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Review update: 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro rocks, rolls its way into the wild

August 4, 2020

Endearing is not the same as good. Ask anyone who’s had a puppy and they’ll tell you as much. Endearing is puppy smells and wagging tails, the spots on the carpet? Another thing entirely.

The 2020 Toyota 4Runner is endearing. It’s also objectively good—and I mean that in the way that pretty much any showroom-fresh anything with four wheels is “good.” But the 2020 4Runner is not "good" compared to its contemporaries. There are more spacious SUVs, more capable SUVs, more powerful SUVs, more efficient SUVs, and certainly more tech-heavy SUVs. At least the driveway doesn’t have any spots.

But there aren’t many SUVs that command attention the same way the 4Runner TRD Pro does. Or the same second looks from passersby. In this Army green shade, the 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro commands more money than many SUVs—and it holds its value so well that it may as well be called the Berkshire Hathaway edition. Near where I live, it’s rare to find one for sale and some dealers don’t publish their prices; “Market Price” is a bad thing for new cars and lobster dinners.

Our TCC Rating of 5.0 doesn’t agree. It sees right through all that and objectively measures the 4Runner’s pecking order on Mount SillyMoney, where many SUVs with outsized bloated prices are beached—with many toward the bottom. I spent a week with the endearing 4Runner and found the TRD Pro was a different story.

Hit: Better with age

Initially, the 4Runner’s Ultimate Warrior looks was a turnoff. Automakers—especially some in Asia—put too much stock into complex lines and shapes; it’s busy for busy’s sake. The 4Runner’s looks have grown on me, but only in off-road trims. The TRD Pro is the best of the bunch, mostly because Toyota offers the most interesting colors in that trim, and it looks tougher because they’re usually richer hues that contrast well with the black wheels and grille. Swankier trims like Limited don’t pull off the same trick.

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Miss: Too tall for town

With the TRD Pro’s roof basket, the tall Toyota gets too tall for some parking garages. Near me, the limit of several corporate garages is 6-foot-6. Admittedly, that seems strange for a garage—7-feet seems reasonable—but here we are. And I need to find another parking garage.

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Hit: It’s just the right color

Just look at that shade Toyota calls Army Green. That’s it. That’s the story.

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Miss: Button blunders

I don’t mind that the 4Runner’s climate controls date to parachute pants and frosted tips, I don’t mind that its LCD temperature screen dates back to Cyndi Lauper’s heyday. I do mind that some of the controls are hard to find. The TRD Pro’s signature—terrain select knobs, crawl control, and rear locker—are above the rearview mirror. That’s way out of sight and out of mind for many people.

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Hit: Plug and play

The 4Runner has two USB plugs in front, one for smartphone compatibility software, and there are two in the rear and a 120-volt in the cargo area to power gear on the go. Combined with a slide-out shelf ($350), the TRD Pro’s back end is the best kind of camper—even if I’m not.

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Miss: Phoned in phones

The one USB plug up front for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is in a poor spot. The small storage bins nearest to the USB plug are too small for a phone; there’s a phone-size slot aft of the USB plug that requires routing a cord around the four-wheel-drive shifter. Wireless compatibility is a big ask, but a compatible USB plug in the center console would have been better.

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Hit: 4Runner flex

A half rolled-down liftgate window is the only way to ride in the 4Runner. On top of looking cool, the wayback window is functional and oddly iconic now.

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Hit: Off-road ability

The TRD Pro is incredibly capable off-road. It scrambled up dusty trails, rutted two-tracks, and loose surfaces in Colorado’s backcountry without a fuss. The hardware is there: Fox shocks, skid plates, Nitto Terra Grappler all-terrain tires wrapped on 17-inch wheels, locking rear differential.

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2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Base price: $50,885, including destination

Price as tested: $52,147

Drivetrain: 270-horsepower 4.0-liter V-6, 5-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive

EPA fuel economy: 16/19/17 mpg

The hits: Looks great, capable, iconic

The misses: Ergonomic quibbles, pricey, big outside and small inside.

2020
The Car Connection
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2020
The Car Connection
 
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