The 2017 Toyota 4Runner is the vehicular equivalent of a multi-tool.
On one hand, it’s a campout waiting to happen. Or a boat- or trailer-towing workhorse. Or an off-road, trailblazing, hill-climbing sport utility with room for seven passengers. Or, it’s a comfortable, safe, tech-filled commuter that’s at home on pothole-riddled city streets.
With the addition of three new trim levels, the 4Runner can now execute the off-road niche even better for owners who prefer to wander off the grid: Last year’s Trail and Trail Premium grades are now known as the Toyota Racing Development TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, and the ultimate off-roader in the lineup, the TRD Pro.
My tester was the Off-Road Premium. And since I didn’t wander off road, except for a short driveway or two, I didn’t experience the magic. But it doesn’t take a stretch in my imagination to get the drift that 4Runner is equipped and ready for a beating.
If I were a hunter, this bad boy would be my able companion.
Built with body-on-frame construction, the 4Runner seats up to seven adults and is powered by a 4.0-liter, 24-valve, V6 engine that generates 270 horsepower and 276 lb.-ft. of torque with a maximum towing rating of 5,000 pounds. I was able to coax 18 miles per gallon during my week of city/highway driving.
Advanced capability is built into the TRD Off Road models highlighted by a multi-terrain select system, which allows the driver to use a dial to select the mode that matches prevailing terrain and conditions; adjusting wheel slip accordingly. The 4Runner lives up to its name with an electronic-locking rear differential and Toyota’s Crawl Control feature, which helps maintain a constant speed, enhancing vehicle control when driving up and over obstacles in challenging off-road situations.
With the transfer case shifted into low range, Crawl regulates both engine speed and braking force to propel the vehicle forward or in reverse at one of the five driver-selectable low-speed settings. The driver can thus focus on steering over obstacles without having to also control the throttle or brake pedal. Further off-road credentials include superior approach and departure angles, high ground clearance and available suspension upgrades. The available Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System facilitates extended wheel travel at slow speeds for greater off-road capability and stability. For example, on loose terrain such as mud and sand, more-than-normal wheel slip is permitted, allowing wheel-spin to work in the vehicle’s favor. The Mogul setting is for extremely uneven terrain, such as V-ditches, slopes, and ridges — uphill or down.
Of course there’s air conditioning, AM/FM/XM radio, Bluetooth, USB ports, power-heated front seats, power-sliding rear window, cruise control, backup camera and plenty of other creature comforts. So you’re not roughing it by any means.
And if you don’t wander of the beaten track, save yourself some money. 4Runner is also available in SR5, SR5 Premium and Limited trim levels.
Base Price: $39,295
Price As Driven: $43,433
Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.