The 2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail is in rare company- With FJ Cruiser production coming to an end, it’s one of the only modestly sized body-on-frame SUVs out there. I can’t think of many other than the Jeep Wrangler. Make no mistake- this is a truck. With crossovers becoming so much more mainstream and capable off road trucks disappearing, how does the 4runner fare in everyday driving? Is it still relevant? I think so.
In an age when everyone is so hell bent on noise, on road ride, and ticking feature boxes, it’s impressive to see such an off-road geared SUV on the market. It’s always been the 4Runner’s niche. Some familiar bits here- the 4.0 V6 engine has adequate power, just as it has soldiered on since 2007 virtually unchanged. It has decent torque and power, and is a tried and true partner that won’t leave you stranded. The 5-speed automatic, though a bit archaic as well, does the job with few complaints. Ride wise, there’s no mistaking this is a truck. The ride can be a little busy at times, but is never harsh. The suspension is a live axle in the back, and independent in the front. It’s obvious from the first drive that this is sprung for the rough stuff- the ride is soft and the truck dives a bit under braking and acceleration, and rolls in the corners. Nothing unmanageable. Though I wasn’t able to off road it much, the few curbs and dirt roads I traversed showed it still had what 4runners have always had: off road prowess. It’s really a go-anywhere type of vehicle.
It’s not all old school in the 4Runner though- the sliding rear cargo deck, which supports up to 440lbs, was great to use with my bike, tires, wheels, groceries, you name it. The deck locks into place so you don’t’ drop things, really a great idea! The second row seats fold flat up to the sliding deck, and really makes loading and unloading so much easier. Radio duties are handled by Toyota’s Entune setup. While not the most straightforward to use or the best looking infotainment suite, it gets the job done easily and offers good bluetooth phone and streaming functionality, as well as good sound quality in the standard non-JBL stereo system. Gazing up at the sunroof control area showed another special 4Runner perk: Multi-Terrain Select and Hill Descent control. Used in conjunction with the low range transfer case, hill descent control and multi-terrain select make sure your rear diff lock and gear ratios, as well as your traction control, are ready for any situation. If you’ve ever been off road, you know just how useful these features can be. With the soft suspension, however, tow capacity is only 4700 pounds, so keep that in mind if you intend to use this as a boat or toy hauler.
The interior is nice enough, with leather seats, steering wheel, and metallic grey accents on the dash. I’m not really sure about that last one as my test truck was bright red, but hey it’s a small issue. Driving the 4runner was comfortable and easy, and other than the turning radius being a big larger than I’d like, I can’t complain. All-in-all, the 4Runner is one of a handful of real off-road capable SUVs out there, and one of the only ones with an electric roll down rear window. I enjoyed my time with the 2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail and recommend it to those people whose commute takes them off the beaten path, or who like to go blaze a path off road themselves. It’s a great truck for what it’s made for, and for that I really enjoy it. Just don’t think of it as a crossover.
Vehicle provided by Toyota Motor Sales, USA.