The 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro is big enough for a family SUV and rugged enough for off-roading. The real question is how well someone like me could put it to the test.
But I put it to the test alright!
What Does TRD Pro Mean?
Let’s start with the basics. This is NOT just about the Toyota 4Runner. The TRD Pro is a package for the 4Runner that is designed for performance. (FYI – TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development).
You’ll find that Toyota offers a few trim levels on the 4Runner: TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, and TRD Pro. And you’ll find that they’re all capable of off-roading. But the TRD Pro lets you do it in style.
What the TRD Pro Offers
The TRD Pro is about performance and style. Because you need to look good while driving.
Here’s what you get with the TRD Pro package that you won’t get with the other TRD packages:
- 17-In. Matte-Black TRD Alloy Wheels
- Black “TRD Pro” External Hard Badges
- Unique “TOYOTA” Front Grille
- High-Performance LED Fog Lights
- Roof Basket
- SofTex®-Trimmed Heated and Power-Adjustable Front Seats (also on TRD Off-Road Premium)
- TRD Pro All-Weather Floor Liners
- TRD-Stamped Aluminum Front Skid Plate
- FOX® Shocks With TRD-Tuned Front Springs
Heading Off-Road with the TRD Pro in Virginia
Let me be clear. I’m no off-roading expert. I’ve done a little off-roading at Summit Point, West Virginia and in Bend, Oregon but those were both experiences with instructors sitting in the passenger seat.
I even attempted to try it out with my son a few week’s ago and only ended up on some underdeveloped roads.
But with the Toyota 4Runner, I was heading into the rugged terrain of the George Washington National Forest in the Shenandoah Valley. And I had a guide. Not in the car but on radio.
This trip was organized by my friend, Phil, who manages roading events for automotive media as part of Trail Trek Tour. Since we’re
in the end times in a pandemic, Phil organized a family-friendly event and invited us all of grab our own vehicle or a press vehicle. And Toyota was my go-to.
Beginner’s Rules of Off-Roading
For the event, we all brought our own vehicle, our own families, and our own lunch for the day. We had a quick orientation where we learned a few quick rules of off-roading.
- Make sure you understand geometry or physics. Or preferably both. Angles matter.
- It’s preferable to use a 4WD vehicle over AWD.
- Ground clearance matters. You want to know where you lowest point of contact is on the vehicle. For some it’s the front bumper or sidebars. If you can remove it, you probably should.
- Tires matter. Those smooth, quiet tires on the highway won’t give you much grip on the rocks. More tread is better.
- Know your tire’s weak points. That’s most likely the sidewall so avoid hitting a sharp rock at an angle. Better to go around it or, if necessary, over it.
- Make sure you’re allowed to off-road at your location and you have the proper permit.
- Don’t be afraid to stop and assess an obstacle before tackling it.
- Don’t count on cell service. Remote areas offer some of the best terrain but they are, well, remote!
- Never go alone! By alone, I mean without another vehicle in your party. If you get stuck somewhere, your friend will likely be able to pull you out.
I also high recommend checking out these two videos:
How to Off-Road in the Toyota 4Runner
I just want to start by saying I did just fine. I didn’t freak out. I didn’t panic. And more importantly, I didn’t break anything.
We started the morning on a somewhat beginner’s trail to get us all comfortable with off-roading and our respective vehicles.
I started by putting the 4Runner in neutral and switching to L4 (4 low gear) for the slow, rugged climb over mostly loose rocks. I also used the Multi-Terrain Select to ensure the vehicle was set to respond in the best way possible.
I actually really like that Toyota has put instructions in the driver’s side visor so that if you’re inexperienced and you forgot what the actual steps are, you won’t break anything.
After that, it was simply about driver control and putting to the test everything we covered in our orientation.
How Does the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Handle Off-Road
Our first big obstacle was a puddle. But it was hard to gauge how deep the puddle was and not everyone had the same level of ruggedness in their vehicles.
When in doubt, go around. Most of us veered on the left side of the puddle which then put us as a steepish angle.
I made my way through with a small splash but by the time we hit this on the way back, I knew the TRD Pro was equipped to head right through it, which I did.
The terrain was mostly loose rock in the morning and we kept a pretty slow pace because of the number of vehicle in our party. After we returned to our base, we ate lunch and only a handful of us stuck around for the afternoon trail, which was a bit more challenging.
The Toyota4Runner TRD Pro handled every terrain like a boss. And that continued to boost my confidence with every off road challenge. The ground clearance of 9.6 inches, the skid plates underneath, the Fox shocks and springs, and the 33″ tires all made me feel unstoppable. And the package accents… just looked damned good.
Off-Roading is Better with Friends
As I mentioned above, you should always go with at least one other vehicle in case someone gets into a bit of trouble. We ended up with a large caravan – lots of different vehicles all with different capabilities.
When I first showed up, I thought I was maybe at a Toyota event. There were FIVE Toyotas in attendance, FOUR of them with the TRD Pro package, and THREE of those in this cool Army Green. If we were all women, may be we would have cared that we all showed up at the dance with the same dress, but instead, we felt a sort of comraderie.
My favorites companions were my riding companions though. My husband and son stuck it out while I got to have all the fun behind the wheel. There was hardly any complaining and nobody got too nauseous. They also made excellent photography assistants.
Details about the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro
Here are a few quick details about the Toyota I spent a week in.
2020 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 TRD Pro V6
Color: Army Green (I love this color!)
Fuel Economy: 16/19 mpg; I observed 15 mpg on the trail and 20 mpg on the highway
Engine: 4.0L DOHC 24-Valve V6 w/Dual Independent VVT-i; 270 hp, 278 lb-ft torque
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