After a week in a 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro in Iridescent Lime Rush, I have a better understanding of the vehicle’s appeal, its absolute real-world limitations, and the special allure the local moose might have for such a brilliant SUV.
If you saw this bright green 4Runner with Texas plates at Breckenridge last weekend, it was me. The plates are courtesy of the company’s Plano-based US headquarters and made me look perfectly normal over spring break here, but got everyone on Front Range trying to bump into me and to kill me (even other 4Runner riders). Moose, meanwhile, really converged and licked up road debris overnight.
And yes, that’s a lot of green, a hue that can be seen from space, but not so out of place on the ever-popular SUV – especially a moderately rugged $52,120 TRD Pro edition with a whopping 265/70 Nitto. Terra Grappler all-terrain tires, unique 17-inch dark alloy wheels (locking wheel bolts included) and a custom roof basket on top.
In that regard, the 4Runner more accurately assumes its role as the little brother of the late Toyota Land Cruiser, a rugged and versatile off-roader that has just enough poise on the road to make it a chunky but livable daily driver. It has a fully manual 4 button up/down and a locking rear differential, which indicate its true purposes.
After a summer ride in one of 4Runner’s more austere base models (although the SR5 and Limited models also have the option of third-row seats), the bulkier TRD Pro begins to enter more difficult territory. but fully capable of off-roading. It features a hard-core aluminum skid plate in front of the front axles, a custom blacked-out TRD grille, a black hood scoop and absolutely blinding LED fog lights. It’s also harder to get into comfortably, with the extra height of the tires (and 9.6 inches of clearance) requiring a two-handed jump to get on board.
Unlike even larger SUVs, cargo access is no problem as the old-fashioned manual tailgate opens to reveal cargo height just above my knees. This model lacked the slightly clunky deck/cargo tray contraption, instead offering the 47.2 cubic feet behind the second row and 89.7 cubic feet with those seats down.
What doesn’t change across the entire multimodel, two- and four-wheel-drive lineup is the surprisingly conservative 270-hp 4.0-liter V6 engine and a decidedly old-school five-speed automatic transmission. Only 17 mpg combined is really the figure you’ll get.
Around town, its acceleration is noticeably labored, with the custom exhaust blurring as you slowly increase speed. Merging onto Interstate 70 also requires a lot of pedal pressure.
The real challenge, however, is in uphill shots like Georgetown Hill, especially in dense, high-speed traffic; to keep it at highway speeds, you absolutely have to keep it on the ground in a very noisy third gear. I also wouldn’t want to tow the 5,000 pound maximum in one place.
Sure, on the Front Range highways, you can drive like every other lead-footed post-pandemic yahoo, but the heavy steering, limited braking power, sheer mass, and sometimes terrifying feeling of weight shift when you trying to treat the bulky 4Runner like a RAV4 isn’t what I would recommend.
The summer off-roader feels faster, with Fox bypass dampers and custom coil springs to provide trail-cruising balance and overhead terrain select and crawling control knobs to help you navigate in low-speed obstacles or sand, mud and the like.
Recognizing that a portion of TRD Pro riders don’t spend 95% of their days on dirt trails, the 2022 4Runner model year saw the introduction of the TRD Sport model, with 20-inch wheels and a more urban experience. / road. It also gets a cross-linked relative absorption system to smooth out the damping and connect the shocks to avoid much of the bob, rebound and wobble I found in my TRD Pro.
Or you can always go in the completely opposite direction with the TRD Pro Off-Road Edition, where a Kinetic Dynamic Dispersion System allows for even more wheel travel and effectively reduces sway bars.
TRD Pro sits somewhere in the middle, with a new Multi-Terrain Monitor system that lets you see wheel-side views of your travels over rocks or other obstacles. It’s also equipped with heavy-duty floor mats, tons of TRD badging and that moose-friendly lime green color, if you want it.
Andy Stonehouse’s “Mountain Wheels” column is published Saturday in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Golden. Contact him at Summitmountainwheels@gmail.com.