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4runner is running through Toyota fans their minds


Big news came in 2015 with the introduction of the TRD Pro model, joining the Tacoma and Tundra with a model specifically targeted toward off-road enthusiasts. For the avid off-road enthusiast, the TRD Pro model returns for the new model year. The TRD Off-Road models offer unique interior and exterior badging, carbon fiber-look trim, and TRD red letter embroidery on the front headrests for the TRD Off-Road High quality model.

The 2017 Toyota 4Runner is a traditional body-on-frame midsize SUV related to the Tacoma midsize truck, the global Land Cruiser Prado, and U.S.-market Lexus GX. Five-passenger seating is standard, with an optional third row bringing total capacity to seven. The SUV is offered in rear- or four-wheel-drive configurations and the standard powertrain is usually a 4.0-liter 270 hp V-6 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.

The 2017 Toyota 4Runner emerges in a number of trim levels, starting with the SR5, the SR5 Superior, TRD Off-Street, TRD Off-Road Premium, Limited, and TRD Pro models. All models are powered by a 4.0L 270 hp V-6 mated to a five speed automatic transmission. Maximum towing capability on properly-equipped models is 5,000 pounds. Although similar in size to the Highlander midsize crossover, the 4Runner has a distinctly different mission in life, catering to those seeking a higher level of off-road capability. To that end, the 4Runner offers Toyota’s Crawl Control feature helping to maintain a constant velocity in challenging off-road situations, regulating engine and braking force within five driver-selectable low-speed settings. The optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) facilitates extended wheel travel for greater off-street control and stability.

The 4Runner is equipped with Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes vehicle stability control, traction control, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. Driver, front passenger and driver and passenger side and knee airbags are standard, as well as a curtain airbag for all rows. The Limited model offers the Safety Connect system, which include emergency assistance, stolen vehicle locator, roadside assistance and automated collision notification. Service is complimentary for one year from purchase.

The 2017 4Runner received a four-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA, with a four-star rating in the frontal crash test, a five-star rating in side impact, and three stars in the rollover test. The 2016 model received a top rating of Good from the IIHS in the moderate front overlap, side impact, roof strength and head restraint and seat tests, and a Marginal score in the small overlap front test.

Even the entry-level SR5 trim comes well-equipped with an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, cruise control, power windows, air conditioning, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, and Toyota’s Entune touchscreen multimedia system. The SR5 High quality model adds SofTex-trimmed heated front side seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror and Homelink universal transceiver. The Limited trim provides driver’s seat memory function, perforated leather heated and ventilated front seats, and dual zone automatic climate control with second-row vents. All models present HD Radio, Sirius XM satellite tuning ability Bluetooth music streaming, and a rearview camera.

In a First Test of the 2015 Limited model, we appreciated the updated interior trim and appointments, but noted that the premium trappings could not fully hide its truckish roots. Although the 4Runner is definitely marginally more fuel-efficient than its closest rival, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, it still trails even more car-like midsize crossover versions by a substantial margin. However, if you’re looking for uncompromised off-road capability, the 4Runner has few competitors other than the Wrangler and Jeep Grand Cherokee. If adventure and go-anywhere capability are a higher priority for you than rear-chair entertainment and number of a comfortable ride, the 4Runner is a viable, if somewhat dated option.

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