2018 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road Makes Sense of This SUV

The 4Runner TRD Off Road is the first of several off-pavement-centric 4Runner models being offered. They epitomize the ideal of having seating for the whole family plus the ability to climb mountains and ford streams. The 2018 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road has seating for five to seven, enough storage capacity for a lot of camping or get-out-adventuring gear, and the ability to go most places you’d want to get to. Roadway or no.

There are downsides to this kind of capability and truck-based usefulness, of course. Namely fuel economy and daily ride comfort. It’s doubtful that most who are considering the 4Runner TRD Off Road will be terribly concerned about those things. It’s not a daily kid shuttle.

Quick Specs & Info

2018 Toyota 4Runenr TRD Off Road Class: Sport Utility
Base Model As Tested w/ Extras
Powertrain 4.0L, 5spd auto, 4WD Powertrain 4.0L, 5spd auto, 4WD
Base MSRP $37,985 MSRP as tested $42,650


The Toyota 4Runner is a traditional body-on-frame sport utility, which to most people means it’s “truck-based.” Most family-friendly machines in this category are “crossovers,” not SUVs. And there’s a big difference. Namely that the SUV is basically a pickup truck with the bed replaced with more roof and seating. Early SUVs were, in fact, literally trucks with their beds covered over, resulting in a sort of station wagon or panel truck styling.

The 2018 4Runner, of course, is a little better than that, as are most modern sport utilities. Modern SUVs are more sophisticated with better interior roominess, comfort, and versatility than was had in years gone by.

Trim Package Inclusions

The 2018 4Runner comes in three TRD flavors (along with three other trims), including the TRD Off Road, the TRD Off Road Premium, and the TRD Pro. The Trd Off Road we’re describing here is the first of those three, offering a good base offering for many buyers of the 4Runner. The 4Runner TRD Off Road comes with the following:

  • 4WD, low-range transfer case
  • Skid plates
  • Fog lamps
  • Rearview parking camera
  • 17-inch wide-track wheels
  • Locking rear differential
  • Crawl control
  • 6.5-inch infotainment screen
  • 8-speaker stereo with satellite radio
  • USB port
  • Keyless entry/locking
  • Power-adjustable front seating
  • Split-fold and reclining second row seats
  • 120-volt power outlet (in cargo area)
  • Optional is a third row, a sliding cargo tray, and Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS)

Exterior and Interior Design

The exterior of the 2018 Toyota 4Runner is similar to the Tacoma pickup truck it shares many things with. The Tacoma is a bit more polarizing in its looks compared to more smoothed-out 4Runner, whose longer body and continual roofline seem to help mellow out the heavy overbite and broad face of the rig’s look.

The interior of the 2018 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road is functional, well-built, and working class. Materials quality is good, though hard plastics are the norm rather than the exception in the 4Runner TRD Off Road.

The front seating is comfortable and well-done with plenty of adjustment options. The second row is also good, with comfortable outboard positions and plenty of room for even tall adults. The center position is good in a pinch and three across, while tight, is not necessarily uncomfortable. Especially for kids. The third row, if optioned, is for kids only and getting to it is a bit of a climb.

Without the third row, the useful sliding cargo tray is available and recommended. This holds up to 440 pounds of stuff and can slide out over the rear bumper when the tailgate is up, making getting to gear easier when loading/unloading. Cargo space is measured at 47.2 cubic feet behind the second row and 89.7 cubes when second and third rows are folded. The cargo space in the 4Runner is high, thanks to the truck-based design, but wide and easy to access with large objects.

Infotainment in the 2018 4Runner TRD Off Road is basic, not all that pretty, but easy to use. The 6.1-inch screen does not offer crisp graphics or a fast interface with lots of options, but it gets the job done when doing basic things like tuning the radio, pairing a phone, and so on. The voice recognition is good for most needs and Bluetooth connections are solid.

Driving the 2018 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road

The 2018 4Runner is powered by a 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine that outputs 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment and four-wheel drive is standard on the TRD editions. Fuel economy maxes out at 20 mpg on the highway, but most can expect to get lower than that. We averaged closer to 18 mpg on the highway and 15 mpg overall in our week with the TRD Off Road model.

The ride quality of the 2018 4Runner TRD Off Road is as should be expected: rough and ready. The 4Runner is primarily meant for getting off the pavement and into the bush, especially in the TRD models. On-road sophistication is definitely not its strong suit.

The 4Runner is sluggish to get started off, but does well on the highway when cruising and does very well off the road on dirt or sand. In inclement weather, the 4Runner TRD Off Road is not great at handling slick roadways, but it will plow snow just fine.


There aren’t many true truck-based SUV models left in the 4Runner’s size segment. The Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk combines most of the 4Runner’s capabilities with a smoother crossover-based ride quality. It’s smaller and has less cargo room, however, and no third row option. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, with its four doors, is a perfect match for the 4Runner and often betters it with some capabilities, but it’s fuel economy is lower and its cost is often higher.

Strong Points

  • Good looking as-is
  • Strong off-pavement capability without modification
  • Large, useful cargo space


  • Low fuel economy compared to crossover options
  • Technology below par when it comes to infotainment
  • Value return difficult to justify if off-roading is not the expected norm for the rig


As an off-road machine, the 2018 Toyota 4Runner in its TRD Off Road configuration is a good start. It offers all of the basics required to get there and do that. Creature comforts are low, but not absent, and overall usefulness is high. The 4Runner is a leftover from a time when all sport utilities were derived from trucks and retains the capabilities inherent in that background. And the downsides.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The 2018 4Runner was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week. During that time, a total of 180 miles were put on the rig, including lots of off-road time and plenty of kid-hauling adventures.

Aaron Turpen
An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.