While most families won’t take their SUVs off-pavement, the 2018 Toyota 4Runner is a vehicle for serious recreation that will get you away from civilization. The 4X4 TRD Off-Road trim offers up a bit more attitude and comfort than the standard model. It’s a rare breed that doesn’t fit the typical SUV/crossover mold. It will thrive in mud, snow, dirt, and steep, rocky adverse terrains.
If it sounds too rugged for you, think again. This weekend, we drove the 2018 Toyota 4Runner 4×4 TRD Off-Road Premium. It was as comfortable as it was capable.
The 2018 4Runner has a few different options and packages, but otherwise carries over from 2017 unchanged.
Features & Options
The 2018 Toyota 4Runner 4×4 TRD Off-Road Premium ($39,495) comes with lots of standard features. It has skid plates, fog lights, a backup camera, keyless entry, five 12-volt power outlets, and a 120-volt AC power outlet. Stepping up to this trim adds some serious off-road goodies in the form of a locking rear differential, wheels that are 0.5 inches wider, and a crawl control function.
Premium variants of the TRD Off-Road get power-adjustable and heated outside mirrors, premium vinyl upholstery, navigation, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Our tester came with the optional KDSS suspension ($1,750), sliding rear cargo deck ($350), and power moonroof with a sunshade ($850). Total MSRP including destination: $42,690.
Families are choosing the Toyota 4Runner for sporting events, school activities, and runs to the grocery store and shopping mall. Even though it looks rugged and has the ability to get you away from civilization, the interior offers a comfort zone for families to travel in relaxation. The TRD Off-Road Premium offers a soft side that doesn’t match the 4Runner’s aggressive exterior and off-road character. The cabin is attractive and comes with easy-to-clean premium vinyl upholstery, heated front seats, and a power sliding rear window.
The dash is nicely arranged and the instrument panel is simple and easy to read and understand. The view from the driver’s seat is commanding because the 4Runner sits up higher than the average SUV and crossover. The disadvantage is that it’s harder to get in and out, unless you have the optional running boards. An extra 3 inches of step-up height is the price you pay for extra rock and ground clearance. The standard reverse camera is also a plus because rear visibility is limited.
There’s enough head and legroom for taller adults up front, and the rear seats offer similar headroom. There is a bit less legroom in the backseat, but tall passengers still fit easily. The large cargo area is quite functional, and the rear seatbacks fold flat. It’s easy to pack the sizable cargo hold with 88.8 available cubic feet with the seats down, and 46.3 cubic feet with the seats up. The cargo area is quite versatile, especially when equipped with the optional sliding rear cargo deck.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The Toyota 4Runner is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 engine, producing 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft. of torque. It’s mated to a five-speed automatic transmission and rated to tow up to 5,000 lbs. EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at 17/20 city/highway and 18 combined.
This 4Runner’s real strength lies in its ability perform off-pavement. It’s designed for families who want to get into the back country and away from the city. 4Runner is a rare breed – its body-on-frame construction gives it a ruggedness and tolerance for extreme off-roading. While many families might not take their SUVs off-road, they may want a tough vehicle that will handle extreme weather. This one offers a level of safety and confidence that most crossovers won’t when the going gets slick and icy.
The 4Runner does have descent pick-up when you need the power for getting up to highway speeds quickly. It also has enough climbing power for traveling up long grades and getting over the mountain passes at altitude. It’s not the most powerful engine in the class, but it gets the job done in most driving situations. Throttle response is smooth and continuous, and the five-speed automatic transmission shifts seamlessly. Although, we did wish for another gear as we traveled up I-70 into the mountains.
Another drawback here is how fuel mileage suffers with the extra weight, and it won’t corner like a typical family crossover either. It’s stable in the corners, for the most part, but it does have some body lean because of its extra ground clearance. For those wanting a true off-road vehicle, the 4Runner comes with part-time four-wheel drive, crawl control, active traction control, and a rear locking differential. Our tester had the optional KDSS suspension that automatically disconnects both stabilizer bars when maximum articulation is needed. We could see this being beneficial for families during the winter.
The 2018 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 TRD Off-Road Premium is comfy inside, with enough room for growing families and their cargo. While the 4Runner can handle weekly activities, the real strength of this SUV is its off-road and all-weather prowess.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy