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Road Tested: 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Premium

Written By | Nov 9, 2017

SAN JOSE, November 9, 2017 –Few SUVs have garnered such a loyal following as that of the Toyota 4Runner and this 2017 model year looks to keep it a very capable off-road vehicle.

Toyota 4Runner

Toyota 4Runner courtesy Toyota


The nearly perfect Toyota 4Runner

Toyota engineered the 4Runner to be a nearly perfect combination of on-road sensibilities, creature comforts and handling and one of a rather bad-ass SUV that can go places much of its competition cannot.

Powering this 2017 model is a potent 4.0 liter V6 that develops 270 horsepower with 278 lb-ft of torque at 4,400rpm. While not record-setting power in an off-road capable SUV, it does provide good acceleration and power with enough torque to make the 4runner great to drive, both on and off the main roads.

The EPA gives a rating of 20 miles per gallon on the highway and a rather dismal 17 on the city for a combined average of 18. That’s honestly rather sad, given the fact that it’s only a V6 – those are the kinds of numbers we typically see from a V8 in the same weight-class as the 4runner.

Then again, in all likelihood, you’re not the right customer for a 4Runner if you’re paramount concern is that of its fuel economy.

Toyota 4Runner

Toyota 4Runner Courtesy Toyota



Premium Toyota 4Runner

This Premium model features 17-inch alloy wheels that are outfitted with P265/70R17 tires – something you may want to immediately replace with mud-tires, should that be your primary focus for getting this vehicle in the first place.

Toyota mates the engine to a six-speed automatic transmission that is the first time we’ve seen a modern vehicle with a manual 4×4-mode side-shifter. Love this as it’s a nice throw-back to my childhood.

One other great feature is that the vehicle includes a factory locking rear differential, along with crawl control and multi-terrain selectability from the driver’s seat.

Toyota 4Runnervs the “Pavement Princess” class

What this means is, that the 4Runner easily outpaces those “pavement princess” SUVs you see crawling the streets but would rarely ever be taken off-road. Why? Because most of the competition wouldn’t likely get too far. The locking rear differential is a huge bonus to off-roading as is the extra wheel travel and nine inches of ground clearance the 4runner gives you.

It’s what lies underneath, however, that is really one of the big differentiating factors of this 4Runner and that’s the KDSS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System) that helps it handle as well on-road as off-road. Once a feature only found in the Land Cruiser, KDSS is an active suspension system that monitors conditions in real-time and adjusts wheel travel, further aiding in traction and stability. It does this by hydraulically adjusting the front and rear swaybars to extend wheel travel when necessary. It’s a seamless system to the driver.

Toyota 4Runner – Inside and Out

There’s really nothing to dislike about the body lines Toyota has done here. It’s a very masculine look with a front-end appearance that “looks” as if it’s ready to tackle anything the off-road experience can muster. Its sharp angles help with the overall aggressive look which is a good thing for such a capable off-road SUV to possess.

Even though the exterior has a very rugged look to it, the inside is still riddled with the creature comforts we want these days. Options like cruise control, power-everything, dual climate control, heated seats, Toyota’s “SofTex” interior, power front seats, a 120-volt power outlet and rubberized off-road floor mats with an infotainment system that also supports on-board navigation.

The decently-sized, 6.1-inch display is adequate for the duties involved with using the infotainment system, however, we’d prefer one a little larger as the screen does look a bit smallish in contrast to the relatively large dash it’s installed into. It does support AM/FM/XM/CD along with Bluetooth audio as well as has both a USB and an auxiliary input jack as well. Overall sound quality is decent but far from being good or great – to do that, you’d have to step up to Toyota’s premium JBL audio system.

The final review

There’s no doubt that this body-on-frame SUV is one of the most off-road capable you can buy right now, for the money. Additionally, it happens to behave on-road just as well and that combination helps make it a rather easy selection for the outdoorsman who wants to adventure into the wilderness without many limits yet still wants a comfortable daily driver.

Toyota has keep improving the 4Runner, ever year, to keep it relevant and class-leading for its respective price bracket and for the 2017 model year, it has largely succeeded in that. The only real reservations we have are its paltry fuel economy and that its SofTex seating material can get unbearably hot on those warm summer days.

If you’re in the market for a very capable SUV that won’t break the bank, has superb styling and will still give you some good on-road comfort, then you should test-drive one soon. The 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Premium is easily one of the most capable off-road SUVs you can find for the money.


Duane Pemberton

Duane Pemberton is a lifestyle writer and CDNs Auto Editor. Pemberton loves anything that helps bring people together which is why he writes about food, wine, cars, and travel.