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2022 Toyota 4Runner Review: Better With Age and Still a King Off-Road
BY Sam Du //
March 1, 2022
  • Toyota debuted the original 4Runner in 1984. The current model year is a fifth-generation on the road since ‘10 and offered in RWD and 4WD.
  • The 4Runner posted record-breaking sales in 2021, with 144,696 units sold.
  • No changes to the engine or transmission. All 2022 4Runners have a five-speed automatic and 4.0-liter V6 rated at 270hp and 278 lb-ft of torque.
  • The TRD Pro is the flagship model equipped with all the bells and whistles such as the FOX suspension, front skid plate, Nitto Terra Grappler All-Terrain tires, and 17-inch flow-formed wheels.
  • We test drove the TRD Pro in the new Lime Rush exterior color (no additional cost). Its starting MSRP is $52,420; however, several resellers have the same vehicle listed over $65,000.

In 2021, Toyota sold a whopping 144,696 units of its 4Runner SUV. That’s more sales than the Prius, Avalon, and C-HR – combined! Holy crap, right? The 4Runner is even more popular and sought after than when it launched in 1984 or when the fifth generation broke ground in 2010 (yes, the current gen is already 11 years old!). The 4Runner phenomenon becomes even more unfathomable when you begin to notice the current market value for both new and pre-owned models. A quick search on sites like Carvana and Autotrader, and you’ll see that 4Runners of all trim levels range from $5,000 to as high as $20,000 over its declared value!

Most surprising to me is that you’re not getting anything new with these ol’ Toyota trucks. There are no breakthrough technologies or more powerful engines offered. The design inside and out hasn’t changed much. In fact, the basic blueprint has remained the same after all these years. Some might say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and that’s exactly how Toyota product planners and engineers continue to approach its coveted 4Runner year after year.

I spent a week with this 2022 4Runner TRD Pro in Lime Rush (new green color for 2022). Instead of cruising it around LA to pick up my groceries and lattes, I took the opportunity to put this “dated” 4Runner through the wringer in Johnson Valley – home of the annual King of the Hammers. There, I would not just remember how awesome the 4Runner still is (despite its old spec), but I was able to create new and unforgettable memories climbing steep sandy hills and flying across desert dunes in what is one of the greatest ready-to-rock, off-road-capable SUVs of all-time.


Old But Gold V6 Engine
While the TRD Pro was introduced in 2015, the engine used across all trim levels has always been the same 4.0-liter V6 (1GR-FE) for over ten years. One would think Toyota engineers would make some updates, but it still produces the same 270hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. I’ll be the first to admit that upon stepping into the 4Runner for the first time, I immediately remember thinking, “man, this is underpowered and feels old.” This is most noticeable because I tend to drive with a lead foot and enjoy passing slow crawlers on the freeway with ease. With the 4Runner, I definitely had to downshift often to overtake anything quicker than a Geo Metro. However, throw me into the battlefield of King of the Hammers, and I quickly appreciated that power was ample. There was plenty of it when I needed to climb up Chocolate Thunder or fly across sand dunes like no other. Could it use more power? Of course! But for what the 4Runner was built and intended to do, this trusty old V6 gets the job done.

Turnkey Off-Roader
From the basic SR5 to the Limited, any trim level of the 4Runner can be easily modified to become a more legitimate and lifted off-roader; however, the TRD Pro takes all the guesswork out and provides a total package that you don’t need to mess with. In my opinion, the two biggest upgrades that help the most are the FOX suspension and Nitto Terra Grappler all-terrain tires.

The FOX system is bred from years of racing off-road from motorcycles, ATVs, cars, and trucks, winning at Baja and Pikes Peak to boot. The system used in the TRD Pro consists of monotube front shocks with seven bypass zones, rear shocks with 11 bypass zones, and 2-inch remote reservoirs along with TRD-spec front springs. Without getting too technical, the advanced hardware and careful tuning allow for the most comfortable ride possible with maximum suspension travel and controlled wheel travel. It might not feel like a luxury ride on the street, but while traversing rocks, dips, and obstacles, it’ll feel like a Rolls Royce compared to lesser-prepared suspension setups.

As for the Nitto Terra Grappler all-terrains, they’re specifically designed for the TRD Pro. One look at them, and you know they’re not some scrawny tire that you’re going to find on a BMW X5 or Mercedes GLE. These might be louder on the road, but they’re engineered to take abuse and grip effectively on uneven surfaces such as dirt and mud. I had practically no issues at King of the Hammers. In fact, I was surprised at some of the rocky and steep hills I was able to climb. I can’t report how they handle the most extreme rock crawling conditions, but I managed to find some rocky hills, which I climbed with ease and confidence. Where I ran into some trouble was the extremely soft and fine sand; however, I didn’t feel so bad because most trucks aside from UTVs and race trucks with specialized tires were getting stuck.

Even A Beginner Can Do It
Now I don’t even come close to calling myself a skilled driver off-road, but the 4Runner TRD Pro instilled so much confidence and had very little trouble over obstacles and tough terrain that I feel anyone that has common sense and can do a bit of performance driving can do it. And even if you don’t trust yourself off the beaten path, the 4Runner comes with driving aids that can bail out even the most beginner drivers. This includes a multi-terrain select control system with specific sand, loose rock, mogul, and rock modes. In addition, the 4Runner features an advanced hill descent system, crawl control, and active traction control. The SUV can pretty much bail you out of any sticky situation (for the most part).

Flagship Features
Okay, don’t get up out of your seat quite yet… For its $60K-ish price tag, I’ll admit there should be a lot more gadgets and gizmos included with the TRD Pro, but there’s enough to distinguish it from the other models and make it feel a tad more special. I truly enjoyed the JBL 15-speaker system, which, if you’ve owned any Toyotas in the past, the audio system is often a letdown. This thing bumps. Speaking of audio, Toyota equips Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. There’s also standard dual climate control, a big sunroof, and LED lighting. Safety features such as the blind spot monitor are also offered. Again, nothing groundbreaking here, but Toyota is doing a satisfactory job in keeping up with the times in this regard.

Don’t Overlook These Details
For those with a watchful eye, you’ll notice the TRD Pro comes with a front skid plate, black wheels, an exhaust, a roof rack, and a different grille. The skid plate gives peace of mind protecting the engine and oil pan. The 17-inch flow-form wheels in black are a nice touch to the TRD Pro and complement the vehicle’s toughness. The rack is a nice accessory, although I didn’t try it personally. The exhaust offers a slightly deeper and throatier tone. Some folks don’t like it, but I prefer my 4Runner to not sound so wimpy.

Bad On Gas But Don’t Care
It’s no mystery that the ancient V6 engine isn’t going to give us the best MPG numbers. The 4Runner’s fuel economy is ranked one of the lowest around, getting 16/19/17mpg (city/highway/combined). The newsflash I have for anyone who’s looking at a 4Runner’s fuel mileage is to “wake up!” The 4Runner was never meant to be your 60-mile-per-day commuter car. Its DNA is off-road, and its ambitions are to embark on wild adventures. If a 4Runner owner finds him- or herself wondering why they’re paying too much for gas, well, they’re simply doing a disservice to the very vehicle they own.

Dated But Underrated
The exterior of the fifth-gen 4Runner received a facelift in 2014. Since then, there’s not much to speak of. The interior isn’t state-of-the-art, cutting-edge, or fond to look at. Compared to more sleek SUVs from Lexus and European manufacturers, the 4Runner feels like it’s from the stone age, which isn’t too far from the truth. But both the exterior and interior serve a purpose, and that is providing a rugged and commanding truck that’s ready and willing to take a detour off-road and get dirty. And quite frankly, there’s no SUV in its class that I’d rather take home to mama.

To Have And To Hold
I started this article by mentioning Toyota’s incredible sales figures on the 4Runner and its insane popularity. We can all agree the ol’ Toyota SUV lacks dramatic change across the board. It can feel a little clunky and underwhelming at times, but to the folks that know what they’re getting, they’re not afraid to wage a bidding war and pay above sticker price or market value to get their hands on one. The 4Runner (and not just the TRD Pro) is a timeless tank, and it’s practically a no-brainer to not just own but invest in one. If you’re looking for something that’ll withstand the test of time, years of off-road abuse, and the often-ruthless used car market, there’s no king of the SUVs like the Toyota 4Runner.





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