The ultimate 4Runner

The 2015 – 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro is Toyota’s most rugged and capable SUV. Thanks to some clever engineering in the Toyota Racing Development labs, the 4Runner enjoys a truly hard-core off-road version that usurps even the venerable Trail Edition 4Runner. Heavy duty Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs, thick coil springs with a 1.0-inch suspension lift, upgraded wheels and tires, and a tank-like front skid plate makes the TRD Pro a natural in the dirt. All the same off-road tech on the 4Runner Trail Edition carries over to the TRD Pro, too. This includes the electronic locking rear differential, manual transfer case, and Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select system.

A unique front grille with the blocky T-O-Y-O-T-A lettering sets the TRD Pro apart, along with TRD Pro badging on the C-pillars and bespoke TRD Pro wheels and all-terrain tires. Things inside aren’t much different than other 4Runners, beside a TRD gear shifter and some like-branded floor mats. So how does the TRD Pro handle everyday life and the sandy trails of Central Florida? Keep reading to find out.

Continue reading for the full review.

  • 2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven
  • Year:
    2015- 2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Transmission:
    Five-speed Automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    270
  • MPG(Cty):
    17
  • MPG(Hwy):
    21
  • Torque @ RPM:
    278
  • Energy:
    Port Injection
  • Displacement:
    4.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7.6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    115 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine, 4WD
  • Price:
    42400
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    8/10

Exterior

2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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While most body panels remain unchanged from the standard 4Runner, the TRD Pro gets a unique grille with the Toyota lettering like the old-school FJs.

Toyota is doing a great job at separating its TRD Pro models apart from the crowd. While most body panels remain unchanged from the standard 4Runner, the TRD Pro gets a unique grille with the Toyota lettering like the old-school FJs. The lower bumper section is blacked-out to match the rest of the menacing grille. Down below, a thick skid plate is clearly visible. Not only does it add to the rugged appearance, but it adds functionality thanks to its purposeful nature.

The 4Runner TRD Pro rolls on a set of black, 17-inch wheels with red TRD lettering on the center cap. They are wrapped in aggressive Nitto Terra Grappler G2 tires sized in 265/70R-17. The tires give a big advantage to off-road driving thanks to the open tread pattern and deep groves. On-road performance isn’t a complete wash, either. The all-terrain tire is well behaved and surprisingly quiet.

2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Around back, the 4Runner TRD Pro doesn’t change from the standard ‘Yota.

Around back, the 4Runner TRD Pro doesn’t change from the standard ‘Yota. It still gets the lift gate with the full roll-down window, upper spoiler, and windshield wiper. A standard two-inch receiver hitch brings added utility for towing and functionality for off-road recovery. There’s also frame-mounted recovery points under the bumper.

As I said, the 4Runner TRD Pro isn’t much different from the standard 4Runner. Aside from the front grille, TRD Pro badging on the C-pillars, and unique wheel and tire package, this off-road beast is identical to its breatheren. While that might be a detractor for some, I think it’s a testament to how well the standard 4Runner is designed for off-road use. Tall ground clearance with impressive approach, break-over, and departure angles make the Toyota one of the last true SUVs capable of doing more than mall crawling.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (Inches) 109.8
Length (Inches) 191.3
Width (Inches) 75.8
Height (Inches) 70.1
Tread Width (Front/Rear) (Inches) 64.1/64.1
Approach/Departure Angle 33/26 degrees
Coefficient of Drag 0.36

Interior

2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven High Resolution Interior
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2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven Interior High Resolution
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2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven Interior High Resolution
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The 4Runner TRD Pro’s interior is nearly identical to the standard 4Runner.

Like the outside, the 4Runner TRD Pro’s interior is nearly identical to the standard 4Runner. The main difference is the TRD shift knob and floor mats. Nevertheless, the interior is quite, aided by soft touch leather and high-grade plastics. It features plenty of cubbyholes, storage pockets, and cup holders. Large knobs and switchgear remind then you of the 4Runner’s rugged intent. An easy-to-read gauge cluster and center information display keeps pertinent information readily accessible. The Entune infotainment system follows the standard Toyota fare, being easy to operate and decently designed. A small information screen atop the center stack keeps fuel, outside temperature, direction, and time at a handy location.

Rear seat room is rather comfortable. The seatbacks recline at a deep angle for a more relaxed ride while legroom is generous. The 4Runner offers 46.3 cubic feet of room behind the second row, and an impressive 89.7 cubic feet with the 60/40-split bench folded flat. The optional sliding cargo tray reduces overall cargo volume, but some owners might like the tradeoff for the added loading convenience.

2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven Interior High Resolution
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2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven Interior High Resolution
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I did find a few drawbacks to the 4Runner TRD Pro’s interior

I did find a few drawbacks to the 4Runner TRD Pro’s interior. First, the dual-zone climate controls are not offered here. Toyota makes it standard in the luxury-minded 4Runner Limited, but doesn’t even offer the option on the TRD Pro. Second, there is no option for a keyless Enter and Go system. A traditional key and keyless entry fob requires the driver to actually turn the key in the ignition. Beyond that, the interior is a nice place to spend time and is rather quiet a refined for such a dedicated off-road SUV.

Interior Dimensions

Headroom front/rear (Inches) 39.3/38.6
Legroom front/rear (Inches) 41.7/32.9
Shoulder room front/rear (Inches) 57.8/57.8
Hip room front/rear (Inches) 56.5/55.7
EPA Passenger volume (cu. ft.) 97.3
Cargo space seats up/down (cu. ft.) 46.3/89.7

Drivetrain

2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven Drivetrain High Resolution
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The engine is rather dated, as it does not offer direct fuel injection, Toyota’s Otto/Atkinson combustion cycles, or forced induction.

The 4Runner is powered by a 4.0-liter V-6. The engine is rather dated, as it does not offer direct fuel injection, Toyota’s Otto/Atkinson combustion cycles, or forced induction. The venerable V-6 does have variable valve timing, however. The engine is rated at 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Behind that resides Toyota’s part-time, manually operated transfer case. Gearing positions include 2WD High, Neutral, 4WD High, and 4WD Low. The shift-on-the-fly system allows the driver to engage 4WD High range at highway speeds. Low range does require stopping and the transmission in neutral.

The 4Runner is rear-wheel drive in on-road conditions. The solid rear axle uses an electronically locking differential that operates as an open diff during normal driving. The rear locker does require the T-case to be in 4WD Low range. Once engaged, the rear tires turn in sync, with both getting an equal amount of power from the engine. The front differential is always open, but is aided by Toyota’s A-Trac system and the Multi-Terrain Select System. Speaking of those electronic assistants, the A-Trac system uses the brakes to redirect power from a free-spinning wheel to one with traction. It doesn’t replace a front locking differential, but it certainly helps. The Multi-Terrain Select System gives the driver a choice between Mud and Sand; Rock; Mogul; and Loose Rock driving modes. By picking the one that suits the current terrain, the 4Runner’s computers adjust throttle response, ABS sensitively, traction control, and other vehicle systems. The system includes downhill descent control, too.

Toyota’s CRAWL Control acts like a low-speed cruise control

Last but certainly not least is Toyota’s CRAWL Control. It acts like a low-speed cruise control. After engaging 4WD Low range, the system can be activated. The driver dials in the maximum speed with the overhead dial. The computer then takes over the throttle and braking to keep the 4Runner plowing forward, regardless of the terrain. It modulates the throttle and ABS system far faster than a human can, and uses the A-Trac system’s individual braking system to keep forward momentum. The system is extremely hand in tight, technical situations like rock crawling. When active, the driver can concentrate on steering inputs and not hitting anything.

The 4Runner is clearly adapt to off-road situations, but is a bit hindered on the pavement. The EPA estimates the SUV to only get 17 mpg city, 21 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined. Thankfully, it only requires regular grade gasoline. The sprint to 60 mph takes a leisurely 7.6 seconds.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 4.0-liter, 6-cylinder, 24-valve
Horsepower 270 HP @ 5,600 RPM
Torque 278 LB-FT @ 4,400 RPM
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined MPG) 17/21/18
Transmission Type 5-speed ECT automatic
0 to 60 mph 7.6 seconds
Curb weight 4,750 Lbs

Chassis & Suspension

2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven Exterior High Resolution
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Checking the TRD Pro option box brings an upgraded suspension system thicker skid plates, and those meatier wheels and tires.

Don’t think the TRD Pro version is some badged-up iteration of a standard 4Runner. The changes run far deeper than the grille and cosmetics. Checking the TRD Pro option box brings an upgraded suspension system thicker skid plates, and those meatier wheels and tires. Still, it’s the shocks that steal the headlines. They hail from Bilstein and are tuned by Toyota’s TRD engineering staff. The front shocks are 2.5 inches in diameter and feature a TRD-spec coil-over spring. Those out back are 2.0 inches thick and feature remote reservoirs. The shocks not only better dampen bumps, but give the 4Runner a one-inch lift over the standard ride height. The TRD Pro retains the 4Runner’s independent suspension system design up front and rear live axle with a coil-spring, four-link, and lateral rod bar out back.

That extra inch also boosts ground clearance to 9.6 inches, while improving the approach angle to 33 degrees and departure angle to 26 degrees. That skid plate is a quarter-inch thick and is constructed from stamped aluminum. It also boasts the TRD logo stamped into the metal.

And like all 4Runners, the TRD Pro rides on a high-strength steel frame. The body-on-frame design provides rigidity and helps prevent flexing, which allows the suspension to do its work.

Behind the Wheel

2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven Interior High Resolution
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The 4Runner does a fantastic job at daily driving, too, at least better than a Jeep Wrangler.

The 4Runner is a very comfortable place to be. The interior is quiet, aided by soft touch leather and high-grade plastics. The crossover-like cabin features plenty of cubbyholes and storage pockets. Large knobs and switchgear remind then you of what the 4Runner’s intent is, and an easy-to-read gauge cluster and center information display keep pertinent information readily accessible. The Entune infotainment system follows the standard Toyota fare, being easy to operate and decently designed. A small information screen atop the center stack keeps fuel, outside temperature, direction, and time always within sight.

As expected, the 4Runner TRD Pro is great for hitting the weekend trails. The large Nitto Terra Grappler tires do an amazing job at churning through deep mud and lose sand at full pressure. They do pack mud like all-terrain tires, but also do a good job at self-cleaning. The TRD suspension with its Bilstein shocks do an amazing job at soaking up bumps, and the thick skid plate up front inspires confidence (foolishness) for attacking obstacles with speed. In fact, speed works in the 4Runner TRD Pro’s favor, as the suspension is able to take the abuse, overcoming the tire’s inability to compete with a dedicated mud-terrain in the worst conditions.

The 4Runner does a fantastic job at daily driving, too, at least better than a Jeep Wrangler. Everyday livability and comfort levels are high, but that still doesn’t compromise the Toyota’s off-road capabilities. Acceleration is peppy for such a heavy SUV, but is slow compared to more modern crossover offerings. On-road handling is also good, relatively speaking, but is compromised compared to modern crossovers. Still, it would be difficult to find an SUV better suited for both on- and severe off-road duty like the 4Runner TRD Pro.

Pricing

2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven Emblems and Logo Exterior High Resolution
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The Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro carries a starting price of $42,400. There are only two option packages from Toyota: side running boards for $345 and the sliding rear cargo deck with an under-floor storage compartment for $350. Toyota does offer a myriad of dealership add-on options like all-weather floor mats, cargo area dividers, and trailer hitch ball mounts.

Competition

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon High Resolution Exterior
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Though different in many ways, the Jeep Wrangler is the 4Runner’s closest and most capable competitor. Of the Wrangler lineup, it’s the Rubicon model that best aligns with the TRD Pro’s upgraded off-roading parts. The Wrangler Rubicon gets beefy Dana 44 axles both front and rear, upgrades shocks and coil springs, an electronically disconnecting front sway bar, and electronically locking front and rear differentials. It features a part-time transfer case with a low 4:1 crawl ratio in Low range. Rock sliders come stock, protecting the rocker panels from trail damage. Knobby, 33-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A tires make the most of these upgraded drivetrain components. And as with all Wranglers, the Rubicon’s doors and top are removable and its windshield folds flat across the hood. You’d have to ride a motorcycle to have a more open-air experience.

The Jeep is powered by the venerable 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 making 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. While a five-speed automatic transmission is available, the standard six-speed manual is the gearbox of choice for avid off-roaders.

Prices for the 2017 Wrangler start low, especially for the base two-door version in the base trim without all the upgrades. Those can be had $23,995. Getting into the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon requires more coin, with prices starting at $37,445. The range-topping Rubicon Recon edition starts at $42,945 – which is roughly the same price as the 4Runner TRD Pro.

Learn more about the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon here.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk High Resolution Exterior
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Lets say you’re wanting an enclosed SUV with the off-road chops matching the 4Runner TRD Pro. Well, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk isn’t far behind. This unibody SUV offers two rows of seating for five people and can be optioned with a V-6 or V-8. An adjustable air suspension controls ride height for up to 10.8 inches of ground clearance and a terrain management system adjusts the electronics to help with battling tough trails. The Trailhawk is slightly limited by is lack of locking differentials.

As mentioned, standard power comes from the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 also found in the Wrangler. In this application, it makes 295 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 is optional and makes 360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 has been an option, but is currently not offered and is under investigation by the U.S. EPA for emissions.

Pricing for the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk starts at $43,095. Opting for the Hemi adds $3,295. Two option packages are available: the Active Safety Group for $1,495 and the Trailhawk Luxury Group for $2,995. Rock rails are also an option, as is a power sunroof. Fully built, a 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk can cost upwards of $52,000.

Find out more about the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk here.

Conclusion

2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro is an excellent all-terrain SUV with tons of attitude and capability rolled into a family friendly package. Its driving dynamics are easy to live with and its Toyota build quality means fewer worries. The added capability found in the TRD Pro package might not be needed for most adventure-seeking drivers, but those brave enough to tackle the hardest terrains will surely find the upgrades worth while.

Those who would rather upgrade their 4Runner with aftermarket parts will likely find the 4Runner Trail Edition a better bargain at a lower price, allowing for more coin for upgrades. Regardless of trim level, the 4Runner is a proven SUV that’s fully versed in off-road driving. It remains a stalwart in a dying segment of traditional body-on-frame construction and a solid axle. In that regard, only the Jeep Wrangler out-classes it. But when it comes to on-road driving, the 4Runner easily out-paces the Jeep for comfort.

  • Leave it
    • Getting old
    • Outdated 4.0-liter V-6
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