Project Update: 5th gen 4Runner TRD Off Road

Recently we established that this is no longer Hooniverse but rather 4Runnerverse. Now it’s time to check in on one of my very own Toyota 4x4s.

Nine months ago I picked up a 5th gen 4Runner to serve as an all-purpose vehicle. Needing something that could do everything from daily duty to beach trips and everything in-between, the truck seemed to be the perfect fit. And so far it has been. Well, except for the beach part, since the weather improved only just recently.

Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road

Nearly 20,000 miles have been added to it in the short time since then. It’s been comfortable, reliable, and an extremely easy vehicle to own. Every passenger is impressed by the ride and quality of the interior. It soaks up business trip miles with ease and transports all passengers rather easily. And, crucially, there was enough cargo space to carry my now-wife, myself, and all of the accoutrements for our wedding.

Life is eventful

Our own wedding is only the most recent of the adventures the new 4Runner has already been party to. Shortly after picking it up I drove it out to Pennsylvania for my bachelor party. It shuttled myself and friends flawlessly and laughed in the face of the unpaved road leading to our HomeAway cabin. Shortly thereafter we drove 350 miles each way to and from Rochester, NY for our friends’ wedding. Coming home it snowed like crazy on Rt. 17 but even on the stock tires the truck was fantastic.

Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road

Glare off the hood scoop can be near-blinding

And then before we knew it our own wedding was upon us. We loaded up the 4Runner with boxes of everything imaginable, all of which was handled with ease. The day after the wedding we drove out to a hotel in rural New Jersey for a two-day not-a-real-honeymoon getaway. The 4Runner was quiet and extremely peaceful; exactly what we wanted from it.

Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road

The interior is holding up without so much as minor wear on the seats

Then it was back to reality. On the daily grind the 4Runner is close to perfect. I maintain that the engine is a bit underwhelming; it’s simply underpowered compared to other brands’ offerings. It would also be nice to have some modern features. Automatic headlights and keyless entry/start are noticeably missing. All that said, the truck performs as intended. It eats up bad road surfaces like they aren’t there, couldn’t care less about inclimate weather, and is the cause of zero headaches whatsoever. It made short work of a snow-and-ice covered parking lot at a hiking trailhead and forded a flooded Merritt Parkway without making me think twice.

Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road

Anything to fix?

On the maintenance front– and this comes without surprise– there’s nothing to report. As of this writing I’ve had three oil changes done, all of which were complimentary under Toyota Care. Other issues are– you guessed it– none. The transmission is a little clunky on upshifts when cold but only briefly. Conversely, the lightest of touches on the brake pedal while on a downhill causes the transmission to downshift unnecessarily. It’s as if the computer wants to use engine braking to slow the vehicle. But neither of these minor things are even remotely worrisome.

As the internet has become privy to the the 4Runner’s capability, the aftermarket modifications available for the 5th gen trucks has blossomed. Doing my best to hold off on these, I added center console organizer. Insignificant, but helpful in day-to-day use. It cost a whopping cost of $14.99, purchased off Amazon with free shipping. Modifications have otherwise been kept to zero. Weary of making tacky an otherwise clean truck, I “installed” a few stickers on the flat wall surface of the tailgate. This makes the stickers visible only when the hatch is open, an easter egg of sorts.

Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road

The Amazon-sourced center console organizer

Things have been so good with this truck that I’m likely going to sell the Stormtrooper 4Runner. They serve wholly different purposes but ultimately occupy nearly the same space in my life. As much as I like off-roading, the 4+ hour drive each way for any worthwhile wheeling has really put a damper on things. Life right now just isn’t very conducive to long weekends away from civilization. Selling the Stormtrooper might allow me to pick up something small and light. In turn this could mean getting back into autocross and having an enjoyable weekend car. Contrary to the Stormtrooper, which mostly just sits, it’s an appealing move.

Life with my 5th gen 4Runner has been issue-free. That goes for both the 4Runner itself and in regards to my thoughts on it as well. This is exactly as I hoped, and exactly as I expected. So far so good.

Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road

By |2019-05-20T21:27:51+00:00May 21st, 2019|Project Cars|2 Comments

About the Author:

Ross Ballot
Automotive ADHD, personified. Usually found driving a Toyota 4Runner. Lover of all things off-roading; amateur autocrosser. Perpetually looking for the next vehicle he will regret.