’15 Toyota 4Runner retains stature

 

The 2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail 4X4 is at home in offroad settings. (Bud Wells photos)

The 2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail 4X4 is at home in offroad settings. (Bud Wells photos)

I recently scanned a lengthy list of refined vehicles by Toyota, let my eyes fall near to the bottom, and selected a 2015 4Runner 4X4 Trail Premium V-6, finished in barcelona red metallic paint.

The 4Runner, built on the Tacoma platform, remains one of the few body-on-frame sport utility vehicles.

Its toughness and upright stance don’t compare in sleekness and ride quality with all those crossovers which have flooded the market the past few years. Want to do some crawling about in the rough, or get outdoors in a big snowstorm, though? This one’s for you.

Its step-in height of a little over 22 inches proclaims it is structured for heavy-duty service; it boasts over 9 inches of ground clearance.

The 4.0-liter V-6 engine, mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission, puts out 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. of torque. This is the same power configuration as was in the 2010 model I tested five years ago, and is somewhat dated, as most competitors have moved to 6-, 7-, 8- and 9-speed transmissions. Though not quick on low-end acceleration, the 4.0-liter has performance aplenty to move the 4,700-pounder up and down the hills.

For engaging four-wheel drive, the transfer case’s mechanical lever sits on the floor just ahead of the transmission shifter. The old-fashioned lever is part of the 4Runner Trail’s rugged setup; available on the 4Runner’s SR5 and Limited versions is a dial-type electronic control for the transfer case.

The lever’s normal position is H2 for rear-wheel drive and can be shifted into H4 for four-wheel control at speeds up to 50 miles per hour. An L4 gate can be accessed for low-range gear when the going is especially troublesome.

A dial control for the accommodating terrain settings is placed, awkwardly for the driver, in the overhead console. It alters throttle, gearing and braking to better tackle conditions involving mud/sand/dirt, loose rock, mogul or solid rock. Moguls are shallow ditches, ridges and slopes. A dial placed on the center console seems much less distracting for the driver than in the overhead position.

A $1,750 option on the 4Runner review model was kinetic dynamic suspension, a hydraulic system that varies the damper rates and sway-bar firmness in offroad situations. The 4Runner rides on Bridgestone Duelers H/T P265/70R17 tires.

The suspension upgrade pushed sticker price of the Toyota to $40,890, including skid plates for its stabilizer bars, touch-screen navigation and audio, App Suite/Bluetooth/USB, side-curtain airbags, heated mirrors with turn-signal indicators, tow-hitch receiver, rearview camera and moonroof.

Adding distinction (or distraction) to the 4/Runner’s exterior finish are bulging headlights and taillights.

Lending easy access to gear or the cooler at the rear is a sliding rear cargo deck, which can support up to 440 pounds. The cargo area is a cavernous 46 cubic feet in size.

A slide-out cargo tray has been popular with the 4Runner for several years.

A slide-out cargo tray has been popular with the 4Runner for several years.

Here are the specifications for the ’15 Toyota 4Runner 4X4:

Capacity 5-passenger

  • Wheelbase 109.8 inches
  • Length 190.7 inches
  • Width 75.8 inches
  • Height 71.5 inches
  • Curb Weight 4,760 pounds
  • Track 63.2 inches front, rear
  • Ground Clearance 9.6 inches
  • Turn Circle 37.4 feet
  • Drivetrain Four-wheel-drive
  • Engine 4.0-liter V-6
  • Horsepower/Torque 270/278
  • Transmission 5-speed automatic
  • Steering rack-and-pinion
  • Fuel mileage estimate 17/21
  • Fuel mileage average 19.2
  • Fuel Tank 23 gallons, regular unleaded
  • Wheels 17-inch
  • Cargo Volume 46.3 cubic feet
  • Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles basic, 5/60,000 powertrain

Competitors Nissan Xterra, Nissan Pathfinder, Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer

Assembly Plant Tahara, Aichi, Japan

Parts Content N.A.

Base Price of Lowest Model $35,270; Base Price of Review Model $38,655; Destination Charge $885; Sticker Price $40,890.