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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2015 TOYOTA 4RUNNER REVIEW


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2015 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

KR Says: Truly a no-compromise SUV!; Fun fun vehicle...wish it was mine!

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE 4RUNNER VEHICLE
The Toyota 4Runner honors tradition over trend with body-on-frame engineering as well off-road ability with an all-new TRD Pro Series trim. This SUV also addresses technology and comfort issues for a well-rounded, rugged ride.

I drove a 2015 Toyota 4Runner with the standard 270-horsepower 4-liter V6 engine with 278 pound-feet of torque, paired to a five-speed automatic transmission and part-time four-wheel drive system with A-TRAC and a locking center differentia. Available in four trims – SR5, Trail, Limited and TRD Pro for those who want more off-road ability – my TRD Pro test-drive came with the following standard feature highlights: SofTex upholstery; heated front seats; upgraded JBL audio system; Toyota’s Entune; Bluetooth; a 6.1-inch touchscreen with backup camera; navigation; moonroof; power rear window; front and rear parking sensors; tow hitch receiver; fog lights; sport suspension; seventeen-inch black TRD alloy wheels with Nitto Terra Grappler tires; a TRD front skid plate; front springs; and high-performance shocks with rear remote reservoirs.. Total price as described came to $41,110.

The big news for the 2015 4Runner is the TRD Pro Series trim, which I was able to test drive on private roads in the Stanislaus National Forest on the outskirts of Yosemite. The Grand Jeep Cherokee is the 4Runner’s best trail-rated match, but competitors include other rugged three-row SUVs such as the Dodge Durango and GMC Suburban.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Instead of coming in the exclusive model-only color, Inferno, my 4Runner was white which really set off the black bumper accents and black TRD alloy wheels. You sit high in the 4Runner, but secure with a very accommodating driver power seat. The all-black interior is set off by brushed-chrome accents and vivid digital displays. Equipment for the tech-minded includes Entune, Toyota’s multi-media system for streamlining your smartphone to hands-free navigation, calls and music. A newer feature, App Suite, allows for quick searches on the 6.1-inch split-screen and offers iTunes Tagging and XM Radio. My test drive also came with the $350 sliding rear cargo deck, $395 paint protection film, $185 cargo crossbars and a $90 exhaust tip.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2015 Toyota 4Runner ratings of “Good” in all crash-test areas with the exception of a “Marginal” in small overlap front. I also love that the organization is now rating the ease of use with child seat anchors, with the 4Runner getting just another “Marginal” rating in this area. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the vehicle an overall rating of 4-Stars – rollover earned just 3-Stars, frontal crash 4-Stars and side crash 5-Stars.

Cost Issues: A base SR5 4Runner starts at $33,210; the Trail trim at $36,115; the Limited trim at $41,585; and my TRD Pro at $41,310 – with options my test drive cost $43,134.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Activity & Performance Ability: We took the 4Runner on a seventeen-mile mountainous excursion in Stanislaus National Forest, where the TRD Pro wheels and shocks absorbed all ruts, rocks and other off-road abrasions without breaking a sweat. As far as city riving goes, the 4Runner boarders on bulky but deserves of no complains as I was able to navigate into some pretty tight parking situations. And like the Tundra, the 4Runner features a more generous approach angle than competitors with the same body-on-frame construction. As impractical as it might be for most of us suburbanites, I personally would love to own the 4Runner as the vehicle instantly transports you to a more outdoorsy place in your heart, no matter if you’re mainly treading concrete roads.

The Green Concern: The 4-liter V6 gets 17-city and 21-highway for a combined 18 miles-per-gallon combined.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Not many vehicles can transport buyers both figuratively and literally to rugged and wild places, but the 2015 Toyota 4Runner can with my TRD Pro Series test drive being the vessel to do so in the lineup. Truly a no-compromise SUV, this might be the game-changer for increasing your family’s adventure quota.

©2015 Katrina Ramser

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