The Toyota 4Runner has been a stalwart of the SUV scene since 1984. Originally classified as a compact SUV, it was created by filling in the back of the Hilux pickup with a removable fiberglass top and giving the truck a second row of seating – design features that were borrowed from Ford’s Bronco and Chevy’s Blazer. The third generation of 4Runner, introduced for the 1996 model year, saw many changes, including a body and a wheelbase both over two inches longer than the previous iteration, solidly moving the 4Runner into the mid-size market. While competitors in the field at this time were smoothing out the edges on their mid-size SUVs, literally and figuratively, making them better suited for highway commutes, the 4Runner kept its eye on the off-roading prize. This focus on the road less taken is what led TRD – Toyota Racing Development – to create the 4Runner TRD Pro trim, specifically made to handle whatever lies ahead of you. The 2022 Toyota 4Runner doesn’t just have a TRD Pro trim; this year also brings a new TRD Sport, highlighting the other focus of TRD, precision road-tuning.
TRD, as mentioned, is Toyota Racing Development. This branch of the Toyota family tree has two forks of its own, TRD Japan (or Toyota Technocraft) and TRD USA. Each of these forks has two limbs – a performance tuning division and a competitive racing division. The Toyota driver looking to increase the performance and look of their stock car can get TRD parts like wheels, shocks, brakes, and even oil caps from their local dealership. Here in the States, Toyota Racing competes all across the driving scene, from the traditional track driving of NASCAR to the head-to-head matches of Formula Drift and the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.
Besides focusing on parts and racing, the TRD has Pro trims for the compact Tacoma and full-size Tundra pickup trucks, as well as the full-sized Sequoia SUV and the 4Runner. The TRD Pro models of these trucks and SUVs have features like enhanced suspensions, protective skid plates, and multi-terrain modes to explore any trail. The TRD Sport line is a newer feature, previously only seen on the Tacoma, built for the best on-road performance. Let’s take a closer look at what this all means specifically for the 2022 4Runner.
4Runner TRD Pro
The TRD Pro trim was first available on the 2015 4Runner. The front end was raised an inch from previous models, showing off a TRD front skid plate for protection from stones and tree limbs on the trail. It also featured red TRD-tuned front springs from Eibach and TRD Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs. When you’re off-roading, you want shocks with remote reservoirs because the extra fluid means the shocks won’t overheat and lose their power as easily. The initial TRD Pro 4Runner was praised by critics for its smooth ride and soft landings after hitting heavy bumps in the road.
Today, the 2022 4Runner TRD Pro looks a lot like that initial offering – that initial, rugged, boxy, and tough-looking offering. It has two underbody skid plates, one to protect the engine and front suspension and one covering the transfer case. It has a unique front grille and trim-specific badging and roof rack. All the lights – head, tail, and fog – are of the LED variety. Fun fact: each year of the 4Runner TRD Pro comes with one optional special color. For 2022, it’s “Lime Rush.”
You’ll also find that the 4Runner TRD Pro is still a smooth ride, no matter what you’re driving on, from desert sand to wet mountain trails. The front suspension is a coil-spring independent double-wishbone with a stabilizer bar; in the rear, you’ll find a coil-spring 4-link with a lateral rod, also with a stabilizer bar. The front springs are TRD-tuned, and TRD and FOX teamed up to create high-performance shocks with rear remote reservoirs. 17-inch Nitto Terra Grappler tires add to the overall comfortable journey.
Standard features on the 2022 4Runner TRD Pro include part-time four-wheel drive with a locking rear differential to sync your axles and get over the most difficult of obstacles, especially when in use with Multi-Terrain Select and CRAWL Control. A power tilting and slide moonroof with sunshade let light into the roomy interior while you’ll find privacy glass on all the rear windows, including the liftgate. Running boards are optional, but, naturally, the TRD Pro comes with both front and rear mudguards and branded all-weather floor liners. Toyota’s Safety Sense P and Star Safety systems help keep you safe, no matter where you’re driving. These features include a lane departure alert and dynamic radar cruise control.
The 4Runner TRD Pro isn’t just for trailblazing. It also uses that four-liter V6 engine to offer 5,000 pounds of towing power, more than others in its class like the Ford Edge and Wrangler. An optional pull-out deck makes it easier to load and unload heavy items in the spacious cargo area with over 46 cubic feet of storage space. If you forgo the sliding deck, you’ll gain almost an extra foot of cargo space, but it’s worth noting that, due to its rugged, off-roading frame with 9.6 inches of ground clearance, the floor is fairly high off the ground.
4Runner TRD Sport
New for 2022 is the TRD Sport 4Runner. The TRD Sport highlights TRD’s high-quality road tuning capabilities. As such, its suspension is the X-REAS Cross-Linked Relative Absorber System with adaptive dampers at each corner and a control absorber in the middle. By linking opposite corners of the vehicle, this design helps reduce pitching and yawing, for better control and handling, especially around corners or on bumpy roads. It also comes standard with street-focused tires on 20-inch tires. While made to hug the curves, the 4Runner TRD Sport still comes with all the standard safety features as the rest of the line, including a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. A blind spot monitor is available for the TRD Sport while standard on the TRD Pro.
The TRD Sport has the same four-liter V6 as the other 4Runners. You do have a choice of two-wheel drive or a part-time four-wheel drive. The FWD option comes with 9.6 inches of ground clearance; the AWD isn’t too far behind with nine. It’s not all about performance, though. The TRD Sport 4Runner brings a bit more style to its rough and tumble siblings. This style comes in the form of color-keyed accents found on the grille, rocker panels, and body molding. It also has a front spoiler and a signature TRD-style hood scoop. Like the TRD Pro, the TRD Sport features Toyota’s SafTex, faux-leather seats with distinctive stitched logos, as well as branded gearshift and floor mats.
While both modes of the 4Runner TRD Sport are lighter than the TRD Pro, as befits vehicles meant for performance, they’re still not lacking in power, with the same available 5,000 pounds of towing capacity. The TRD Pro only barely bests the TRD Sport in height and length, but its moonroof takes away an inch of headroom in the driver’s seat. A worthy trade-off if you’re here for that interior light. The sliding cargo deck is also an option on the 4Runner TRD Sport, and with or without it, the cargo space is the same as in the 4Runner TRD Pro.
Carrying the Torch… Anywhere
The 4Runner is a staple of the SUV world. Produced for the U.S market since 1984, the 4Runner is also one of the most dependable and longest-lasting SUVs. Nearly four percent of vehicles still on the road after 200,000 miles are 4Runners. In addition, nearly nine-and-a-half percent of 4Runner owners drive their SUVs off the lot and keep them in their driveways for over 15 years – this is one-and-half times the national average.
While the 4Runner uses all of the tools in the Toyota arsenal for its dependability and longevity, the TRD Pro and TRD Sport lines encapsulate all that is right in the Toyota Racing Development world. The TRD Pro cannot be beat when it comes to off-roading in comfort, at home on the trail and in the sand. When you’re looking to hug the curves instead of climbing hills, the TRD Sport features all the best of what makes Toyota a competitor on the track and tunes it for your everyday commute while still having the same cargo and towing capabilities as the TRD Pro. Toyota likes to say that the “4Runner has carved out its place as the do-anything SUV that’s at home whether on the pavement or the trail”, and the 2022 4Runner TRD Pro and TRD Sport make that not just a PR statement but a verified truth.