The Toyota 4Runner is the family-hauling, boat-towing, hill-climbing SUV that’s been getting it done for five model generations since 1984. With its core DNA as a body-on-frame, do-anything vehicle fully intact, the 4Runner crosses into 2020 with a new safety package and numerous new tech, comfort and convenience upgrades.
For 2020, the 4Runner makes Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) standard on all grades, making it an even more compelling choice for the adventurous family. This advanced suite of driver-assist technologies includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Sway Warning System, Automatic High Beams and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).
With room for up to seven, the fifth-generation 4Runner is the most capable of its proud family tree, and it’s also the most accommodating and most comfortable. For 2020, all grades debut a new instrument panel design along with a high-resolution 8-inch touchscreen display for the Audio, Audio Plus and Premium Audio systems.
At the same time, the versatile multimedia systems get even more so with the addition of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Now, you can easily navigate phone content or ask Siri®, Google or Alexa to recommend the best campsites, or to perhaps find a pizza place that delivers to the woods. Rear seat passengers, meanwhile, will appreciate the addition of two USB ports to charge their devices.
The 4Runner TRD Pro, which for 2019 gained its most off-road-capable suspension ever, shares in the above upgrades while also adding standard Smart Key with Push Button Start. The SR5 Premium and TRD Off-Road Premium grades also gain this convenience feature for 2020.
Only the 2020 4Runner TRD Pro, though, gets the new TRD-branded cat-back exhaust, which gives the 270-horsepower V6 engine a powerful-sounding growl. TRD Pro also gains updated HVAC controls borrowed from the Limited. A new Army Green exterior color that’s available only on 2020 Toyota TRD Pro models will bring out your inner drill sergeant. Magnetic Gray Metallic will also enter the fold as an option on TRD Pros, while Super White and Midnight Black Metallic colors will continue.
Those opting for the top-of-the line 4Runner Limited grade can once again choose the Nightshade Special Edition that debuted for 2019. Available in Midnight Black Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic or Blizzard Pearl, the Nightshade Special Edition gets its name from 20-inch black wheels, and extensive black exterior trim, including: rear bumper, grille accents, exterior mirrors and door handles, window moldings, rocker panels, door garnish, roof rails, badging, front moldings, and even the exhaust tailpipe tip.
Black interior trim features include the steering wheel, center cluster and console panels, shift knob and shifter panel, and inner door grips. (With the new-for-2020 8-inch multimedia systems, just ask Siri, Google or Alexa to play the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black.”)
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa Compatibility
In addition to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa compatibility, the 4Runner’s audio multimedia systems for 2020 are jam-packed with in-demand features. Starting with the SR5 and TRD Off-Road grades, these include:
8-in. touchscreen display, Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay® & Amazon Alexa compatible, USB media port, hands-free phone capability, advanced voice recognition and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology, SiriusXM® with 3-month All Access trial. Connected Services — Safety Connect® with 1-year trial, Wi-Fi Connect with up to 2 GB within 3-month trial.
The Premium Audio system in TRD Pro and Limited models builds further, adding Dynamic Navigation, six JBL speakers with subwoofer and amplifier, Dynamic Navigation with 3-year trial, Dynamic POI Search, Dynamic Voice Recognition, Remote Connect with 1-year trial, Wi-Fi Connect with up to 2 GB within 3-month trial, and Destination Assist with 1-year trial.
Go Where You Want to Go
Whether the destination is a secluded trailhead, local boat ramp, or traffic-clogged school drop-off zone, the 4Runner gets its crew there with comfort, versatility, and proven Toyota reliability. The 4Runner’s inherent strength originates with its tough-as-nails body-on-frame construction featuring a four-link rear axle and coil-spring suspension. The robust chassis is also the source of 4Runner’s comfortable ride quality.
4Runner offers the choice of 2WD, part-time 4WD with a 2-speed transfer case, or, in the Limited, full-time multi-mode 4WD with a 2-speed transfer case and locking center differential. All 4WD models offer a generous 9.6 inches of ground clearance, and all 4Runner models come with a full-size spare tire.
The 4Runner exudes a rugged look in all grades yet maintains a timeless SUV style all its own. For 2020, there are slight changes to the grill design, and every model features projector beam headlights and LED rear combination lamps. The SR5 and TRD models ride on 17-inch alloy wheels that are available in three designs: 6-spoke (SR5, SR5 Premium), 7-spoke (TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium) or a TRD alloy in matte black (TRD Pro). The TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium are distinguished by color-keyed bumpers and overfenders, hood scoop, and silver painted front and rear bumper accents. “TRD Off-Road” badges adorn the C-pillars.
The top-of-line Limited is the only 4Runner with chrome-plated exterior trim and grille insert, and 20-inch machine-finished wheels and P245/60R20 tires are exclusive to this model.
Guts and Glory
Whether blazing trails or navigating the concrete jungle, 4Runner is up to the task with a gutsy 270-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 engine. The powerplant’s 278 lb.-ft. of peak torque gives it plenty of get-up-and-go, and Dual Independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) optimizes torque across the engine’s operating range.
The smooth-shifting five-speed ECT-i automatic transmission includes a sequential shift mode for manually shifting when more control is needed, such as on inclines. That’s yet another factor that helps make the 4Runner an excellent tow vehicle, which is why all models include a standard integrated tow-hitch receiver and wiring harness. All 4Runner models can tow a maximum of 5,000 pounds, with a maximum 500-pound tongue weight.
The 4Runner 2WD models feature standard Automatic Limited Slip Differential (Auto LSD), a function of the traction control (TRAC) that allows some wheel slippage to help the vehicle dig out from sand or snow, for example. The available part-time 4WD system uses Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) and bolsters off-road capability with a two-speed transfer case with selectable low-range. By distributing drive force to any one wheel in contact with the ground, A-TRAC can help maintain traction when it senses wheel slippage occurring on terrain irregularities and slippery patches.
The full-time 4WD system that’s exclusive to the 4Runner Limited uses a Torsen center differential with locking feature and a three-mode, center console-mounted switch. The system employs a 40:60 torque split in most driving situations and alters that in response to slippage. In addition, if the front wheels are slipping while the vehicle is turning, the Torsen differential changes the split to 30:70, and if the rear wheels slip while the vehicle is turning, the split changes to 53:47.
Arsenal of Traction Technology
An array of technologies enhance the capability provided by the 4Runner’s high-strength chassis and 4WD. Standard Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) provides additional control when accelerating from a stop on a steep incline by helping to hold the vehicle stationary for a short period of time while the driver transitions from the brake pedal to the accelerator.
Limited and SR5 models equipped with 4WD also feature standard Downhill Assist Control (DAC). This feature augments low-speed descending controllability by helping to maintain a constant slow speed and preventing wheel lockup, therefore allowing the driver to concentrate primarily on steering.
All 4Runner TRD models add the capability of an electronic-locking rear differential and Toyota’s Crawl Control (CRAWL) feature. The latter 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 engine speed and braking force to slowly move the vehicle forward or in reverse at one of the five driver-selectable low-speed settings. This allows the driver to focus on steering without having to also modulate the throttle or brake pedal in challenging terrain.
As trail conditions change, the driver of any TRD model can adapt the vehicle using the standard Multi-Terrain Select system simply by using a dial to choose a mode that matches prevailing surface conditions. The system will then adjust wheel slip control accordingly. For example, on loose terrain such as mud and sand, more-than-normal wheel slip is permitted, allowing 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. An overhead console groups the off-road control switches in one location.
The 4Runner TRD Off-Road models can be outfitted with Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which allows extended wheel travel at slow speeds for greater off-road capability and control. When driving on pavement, KDSS provides a nimble handling feel by reducing body lean when cornering.
The 4Runner Limited, while certainly off-road capable, places extra focus on everyday comfort and pavement handling. Its exclusive Cross Linked Relative Absorber System (X-REAS) suspension automatically adjusts the damping force of shock absorbers when driving over bumpy surfaces or when cornering. A center control absorber cross-links the shock absorbers on opposite corners of the vehicle, reducing pitch and yaw by offsetting opposing inputs.
TRD Pro Series: Off-Road is No Obstacle
The TRD Pro badge on any Toyota truck or SUV signifies the brand’s most off-road-capable vehicles. The 4Runner TRD Pro in 2019 added 2.5-inch Fox Internal Bypass Shocks to its roster of off-road-capable hardware. These shocks provide precise compression damping in both high-speed and low-speed situations, contributing to a plush, composed ride on the trail or highway.
The front Fox shocks are paired with TRD-tuned coil springs, yielding an inch of front lift for improved trail-tackling capability. Out back, the 2.5-inch Fox shocks also feature piggyback-style remote reservoirs to maintain damping performance in the most demanding off-road terrain.
The TRD Pro Series looks the tough-SUV part, too, with 17-inch black TRD alloy wheels wrapped in Nitto Terra Grappler tires, unique front grille, black bumper accents, TRD Shift Knob, and special badging and accents inside and out.
The TRD roof rack is exclusive to the 4Runner TRD Pro, which also features a standard moonroof and Premium Audio with JBL speakers with Clari-Fi™ (because it’s OK to be comfortable when you’re roughing it.) Like the other Toyota TRD Pro vehicles, the 4Runner TRD Pro features a 1/4-inch-thick aluminum front skid plate with red TRD lettering.
Space: An Expansive Universe
The Toyota 4Runner is a Sherpa among SUVs. With the second-row seats in use, the cargo area offers up to 47.2 cu. ft. of carrying space. If it’s just two people and their gear hitting the road or trail, folding the second row opens a cavernous 89.7 cu. ft. cargo area.
The second-row seats fold flat without having to remove the headrests. The available pull-out cargo deck can support up to 440 pounds to make loading and unloading heavy items easier, and it also provides seating for tailgating and campsite relaxation. For power on the go, the 4Runner offers a standard 120V outlet and two 12V outlets.
The 4Runner SR5 and Limited grades offer available third-row seating, with a split 50/50 seat that folds flat. When so equipped, the 40/20/40 second-row seat has a one-touch walk-in function to provide easy access to the third row. The seats can be folded from the side or at the rear, using separate one-touch levers. The second-row seats, which include a center armrest, individually recline up to 16 degrees in four steps.
Air conditioning with rear seat vents and pollen filter, a power-sliding liftgate window and backup camera are among the standard features that make the 4Runner SR5 an outstanding value. The new instrument panel adds a touch of high-tech for all grades, and the new 4.2-inch multi-information display provides readouts for things such as outside temperature, odometer, trip meters, and average fuel economy, but it also provides information on TSS-P features such as Lane Departure Alert and Dynamic Radar Cruiser Control.
The SR5 Premium and TRD Off-Road Premium provides a significant comfort upgrade with SofTex-trimmed seats, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and the addition of the Smart Key system with Push Button Start. The Limited delivers a luxury experience with leather-trimmed, heated and ventilated 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat (with memory) and 4-way power adjustable front passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and the Smart Key system with Push Button Start. The Limited also adds the convenience of a standard front and rear clearance sonar system.