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2015 Toyota 4Runner

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2015 Toyota 4Runner Review


KBB Expert Rating: 6.5

Toyota’s 4Runner SUV for 2015 is the last of a dying breed, that being the body-on-frame truck designed to tackle the toughest off-road obstacles and go in search of more. Softer crossover SUVs with adventurous sounding names like Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse and Dodge Durango may offer advanced 4-wheel-drive (4WD) systems, but they are not designed to roll over boulders, logs or other immovable objects the way a 4Runner can. Its poor fuel economy and a somewhat truck-like ride aside, Toyota’s rugged 4Runner SUV can rival its crossover competitors for on-road performance, with a powerful V6 engine and a number of packages and trims spanning the spectrum from the basic SR5 to the brutish TRD Pro Series.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you need a rugged weekend warrior that can also double as a reliable, comfortable daily driver, Toyota’s 4Runner SUV for 2015 makes an excellent choice. A 3rd-row seat option, while cramped, expands the 4Runner’s passenger carrying capacity to seven.

You May Not Like This Car If...

On paved roads, Toyota’s 2015 4Runner can feel down right primitive compared to modern crossover SUVs. A narrow cabin and limited rear-seat legroom make this a poor choice for big families, and when it comes to price, a Nissan Xterra, Jeep Wrangler or Toyota FJ Cruiser are less costly.

What's New for 2015

For 2015, the Toyota 4Runner gains a few new trims, including Premium grades for the SR5 and Trail and a new TRD Pro Series trim that includes 17-inch TRD wheels, off-road tires, Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs, a TRD tuned suspension, and TRD trim.

Driving the 4Runner
Driving Impressions

Thanks to Toyota’s excellent suspension and spring settings, the 2015 4Runner SUV has been magically tuned to deliver acceptable ride and decent handling. Acceleration has never been a weak point...

... with the 4Runner, thanks to its 270-horsepower V6 engine and smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic transmission. Not surprisingly, the 4Runner isn’t a great joy to run quickly through winding roads, but its body isn’t as bulky or long as a full-size Expedition or Sequoia, so maneuverability is still relatively easy. We found the brake pedal a bit spongy at first, followed by brakes that seemed to grab suddenly as the pedal-travel deepened. At highway speeds, the interior can be loud, but get the 4Runner onto a dusty trail or boulder-strewn wash, and the only sounds you’ll hear inside the cabin are those of laughter, Whoo-hooing and the occasional “I want to drive now.”

Once standard on nearly every American station wagon, the rear liftgate power glass window now only exists in car lore and with the Toyota 4Runner for 2015. The disappearing window is perfect for loading objects without having to open the rear hatch, or rapidly evacuating foul odors that suddenly arise inside the cabin.

If the Trail trim isn’t butch enough, the TRD Pro Series ratchets up the tough with unique aluminum-alloy wheels, Nitto Terra Grappler all-terrain tires, Bilstein custom off-road shocks, skid plates, TRD badging, and a custom “TOYOTA” front grille. Three colors are offered: Black, White and exclusive Inferno Orange.

2015 Toyota 4Runner Details

Although still rather simple, the 2015 4Runner's cabin is roomy and versatile. The 4Runner's large dials and buttons operating everything from the radio to the low-range gearing are a cinch to use. The large center console has an available 120V AC power outlet, helpful for charging accessories. The power-adjustable front seats are comfortable and supportive. In back, a 40/20/40 split seat offers numerous cargo/seating configurations and reclines. For larger families, 7-passenger seating is available in SR5 and Limited trims, though the small third row is best suited for children. Folding the rear seats yields a flat floor and nearly 90 cubic feet of cargo space.

2015 Toyota 4Runner photo

Not much has changed on the outside for the 2015 4Runner, and that which has may not be seen as an improvement. In an effort to give the SUV a "more rugged and aggressive appearance," Toyota has endowed the front fascia with large, boomerang-shaped indentations below the slanted headlights. If that gaping design is a deterrent, know that it doesn't apply to the top-line Limited edition. The rest of the 4Runner successfully carries on the SUV's rugged, boxy shape. We dig the 4-wheel-drive Trail model's hood scoop and additional ground clearance that totals 9.6 inches. All trims feature a standard roof rack.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2015 Toyota 4Runner SUV is available in four trims: SR5, Trail, Limited and TRD Pro Series. The base SR5 includes Entune Audio Plus system with AM/FM/CD/USB player and Bluetooth music streaming, HomeLink, rearview camera, fabric interior and an 8-way-power driver's seat. Off-road aficionados will find much to like in Trail and TRD models, which include 4-wheel drive instead of rear-wheel drive (RWD), water-resistant seat fabric, locking rear differential, and multi-terrain select with crawl control. Limited models add leather-trimmed seats (heated and ventilated in front), dual-zone climate control, a 15-speaker JBL sound system with navigation, moonroof, X-REAS automatic-adjust suspension, and 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

Optional Equipment

Depending on trim, extras for the Toyota SUV include a 3rd-row seat, 4-wheel drive, Entune premium audio with navigation, and the helpful sliding rear cargo deck. Trail models can be equipped with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which can disconnect the stabilizer bars to allow more axle travel to help conquer tough terrain.

Under the Hood

The sole powertrain combination in the 2015 Toyota 4Runner SUV is a 270-horsepower V6 mated to a responsive 5-speed automatic transmission. There are three drivetrain choices: 2-wheel drive (2WD) in the SR5 and Limited, part-time 4WD (SR5, Trail, TRD), or full-time 4WD (Limited) with a limited-slip, locking center differential. Towing is a strong point for the 4Runner, with an SAE J2807-compliant rating of 4,700 pounds. A not-so-strong point is fuel economy, with 2WD models returning a combined 19 mpg and 4WD models rated at 18 mpg combined. Thankfully, the Toyota's V6 drinks regular unleaded.

4.0-liter V6 engine
270 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
278 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/22 mpg (2WD), 17/21 mpg (4WD)

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