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  • 2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road Premium

    Posted on August 29th, 2017 ninarussin

    All-terrain SUV is perfect for buyers with active lifestyles

    By Nina Russin

    2017 Toyota 4Runner

    2017 Toyota 4Runner

    Within Toyota’s line-up, the four-wheel drive 4Runner is the best suited for buyers who like to spend time off the grid, thanks to its all-terrain capability, versatile interior and towing capability. Active families can opt for third-row seating giving the 4Runner seven-passenger capacity, while those more interested in adventures on the trails can chose one of several TRD off-road options including the 4X4 Premium model tested.

    Base price on the test car is $39,295 excluding the $960 destination fee. Standard features include four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case that enables drivers to use low gears for extreme terrain, crawl control that maintains a preset speed for better steering over steep hills, locking rear differential and a multi-terrain select feature that adjusts the suspension, braking and throttle to adapt to different road surfaces.

    On the inside, owners get air conditioning with rear vents to keep back-row passengers comfortable in temperature extremes, AM/FM/XM radio, Bluetooth interface, keyless entry and start, SofTech trim power heated front seats, 40/20/40 split folding second-row seats, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, keyless entry, 12-volt and 120-volt cargo bay outlets.

    Options on the test car include a sliding rear cargo deck with under-floor storage compartment, power moonroof, first aid kit, hitch ball mount, emergency assistance kit, paint protection film, tablet holder, remote engine start and roof rack. Final MSRP is $42,202.

    Test drive in Southern Arizona

    2017 Toyota 4Runner

    2017 Toyota 4Runner

    Over the past week I drove the 4Runner through Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley as well as on and off-road areas in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains east of town. Toyota’s innovative crawl control system makes navigating off-road trails safer and easier by maintaining an extremely low speed when the driver ascends and descends steep hills.

    The advantage of traditional hill descent control is the extra time it gives the driver to steer over the hill’s summit. On a steep ascent, the driver might see sky right up to the apex, at which point he has-to figure out which direction to steer to stay on the trail. With crawl control, the driver doesn’t have to push the throttle to reach the top, so he arrives at the summit at a relatively slow speed. On the descent, the system maintains the same speed while providing remarkable traction on loose dirt and rocky surfaces.

    2017 Toyota 4Runner

    2017 Toyota 4Runner

    All 4X4 models have 9.6-inches of ground clearance: plenty for most off-road trails and moderate amounts of snow. Buyers wanting additional wheel travel can opt for KDSS: a feature that disengages the stabilizer bars for better wheel articulation on extreme trails.

    Seventeen-inch rims are fitted with all-terrain tires that offer a good combination of off-road traction and quiet, on-road performance. The 4Runner comes with a full-size spare tire.

    As body-on-frame vehicles go, the 4Runner delivers very good performance on paved roads as well. Power from the four-liter V-6 engine is ample. A functional hood scoop on the TRD model helps the engine breathe better for enhanced high-altitude performance.

    2017 Toyota 4Runner

    2017 Toyota 4Runner

    The standard five-speed automatic transmission can’t match the fuel economy of six-speed boxes, but it is well-matched to the engine, delivering smooth shifts throughout the power band with no noticeable shift shock under normal driving conditions. Because the 4Runner has a relatively big engine, product developers were-able-to utilize a good-size air conditioning compressor that cools the 4Runner’s large interior off within minutes, even at the height of Phoenix, Arizona’s summer heat.

    An independent front coil spring double wishbone suspension and rigid rear coil-link setup do a good job of absorbing bumps in the road. The rear suspension design enhances the vehicle’s towing capability. The Runner tows up to 5,000 pounds: plenty for a boat or medium-size trailer.

    Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes stop the 4Runner in firm, linear fashion.

    Engineers did a good job of minimizing engine, wind and road noise intrusion to the interior, so occupants can enjoy the audio system or converse with ease on the highway.

    Spacious interior

    2017 Toyota 4Runner

    2017 Toyota 4Runner

    The Toyota 4Runner’s spacious interior with fold-flat second-row seats is one of its greatest assets. It will hold multiple bicycles, so cyclists don’t have to worry about their bikes getting covered with grit from airborne dirt or soaked during summer thunderstorms. The 40/20/40 design enables owners to toss a bike or kayak in back and still have room for a third passenger.

    The optional sliding cargo deck makes it easier to load up the back, while under-floor storage keeps valuables out of sight at the trailhead.

    I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view with plenty of lower lumbar support for longer drives. While many new cars utilize touchscreen controls for infotainment, the 4Runner is mainly knobs and buttons. While it may seem low-tech, it’s also easier for drivers wearing gloves in the wintertime.

    Standard safety

    The Toyota 4Runner comes with eight airbags, active headrests, antilock brakes, crawl control, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, rearview camera, stability and traction control.

    Toyota builds the 4Runner at its Tahara Aichi, Japan assembly plant.

    Like: A durable, versatile sport utility vehicle with true off-road capability and a spacious interior for hauling multiple passengers and their gear.

    Dislike: High MSRP could put the 4Runner out of reach for some buyers in this audience.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Toyota
    Model: 4Runner 4X4 TRD Off-Road Premium
    Base price: $39,295
    As tested: $42,202
    Horsepower: 270 HP @ 5600 rpm
    Torque: 278 lbs.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: Available as a stand-alone option
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Towing: Yes
    Off-road: Yes
    Fuel economy: 17/20 mpg city/highway

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