With every mainstream automaker on the planet seeking to pad their bottom line with tasty SUV profits, the number of jacked-up wagons on offer is truly dizzying. Most of them are car-based, of course, including several in Toyota’s own wheelhouse – witness the mystifying Corolla Cross introduced this year.
This makes the 4Runner something of a glorious throwback. Perched on its toes and looking out into traffic with a lantern jaw, this SUV may be old as the hills but is enjoying some of its most robust sales to date.
It’s also more expensive than ever, with this year’s base price some $540 north of the 2021 model. There is often heated debate around these parts as to the 4Runner’s value, with Toyota seeming to charge these prices because they can, even though the truck itself hasn’t changed substantially in well over a decade.
This author will opine that buying a two-wheel-drive 4Runner is pointless, equating such a machine to owning a sleeveless winter jacket. Why the company chooses to offer a 2Runner is beyond my comprehension since they are surely not chasing an attractive price point given the base model Monroney. With this in mind, the Trail Special Edition is $40,650 while a TRD Off-Road is $41,135. That’s not a huge spread, less than some of us have spent on a snazzy meal. The mighty TRD Pro, if you’re wondering, is an eye-watering $52,120.
No matter the trim, 4Runner is powered by a 4.0L V6 engine making 270 horsepower and roughly a like amount of torque. Lashed to this engine is a five-speed (yes, five) automatic transmission. A big advantage of the TRD Off-Road trim is the addition of a locking rear differential, which can make all the difference between hauling oneself out of a mudhole and having to call for help. Or, it makes for bragging rights if you’re into buying SUVs but not using them for their intended purpose. I feel these part-time 4×4 systems in these 4Runner trims are superior when compared to the full-time system in the Limited with its Torsen limited-slip center diff lock. Feel free to duke it out in the comments about this point.
The TRD Pro trim goes on to add Fox-branded shocks with remote rear reservoirs and TRD-tuned front springs yet add little in terms of approach/departure angles and total ground clearance. Given the price walk of nearly 10 grand, there’s an argument to be made that money is better spent in the aftermarket if one is hell-bent on building the baddest 2022 4Runner on their block. There is no shortage of well-crafted parts available for this thing from any number of off-road suppliers.
It’ll have not escaped your notice we haven’t said much about interior differences between the trims – that’s because there aren’t many. All 4Runners pack the same pathetic infotainment system, and only top-drawer examples get the likes of dual-zone climate control and panoramic view monitors. The latter doubles as a trail cam on the TRD Pro, by the way.
Will the crew at Toyota soon introduce a new 4Runner? Maybe. Look how long they kept the old Tundra in production, not to mention the current Tacoma. Neither of them, particularly the Taco, seems worse for wear in terms of sales. As for the 4Runner, we’ll recommend the TRD Off-Road and its locking rear diff. Hey, at least you’re likely to rake in the bucks come trade-in time.
Please note the prices listed here are in United States dollars and are currently accurate for base prices exclusive of any fees, taxes, or rebates. Your dealer may (and should) sell for less (obscene market conditions notwithstanding). Keep your foot down, bone up on available rebates, and bargain hard.
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