Thursday, October 15, 2015

Rugged 4Runner all but begs to venture off-road

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­– I went out looking for a Toyota sport-utility vehicle and encountered a genuine off-road warrior.

It was a 2015 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 TRD Pro Series with a V-6.  It’s worth noting that the 2016 model carries over unchanged from 2015.

Normally, I start off by looking at the body lines on a newly arrived test vehicle.  Not so much this time.

The 4Runner was riding on 17-inch alloy wheels supporting like-sized tires that looked capable or knocking down a brick wall.

Lots of sport-utes can be taken off-road.  This 4Runner pretty much begs for it.

So, yes, I did depart from the pavement for a short time, but what I put this vehicle through was pretty much the equivalent of Usain Bolt racing a turtle.

Not even close.

I have no doubt that my tester, if it could speak, wanted to head up to the hard rocks in the Sierra Nevada.  And based on my humble off-road venture, I'm positive that the 4Runner could have handled the hard-core stuff easily.

The 4-liter, 270-horsepower V-6 (with a max torque rating of 278 foot-pounds) worked like a champ, and the monster tires dug in with purpose.

Priced at $43,134 on the sticker, the tested 4Runner had all the necessary off-road bells and whistles, including crawl control, hill-start assist control, vented disc brakes on front and rear and traction-control all around.  That’s the short list.

Back on the paved roads of civilization, the tester was no less enjoyable.

For all its ruggedness, the 4Runner was a smooth freeway cruiser and not a brute to steer in city traffic.

The five-speed automatic transmission was nicely calibrated, and starts from a standstill were surprisingly smooth.

Interior comfort was good, front and back.  And while there were nice interior comforts, the vehicle was not overloaded with ooh-shiny perks, kind of what I expect from an SUV with serious off-road intentions.

Fuel mileage was, well, ugh!  You get 17 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway, but that was not much a surprise in this vehicle niche.

It should go without saying that motorists pondering the purchase of this vehicle should take their off-roading excursions seriously, because the 4Runner TRD Pro Series is equipped for that kind of adventure.  Buying it for routine suburban-city commutes would be wrong in my book, sort of like getting a sledgehammer to set the pushpins on your bulletin board.

Overall grade: I give it a strong B.  Off the beaten path, I’d lean more toward an A-minus.

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