The Toyota 4Runner is a mid-sized SUV that is built similar to a pickup truck (body on frame) and has optional 3rd-row seating. The current generation (fifth) of 4Runners has been around since 2009. The vehicle hasn’t changed much over the years and sales are increasing. Toyota must be thinking, why change it if it works. I got to test out the 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road Premium. There are currently 6 trim levels available in the lineup;
4Runner trim level line-up
- SR5 Premium
- TRD Off-Road
- TRD Off-Road Premium
- TRD Pro
All the trim levels are available in 4X4 and 2X4 except the top of the line TRD Pro which is only available in 4X4.
The 4Runner has a crash test safety overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It gets 3 out of 5 stars for rollover and front passenger. For the side crash tests it gets full marks with 5 out of 5 stars for all the tests except ‘Overall Side Pole’ it gets 4.
Engine & Transmission
The 4.0 Litre DOHC V-6 engine puts out 270hp and 278lb ft of torque. You’re not going to win many drag races with this SUV but the power suffices for what it is. It has a 5-speed transmission, which is less than most, but the advantage of is less gear changes and taller gears. For it only being a 5-speed the transmission is actually fairly smooth at a gentle pace. To get it to change down you’ll have to firmly plant your foot on the accelerator.
Handling is ok. It’s not super soft and it’s not super hard, it’s somewhere in between closer to softer. There is some body roll and that’s to be expected, it’s a fairly high profile SUV. A slight forward lean is noticeable on braking. The model I was testing had “..Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) that allows extended wheel travel at slow speeds for greater off-road capability and stability”.
Off-road is where the 4Runner gets an advantage. It has a good old lever where you hear the clunks moving between transfer cases. I like this, it gives a sense of security. The 4Runner has 9.6″ of ground clearance (more than some pickup trucks) and a 26-degree departure angle. ‘A-TRAC’ (active traction control) and ‘Multi-Terrain Select’ are available. Torsen™ limited-slip center diff is also available is lockable. Crawl Control comes standard on the TRD model trim levels (TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, and TRD Pro).
Crawl Control Demonstration
Toyota say that the crawl control can be used in extremely rough off-road road conditions. That may mean several different scenarios to people but I tested on a sandy hill as it was close by. Crawl control is sort of like an extremely slow cruise control. You set the speed and tt will maintain it without you having to touch the brake or accelerator.
- Vehicle stopped
- Foot on the brake
- Shift to NEUTRAL
- Shift to 4LOW
- Put in FORWARD or REVERSE gear
- Select ON on the Crawl Control dial on the roof
- Select your speed between Low and High
- Foot off the brake and let the vehicle CRAWL!
Comfort / Entertainment
The 4Runner I had was not equipped with the 3rd row so I can’t comment on the space there. The 2nd row, however, has ample room for both children and adults to be comfortable. My particular car seats were easy to install, the latch system is very easy to get to. For kids, a universal tablet holder is available as an option ($99) that hooks onto the back of the front seats. Your own tablet can then be added to provide entertainment for children.
The buttons and knobs on the Toyota are big. Very big. So big that you can’t miss them. The fan speed, blower direction, and temperature knobs are almost the size of China. You’ll never have to search long for the right control again. The radio power knob is also large and easy to get to. The screen is a 6.1″ touchscreen that’s quick to load. It doesn’t have the latest technology such as AppleCarPlay or AndriodAuto yet but it’s easy to use. It works and there’s also a CD player.
The 4Runner’s fuel economy is EPA estimated at 17mpg in the city for the 4×4. 20mpg is estimated for the highway and a combined estimate at 18mpg. The 2×4 gets 1mpg more on the highway. Whilst I had the vehicle, I averaged 18.9mpg.
According to the NHTSA, the 2017 4Runner has only had 2 recalls so far and 0 investigations. Toyota’s are known for their reliability.
“Multi-Tool on Wheels: 2017 Toyota 4Runner Is the Everyday SUV That Lets You Explore When You Want, Where You Want | Toyota USA Newsroom.” Hub, Toyota, 5 Dec. 2016, pressroom.toyota.com/releases/2017-toyota-4runner-everday-suv-explore-where-when-you-want.htm.
Lauren has been working in the automotive industry both in the U.K and in the U.S. for over 10 years. She has driven hundreds of vehicles, not only new cars but beaters without heaters, fast cars on fire, slow cars in snow, off-road trucks in the mucks, and old pickups with pups. She’s driven heaps of Jeeps, miles in muscle and once took her gran in a car from Japan.