Off-roading (sometimes known as “wheeling”) is defined as travel on unpaved roads, trails or natural terrain. While this may sound daunting to some, when you get behind the wheel of the 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, the call to adventure on paths not often traveled is hard to ignore. First introduced in 2009, the fifth generation 4Runner now enters its 13th year of production. While the underpinnings remain unchanged, Toyota has six models to suit different needs and budgets.
Inspired by TRD’s (Toyota Racing Development) long history of off-road racing, the TRD Pro is the most off-road capability available in the 4Runner lineup. Since launching in 2015, the TRD Pro has had a new exclusive color for each model year. We’re happy to see Toyota isn’t putting TRD Pro exclusive paint colors from previous years to waste as they are now available on other models. Last year’s Lunar Rock color is now available on the TRD Offroad and TRD Sport while the Army Green from the 2020 is now exclusive to the Trail model.
2022’s TRD Pro exclusive paint is the absolutely stunning Lime Rock Green, catching our eyes from miles away. In the sunlight it has a depth almost like a candy while in the parking garage still remaining bright and vibrant. Rest assured you’ll have no problem finding your 4Runner in the busiest of parking lots.
The TRD Pro exterior features include a TRD stamped aluminum skid plate, a basket style roof rack and TRD Pro Black badging. With TRD 17-inch matte black aluminum wheels wrapped in 31.5-inch All-Terrain tires, TRD Pro grill and hood scoop, the whole package looks highly desirable and does more than enough to keep the 4Runner from looking dated.
Climb up into the cockpit and you are presented with a commanding view of the road. Panoramic views from the huge side windows and the large glass sunroof really create a sense of airiness to the cabin. The fan favorite powered rear window offers even more ventilation in the warmer months. Black leather seating with red accents and black painted surfaces on door cards and the dash give the 4Runner TRD Pro a more premium looking interior in comparison to the silver found in other trims, past and present. The big chunky steering wheel is satisfying to hold but we really wish it offered heating.
The same TRD shift knob I fondly remember from my 2012 Tundra is still here along with the instantly familiar Toyota/Lexus switch gear you’ll recall if you’ve spent any time in a Toyota truck over the past decade. 13 years on and Toyota has finally included a smart key system with push button start as standard to all 4Runner models for 2022. It does look dated but is also a bit charming at the same time. We have to wonder what the Toyota A90 Supra detractors would say if some of these ancient buttons and knobs appeared in the Supra interior instead of the BMW switchgear.
The 4Runner’s body on frame construction is distinctive, and it has the figures to back it up. There is cargo space to store 1,337-liters of stuff behind the seats or you can opt to use some of that space for a third row, available on the Limited. TRD Pro and Trail models further extend cargo capacity with roof baskets perfect for hauling gear, along with 5,000-pound towing capacity if you need to bring your bigger toys along for the journey.
For 2022 Toyota drags the infotainment and safety features more in line with modern competitors. Our TRD Pro is equipped with a 6.1-inch touchscreen display with wired Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality and a premium JBL Audio System. The screen doesn’t have the greatest resolution or response time, and is all but impossible to see in the sun but otherwise is usable. Audio is loud and punchy if lacking a bit in overall clarity.
The instrument cluster uses a premium Multi-Information Display resting between the analog tach and speedo for things like trip computers, compass, tire pressures, and a wheel position monitor to help if you lose track of them off-road. Safety features include a rudimentary lane departure alert system, passive blind spot monitoring and a radar cruise control system.
Press the start button and the 4.0-liter V6 roars to life. Rated at 270 horsepower at 5,600RPM and 278 lb-ft. at 4,400RPM, the V6 makes a pleasing sound and just enough power. There really isn’t a lot of grunt here; as you climb through the revs the torque never really builds up to anything substantial which has us clamoring for a new stouter powertrain. At least with 13 years of production we know this engine is proven. One holdover we don’t mind is the communicative hydraulic power steering which is easy enough to maneuver at low speeds but gives more connection to the road than most electrically assisted systems.
Keeping your intended usage in mind is key to choosing your 4Runner as the suspension and body control systems are different across the range. TRD Sport and Limited Trims are equipped with X-REAS (Cross Linked Relative Absorber System) best suited for on-road handling performance by reducing body roll through a fancy hydraulic assisted anti-roll bar system. TRD Offroad goes a step further with KDSS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System) which allows for extra wheel travel when traversing off-road. TRD Pro models forgo both these systems for exclusive Fox shock absorbers with extra ride height for maximum off-road capabilities and a comfortable ride on all surfaces.
With popular off-road routes closed in the winter season for activities like snowmobiling, nature delivers the obstacles to us in the form of heavy snowfall (“Snowmageddon” as it’s often referred to here) presenting the perfect opportunity to sample the 4Runner. Confidence inspiring is an understatement with its massive tires, 9.8 inches of ground clearance and 4WD fully engaged. The harsh winter paired with road construction has taken its toll the streets of Toronto, but the TRD Pro is more than up to the task. We sought out an unmaintained road with deep snow and frozen ruts to give the 4Runner a bit of a challenge.
Here the Fox shock absorbers feel right at home soaking up uneven rutted terrain and keeping the ride comfortable. The deep snow allows us to try crawl control; akin to a cruise control for extreme off-roading. This system claws its way out of deep snow or sand by monitoring slip and managing power sent to each wheel while making noises that sound like serious machinery at work. TRD Pro and TRD Offroad models also have a multi terrain select traction control system for low speeds allowing varying degrees of wheel slip with four modes.
New for 2022 on the TRD Pro is the Multi Terrain Monitor. Cameras show terrain around the vehicle as well as stitching together previous shots of the forward camera to show the driver what’s directly below the front bumper. The system works well enough but is let down somewhat by the low resolution display.
TRD Pro 4Runners are equipped with part time four wheel drive meaning the rear axle is decoupled in normal driving for increased fuel economy. Paired with the more efficient dual variable valve timing system, fuel economy improved over the previous generation. It’s rated at 14.8L/100km city, 12.5L/100km highway and a combined 13.8L/100km. Our driving in winter conditions and testing the off-road features resulted in an extra thirsty 15.3L/100km.
4Runner starts at $47,550 for the base SR5. For the same price we recommend you opt for the Army Green Trail Edition if you can find one. At the other end of the spectrum is our as tested most off-road capable TRD Pro which starts at $65,550. Compared to other body on frame SUVs the 4Runner is on the low end but it also has the least powerful drivetrain and oldest technology.
The 4Runner has become a reliable favorite for serious off-roading and the annual updates make it easier to live with and more desirable than ever before. After over a decade Toyota is finally updating their truck lineup and surely it will be the 4Runners turn soon. If you have ever wanted to grab a brand new one act soon as the sun is setting on 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro.