Primal. Proven. The 2023 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro
For the past year or so, the SUV world has been losing its mind over the new Ford Bronco. And rightly so. Nice piece. A big part of the Bronco's appeal is its very retro image---a totally contemporary 2022 vehicle that evokes memories of a completely different vehicle with the same name from the 1960s and 1970s. But if we're talking OGs, well...
This is the 14th----fourteenth---year of production for the fifth generation of the Toyota 4Runner. It debuted with the 2010 model, which I reviewed in the summer of 2010 (some things written in that piece, I stand by, others----well, let's just say the 4Runner aged better than parts of the review did).
If you're looking for changes, don't bother popping the hood. The 4Runner is still runnin' what it brung in the fall of '09---a 4.0-liter 24-valve 270-horsepower V6 engine with a five---yes, five----speed automatic transmission. The EPA fuel economy estimate? 16 mpg city/19 highway.
No, even the interior changes have been pretty mild. What Toyota has done, and it's proven to be a successful strategy, is to make the 4Runner more capable over the years---to offset the decline in its on-road daily-driver appeal with undeniable prowess off-road.
That's especially true in the top-of-the-line TRD PRO model. $53,270 gets you a loaded 4Runner (tow hitch receiver, full suite of active safety features, power rear window, navigation, 15-speaker JBL premium audio system) and then adds a locking rear differential, multi-terrain select and crawl control, part-time 4WD system with ActiveTRAC, TRD-tuned Fox shocks and springs, TRD stamped aluminum front skid plate, matte black 17-inch TRD alloy wheels, Nitto Terra Grappler tires, high-performance LED fog lights, a black roof basket and a whole lotta TRD branding and badging.
(Yes, the 4Runner is so old-school that it has a manual-set clock atop the touchscreen and the times are NOT in sync.)
The thing is, once you say yes to the TRD Pro, there's not a lot else left to cost extra, other than dealer-installed options. From the factory, our tester had exactly two options, a $350 sliding rear cargo deck and the Solar Octane paint for $425. So, with $1,335 delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of the 2023 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro is $55,380.
There are a lot of arguments to be made that the 4Runner could use a clean sheet of paper. But there's also the risk that a contemporary vehicle might not do what the new 4Runner does any better. From this vantage point, 13 model years on, it's hard to fault Toyota's 4Runner playbook.