It was only after I pulled the ticket out of the machine and started to proceed through through the gate that I looked up and realized maybe this wasn’t such a great idea.
I held my breath as the 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, with roof rails, cleared the cement beam as I started to inch the vehicle forward up the ramp of the parking garage. Then it cleared the next one. Every time I passed a cement beam, I held my breath, instinctively ducked my head and let out a reflexive sigh when I didn’t scrape anything.
Maybe it would be OK.
And it was. Until I scraped a sign hanging from one of the beams.
Note to self: The Toyota 4Runner, with roof rails, should probably be parked on the street next time.
I like the 4Runner for so many reasons, but I’m going to issue a huge spoiler alert here: This isn’t a great city vehicle.
The most striking thing about the test vehicle was the bold Army Green paint color. Without seeing anything else, that alone says: Don’t mess with me. Add that to the upright stance, big knobby tires and roof rails, the test vehicle looks ready to tackle the zombie apocalypse.
The interior is a nice blend of rugged and upscale. As a part of the TRD Pro package, the test vehicle included the all-weather floor liners, so I didn’t feel bad stepping inside with muddy running shoes. The leather seats were more functional than luxurious, but the embroidered TRD badge on the headrests was a nice touch.
The perforated leather on the steering wheel and the carbon fiber insert surrounding gearshift were also a nice touch.
As a petite driver, I appreciated the available running boards ($345), so I didn’t have to climb a mountain every time I got behind the wheel. And surprisingly, for such a large vehicle, I was able to get a good driving position with great visibility out the windows and a decent distance from the steering wheel.
Another huge bonus for 2020: The 4Runner gets a tech upgrade. It adds things such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Alexa connectivity as well as Toyota’s active safety system TSS-P, which is standard on every trim.
We recently discussed the 4Runner on the Car Stuff Podcast, and it’s interesting to note this vehicle sits in the same class as the new Toyota Highlander, but we didn’t think the two vehicles compete because they target two completely different customers. The 4Runner is more adventure-ready, whereas the Highlander is family focused.
Also interesting to note is the 4Runner has experienced a resurgence of late, partly due to the fact it hasn’t ditched its body-on-frame architecture or upright and boxy stance in favor of aerodynamics and ride comfort. It’s a truck, and it works like a truck.
While it’s hard to call this a miss because it’s likely a part of the allure, the ride and handling is very rough. I felt like a U-Boat commander every time I got behind the wheel. The turning radius isn’t tight, and the knobby tires give you a lot of feedback in the steering wheel.
There is also a significant amount of outside noise that enters into the cabin — from the tires, from the road and from the wind.
The biggest miss is going to fuel economy. The EPA doesn’t even pretend that the Toyota 4Runner can get decent numbers, and it’s rated at 16 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. I averaged about 15.8 mpg in mostly city driving.
The Toyota 4Runner has eight different trim variants. Rear-wheel drive is standard at the base level, and all-wheel drive is available.
- SR5: $37,240
- SR5 Premium: $40,435
- TRD Off-Road: $40,960
- TRD Off-Road Premium: $43,690
- TRD Pro: $50,985
- Limited: $46,105
- Nightshade Special Edition: $47,845
- Venture Special Edition: $45,505
The test vehicle was a TRD Pro and added a couple of small option items such as the sliding rear cargo deck, running boards, cargo divider, door edge guard and blackout emblem overlays for an as-tested price of $51,968.
The Chicago Factor
Anyone who follows me on instagram, will likely be familiar with the will-it-fit game I like to play with the larger vehicles I end up testing. I take a picture of the vehicle in my driveway and ask people to vote on whether they think it will fit in my small city garage.
The Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro actually got a lot of “yay” votes — and they were right. It did fit in my garage — barely. But as I stated above, I’d think twice about parking it in a public city garage.
This would be a tough vehicle to live with in the city on a daily basis — not only to parallel park but also to maneuver in any of the several small spaces you encounter while living in a city. Backing it into my garage when my neighbor was already in her space was a delicate ballet (thank goodness for back-up cameras), and driving through the Mariano’s parking lot at noon on a Sunday had me white knuckling it.
The one place the 4Runner shines in the city: Every time it drives over the plethora of potholes and speed bumps. The extra ride height and TRD-tuned FOX shocks and springs provide added cushion, so I didn’t feel like I was going to scrape anything or pop a tire while traversing the obstacle course that is Chicago city streets.
|Engine: 4.0-liter V-6
Torque: 278 lb-ft
Fuel economy (combined): 17 mpg
Drivetrain: RWD (std.), 4WD (avail.)
Height: 71.5 inches (72 inches for TRD Pro)
Width: 75.8 inches
Length: 190.2 inches (191.3 for TRD Pro)
Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
Seating capacity: 7
Cargo capacity (behind rear seats): 47.2 cu ft (46.3 cu ft with sliding deck)
Base price: $37,240
Price as tested: $51,968