June 2020 What Drives Us

Toyota’s Hold-Out Strategies Pay Dividends

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Toyota believes there’s still life in the large car segment at least for one more generation of affluent, mature buyers. They bank on the idea that more buyers will want hybrids over the early all-electric options that others are putting their focus on.  And by offering the last significant midsize body-on-frame sport-utility on the market, Toyota continues to report steady sales for the 4Runner.

It hasn’t been redesigned since 2010 and got its last significant face-lift in 2016. It only gets 17 mpg. Who cares? Say its cult-like followers.

All 4Runners are rated to tow 5,000 pounds. They come with a hitch, as well as fully integrated sockets that accept four-pin and seven-pin trailer wiring plugs. The top-tier TRD PRO model versus the base 4Runner both pack the same powertrain—a 4.0-liter V6 paired with a five-speed transmission, putting out 270 horsepower, but more importantly, 278 pound-feet of torque.

The TRD PRO versus the base model costs a little more than $13,000 more.  Again, who cares? say the loyalists.

Just look at our recent test vehicle with a price tag of $51, 419. TOYOTA is displayed proud and large across the front grill as if to taunt the competition. If the 4Runner TRD Pro was a man, it would be the Marlborough man.  If it were a woman, it would be Mae West.  If the grill were the truck’s mouthpiece, it would be saying, “Look at me! Go ahead and sell your new smooth-driving crossover, but I’m the real deal that real men and real tough women too want to keep on buying.  Toyota welcomes all your hardcore customers.”

A little sameness in a constantly changing world goes a long way. But Toyota is stellar at raising the bar just a little here and there to continue to impress its 4Runner cult and sell them on the top-of-the-line TRD Pro. Things like Pro Army green paint, a Texas-sized rooftop cargo basket, black TRD badging, Fox shock absorbers, TRD-tuned front springs, matte black 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires are all worth pausing the remote for, even when Duck Dynasty is on.

For some, it’s enough just to know that locking rear differential, multi-terrain select, and revised front and rear bumpers for enhanced departure and approach angles could allow them to smoothly accelerate up hills and power through mud puddles. Some will truly put it to the test and it won’t disappoint. Those will be the owners who appreciate that the row of auxiliary buttons is ready for aftermarket light bars, winches, and whatever else they may need for their wild adventures.

Cleverly, Toyota makes it so that opting for the off-road monster won’t make drivers miserable on normal roadways, either. While not the most comfortable ride ever, 4Runner owners count headroom, legroom, and cargo space as the true luxuries. Minimal upgrades to the dash are enough to satisfy and Toyota Safety Sense now comes standard.  OK. OK!  Support for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and even Amazon Alexa are offered in the late models and they also have a front-mounted data port and two extra power-only USB ports have been added for rear passengers.

It’s no wonder Toyota relocated to Texas!  Welcome to a bigger, badder world where what’s going on elsewhere isn’t going to change our loyalties.  A beautiful green land that many 4Runners call home!

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