The 2020 Toyota 4Runner is one of the few remaining truck-based mid-size SUVs you can buy new from a dealership. Its old-school architecture gives the 4Runner a decidedly old-school feel, but the rugged, heavy-duty platform serves as a strong starting point for an off-road-capable SUV.
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And the most off-road-capable version of the 4Runner is the TRD Pro, which packs unique components designed to enhance its off-the-pavement prowess. Funny thing is, some of the SUV’s key off-roading features also help it excel in urban driving. We spent a few days driving an Army Green TRD Pro on the streets of Chicago and zeroed in on three things that help make it an unexpectedly good city vehicle.
Toyota gave the 4Runner TRD Pro new Fox internal bypass shock absorbers last year, and the rear shocks also have remote reservoirs. The shocks work with TRD-tuned coil springs, and while all four-wheel-drive 4Runners have 9.6 inches of ground clearance for tackling tough off-road terrain, the TRD Pro’s cushy suspension works well on rough city streets, too. Chicago’s pothole season was well underway during our 4Runner test, but even the worst potholes didn’t disturb the ride that much; the suspension just soaked them up.
2. Wheels and Tires
The TRD Pro’s wheels and tires also play a role in its compliant ride. It’s equipped with Nitto Terra Grappler P265/70 all-terrain tires on 17-inch matte-black alloy wheels — and even though the tires’ aggressive tread pattern is meant for loose surfaces, their tall sidewalls work with the suspension to minimize disturbances over rough urban pavement. At a time when many SUVs offer extra-large wheels wrapped with lower-profile tires — and, with some of these configurations, brittle ride quality — the TRD Pro’s setup is refreshingly comfortable. Plus, with such tall tires there’s little reason to worry about dodging potholes for fear of bending a rim.
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3. Driving Position
Tall seating positions are one of the reasons SUVs are popular with shoppers, and it’s especially useful on busy city streets with lots of different users. While it’s a bit of a climb up to the TRD Pro’s driver’s seat, once situated, you’re treated to mostly unobstructed views out the windshield; the tall ride height means you can look past most other vehicles rather than stare at their taillights. The enhanced visibility lets you see what’s happening farther down the road — and see it sooner than you otherwise would in a lower-riding car.
There’s no question that there are more practical, fuel-efficient city vehicles than the 4Runner TRD Pro, but our experience with it is a reminder that a rugged SUV can make a lot of sense in certain urban environments. The Jeep Wrangler has long had the same type of appeal, and now Toyota has another SUV for city dwellers to consider.
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