blue color.

Downsides: Expensive. Old technology. Bad mileage.

Wrap-up: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that an update is coming in 2020 with the launch of the all-new Wrangler this year. The Wrangler suffered from many of the same issues that I have with the 4Runner, many of which were rectified this year. Unless you plan on spending time off-road, the Toyota Highlander is superior in almost every way.

Wilson Calvert
Author: Wilson CalvertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist / Director of Operations
I am a long-time Houstonian and am obsessed with cars, soccer, traveling, bourbon and airplanes. I write a regular car review column for The Tribune and travel articles a few times per year.