2015 4Runner New Car Test Drive
The sturdy Toyota 4Runner is built for durability and all-terrain capability. Using rugged body-on-frame construction, the 4Runner is intended to be a tough and reliable sport utility for the more adventurous owner. In 2014 the 4Runner got a new nose and body parts, along with upgrades to cabin trim and infotainment. The 2015 changes are few, except for the addition with much fanfare of the TRD Pro model that Toyota says is aimed squarely at extreme offroading enthusiasts who push their trucks and SUVs to the limit. We didn't push the TRD Pro to the limit, but we did get some seat time in a Pacific Northwest forest.
The 4×4 TRD Pro ($41,310) comes with fat Bilstein dampers with remote reservoirs, a big black grille, 17 black alloy wheels, 31.5-inch-tall tires called Terra Grappler, a vented aluminum front skid plate, black fabric seats with red stitching, TRD floor mats and shift knob, and TRD badging outside (black) and inside. It comes in black, white, or a new burnt orange color called Inferno.
If you don't tow and don't need serious four-wheel drive, just all-wheel drive for snow and ice, Toyota's Venza or Highlander might fit better. The Highlander offers similar room and fuel mileage but is quicker and rides better.
The 4Runner is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque, backed by a five-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy ratings are 17 mpg City, 19 combined and 22/23 mpg (2WD/4WD) Highway. Maximum towing capacity is 4,700 pounds by most recent SAE standards, enough for light boats, ATVs, snowmobiles, and motorcycles. Rearview camera and electronic trailer sway control are standard.
The 4Runner comes in distinct models equipped for lifestyle needs–luxury, sport or economy, in rear-wheel drive or four driven wheels. The standard safety features are extensive, the seating and cargo spaces are flexible, including 3 rows for 7 passengers.
The base SR5 comes with fabric upholstery, automatic air conditioning, and 17-inch wheels. The Trail Edition has increased approach and departure angles at the front and rear bumpers, high ground clearance, and other features for the outdoor and offroad enthusiast.
The Limited is loaded with leather, cabin comforts, and 20-inch wheels.
The 4Runner has good dynamics, resulting in good behavior on the road. There's rack-and-pinion steering and big-enough disc brakes. It rides smooth and civilized on a road trip, while being ready for an offroad trip.
There are few body-on-frame SUVs left. There is the Toyota FJ Cruiser, far less family-friendly; the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (more choices, open top, less expensive, less refined, less efficient); and the Nissan Xterra (choice of transmissions, better power-to-weight, lower EPA, smaller cargo, less expensive). None of those offer a third row of seats, as the 4Runner does.
The Toyota 4Runner is available in SR5, SR5 Premium and Limited with two or four driven wheels, and Trail and Trail Premium are 4WD only. SR5 and Trail 4WD use a part-time four-wheel-drive system. Limited uses a full-time, no low-range multi-mode all-wheel-drive system. SR5 and Limited offer a third row for seven-passenger seating. A 4.0-liter V6 and 5-speed automatic are standard across the range.
The TRD Pro ($41,310) is Baja offroad ready, see its equipment above.
The SR5 ($33,210 with 2WD, $35,085 with 4WD) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, six-way power driver's seat with lumbar, four-way passenger seat, sliding/reclining second-row seats split 40/20/40, Entune Plus audio system (AM/FM/CD/MP3, eight speakers, SiriusXM, USB port with iPod connection, hands-free phone capability and music streaming via Bluetooth), tilt/telescoping steering wheel, electroluminescent instrumentation, cruise control, 10 cupholders, multi-information display with compass, rearview camera, power windows including tailgate, power locks, remote keyless entry, three 12V power outlets, auto-off headlights, fog lights, color-keyed fenders and bumpers, spoiler, exterior puddle lamps, 265/70R17 tires on alloy wheels (steel full-size spare), tow hitch, and skid plates.
SR5 options include a sliding cargo deck with subfloor storage, fixed running boards, Entune premium audio and navigation upgrade, and third-row seats with sliding second row.
SR5 Premium( $35,950 with 2WD, $37,825 with 4WD) adds SofTex upholstery, heated front seats, moonroof, power passenger seat, HomeLink garage door opener, outside mirror signal and puddle lamps, electrochromic inside mirror, 120-volt outlet in cargo area and Entune premium audio with navigation (adds iPod control, iTunes tagging, HD radio, text-to-voice, radio buffering, voice recognition and customizable vehicle settings).
4Runner Trail ($36,115) gets unique 17-inch wheels and 265/70R17 tires, smoked light bezels, locking rear differential, overhead console crawl and multi-terrain controls. A Trail Premium ($38,885) gets the same upgrades as the SR5 Premium. Trail options include the Entune audio upgrade with navigation, fixed running boards, sliding cargo floor, and KDSS (kinetic dynamic suspension system).
4Runner Limited ($41,580 with 2WD, $43,620 with AWD) upgrades from Premium with leather upholstery for all seats, dual-zone climate control, chrome and color-keyed exterior trim, push-button start, ventilated and heated front seats, leather-trimmed steering wheel with redundant controls, X-REAS suspension, 245/60R20 tires on alloy wheels (matching alloy spare), 15-speaker JBL sound system, Safety Connect and front/rear parking sensors. All-wheel drive models use a single-speed, full-time all-wheel drive system with Torsen center differential.
Options for Limited are auto-retracting running boards, sliding cargo deck and third-row seats.
Safety features on all 4Runner models include front, front side, front knee, and all-row side-curtain airbags, rearview camera, active front head restraints, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, electronic stability and trailer sway control, traction control, hill-start assist, LATCH child-seat anchors, tire-pressure monitors; downhill assist control is included on 4WD models. Limited includes Safety Connect with automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, emergency assist, roadside assistance with 1-year trial subscription and front/rear parking sensors.