There’s something to be appreciated in a vehicle like the Toyota 4Runner that has stood the test of time touting an aged design that still attracts buyers for its unsurpassed reliability and ruggedness in a midsized body-on-frame SUV. Carrying such a tradition in its current generation that was introduced in 2010, the 2022 Toyota 4Runner is an aged beast that’s managed to stay relevant for those who seek its unique and now rare, rugged character.
For the 2022 model year, the Toyota 4Runner remains mostly unchanged except for a new TRD Sport trim that adds a bit of on-road sportiness to the base level trim, which is far from the reach and capabilities of the latest 4Runner TRD Pro that I had a chance to check out this week.
The Toyota 4Runner remains in a category almost alone where its contenders are vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited or new Ford Bronco 4-door. Fundamentally, there’s nothing else out there like the 4Runner and Toyota prides itself on keeping such a vehicle around and its aged form, that does just fine to appease a dedicated fanbase.
The Toyota 4Runner makes do with the same 4.0-liter V6 engine with 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque mated to a proven 5-speed automatic transmission. The drivetrain, by now, is somewhat of a dinosaur but it still gets the job done for the 4Runner’s personality that doesn’t impress much out on the paved road but does good for its rugged off-roading chops, especially in the TRD Pro trim of the test vehicle.
Having some limitations starting with the old 5-speed automatic transmission, there’s not much to expect out of the 4Runner for being quick as it takes about 7.8 seconds to hit 60 mph. In fact, to get the 4Runner moving with some urgency will require a heavy right foot as near-full throttle input is required for the 4Runner to get out of the way of itself. There’s a bit of lofting around with the 4Runner TRD Pro, but most of that is due to the high ground clearance of 9.6 inches, the knobby Nitto Terra Grappler off-roading tires wrapping 17-inch forged wheels, and the trick TRD-tuned FOX shocks and springs.
The fuel economy is surprisingly consistent never leaving you guessing or outside of the EPA estimates of 16 mpg city and 19 mpg highway.
The 4Runner TRD Pro is truly a capable vehicle that I had a chance to put to the test when it was first introduced to the trim lineup for the 4Runner as a 2015 model year. Then, the TRD Pro was touted sophisticated off-roader that could easily serve daily commuting duties. Since then, the 4Runner TRD Pro has only received subtle updates and a creative palette of exterior colors like my test vehicle’s Lime Rush exterior paint. Additionally, the unique look of the 4Runner TRD Pro sets it apart from the rest of the lineup with darkened trim, a unique front grille with the classic “TOYOTA” lettering, a front TRD skid plate, high performance LED foglights, and exterior TRD Pro badges on the side and back.
Out on the road, the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro makes you focus on what’s ahead but it’s not near as wild as driving something like a new Jeep Wrangler where you must constantly fight the steering wheel. The 4Runner TRD Pro tracks well but as you can imagine it doesn’t like to be pushed too hard into turns. The ride quality is surprisingly smooth and there’s an appreciation of expected durability and reliability out of such a vehicle that has nothing but proven content.
The proven content of the 2022 4Runner TRD Pro, unfortunately, keeps it from being up to date in the area of tech and interior appointments. In fact, the 4Runner TRD Pro’s interior is probably the most aged of any new vehicle you can find. However, all is not bad inside as you still get a rather spacious cabin, TRD-logos everywhere, large and heavily padded SofTex-trimmed seats (heated up front), an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay / Android Auto integration, and a bevy of the expected active safety features. There’s a Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control system that can be coupled with a rear locking differential for when you need to get down and dirty on some off-roading terrain.
The cargo area is large as well featuring the signature sliding rear cargo deck that can support up to 440 pounds and an optional third-row seating setup in other trim levels. Oddly enough, the tailgate is manual in the TRD Pro trim, and it lacks other amenities and comforts that you find on the Toyota 4Runner Limited trim ($47,160), which costs a little over $4,000 less than the TRD Pro ($52,420).
Even though the 4Runner is showing its age, it’s doing it with grace and pride as it remains relevant among a strong fan base and those who count on it being one of the most reliable vehicles on the road.