2015 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Review

Jul. 08, 2015 By Josh Burns

Whether you’re an off-road enthusiast or not, it’s been hard to miss Toyota’s next-level off-road TRD Pro vehicles. The upgraded packages were offered on Tundra, Tacoma and 4Runners for 2015, and the vehicles helped reinforce Toyota’s commitment to performance and its presence in the off-road world, in spite of the fact that there were less than 10,000 of these next-level off-road vehicles produced across all three platforms.

The small supply of TRD Pros has made the demand high, especially for those looking for a vehicle with additional off-road capability that doesn’t require an investment of thousands of dollars in aftermarket parts. That’s especially true for the TRD Pro 4Runner, as the package (which starts at $41,310) really harkens back to the body-on-frame’s original off-road roots.

The 4Runner TRD Pro offers unique styling, including a Black TOYOTA grille, black bezel headlights, black badging and more.

A few months back we tested a Limited version of the 2015 fifth-generation 4Runner, and although we expected a drop in its off-road performance due to its creature comforts and more lavish interior, we were impressed with how well it tackled the trails. Comparing the Limited to the TRD Pro, while both vehicles are based on the fifth-gen 4Runner, the TRD Pro is ideal for serious off-road enthusiasts because it takes its off-road performance up a notch. Our TRD Pro test vehicle is still well equipped (6.1-inch touchscreen navigation, backup camera, keyless entry, etc.), though it clearly is less concerned with the “fully loaded” accouterments found on the Limited (moonroof, leather seats, etc.).

The 4Runner TRD Pro features black 17-inch TRD wheels fitted with 31.5-inch all-terrain Nitto tires.

The most notable upgrade that separates the TRD Pro from the 4Runner pack is its beefy TRD-tuned Bilstein shocks. In the front, Toyota fitted the SUV with 2.5-inch TRD Bilstein coilovers that feature a large 60mm piston. The front coilovers are fitted with TRD-tuned Eibach springs designed to handle more aggressive off-road performance. Out back, the TRD Pro gets 2-inch TRD remote-reservoir Bilsteins. Aside from the additional oil to help keep the shock cool to reduce fade during demanding off-roading, the rear Bilsteins also feature a 46mm internal piston, which is a major increase from the 32mm OE piston used in both the front and rear of non-TRD Pro 4Runners.

Analog gauges and a digital display provide information for the driver.

The upgraded suspension will clearly aid in the TRD Pro’s off-road performance overall, but Toyota didn’t simply add larger shocks to the SUV and call it a day. It also benefits from an additional 1 inch of lift in front compared to the stock 4Runner. This additional lift, coupled with an additional 1 inch of down travel, provides the TRD Pro with the right combination of additional ground clearance and increased suspension travel to give the Bilsteins plenty of room to work.

A 6.1-inch touchscreen controls navigation, stereo and phone functions. The system also features a rear backup camera as well.

The TRD Pro features unique exterior styling to set it apart from its siblings. There are three color options for 2015, including the burnt-orange Inferno, Super White, and Attitude Black. The TRD Pro features a unique grille with bold TOYOTA lettering in front, which is complemented with black-bezel headlights, black badging, and even black 17-inch TRD alloy wheels. Speaking of the wheels, Toyota chose the Nitto Terra Grappler all-terrain, as the 31.5-inch tire provides good on-road handling and grip but also solid off-road bite and performance.

To protect the undercarriage, a 1/4-inch aluminum front skid plate is featured on the TRD Pro. Toyota also utilizes a fuel tank skid plate for additional protection, and an additional skid plate helps protect the 4Runner’s transfer case, which is mated to a five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. Powering the TRD Pro 4Runner is Toyota’s 4.0-liter V6 that is rated to produce 270 hp @ 5,600 rpm and 278 lb.-ft. of torque at 4400 rpm.

Overhead functions control a number of off-road functions for the 4Runner TRD Pro.

The TRD Pro 4Runner provides the driver with a number of controls to dial the body-on-frame SUV into whatever off-road conditions are encountered. The Multi-Terrain Select function allows the driver to pick the appropriate setting – mud/sand, loose rock, mogul, and rock – and the vehicle then regulates wheel spin and engine speed accordingly for improved traction. Mud and sand appropriately will work in 4 High, while the loose rock, mogul and rock settings only function in 4 Low. Crawl Control is also included on the TRD Pro, and this feature allows the driver to focus on steering in slow-speed off-road driving situations while the vehicle controls acceleration and braking. Best of all, Toyota fits the TRD Pro with an electronic locking rear differential for when the going really gets rough off the highway.

Even though the TRD Pro is designed for improved off-road performance, it doesn’t lose sight of its on-road handling. Still included on the TRD Pro is Toyota’s Star Safety System, which is the overall banner name for a host of features that include Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control (which can be partially turned off when off-road), an Anti-lock Brake System, Electronic Brake Distribution, Brake Assist and Smart Stop Technology. Stepping into the interior, the TRD Pro offers a slightly different package from other 4Runner models. Instead of leather or fabric, Toyota uses durable SofTex seat material that is accented with red stitching throughout. A leather-wrapped TRD Pro shifter is found on the center console for customization, and TRD Pro floor mats are installed as well for keeping any dirt from the trail off the floorboards.

Drive Impression
Getting behind the wheel of the TRD Pro, there isn’t an immediate discernable difference driving around town in this 4Runner compared to others. The additional lift gives the TRD Pro a slightly different feel on the highway compared to the Limited we tested a few months back, but it still offers predictable straight-line tracking and confident handling cornering at low and high speeds. The short wheelbase SUV is easy to maneuver in tight spots, and the added rear backup camera provides that additional confidence.

The all-terrain Nitto tires provide great traction off the highway.

Although the TRD Pro actually weighs slightly less than the Limited (4750 lbs. vs. 4805 lbs.), when accelerating onto the freeway or away from stoplights the 4Runner felt a little sluggish unless we really stepped into the pedal. Our only thought was that it might have some additional weight due to the suspension and skid plate upgrades, but as the above weight figures note, that is not the case. The 4Runner’s performance at highway speed felt great, however, and we had no gripes.  The TRD Pro is rated at 17 mpg city, 21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. Our observed fuel economy during testing was 18.3 mpg combined, which is just above Toyota’s 18 mpg claim.

We observed 18.3 mpg for our combined fuel consumption during testing with the 4Runner's 4.0-liter V6 engine.

Getting the TRD Pro 4Runner off the highway and into the dirt is what this SUV is designed to do. The body-on-frame 4Runner is already an impressive off-roader in its own right, but the additional inch of clearance, significantly improved suspension, and the additional 1 inch of downward travel make the TRD Pro much more capable in just about every situation. The 4Runner’s Bilstein shocks and Eibach springs soak up tightly spaced whoops, with the additional down travel really allowing the SUV’s suspension to work properly and keep the frame and undercarriage from bottoming out. Toyota’s specifications says the TRD Pro’s ground clearance to the axle is unchanged at 9.8 inches, but the suspension certainly provides additional confidence for the driver for minor obstacles and trail debris.

We really like the locking rear differential for tricky off-road obstacles, which helps provide added traction and is something we wish made its way to the Tundra as well. The all-terrain Nitto tires are a good complement to the package, as they offer a quiet ride on the highway but offer good grip in the dirt.

The interior of the TRD Pro is similar to other 4Runners in overall layout, though it does feature unique fabric with red stitching, a leather-wrapped TRD Pro shift knob and TRD Pro floor mats.

The interior of the 4Runner is roomy and comfortable, and we’re happy to see no signs of leather or any other luxury accents that would feel out of place on this off-roader. The TRD Pro does offer plenty, however, with its power adjustable front seats, easy-to-use 6.1-inch touchscreen that operates audio and navigation controls, power rear window and more. The steering wheel buttons control Bluetooth phone functions, stereo features, and the digital instrumentation display on between the analog tachometer and speedometer. We appreciate the fact that Toyota still retains the manual lever to control 4WD functions as well, which resides on the center console to the right of the shifter.

The 4Runner TRD Pro is impressive in the whoops, thanks in large part to its larger Bilstein shocks.

The Final Verdict
Toyota did a great job with the appearance and packaging with the TRD Pro vehicles, and the 4Runner is no exception. It doesn’t simply look the part, however, as this SUV really brings with it added performance off the highway. There’s a lot to like about the TRD Pro 4Runner, and one of its biggest selling points is that it can be bought directly from a dealer – no added hassle required for the upgrades! That in itself makes the TRD Pro 4Runner an awesome vehicle.

The TRD Pro 4Runner offers a great blend of upgrades, and all things considered, it does so at a reasonable price. Our test vehicle has a sticker price of $41,995, which is still far cheaper than the $46,170 Limited we tested previously. Although nothing has been formally announced, we do expect to hear news from Toyota regarding TRD Pro models for 2016, but when/if that announcement is made, we have no clue if a 4Runner will be included. At this point, the hardest part might not be deciding if this is the right 4Runner for you – the bigger question might be whether or not you can find one.

We really like the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, but the hard part might be actually finding one.

Related Content
Review: 2015 Toyota 4Runner Limited

First Ride: 2015 Toyota TRD Pro Tundra, 4Runner, Tacoma

Specifications – 2015 Toyota TRD Pro 4Runner
Engine: 4.0-liter, V6, DOHC, 24-valve with variable valve timing
Horsepower: 270 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 278 lb.-ft. @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed ECT automatic
Height: 72 in.
Track Width: 64.1 in. (front & rear)
Length:  191.3 in.
Wheelbase: 109.8 in.
Approach Angle: 33 degrees
Departure Angle: 26 degrees
Breakover Angle: N/A
Ground Clearance (suspension or axle to ground): 9.6 in. front, 9.6 in. (rear)
Claimed Curb Weight: 4,750 lbs.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 6,300 lbs.
Towing Capacity: 4,700 lbs.
Payload Capacity: 1,495 lbs.
Fuel Tank: 23.0 gal.
Seating Capacity: 5
Axle Ratio: 3.727:1
Aver. MPG (tested): 18.3 mpg overall
Price: $41,995*
*Sticker price as tested, includes destination charge

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