There’s SUV all-wheel drive models that say they will be good for off-road use, and then there’s the Toyota 4Runner 4×4 Trail edition.
That’s the real deal when it comes to hardcore, outdoor recreational play.
There are few truck-like body-on-frame SUVs left on the market and the 4Runner is one of them. Most SUVs today are built for the city ride, not the trail.
This week we drove the suitably trail-equipped 2015 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 Trail Premium V6.
What’s New for 2015?
The Toyota 4Runner gets few changes for 2015, except for the addition of the TRD Pro model. Toyota says that is aimed squarely at extreme off-roading enthusiasts who push their vehicles to the limit out in the wilderness.
It comes with off-road specific upgrades.
If you want a good multi-purpose off-road vehicle for the family, the Toyota 4Runner 4X4 Trail Premium V6 is a solid fit and there are many things that set it apart from the competition.
Features & Options
This 4X4 Trail Premium V6 ($38,655) comes with SofTex upholstery, power heated front seats, moon roof, outside mirror signal, and puddle lamps. There is an electrochromic inside mirror, 120-volt outlet in the cargo area, and Entune premium audio with navigation.
4Runner Trail also gets unique 17-inch wheels and 265/70R17 tires, smoked light bezels, locking rear differential, overhead console crawl, and multi-terrain controls. It also features a standard rear view camera.
Options included, sliding rear cargo deck ($350), Kinetic Dynamic suspension ($1,750), and 30th anniversary discount (-$750).
Total MSRP with shipping: $40,890.
Stepping inside the 4Runner Trail reveals a very practical and utilitarian cabin. The materials used in the interior are perfectly suited for a long weekend in the back country – where the kids will have dirty boots and the dog will have been in the water.
This tester did not have the third row option, but it’s available on the top of the line Limited.
Up front, the seats are comfortable, supportive, and offer plenty of adjustments for drivers and passengers. With the tilt/telescoping steering wheel, different size family members can easily find the perfect driving position.
Second-row 60/40 seats have a comfortable recline and will fold flat for more cargo space, if needed. Toyota 4Runner has about 90 cubic feet of cargo carrying ability behind the front seats and 46 cubic feet behind the second row. This tester came with the optional sliding rear cargo deck that’s well worth the $350.
We took the three grand kids up in the mountains for a picnic and hike near Breckenridge. When it was time to eat, we pulled out the cargo deck, sat the kids on it, and that’s where they ate lunch.
The perfect solution to keep the interior clean!
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
Toyota 4Runner is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.
*4×4 ratings shown
On the drive up I-70, into the high country for our day hike, the 4Runner’s V6 did a good job, but we felt it could have had a little more power. When we were pushing the loaded vehicle with family and gear up the steep mountain pass, it seemed to lack.
The 270 horsepower with 278 lb-ft. of torque is more than ample for city commutes, but travel at altitude, where the air gets thin, changes the power considerably.
The five-speed automatic shifts quick and clean and held the power while pushing the all-wheel-drive up the mountain. We noticed we were steadily sucking down fuel and didn’t get anywhere near the EPA estimates, however.
We were also loaded, driving between 8,500-10,000 feet in elevation and that affected fuel efficiency.
In addition, it’s a heavy vehicle and sports big tires, which doesn’t help either.
The Trail models get extra goodies making it ideal for hardcore, outdoor recreational play – big tires, larger wheels, a locking rear differential, multi-terrain gear select, crawl control, hill-start assist and a skid plate underneath.
This Trail model came with the optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that uses thicker anti-roll bars for better control. It limits side-to-side movement and weight transfers on the road too.
We liked the highway ride, which was smooth and comfortable, but on the trail, controlled and stable.
2015 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 Trail Premium V6 is the vehicle for families who will use it for intense outdoor and recreational play. With the locking differential, 9.6 inches of ground clearance, and solid under-body protection, The Toyota 4Runner Trail will take the family off road for a fun afternoon or weekend. It’s rugged, comfortable, safe, and features taut handling.
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It’s also good for commuting on congested freeways because it offers a commanding view of the road and you can see the other cars easily.
If you are in the market for a capable, off road family hauler, this is the one for you.
Toyota 4Runner Additional Images
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Photos: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.