The 4Runner has always placed off-road ability as highly as on-road manners. [credit: Toyota ]
Toyota's blocky, function-first 4Runner has made a name in SUV and off-roading circles as a reliable-as-a-rock brick that will go nearly forever and without much care or feeding. A donkey without the bouts of recalcitrance. A camel without the spitting. A faithful dog without the fur. While the current 4Runner is now in its 11th year in production, making it old in modern car terms, those looking for off-road capability favor the durability of proven mechanicals and basic construction rather than the latest and gee-whizziest. And because Toyota has adhered to this very simple formula, 4Runner sales have plodded along steadily without much feature updating over the years.
Well, that changes now, because the 2020 4Runner offers all the latest features in the Toyota box of tricks, making it perhaps the best it has been since a V8 engine option was pulled in the 2000s.
First off, all the implied off-road performance of the 4Runner is fulfilled by the TRD Pro version ($51,419 as tested), with serious off-roading suspension, clingy all-terrain tires, several terrain modes for rocks, sand, downhill, and mud for the four-wheel drive system, skid plates to protect the differentials and other vulnerable pieces underneath, and a few special trim pieces that others in the know will recognize. The 4Runner can tow 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg), as well. However, 4Runners can also be had in less trail-ready versions for more dedicated street use like the SR5, SR5 Premium, and Limited, in both rear-drive and four-wheel drive. In the dirty and muddy, the 4Runner TRD Pro essentially matches Jeep-levels of capability, which may anger the Jeep faithful, but there it is.