Off-road test: Toyota’s updated 2019 4Runner TRD Pro

Images by Jessica and Jason Isley

Off-road test: Toyota’s updated 2019 4Runner TRD Pro

Off Road

Off-road test: Toyota’s updated 2019 4Runner TRD Pro

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Since day one, the TRD Pro line of Toyota vehicles has been about the toughness and real-world performance you expect when venturing off the paved road, and the updates made to the 2019 4Runner TRD Pro show Toyota still believes that.

For 2019, the 4Runner TRD Pro received a revised suspension, which includes TRD Pro-exclusive Fox internal bypass shocks. Tuned specifically for the 4Runner, these aluminum-bodied Fox shocks offer impressive performance and supreme damping for a wide variety of driving situations.

4Runner’s Fox shocks not only enhance its off-road performance but, paired with the TRD-spec’d front springs, the package lifts the SUV’s front one inch compared to other trim levels, while also providing nearly an inch of additional wheel travel. The beefy front shocks employ 46mm pistons and include seven bypass zones (four compression, three rebound). In the rear, the Fox shocks feature a total of 11 bypass zones (seven compression, four rebound) to fine-tune the low- and high-speed compression. The there are also piggyback shock reservoirs housing additional oil to retain damping performance when it’s needed most.

Further aiding its off-road prowess is some impressive footwork. The 17-inch matte-black TRD alloy wheels with an offset change over the standard 4Runner provide it with nearly a one-inch wider track both front and rear for added stability. Wrapped around those wheels are 31.5-inch Nitto Terra Grappler P265/70R17 A/T tires, offering all-terrain performance.

The exterior sees a few revisions for 2019, the most obvious and striking being the TRD Pro exclusive Voo Doo blue paint – and pictures don’t do this paint job justice. A new TRD roof rack offers additional storage space, and an updated aluminum skid plate helps protect vital bits under the front end.

On the inside, TRD Pro passengers can jam to tunes from a new-for-2019 standard Entune Premium JBL Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite. And while the entertainment system worked great, we found ourselves wishing the nav system included off road trails.

Under the hood, much has stayed the same from the past. The 270hp 4.0-liter V6 routes 278lb.-ft. of torque through a five-speed ECT-i automatic transmission with sequential shift mode, and the dual Independent VVT-i means there’s enough grunt to pull your camper or toys with little worry.

For fun, we aimed our 4Runner test vehicle toward Borrego Springs, just outside of Palm Springs, Calif. – this area offers more than 85,000 acres of desert trails, hills, water crossings and rock climbing. In other words: Fun.

The washboard desert trails are where the updated damper package shines, easily soaking up the bumps, keeping the 4Runner well poised at all times. The Nitto tires provided more than ample grip – in fact, we found we were able to keep the 4Runner in two-wheel-drive mode for the majority of our trip. But when we needed some extra grip, the four-wheel-drive system made quick work of the situation.

In the hills, we encountered a number of rocky passes and a great opportunity to test out the four-low setting on the transfer case. Once geared down, the climbing power, traction and nimble turning made everything we came upon a breeze.

This 4Runner was also fitted with a series of electronics that can help make an off-road adventure easier, no matter your experience level. Toyota’s Crawl Control (CRAWL) feature helps maintain a constant speed in slow-speed off-road situations, enhancing vehicle control when driving up, over or down obstacles. With the transfer case shifted into low range, CRAWL regulates the engine speed and braking force to propel the vehicle forward or in reverse at one of the five driver-selectable low-speed settings. This way, the driver can focus on steering without having to also modulate the throttle or brake pedal.

The Multi-Terrain Select system allows you to select the mode that matches prevailing terrain and conditions, adjusting wheel slip accordingly. For example, on loose terrain such as mud and sand the system allows for some wheel slip, enabling wheel spin to work in the vehicle’s favor. The Mogul setting is for any extremely uneven terrain, such as V-ditches, slopes and ridges – uphill or down. In this mode, wheel slip is minimized and the system acts more like a limited slip differential. On 4Runner TRD Off-Road models, an overhead console groups the off-road control switches into one location.

With an as-tested price of $48,260, the 2019 4Runner TRD Pro is a looker that impressed us with real off-road capabilities. And for us city folk, this vehicle offers comfort and stability that makes even the greenest of weekend warriors feel like they can tackle trails like a pro.

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