We are not youngsters any longer and – as you might expect – the rough, tough and durable Toyota 4Runner seems to us, to have been around forever. Well maybe not that long, but 34 years is a lifetime for vehicles of its type making it pretty much a standard by which others are measured.
From our many years in this business, we have come to appreciate the off-road prowess of two light trucks in the Toyota family that we affectionately refer to as ‘rock crawlers’. They are the nimble but mighty Tacoma mid-size pickup and the tough body-on-frame 4Runner SUV that have dependably gotten generations of folks to and from just about anywhere in all kinds of weather, against all on-road or off-road conditions.
We recently spent a week in the latest generation of Toyota 4Runner appreciating how it has gotten civilized with more comfort and technology without losing any – and even adding to – its rough and tumble capability.
As we expected, we found – if we were needing to tame the wild today, we would park one in our garage in a heartbeat.
2018 Toyota 4Runner 4×4 TRD Off-Road Premium – as tested
Our two-row 4Runner test vehicle came pretty well equipped to provide any adventuring family with just about all they need to comfortably do their daily business around town – then safely venture into the outback, near and far, hauling and towing all the gear they need for trail blazing and hill-climbing fun.
Powertrain and Mechanical
Our Toyota 4Runner, as are all, was powered by their proven 4.0L V6 engine that puts out 270 horsepower with 278 lb.-ft. of torque through a 5-speed ECT-I automatic transmission with sequential shift mode.
With payload capacity of 1,550 pounds plus plenty more power and torque for towing, the 4Runner includes a standard tow hitch receiver and wiring harness – able to tow up to 5,000 pounds of trailer for camping or hauling recreational toys for outdoor fun of all types.
All of that on top of generous and comfortable five-passenger room with 46.3 cubic feet of gear storage behind the second-row seat that can fold flat to increase the cargo area to 88.8 cubic feet.
Standard mechanical features included the Part-Time 4WD Drive System with Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), power-assisted rack and pinion steering, a coil-spring independent double wishbone front suspension with stabilizer bar and coil-spring four link with lateral rod suspension with stabilizer bar in the rear and power-assisted 4-wheel ventilated disc (13.3-inch front and 12.3-inch rear) brakes with Multi-terrain ABS.
Included also are a locking differential and Multi-terrain Select System with Toyota’s Crawl Control. CRAWL – as it is known – is one of the competitive advantages of a Toyota off-road vehicle (including Tacoma). When the transfer case is in LOW range, CRAWL regulates engine speed and braking to power 4Runner forward (or in reverse) at one of five driver-selectable low-speed settings for maximum traction.
Of note is the overhead switch control panel that houses both the Multi-terrain Select and Crawl Controls for easy reach when needed.
Powertrain and mechanically capable, the 4Runner TRD 4×4 TRD Off-Road Premium physically handles the ‘bumps’ of just about any rugged terrain with its skid plates on engine/transmission, fuel tank and transfer case; a 9.6-inch ground clearance and approach/departure angles of 33 and 26 degrees respectively.
Exterior features unique to the TRD Off-Road Premium include color-keyed bumpers and overfenders, hood scoop and silver painted front and rear bumper accents and TRD Off-Road badges. Other elements include projector beam headlamps, integrated fog lamps, Daytime Running Lights, LED taillamps, variable intermittent wipers with deicer, heated power outside mirrors with signal indicators and puddle lights, side rocker panels, rear spoiler and silver painted roof rails with black end caps.
Interior features include center console with storage, air conditioning with air filter and second row vents, keyless remote entry, power rear liftgate window, Optitron instrumentation with LCD and multi-information display, leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls, 10 cup and bottle holders, two front and two rear plus one cargo area 12V power outlets and a cargo bay 120V/400W power outlet.
Unique to the TRD Off-Road Premium inside are SofTex-trimmed heated front seats with 8-way driver and 4-way passenger power adjustment. They feature distinctive ‘TRD’ red lettering on the headrests. The second row 40/20/40 split rear seat reclines and also folds flat for cargo storage. It is also SofTex Trimmed.
For entertainment and information, our 4Runner came with the Entune Premium Audio with integrated Navigation and App Suite and 6.1-inch high resolution touch-screen with split display and backup camera. It featured 8 speakers plus AM/FM CD Player, audio and USB ports, Bluetooth Wireless capability, Siri, SiriusXM, Gracenote, HD Radio with traffic and weather and more.
It was equipped with the Toyota Star Safety System, Safety Connect, Tire Pressure Monitoring, Hill Start Assist, Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Advanced Air Bag system with All-Row Side Curtain Bags.
Wait, there was more
Toyota added their Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) to our test vehicle to further enhance its rugged capability. Though optional, we consider it a must for those wanting exceptional dynamic handling on the road matched plus optimum axle articulation for handling the toughest of off-road conditions.
We were impressed with the functionality and convenience of the optional Sliding Rear Cargo Deck (440-pound capacity) and the Under-Floor Storage Compartment. The flexibility for cargo handling it offers around town – as well as the outback – more than offsets the less-than one cubic foot of cargo space it displaces.
Adding a Power Tilt/Slide Sunroof with a Sunshade to complete our 4Runner, the Nautical Blue Metallic with Brick interior 2018 4Runner 4×4 TRD Off-Road Premium priced – with delivery – at just $42,690.
Making the TRD Off-Road Premium even better
We would not have stopped there were we ordering this 4Runner for us. There are other accessory packages available for the TRD Off-Road Premium that make it even a more aggressive ‘rock crawler’.
So, to make sure we looked good while performing even better when chasing our ‘little brother’ – the Tacoma – up and down the rock crawls of the outback, we would have added:
- 17-inch TRD Matter Gray Alloy Wheels mounted with Nitto Terra Grappler G2 Off-road tires
- ‘TRD’ Stamped aluminum front skid plate
- Black Rock Rails with removable side steps
- Roof Rack Cross Bars
- All-weather Floor Liners
2018 Toyota 4Runner Lineup
There are six models available priced from $34,610 to $42,925 in the 2018 4Runner lineup. They are SR5 ($34,610) and the SR5 Premium ($36,440) which come as 4×2 models with 4×4 optional for another $1,875. The rest of the line are 4×4 only and include the TRD Off-Road ($37,785), TRD Off-Road Premium ($39,695), TRD PRO ($42,875) and the Limited ($42,925).
You can explore all of the capable 2018 Toyota 4Runner SUV models from mild to wild with convenience and comfort by going to: https://www.toyota.com/4runner/