There's nothing else quite like it and we want one.
We've heard all of the jokes about the Toyota 4Runner - it's a dinosaur, it's old enough for an AARP card, etc. But despite the calls for Toyota to replace it with an all-new model, the 4Runner continues to sell... well. Like, really well. The 4Runner enjoyed its best sales year ever in 2018 with Toyota moving more than 139,000 of them in the United States. Sales took a slight downturn in 2019 with over 131,000 units, which was still good enough to count as the model's second-best sales year in its 35-year history.
You may think the 4Runner needs a redesign but the sales numbers don't lie. Toyota recently updated the 2020 4Runner with a slew of improvements and the hardcore TRD Pro models continue to be in high demand. We recently tested a 2020 4Runner TRD Pro (in Army Green) and expected to come away indifferent to its antiquated charm. But after driving it for a week, we understand why more people are flocking to the 4Runner than ever before. This TRD Pro is among the coolest SUVs on the market and here's why we want one.
All versions of the 4Runner look pretty aggressive when parked next to the soft crossovers you normally see out on the streets. This TRD Pro variant painted in an exclusive shade of Army Green looks even better courtesy of its black TRD wheels, unique grille, running boards, off-road tires, roof rack, and skid plates. When the TRD Pro goes by, people tend to take notice and give you a thumbs up. Just like the Ford F-150 Raptor, the TRD Pro acts as an off-road status symbol.
Toyota changes the signature color for the TRD Pro each year and for 2020, it's Army Green. Past colors have included awesome options like Voodoo Blue, Inferno, and Quicksand, but we think this new Army Green is the best tone yet. There are other options like white, black and grey, but we think you'd be silly to opt for anything besides this tough shade of green.
A lot of car companies will happily sell you a crossover that looks like it can go off-road but really can't. Not so with the TRD Pro, this baby was built to get dirty. Opting for the TRD Pro gets you 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks, TRD-tuned coil springs with a one-inch lift, 1/4-inch skid plate, Nitto Terra Grappler tires, a Torsen center-locking differential, and a cat-back exhaust.
All of Toyota's off-road features like Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control can be found here and accessing them can be done using an old-school drive mode lever that requires you to be in neutral to engage 4-LO and roof-mounted dials. We showed the 4Runner some dirt hills and nothing seemed to slow it down. The softness of those Fox shocks was particularly impressive as we barreled down dirt trails.
We'll happily admit that the 4Runner's drivetrain feels extremely dated. It uses a 4.0-liter V6 that only produces 270 horsepower, 278 lb-ft of torque, and if you are light on the throttle, 19-mpg on the highway. This engine has been used in some form since 2002 and by now and the five-speed automatic it's mated to isn't any newer. On the plus side, this combination will be extremely reliable and should last longer than many more complicated drivetrains.
Toyota has also improved the 4Runner's cabin just enough to make it livable. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay now come standard, immediately giving owners access to advanced features like speech-to-text and app integration. It may have taken Toyota longer than most to hop on the Android and Apple bandwagon but this small improvement goes a long way towards making the 4Runner feel more modern inside.
The 4Runner isn't just useful off-road, it serves well as a family runabout vehicle (if you can afford to fill up the tank). In the back, the cargo area houses 47.2 cubic feet of space, which increases to a whopping 89.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Folding the second row does require you to lift the seatbacks, which is slightly annoying, but once they are down the 4Runner provides a flat load floor. There's also a pullout deck that comes standard on the TRD Pro that can support up to 440 pounds. And in typical 4Runner fashion, the rear window slides down so you can get some additional air or load small items without opening the tailgate.
That TRD Pro badge holds more value than the off-road capability it adds to the 4Runner. Dealerships are able to charge over MSRP for 4Runner TRD Pro models and if you do manage to find one at sticker price, it will hold its value for years to come. We searched for used ones and even five-year-old examples with near or over 100,000 miles still command around $28,000. Low mileage examples have barely depreciated at all. Not bad for an "outdated SUV."
The 2020 4Runner TRD Pro starts at $49,865 and if you can get one at sticker price, we highly recommend it if you plan to do a lot of off-roading.