2022 Toyota 4Runner 4x4 TRD Sport Review

A new trim level doesn't hide the wrinkles


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: A truly rugged SUV mean to take punishment, body colored features improve the looks, TRD Sport trim's adaptive dampers help manage ride and handling, great build quality.
Negatives: Still not great to drive on pavement, interior is painfully plasticky, clunky ergonomics, poor gas mileage.
Bottom Line: There's not many SUVs out there that are as rugged as the 4Runner, but there also aren't many that are this dated in exterior design and interior styling.
No matter how many tweaks Toyota adds to the aging 4Runner, they can't hide the fact that it hasn't been redesigned since back in 2009, but the 4Runner still has a huge cult following for its ruggedness, practicality, reliability, and yes, even its ballsy image. New for this year is the TRD Sport trim that adds the X-REAS Sport Enhancement Suspension that adapts to driving conditions, as well as some visual changes that make it more sporty looking. We drove it for a week to see if it still had some remaining charm. Read ahead for our detailed review.
 

Driving Experience

6

 

When it comes to driving dynamics, the 4Runner ranks pretty low in terms of precision, handling, and acceleration. But it's not designed primarily for on-road driving. Its real strength is off-road, and that's where the 4Runner shines.

Ride Quality: The ride is comfortable for a body-on-frame SUV. It absorbs bumps well but there's a disconnected feeling on-road, which is no surprise.

Acceleration: Throttle response is good, but downshifting in the 5-speed automatic is slow. The V6 engine feels like it's working hard to move the 4Runner. 0-60 comes in the mid-sevens, which is just okay.

Braking: Brakes are on the poor side since it requires a lot of effort and long distances. It's at the back of the pack for 4x4s.

Steering: Almost no feedback and vagueness means it's anything but precise.

Handling: Roadholding numbers are only satisfactory with the 4Runner getting 0.76 g on the skidpad. There's a fair amount of body lean, as well, but no one will try push the 4Runner into the curves.

Technology

5.7

 

The infotainment works just fine. Just don't expect a good-looking or quick responding screen. The tech in here is still pretty dated, and no one is going to be excited to use it. At least there's Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, eh?

Infotainment System: The 8-inch screen has been upsized from the older 6.1 unit, and that's a good thing. Too bad it's still on the small size compared to newer SUVs, and its responsiveness still needs work.

Controls: We actually really like the giant audio and climate control knobs. They make it easy to adjust the temperature and music when the vehicle's in motion. Unfortunately, the overly bulky matte silver plastic now looks seriously old.

Styling

8.2

 

The 4Runner is an interesting conglomeration of smooth lines and dramatic angles, but it's at least distinct from the rest of the SUV crowd. It looks aggressive and ready for business, but no one will call it handsome.

Front: The 4Runner's front fascia isn't beautiful, but we do like the body-colored grille and the more cohesive lower fascia that eliminates the C-shaped vents from other trim levels.

Rear: Though the back is tall, the shapes are kept simple and crisp.

Profile: The 4Runner's best view with excellent body color trim, and a nice boxy shape that's true to its off-road leanings.

Cabin: The 4Runner's interior is a bit of a joke now compared to far more modern cabins from competitors.

Comfort

7

 

The 4Runner is pretty comfortable in both rows even though the figures aren't that impressive compared to the rest of the herd. Families of five will do just fine. The optional third row is likely only good for small kids, as most others in this segment are.

Front Seats: Good bolstering and support and a good driving position make front occupants good for longer drives.

Rear Seats: Even the middle position isn't bad (the seat back is a bit flat) thanks to the flat floor all the way across.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The build quality is good, and the 4Runner feels solid. We didn't hear any squeaks or rattles. There a little road noise at higher speeds, but it's not overhwleming.

Visibility: The hood is tall, but the seating position provides good sightlines. The C and D pillars are thick, so rearward views aren't the best.

Climate: The climate system works well, despite the fact that there's no automated feature. We got plenty of cold air on some hot summer days.

Safety

6.3

 

For a body-on-frame SUV, the 4Runner actually does decently in crash tests despite the fact that it didn't get top scores. Standard safety equipment, however, is now standard and includes Toyota's Safety Sense P and the Toyota Star Safety System.

IIHS Rating: It scored "marginal" in the driver's side small front overlap test and "good" in just about every other test. The headlights get "poor", and the LATCH system is "marginal", which we can attest to since they're covered up by patches of leather that make them hard to access.

NHTSA Rating: The 4Runner gets 4 stars out of 5 in government crash tests.

Standard Tech: The 4Runner comes with Toyota Safety Sense P: Pre-Collision System w/ Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beams, and the Star Safety System

Optional Tech: Our tester came with Toyota Safety Connect (w/ 1-year trial), which contacts emergency services at the push of a button.

Storage/Cargo

7.8

 

The cargo section is big, and the interior has some good storage options. The cabin does have some easily accessible spaces for gear stowage, especially in the center stack, but the center console could be improved.

Storage Space: A small cubby in the center stack can hold smaller items, but the center console only has two cupholders and a shallow slot.

Cargo Room: There's 47 cubic feet behind the second row, a solid amount of everyday space, and a whopping 90 with both rows folded. The optional cargo tray allows you to easily load heavier and larger items into the back with ease, but you do sacrifice a bit of space.

Fuel Economy

5.2

 

The 5-speed transmission is one of the few left in the industry, and it doesn't help the 4Runner's efficiency. We found ourselves struggling to get the EPA estimates.

Observed: 15.1 mpg

Distance Driven: 93 miles

Audio

6

 

The stock 8-speaker system is just ok. It lacks the fullness, bass, and clarity of a premium system.



Final Thoughts

The 4Runner is great for outdoorsy owners who want to exploit its 4x4 capabilities. As a daily driver, however, it's far from great. The ride is firm, the driving dynamics suffer, and the interior is so old, no one will say they love using it. Sure, it's simple, reliable, and rugged, but Toyota can no longer ignore the fact that it's in desperate need of a redesign.
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