It might be outdated in some ways, but the Toyota 4Runner is still an excellent choice when it comes to off-roading. But when it comes time to drive on paved surfaces, some find the SUV a bit clumsy. Not to mention, not every 4Runner owner spends their weekends scrambling over rocks. That’s why, for 2022, Toyota is releasing a more on-road-focused version: the 4Runner TRD Sport.
The 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Sport aims to give the off-road SUV some extra street cred
Normally, the 4Runner TRD trims, whether Off-Road or Pro, are associated with, well, off-roading. However, as the Camry TRD demonstrates, Toyota’s performance division also knows how to make street cars look and handle sharper. And the 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Sport brings that approach to the SUV segment.
Although the TRD Sport trim is new for the 2022 4Runner, this isn’t the first Toyota to receive it. The Tacoma pickup truck has offered a TRD Sport trim for some time, MotorTrend notes, and the 4Runner’s version is very similar.
While the 2022 4Runner TRD Sport is based on the base SR5 model, it borrows several features from the higher-up Limited trim, Car and Driver reports. The TRD Sport has the same 20” wheels, albeit in a different color, and is available with either RWD or part-time 4WD with a two-speed transfer case. Though unlike the Limited, the TRD Sport has synthetic leather seats, rather than real leather ones.
But the biggest feature the 2022 4Runner TRD Sport receives from the Limited is the latter’s X-REAS suspension. This gives the SUV adaptive hydraulic dampers cross-linked with each other via a “center control absorber,” Autoblog explains. The rear-left wheel is linked to the front-right wheel, and the rear-right wheel to the front-left one, forming an X. This system distributes cornering forces and reduces rolling, Car and Driver explains.
However, apart from the X-REAS system, the 4Runner TRD Sport doesn’t get any extra performance upgrades. Its 4.0-liter V6 still makes 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque and is still linked to a five-speed automatic. But the TRD Sport does get a TRD hood scoop, front spoiler, blacked-out roof rails, and some model-specific exterior and interior trim pieces, Roadshow reports. Plus, heated front seats and all the extra features the 2022 4Runner lineup receives.
How does the 2022 4Runner TRD Sport compare to the discontinued Toyota Tacoma X-Runner?
While the TRD Sport trim is new for the 4Runner, this isn’t the first time Toyota has tried to increase its off-road utilitarian vehicles’ on-road performance. Before there was a Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport, there was the 2005-2013 Tacoma X-Runner.
Although the modern Tacoma TRD Sport is available with RWD or 4WD, Toyota only offered the Tacoma X-Runner in RWD form. Like the modern RWD truck, the X-Runner had a 4.0-liter V6 and a standard limited-slip differential. However, the Tacoma X-Runner ‘only’ had 236 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. But unlike the modern Toyota Tacoma, the X-Runner offered an optional TRD supercharger.
While the modern Tacoma offers an optional six-speed manual, the X-Runner came exclusively with it. And to improve the truck’s handling, the X-Runner rode 2” lower than the contemporary Tacoma. It also offered Bilstein shocks, upgraded springs, performance tires, a rear sway bar, and optional StopTech brakes. And, just like the 2022 4Runner TRD Sport, the Tacoma X-Runner had a body kit with a hood scoop.
In-period, the Toyota Tacoma X-Runner wasn’t quite as fast as competitors like the second-gen Ford F-150 SVT Lightning, Gear Patrol reports. But it was a genuine sports truck in terms of how it handled, Autoweek says. And purely in terms of features and mods, the 4Runner TRD Sport doesn’t quite measure up.
Will the SUV be worth considering?
So, on paper, the 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Sport isn’t the second coming of the X-Runner. MT even describes the former as “more of a looks package and not an actual sports package.”
However, it’s worth pointing out that RWD TRD Sports do come with LSDs. And compared to the more off-road-focused TRD models, the TRD Sport will likely handle better on paved surfaces. Plus, body-on-frame SUVs are often bought more for their utility and appearance than their handling prowess. So, in that regard, a 4Runner X-Runner doesn’t make much sense. And as such, the TRD Sport is exactly what it’s supposed to be.
As of this writing, Toyota hasn’t revealed the 4Runner TRD Sport’s pricing details. But it will likely fall in-between the SR5 and the Limited, Car and Driver muses. For 2021, the SR5 starts at $36,765; the Limited starts at $45,670.
Is the 2022 4Runner TRD Sport a new X-Runner? It’s impossible to tell without driving it, but based on the specs, likely not. However, if you want a sportier-looking 4Runner that handles better around town, it’s still worth a look.
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