To Boldly Go

Toyota expands the 2017 4Runner line-up, as well as perceptions of the body-on-frame vehicle, with an adventurous launch of TRD Off-Road models
by Dan Miller
Sept/Oct 2016
To Boldly Go
It’s one thing to say the 2017 4Runner has what it takes to traverse challenging terrain. It’s quite another to get down and dirty and actually prove it.
But that’s exactly what Toyota did this summer in an ambitious collaboration that helped introduce this body-on-frame vehicle’s two newest grades—the TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium—to a hand-picked group of media and a gathering of off-road enthusiasts.

The focal point of the launch was the FJ Summit, an event created 10 years ago by Toyota owners for Toyota owners. In late July, a sellout crowd of 1,000 people brought some 250 4Runners, Tacomas, Land Cruisers and FJ Cruisers to the mountain town of Ouray, Colo. There, they put their rigs to the test on the surrounding off-road trails, learned about the latest in aftermarket parts and accessories from specialty vendors and—above all—enjoyed the company of like-minded folks.


Uncharted Territory
Meanwhile, Toyota arranged to have a crew with Expedition Overland—a reality-based web series—meet up with four automotive journalists in Las Vegas. Their mission: to make their way to Ouray along more than 700 miles of largely uncharted territory in a caravan of Toyota’s latest off-road vehicles, including the Tacoma TRD Off-Road, Tundra TRD Pro and 4Runner TRD Pro.
Over the next four days and three nights, the entourage traveled from Nevada through stretches of Utah and Arizona before arriving in Colorado, safe and sound. En route, the party encountered and conquered a wide range of off-road challenges—from high-speed Baja 1,000-like open stretches, to turn-by-turn rocky ascents and descents, to impromptu detours around roads washed out by intense thunderstorms.
When they weren’t driving, the participants were setting up camp far removed from the comforts of electricity and plumbing. Instead, they indulged in the warmth of open camp fires and the spectacular display of star-filled skies.
Once in Ouray, the Expedition Overland crew restocked its supplies and retraced its steps back to Las Vegas, this time hosting a new group of journalists. You can find a video of their trek on Expedition Overland’s website at
TRD Off-Road Cred
The immersive experience made at least one thing abundantly clear: the TRD models comprise a highly capable off-roading set, right out of the box. And the new 4Runner TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium, which embody the DNA and passion that make all TRD-branded vehicles such versatile machines, are worthy successors to the 4Runner’s more than 30-year heritage of taking its owners just about anywhere they want to go.
Mechanical upgrades that contribute to these new rigs’ go-for-it nature include:
  • Multi-Terrain Select, which allows the driver to select the mode that matches the prevailing terrain and conditions, adjusting wheel slip accordingly
  • Electronic-locking rear differential
  • Crawl Control, which helps maintain a constant speed when driving up and over obstacles in challenging off-road situations
  • Superior approach and departure angles
  • High ground clearance.
Customers who long to push their 4Runners even further can opt for the available Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System. It facilitates extended wheel travel at slow speeds for greater off-road capability and control. For example, on loose surfaces such as mud and sand, more than-normal wheel slip is permitted, allowing wheel spin to work in the vehicle’s favor. For ultimate terrain—such as V-ditches, slopes and ridges—the driver can engage the system’s Mogul setting, creating an effect similar to that of a limited slip differential.
The TRD Off-Road models also look the part. Both sport black painted wheels and a unique TRD Off-Road badge on the C-pillar. Inside, you’ll find a carbon fiber-like center console and TRD Off-Road floor mats. TRD red lettering stitched into the driver’s and front passenger’s headrests set the premium model apart from its TRD Off-Road sibling.
In the end, though, the 2017 4Runner isn’t really about the show. It’s about the go…to places where only the most adventurous—like owners of Toyota’s off-road vehicles—would dare attempt.
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