It all started in 1984 when Toyota put their 4Runner on roads around the world. Despite its great sales, this SUV always found a better home when the pavement ended and the dirt started. 37 years later, the 4Runner still rocks the same legendary reputation it did back in the ‘80s, but with a few more tricks up its sleeves, a couple of more cylinders, two more liters, and enough technology to make a Wrangler enthusiast think twice. So, would the 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro make a good daily-driver?

While we all know and love the 4Runner, the automotive market is as competitive as ever, and SUV choices aren’t lacking, from internal combustion engines to full electric, and anything in between (hybrid). This means Toyota has to convince us that this monstrous SUV will make our lives better both on and off the road, especially with a price-tag that of much more powerful V8s.

The New 4Runner's Powertrain

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The Toyota 4Runner hasn’t been one of those SUVs that is constantly changing. Instead, sticking to a solid foundation has been the recipe to its success for years. This success came by slowly adding technologies that improve its capabilities without sacrificing its reliability. Thanks to a body-on-frame construction with a four-link rear axle and coil-springs for suspension, Toyota’s could very well change its tagline “Let’s Go Places” to “Let’s Go to Any and All Places” when it refers to the 4Runner. The fourth-generation 4Runner featured the birth of the 4.0-liter V6 engine, and this engine configuration remains until this very day.

The DOHC 4.0-liter V6 engine delivers 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque to the crank. While the engine configuration has been the same since the early 2000s, features like the dual independent variable valve timing completely changes the behavior of the torque curve throughout the entire RPM range when compared to its predecessor.

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The six-cylinder engine works collaboratively with a five-speed ECT-i automatic transmission. Activate the sequential shift mode and take control of the shifting, and the transmission will completely improve its behavior. After the power goes through the transmission, it goes through an automatic limited slip differential. Brilliantly enough, the Auto LSD works with the traction control to allow for sight wheel slippage to help dig the 4Runner out of sand and challenging terrains.

TRD Pro: More Than Just A Badge

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The TRD Pro badge found on the rear quarter panel of the 4Runner is much more than just an indication that this is the baddest 4Runner within its brothers and sisters. The TRD Pro comes with all you need to take this SUV anywhere without the need for aftermarket support (unless you are a serious, serious off-roader).

This model comes with Fox shocks in the rear, which feature piggyback remote reservoir to maintain damping performance on rougher terrains. The Fox shocks and TRD-tuned coil springs are tuned to deliver a well-balanced combination between trail driving and higher-speed performance.

Detailing The 4Runner TRD Pro's Exterior

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It didn’t take more than an hour before neighbors started firing off compliments on this 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro loaner SUV (and some envious looks from older 4Runner owners). Toyota was gracious enough to send their newest, most popular color: Lime Rush! At first glance, it felt like it was simply too flashy. The more you look at it, however, the more you fall in love with it. If you combine flashy with classy, Lime Rush is probably what will come out. It is a soft shade of green—easy on the eyes, yet impossible to ignore.

The TRD Pro badge complements 17-inch matte black flow-form TRD wheels, wrapped in 265 all-terrain tires around all four corners. We cannot emphasize enough the contrast and beauty between the matte finish on the wheels and the Lime Rush color on the vehicle. The matte finish theme continues onto the aggressive TRD roof rack, which happens to be as functional as it is visually-pleasing. The black continues around the exterior, with a black grille, TRD Pro logo, and a few accents here and there. From the right angle, you can see the 1/4-inch aluminum front skid plate stamped with the TRD logo in red, proving that the details matter, but more importantly, the TRD Pro is a serious off-roader.

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While the hood scoop is great for airflow, it is almost necessary for the driving experience. It’s aggressive, beautiful, and you can’t help but stare at it the entire time you’re behind the wheel. The overall exterior is almost perfect; however, the 4Runner desperately needs a pair of side steps. Side steps aren’t just missing visually, they are also needed given how high the SUV sits. If Toyota adds matte black side steps, the exterior should be a home-run, and getting in and out of the vehicle shouldn’t be such a chore.

No Cabin Fever Here

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The cabin of the 2022 Toyota 4Runner is rather spacious. It feels rugged with just enough buttons to get the job done—nothing more. Heated front-seats, moonroof, and soft leather seats stamped with TRD on the headrests make for quite an enjoyable interior. There's 15 JBL speakers with the subwoofer and amp to produce quality music. The system comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. Which brings us to one of the massive shortcoming in the 4Runner: the infotainment system.

The 8-inch infotainment screen may look good from the backseat, but it’s extremely outdated. The navigation system is slow and confusing, and even the colors on the screen feel old and unimpressive. While the simplicity of the 4Runner’s interior works for its intended purpose, the infotainment system doesn’t work for anything. It is simply left behind when compared to other 2022 SUVs on the market. Once you get past the system, you will find great comfort everywhere else. The comfort extends to the rear, where your passengers can recline the back seats and you no longer have to hear the cries of “are we there yet?”

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If you know the 4Runner's history, then you are aware of the fact that it started as a semi-convertible wagon, much like the Bronco and the K5 Blazer. Well, the legend of the “pickup” doesn’t need to stop there. A total of 89.7 cubic-feet of space is available when folding the rear-seats. This is enough room to fit just about anything you need for your adventure. The sliding rear window adds to the functionality, where you can haul longer things through it (like a surfboard). All in all, the interior is more than comfortable as a daily-driver once you get past the infotainment system.

The TRD Pro As A Daily-Driver

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Getting behind the wheel of the 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro is quite the experience. The nearly 10-inches of ground clearance not only provides great visibility on the road, it also makes you feel like you own that highway.

With 6,300-pound gross weight, the 4Runner handles with confidence. The suspension makes for little body-roll around the corners, especially with how high the vehicle sits. The suspension is soft enough to give the 4Runner the lead in comfort over competitors like the Jeep Wrangler, yet versatile enough to switch personalities when needed for off-road driving.

Power will always be an issue with the 4Runner unless Toyota decides its time to refresh the engine with a whole new setup—a risky move that could be a game-changer, or a complete disaster. We would usually push for a forced-induction solution or even a V8 naturally-aspirated option, but given fuel consumption is already a concern with this six-cylinder, it’s safe to say Toyota has some real engineering to do.

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The 4.0-liter V6 will feel underpowered under normal driving conditions. The five-speed automatic transmission doesn’t complement it either. Upshifts and downshifts are slow and lazy. However, the more you drive the SUV, the more you understand it’s just asking for a heavy-footed driver to make it come alive. We can’t emphasized heavy-footed enough. One downshifts won’t be enough to give you any “quick” feelings, which means you literally need to skip two shifts down to get the SUV going (time to get into the habit of flooring it).

Of course, once you start seeing your MPG numbers, you will realize this SUV isn’t meant to have record-breaking 0-60 numbers, and you will return to the mentality of “it doesn’t matter how fast we get there, as long as we get there safely.” The true purpose of the 4Runner makes its lack of power an advantage in some cases. Off the road, this is exactly what you need for crawling and tackling the toughest of terrains without fishtailing and wheel spinning all over.

Bassem Girgis / Hot Cars

Our fuel consumption averaged 14.5 MPG with 70-percent normal driving on a combination of streets and highways. Scary number, although you won’t spend over $50k on a lifted SUV with all the off-road capabilities in the world to get great gas mileage. Before writing this check to Toyota, you will have to ask yourself a question: what will I use this SUV for? Read on to our verdict and we will tell you exactly who the TRD Pro is for.

Let The Adventure Begin

Bassem Girgis / Hot Cars

We took the TRD Pro off-roading to see what it can do. On mildly-rough terrains, the 4Runner was extremely comfortable. The suspension is soft enough to absorb the bumps, while the ride height eliminated any worry when the terrain changes ahead. Thanks to the Crawl Control, drivers just need to choose between five speeds, and the system will take charge of the engine speed and braking. This basically means you just need to worry about the steering and let the SUV go downhill with ease and confidence. On uphills, traction control did its job and more. Although some wheel spin may seem alarming, it’s all part of the plan.

Bassem Girgis / Hot Cars

The Auto Limited-Slip Differential purposely allows for slight wheel spin so you don’t get stuck. The Multi-Terrain Select system will allow you to adjust that wheel spin. So, depending on the type of off-roading you’re doing, the system will allow for the correct amount of wheel slip to keep you out of trouble based on your mode selection. When it comes to off-roading our test couldn’t have gone better.

The Bottom Line

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The Toyota 4Runner looks a lot like it did a decade ago (with some evolving small changes), but that’s not necessary a bad thing. The reason the Jeep Wrangler, Dodge Challenger, and Toyota Supra are such successes is because they’re designed after their predecessors. In addition to these examples, who could hate the looks of the Land Cruiser and the Land Rover from back in the day? When a car reaches “icon” status, it’s critical to keep the image going. Toyota got the looks just right with the TRD Pro, and the cabin is comfortable with some shortcomings in regards to quality.

Off the road, the 4Runner TRD Pro will probably never leave you stranded. The question remains; would the TRD Pro make a good daily-driver? Absolutely! The 4Runner TRD Pro is comfortable, well-handling, and attention-grabbing. If you are OK with the poor fuel consumption, this SUV will get you to work and back in nothing but style. So, who is this SUV right for? You have to be a serious adventurer and off-roader to justify the fuel consumption and the $52,120 starting price tag. While the Jeep Wrangler will offer you more off-road capabilities, better fuel economy, and a cheaper price tag; it will not give you the ride quality and quiet cabin of the Toyota 4Runner, not to mention the legendary reliability of the Japanese automaker.

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