After climbing into the 2019 Magnetic Gray Metallic Toyota 4Runner TRD for the first time, I was taken aback by how out of date the knobs, buttons and switches looked on the steering wheel and dashboard.
My left elbow rode too high when I tried to rest it on the window ledge.
I’d compare the feel of the driver’s seat on my back to a firm mattress.
Needless to say, I was out of sorts.
Yet, on my way to ripping the 4Runner a new tail pipe in this review, I did come to appreciate the drive supplied by the 4.0-liter V6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission. It got me to thinking about my own driving preferences versus someone who’d be looking at a 4Runner in the first place.
In my normal driving week, which mainly involves commuting to work and running errands on weekends. there is a 99.9 percent chance I will need to deploy four-wheel drive.
So, I had to put myself in the racing helmets of off-road enthusiasts, mud dwellers, mountain people, boat haulers and my neighborhood survivalists. They likely could care less whether their 4×4 SUV or truck has the most modern buttons and touchscreens, especially if they are bouncing around in the cabin while covering rough terrain.
Can you imagine whamming into a sand dune and being knocked into phoning your mother-in-law accidentally? You’d prefer an old school phone button that is harder to trip in that situation.
It would matter not is such conditions where you hung your left elbow, because both elbows would be locked by your sides as you white knuckled the steering wheel.
And though I prefer a soft mattress to sleep in, I can see the advantage of a firm seat in a 4×4 that forces you to sit up straight like a nun with a hungry ruler.
To be honest, I did not take the 4Runner off road during my testing period, but this fellow in Wyoming did with his loaner. So I’m including his video (which had me at the recommendation to add whiskey to my coffee at work):
My large-knobbed tester included: 17-inch alloy wheels; a locking rear differential; power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering; crawl and hill-start assist controls; and front and rear stabilizer bars and skid plates. My 4Runner loaner had a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System as a $1,750 extra.
Passengers will want to hold on as the 4Runner got three stars, on Government 5-Star Safety Safety ratings where five is best, for rollovers and frontal crashes. (The overall vehicle score is four stars.)
Standard safety features include: anti-lock brakes; brake assist with Smart Stop Technology; controls for traction and vehicle stability; an airbag system for the driver and front passenger; and side airbags for all riders.
Exterior features that are standard include: fog lamps; projections headlights; LED taillights; hood scoop; roof rails; rear spoiler; overfenders; rear privacy glass; front and rear mud flaps; color-key bumpers with silver accents; and a tow hitch receiver with 7&4-pin connector.
Standard interior features include: keyless entry; the backup camera; an eight-way power driver seat; fold-down back seat; an air conditioning vent for drivers in the rear; power door locks and windows with automatic up/down; power outlets in the front, rear and cargo area; and TRD-logoed shift knob and floor mats.
My tester had a premium Entune audio system, as opposed to the standard Entune Audio Pluus, as part of $345 worth of optional equipment that includes the 6.1-inch touchscreen display, AM/FM/CD player, eight speakers; a USB port; hands-free phone capability; Bluetooth wireless and, with a subscription, SiriusXM satellite radio. But that’s more than made up for in $500 worth of “Keep It Wild” savings from Toyota.
The EPA rates the fuel economy at 17 miles per gallon in the city, 20 on the highway and 10 mpg combined. Annual fuel costs are projected to be $2,100. The total manufacturer’s suggested retail price on my loaner’s sticker, which included more than $1,000 for handling and processing, was $40,820.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.