The 2019 Toyota 4Runner receives a new Nightshade Special Edition trim.
Fox Internal Bypass Shocks are available for the 4Runner along with terrain control features.
Toyota calls the 4Runner a “Sherpa among SUVs.” Sherpa? Really? Sure, why not. You do you Toyota.
There’s a new Toyota 4Runner out, and I suppose that’s a good thing, but it also makes me ask: Why build new ones, don’t the originals last forever? I live in rural farm country, and the biggest slice of the vehicle ownership pie out here breaks down into two vehicles: full-sized pickups (F-150s, Rams, and such) and Toyota 4Runners.
4Runners are everywhere, and why not? They have room, they have versatility, they can be seriously modified (if you want to get into off-roading) and they last forever, near as I can tell. So what gives? What does the 2019 Toyota 4Runner have to offer us, in the off-road and durability department?
For starters, there’s a new Nightshade Special Edition available, and the cool stuff is actually performance-oriented. The TRD Pro package gets you a Fox Suspension (cool!), roof rack, and JBL Premium Audio for that “west coast sound.” TRD Off-Road and Off-Road Premium Grades get you even more capability with a 270 horsepower V6 and a hefty 5,000-lb. towing capacity. That’s more than enough for a trailer and your fave weekend track toy.
The 2019 Toyota 4Runner is still a truck, with a body-on-frame construction. So yeah, it will twist and flex, but in all the right ways for off-roading.
Buyers get their choice of 2WD, part-time 4WD with a two-speed transfer case, or, in the Limited models, a full-time multi-mode 4WD with a two-speed transfer case and a locking center diff. All of the 4×4 models offer 9.6 inches of ground clearance. Sweet!
Badges & Markings
All 4Runners come with projector-beam headlights and LED rear combination lamps. SR5 and TRD models have 17-inch alloy wheels in three designs: six-spoke, seven-spoke or matte black. The TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium are separated from the pack by color-keyed bumpers and over fenders, hood scoops, and silver-painted front and rear bumper accents. “TRD Off-Road” badges adorn the C-pillars.
The top-kick Limited is the only 4Runner you can get with a chrome-plated grille insert and exterior trim. And, more importantly for some, 20-inch machine-finished wheels and boss P245/60R20 tires.
Back Is The New Black
Now, this whole Nightshade Special Edition deal. Sigh, here we go. “Black is the name of the game for the new Nightshade Special Edition,” says Toyota, taking themselves far too seriously. The Nightshade Special Edition is based on the Limited grade but offers black accents all throughout the vehicle. The front and rear bumpers, outer mirrors, door handles, window moldings, rockers panels, roof rails – even the exhaust tip.
On the inside, there’s black trim on the steering wheel, center cluster and console panels, shift knob and shifter panel, and inner door grips. However, for some reason, the Nightshade comes in more than black: Magnetic Gray Metallic and Blizzard Pearl, for example. Kinda defeats the whole “black is the name of the game” thing, don’tcha think?
All of the 4WD 4Runners are powered by a 270 horsepower 4.0-liter V6 with 278 lb-ft. of torque. Toyota’s VVT-i variable valve timing deal is on-board too. A five-speed ECT-i automatic transmission with sequential shift mode is there for gear selection. There are a bunch of chassis goodies that actually seem useful too. For example, Hill-Start Assist Control for steep inclines, and Downhill Assist Control for the exact opposite.
TRD Off-Road, Off-Road Premium, and TRD Pro models add an electronic-locking rear differential and Toyota’s Crawl Control. Think of it as a factory rock crawler setting, and you’ll get the point. CRAWL (as Toyota calls it) adjusts engine speed and braking so the 4Runner keeps moving forward or backward in one of five driver-selectable low-speed settings. Trick!
Ultimately, CRAWL allows the driver to focus on steering without having to modulate the throttle or brake pedal. Toyota calls this “The Added Attraction of Added Traction” which I am totally stealing.
Suspension-wise the 4Runner TRD Off-Road models have a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System available for extended wheel travel at slow speeds. The TRD Pro kicks it up a notch, with 2.5-inch Fox Internal Bypass Shocks with precise compression damping in both high-speed and low-speed situations.
The front Foxes are paired with TRD-tuned coil springs and an additional inch of lift; the rear 2.5-inch Fox shocks have remote reservoirs.
Toyota also points to the “Cross Linked Relative Absorber System” or X-REAS suspension. This system automatically adjusts the damping force of the shocks when driving on rough roads or through corners. A center control absorber cross-links the shock absorbers on opposite corners of the vehicle, reducing pitch and yaw by offsetting opposing inputs.
According to Kelly Blue Book, the 2019 Toyota 4Runner Limited starts at $43,225 with the Nightshade theme starting at $44,965. Destination charge is $1,045.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter:@TonyBorroz