Ready for Anything – 2019 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Ready for Anything – 2019 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Story and photos by Jordan Allan, additional photos courtesy of Toyota Canada

The Toyota 4Runner is a strange vehicle in the sense that, in so many ways, it does follow the massive auto industry trend of being an SUV but in others, it doesn’t fit at all. The SUV features a true body-on-frame design when almost every other SUV has become unibody, boasts a large naturally aspirated 4.0L V6 under the hood where others are moving to smaller, turbocharged units, and leaves a little to be desired in terms of infotainment and technology features.

Now, that may have sounded like I was putting down the current version of the 4Runner, however my intentions were quite the opposite. All of the things I listed are just some of the things that have endeared the SUV to me ever since I first drove one 5-6 years ago, on top of having an ageless, sharp looking appearance that is as good as it’s ever been. Having recently had the opportunity to test the off-road-oriented TRD Pro model for the first time recently, I found that I loved it even more.

First, let’s talk about what differentiates the TRD Pro Model from the other 4Runner offerings. To start, it and the entire current TRD Pro family, which also includes the Tacoma and Tundra, ride on 2.5-in. TRD Pro-exclusive Fox Internal Bypass shocks that were specifically tuned for each vehicle by TRD. The aluminum-bodied shocks offer supreme damping performance in a wide variety of driving situations, which leaves you with a perfectly comfortable and capable ride 100-percent of the time. A 1/4-in front skid plate is stamped with new red TRD lettering while the matte black TRD alloy 17-in. wheels now feature a new offset that provides it with nearly a 1-in. wider track in the front and rear for added stability. The aforementioned wheels are usually wrapped in a set of Nitto Grappler all-terrain tires, however our test came during a late winter storm, so the Toyo Observe GSi-5’s came in handy.

Quickly, on top of the functionality upgrades, the TRD Pro model also features a number of appearance upgrades including special floor mats, shift knob, seats, available LED fogs, a blacked-out grille and projector-beam headlights with a smoked out trim.

As I mentioned, I do love the overall exterior look of the 4Runner, especially the TRD Pro model, and probably wouldn’t change one thing even if I could. The SUV remains pretty much the same since this first generation was introduced back in 2010 and facelifted in 2014, which is not abnormal for Toyota as they’ve done similar things with the Tacoma and FJ Cruiser and clearly buy in to the mantra ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ In saying that, news has already come up of a few upgrades for the 2020 4Runner, but by the sounds of it they will remain relatively minor and won’t change the overall feel.

I said earlier that the interior does feel a bit dated and truthfully, despite my love for the vehicle overall, it does. In saying that however, I don’t think there could be a better fit. The volume, tuning and HVAC knobs are huge and only add to the rugged feel of the truck while the rest of it does enough that it won’t affect your creature comforts that you’ve been accustomed to in other new vehicles. The 6.1-in. touchscreen infotainment display still has Bluetooth and Navigation while a small display sits between the large speedometer and tachometer to help you keep track of things like safety systems and your speed digitally.

Safety features are aplenty despite its old-school nature, with the Star Safety System coming standard on all TRD Pro models, and it includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS), Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology (SST).

During the test week with the 4Runner, we had a late winter snow storm which is something of a rarity here on the West Coast, but I soon found that I would be driving the perfect vehicle for it. The well-balanced SUV would not slide out in nearly any circumstances without even needing 4WD and the high-clearance and wide stance allowed me to retain a sense of balance even while traveling through some pretty deep, fresh fallen snow.

Funny enough, and in typical Vancouver fashion, by the end of the week, temperatures crept above the freezing level and had me day-dreaming of future camping trips whilst sitting in what is probably best described as an absolute camping machine. The rear cargo area is enormous, both in its depth and height, and the back seats have plenty of room for either more people or extra gear if you somehow fill up the rear. A new, powder-coated roof rack was introduced for 2019 and allows you to easily store larger items like coolers or some items that you may not want riding around inside with you after a lengthy stay in the bush.

City driving in the 4Runner was a breeze and although you won’t forget you’re driving a vehicle of its size, it’s far from a burden and is manoeuvrable on tight downtown streets or packed mall parking lots. Another point worth mentioning is that, even with the added roof rack, larger tires and slight suspension lift, I was able to park the 4Runner in my underground parking lot, which is especially important if you’re not a fan of early morning windshield scraping.

Although I took it down some rough gravel back roads, I was nowhere near to testing the 4Runner’s true off-road capabilities, which by all accounts and some YouTube research, is top notch. Also it’s probably safe to assume that vehicles with a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) and Crawl Control (CRAWL) are going to perform well when the pavement ends. The KDSS adjusts the suspension system for better wheel articulation, while the CRAWL will automatically modulate the throttle and brakes on five low-speed settings. A lever-controlled transfer case further adds to the old-school theme, while the Multi-Terrain Select allows you to choose from four modes that will help you regulate wheelspin by adjusting both the engine throttle setting and traction control. Lastly, an electronically controlled locking rear differential will evenly distribute power to both wheels, which comes especially handy when tackling large obstacles and uneven terrain.

Maybe the one downfall of the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro is its price tag, which begins at $56,580 with our test model coming in at $58,522. Now, if I can put my fanboy hat on here again, I think the price can easily be justified. Sure, there will be some who look at the list of its technology features and outdated interior and decide that it’s not for them and that is just fine. However, aside from the Jeep Wrangler, the 4Runner TRD Pro is the most factory off-road-capable SUV out there, and if weekend adventures or the outdoor lifestyle appeal to you, that will mean something.

One last point on the price would be that Toyotas have an incredible reputation for holding their values for extremely long periods of time, which is evidenced by one quick look at the used vehicle market for just about any Tacoma, Tundra or 4Runner. The prices remain very high and have for years, which definitely should say something about their long-term durability. In fact, maybe five or six years down the road, I will do another search and see what a 2019 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro would cost me then. It’s that good.


Price as Tested: $58,522
Engine: 4.0L DOHC 24-valve V6
Power: 270 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 278 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed auto
Curb Weight: 2,111 kg / 4,655 lb.
Fuel Efficiency Rating: 14.3 / 11.9 L/100 km, city/hwy