One of the blessings that's also a curse about reviewing new cars is that most often, the manufacturers will send fully loaded, top-of-the-line examples for review. That's a good thing, because it allows a writer to get a sense of what the carmaker thinks is the best they do and the way forward. But it's a bad thing because too much stuff often obscures the attributes of the vehicle itself.
Think of it like a hamburger---put a dozen condiments on it and are you really able to taste the beef?
That's why I was very happy to see the 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Sport land in my driveway. The TRD Sport is a new trim level---just one up from the base SR5, and with the main differences being a move up to 20-inch wheels, SofTex-trimmed seats and a sport-enhancement suspension.
Under the hood is the same engine that powers all Toyota 4Runners---a 4.0-liter, 276 horsepower V6 mated to a five-speed (yes, five) automatic transmission. Sixty from a standing start is about seven and a half seconds. We drove over a couple of High Sierra mountain passes, the tallest being Sonora Pass (elevation at the summit 9,623 feet) and there was nothing the 4Runner couldn't handle, but let's just say 75 additional horsepower and five more gears would have helped. A modern turbocharged engine with a ten-speed automatic would also help some with the gas mileage, which, at 16 city/19 highway, is no great shakes---though in 600 or so miles of some widely varying terrain, I wound up with an average of 22, so your mileage may vary, Mine did.
There are eight different trim levels of the 2022 Toyota 4Runner, topping out at $52,120 base price for the TRD Pro. The TRD Sport 4X4, on the other hand, starts at $42,025. That's a more than ten grand gap. Yes, the TRD Pro is the ultimate off-road 4Runner, but the TRD Sport has more than a bit of mountain goat in it as well.
The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are Toyota's complete Safety Sense suite of active safety features, a tow hitch, a power-sliding rear window and an eight-inch touchscreen audio system.
Our tester went light on the extra-cost options, which included an upgraded eight-speaker premium audio system with navigation ($1,585), a technology package including blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert ($1,310) and all-weather floor liners and cargo tray ($269).
With $500 "Keep It Wild Savings" deducted and $1,215 delivery processing and handling fee added, the as-tested price of the 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Sport is $45,904.
But here's the thing---in a fairly basic model like the TRD Sport, the overall goodness of the 4Runner comes through more strongly than in a loaded model with a sticker ten grand higher. The 4Runner is now in its twelfth model year essentially unchanged, and getting one closer to the basics is a great reminder of just how solid the whole vehicle really is. Apart from more power and more gears, I never wanted anything the TRD Sport didn't have or couldn't give. And driving around the High Sierra all weekend, I could very easily picture myself owning this exact vehicle and being very happy with the purchase.