• 2019 Toyota 4Runner Nightshade Special Edition

A splash of black for the Japanese off-roader icon

For the last three-and-a-half decades, the Toyota 4Runner has been one of the go-to models for practical body-on-frame SUV adventure and outdoor cred. Now, the Japanese automaker is offering a new upgrade for the top Limited trim level. It’s dubbed the Nightshade Special Edition, and it adds a fresh coat of aesthetic appeal to the mid-size utility vehicle.

Fresh Midnight Theme Outside

2019 Toyota 4Runner Nightshade Special Edition
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While the standard Toyota 4Runner may look the part of a big, bold, off-roading SUV, the latest Nightshade Special Edition adds a little extra classiness to the package.

The new gloss comes courtesy of a variety of exterior trim bits, which add to the mystique in subtle, yet effective ways.

Some of the biggest upgrades are in the corners, where the 4Runner now sports 20-inch wheels finished in a deep hue of black, rather than the machine-finish you get with the standard vehicle.

There’s also a variety of black accents added elsewhere, such as with the front and rear bumper spoilers, the sideview mirror covers, the door handles, the window surrounds, the side sills, and the roof rails, with complementary bits including black badging and black exhaust tips.

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The nose now comes with a slew of black grille accents, which replace the chrome pieces included on the standard vehicle.

Up front, the fascia is set with projector beam headlights, while out back, you’ll find LED taillights.

Exterior color options for the Nightshade Special Edition include paint hues like Midnight Black Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, and Blizzard Pearl.

What About The Engine And Powertrain?

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Unfortunately, the 4Runner Nightshade Special Edition keeps things unchanged under the hood.

However, don’t think this SUV can’t flex its muscle when asked. It still produces as much as 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque thanks to a 4.0-liter V-6, which routes output through a five-speed automatic transmission with a sequential shifting mode.

Is It Capable In The Rough Stuff?

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Like the rest of the 4Runner line, the Nightshade Special Edition can hang.

Under the skin is a full-time multi-mode four-wheel drive system with a 2-speed transfer case and locking center differential. The SUV also offers an impressive 9.6 inches of ground clearance, while out back is a standard tow-hitch receiver that enables it to tow up to 5,000 pounds.

If traction is at a premium, the 4Runner responds with a Torsen center differential and locking feature, as well as a Cross Linked Relative Absorber System, which automatically alters the damping levels while cornering for max grip. A standard Hill-Start Assist Control system keeps it pointed where you want on a steep grade.

The rear gets a four-link axle and coil-spring suspension.
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As expected, this special edition gets the same upgrades offered with the latest 2019 model year update, such as a new suspension package with some burly 2.5-inch Fox Internal Bypass shocks, mixing both off-road capability and on-road driving manners. Topping it off is a full-size spare tire in case the rubber can’t meet the road.

“Regardless of the grade or package, the 4Runner is as versatile as ever,” Toyota exclaims. “It is a family-hauling, boat-towing, hill-climbing sport-utility SUV that can adapt to just about any situation.”

What’s It Like Inside The Cabin?

2019 Toyota 4Runner Nightshade Special Edition
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Unique to the Nightshade Special Edition is some fresh door garnish, which matches the dark themes added elsewhere on the body.

Black trim is also added elsewhere in the cabin, including updates to the center cluster, the console surrounds, the shifter, and the steering wheel.

The 4Runner also offers available third-row seating for up to seven passengers total, plus there’s a rear-seat air conditioning feature that adds extra comfort for those seated in back.

Up front, you get a 6.1-inch interior screen, which provides user inputs for the HD Radio and 15-speaker (plus sub) JBL sound system. Additional infotainment goodies include USB 2.0 inputs and iPod support.

Further Reading

2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Toyota 4Runner.

2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2015 - 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Jonathan Lopez
Jonathan Lopez
About the author

Since its introduction in 1984, Toyota 4Runner has built a reputation as the do-anything adventure vehicle. In those 35 years, 4Runner has evolved to offer more creature comforts, safety and tech, but the reason it is still beloved has less to do with changes and more to do with what hasn’t – namely never losing its core DNA as a body-on-frame SUV up for anything.

For 2019, the 4Runner gains in both the looks and the capability departments thanks to two new offerings. The new Nightshade Special Edition will offer Limited buyers a sleek, sporty package accented with black features that include 20-inch black wheels, black bumper and grille accents, and black interior trim on the steering wheel, center cluster, console panels and shifter, just to name a few.

The 4Runner TRD Pro returns in 2019 with some significant changes, the most crucial being an all-new suspension package that includes 2.5-inch Fox Internal Bypass Shocks for impressive off-road performance that doesn’t sacrifice on-road handling. 4Runner TRD Pro also gains a TRD Roof Rack, standard JBL Premium Audio and moonroof, and an updated front skid plate with red TRD lettering.

Regardless of the grade or package, the 4Runner is as versatile as ever. It is a family-hauling, boat-towing, hill-climbing sport-utility SUV that can adapt to just about any situation. Oh yeah, and it offers room for up to seven passengers. Whether blazing trails or navigating the concrete jungle, 4Runner is up to the task.

Get Where You Need to Go

Regardless if the destination is a secluded trailhead, local boat ramp, or traffic-clogged school drop-off zone, the 4Runner delivers with everyday comfort, versatility, and proven Toyota reliability. 4Runner’s strength originates at its tough-as-nails body-on-frame construction featuring a 4-link rear axle and coil-spring suspension. But that tough chassis is also the source of 4Runner’s comfortable ride. You don’t sacrifice one to get the other.

The 4Runner offers the choice of 2WD, part-time 4WD with a 2-speed transfer case, or, in the Limited, full-time multi-mode 4WD with a 2-speed transfer case and locking center differential. All four-wheel-drive models offer a generous 9.6 inches of ground clearance. All 4Runner models come with a full-size spare tire.

The Toyota 4Runner can look ruggedly sinister covered in mud, but clean it up and it looks ready for a relaxing night out. All 4Runners are equipped with projector beam headlights and LED rear combination lamps. The SR5 and TRD models ride on 17-inch alloy wheels that are available in three designs: 6-spoke (SR5, SR5 Premium), 7-spoke (TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium), or a TRD alloy painted matte black (TRD Pro). The TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium are distinguished by their color-keyed bumpers and overfenders, hood scoop, and silver painted front and rear bumper accents. “TRD Off-Road” badges adorn the C-pillars.

The top-of-line Limited is the only 4Runner with a chrome-plated grille insert and exterior trim, and its 20-inch machine-finished wheels and P245/60R20 tires are exclusive to the model.

Black is the name of the game for the new Nightshade Special Edition. Based on the Limited grade, Nightshade offers premium black accents such as black front and rear bumper spoilers, outer mirror and door handles, window moldings, rockers panels, door garnish, roof rails, black badging, black chrome front moldings, and even a black exhaust tip. Black 20-inch wheels help complete the unique sporty exterior. Inside, black interior trim features include the steering wheel, center cluster and console panels, shift knob and shifter panel, and inner door grips. Nightshade is available in select colors: Midnight Black Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic and Blizzard Pearl.

It Has Guts

The 4Runner’s gutsy 270-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 routes its stout 278 lb.-ft. of torque through a 5-speed ECT-i automatic transmission with sequential shift mode. Dual Independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) optimizes torque across the engine’s entire operating range. There’s plenty of torque for towing, hence the inclusion of a standard integrated tow-hitch receiver and wiring harness on all grades. All 4Runner models can tow a maximum of 5,000 pounds, with a maximum 500-pound tongue weight.

The 2WD models feature a standard Automatic Limited Slip Differential (Auto LSD). This function of the traction control (TRAC) system allows some wheel slippage to help the vehicle dig out from sand or snow, for example. The available part-time 4WD system uses Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) and bolsters off-road capability with a two-speed transfer case with selectable low-range. By distributing drive force to any one wheel in contact with the ground, A-TRAC can help maintain traction when it senses wheel slippage occurring on terrain irregularities and slippery patches.

Exclusive to the 4Runner Limited, the full-time 4WD system uses a Torsen® center differential with locking feature and a three-mode, center console-mounted switch. The system uses a 40:60 torque split in most driving situations and alters that in response to slippage. If the front wheels are slipping while the vehicle is turning, the Torsen® differential changes the split to 30:70. If the rear wheels slip while the vehicle is turning, the differential changes to a 53:47 split.

The Added Attraction of Added Traction

The 4Runner is fortified by a supporting array of technologies that enhance the capability provided by the high-strength chassis and 4WD. Standard Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) provides additional control when accelerating from a stop on a steep incline by helping to hold the vehicle stationary for approximately 5 seconds while the driver transitions from the brake pedal to the accelerator. Limited and SR5 models equipped with 4WD also feature standard Downhill Assist Control (DAC). This feature augments low-speed descending controllability by helping to maintain a constant slow speed and prevent wheel lockup, allowing the driver to concentrate primarily on steering.

The 4Runner TRD Off-Road, Off-Road Premium, and TRD Pro models add the capability of an electronic-locking rear differential and Toyota’s Crawl Control (CRAWL) feature. The latter helps maintain a constant speed in slow-speed off-road situations, enhancing vehicle control when driving up, over or down obstacles. With the transfer case shifted into low range, CRAWL regulates engine speed and braking force to propel the vehicle forward or in reverse at one of the five driver-selectable low-speed settings. The driver can focus on steering without having to also modulate the throttle or brake pedal.

As conditions on the trail change, the 4Runner TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, and TRD Pro driver can adapt the vehicle with the Multi-Terrain Select system. A dial is used to select the mode that matches prevailing terrain and conditions, adjusting wheel slip accordingly. For example, on loose terrain such as mud and sand, more-than-normal wheel slip is permitted, allowing wheel-spin to work in the vehicle’s favor. The Mogul setting is for any extremely uneven terrain, such as V-ditches, slopes, and ridges — uphill or down. In this mode, wheel slip is minimized and the system acts more like a limited slip differential. On 4Runner TRD Off-Road models, an overhead console groups the off-road control switches into one location.

Suspension Upgrades

The 4Runner TRD Off-Road models can be outfitted with Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) that allows extended wheel travel at slow speeds for greater off-road capability and control. On pavement, KDSS provides a nimble sporty handling feel by reducing body lean when cornering.

The 4Runner Limited, though certainly off-road capable, places extra focus on everyday comfort and pavement handling with an exclusive Cross Linked Relative Absorber System (X-REAS) suspension, which automatically adjusts the damping force of shock absorbers when driving over bumpy surfaces or when cornering. A center control absorber cross-links the shock absorbers on opposite corners of the vehicle, reducing pitch and yaw by offsetting opposing inputs.

TRD Pro Series: Next-Level Off-Road

The TRD Pro takes 4Runner’s off-road performance to the next level with 2.5-inch Fox Internal Bypass Shocks. These shocks provide precise compression damping in both high-speed and low-speed situations, which ultimately means that whether on the trail or the highway these shocks will offer a plush, composed ride. The front Fox shocks are paired with TRD-tuned coil springs, and the combination provides an additional 1 inch of front lift for improved trail-tackling capability. Out back, 2.5-inch Fox shocks are employed but they also feature remote reservoirs to maintain damping performance in the most demanding off-road terrain.

The TRD Pro Series looks the tough part, too, with 17-inch black TRD alloy wheels wrapped in Nitto Terra Grapplers, unique front grille, black bumper accents, TRD Shift Knob, and special badging and accents inside and out. A new TRD roof rack is exclusively found on the TRD Pro, and it also receives a standard moonroof and JBL Premium Audio for 2019. Like the other TRD Pro vehicles, the 4Runner gets an updated 1/4-inch-thick aluminum skid plate with red TRD lettering. The TRD Pro Series will be offered in Super White, Midnight Black and the exclusive Voodoo Blue.

Space: Not a Compromise

The Toyota 4Runner is a Sherpa among SUVs. With the second-row seats in use, the cargo area offers up to 47.2 cu. ft. of carrying space. If it’s just two people hitting the road, folding the second row opens up a cavernous 89.7 cu. ft. cargo area. Fold-flat second-row seats provide a level load floor, and it’s not necessary to remove the headrests to fold the seats flat. The available pull-out cargo deck can carry up to 440 pounds to make loading and unloading heavy items easier, and it also provides seating for tailgating and campsite relaxation. For power on the go, the 4Runner offers a standard 120V outlet and two 12V outlets.

Third-row seating is available on SR5 and Limited grades, with a split 50/50 seat that folds flat. When so equipped, the 40/20/40 second-row seat has a one-touch walk-in function to provide easy access to the third row. The seats can be folded from the side or at the rear, using separate one-touch levers. Even when “roughing it” there’s no need to give up comfort; the second-row seats, which include a center armrest, individually recline up to 16 degrees in four steps.

Air conditioning with rear seat vents and pollen filter, power-sliding liftgate window, and a backup camera are among the standard features that make the 4Runner SR5 an outstanding value. The standard Optitron® instrument panel adds a touch of high-tech elegance for all grades, and a multi-information display provides readouts for numerous vehicle functions and fuel economy.

The SR5 Premium provides a significant comfort upgrade with SofTex®-trimmed seats, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and more. The Off-Road Premium receives the same features, and the Limited gets an added dose of refinement with leather-trimmed heated and ventilated 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat (with memory) and 4-way power adjustable front passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and the Smart Key system with push button start. The Limited also adds the convenience of a standard front and rear clearance sonar system.

Standard Entune Multimedia

Like all 2019 Toyota models, the 4Runner line offers an array of Entune Multimedia system choices:

SR5 and TRD Off-Road: Entune® Audio Plus includes 6.1-in. high-resolution touch-screen display, AM/FM/HD Radio™, CD player, eight speakers, auxiliary port, USB 2.0 port, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology, Scout® GPS Link compatible, Siri® Eyes Free, and SiriusXM® Satellite Radio with 3-Month All Access trial. See toyota.com/entune for details.

SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road Premium: Entune® Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation and Entune® App Suite includes 6.1-in. high-resolution touch-screen with split-screen display, AM/FM cache radio, HD Radio™, CD player, eight speakers, auxiliary port, USB 2.0 port with iPod® connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology, Siri® Eyes Free, HD Radio™ Predictive Traffic and Doppler Weather overlay, and SiriusXM® Satellite Radio with 3-month All Access trial. See toyota.com/entune for details.

TRD Pro, Limited: Entune® Premium JBL Audio with Integrated Navigation and Entune® App Suite includes 6.1-in. high-resolution touch-screen with split-screen display, AM/FM cache radio, HD Radio™, CD player, 15 JBL® GreenEdge™ speakers including subwoofer amplifier, auxiliary port, USB 2.0 port with iPod® connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology, Siri® Eyes Free, HD Radio™ Predictive Traffic and Doppler Weather overlay, and SiriusXM® Satellite Radio with 3-month All Access trial. See toyota.com/entune for details.

Star Safety System

The 4Runner features Toyota’s standard Star Safety System that includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with traction control (TRAC, or A-TRAC with 4WD), an Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop Technology (SST) brake-override system.

Eight standard airbags include driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, TAP (thorax, abdomen, pelvis) front seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags and all-row Roll-Sensing Side Curtain Airbags (RSCA).

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