Trucks & SUVs

The 2021 Toyota 4Runner’s Top TRD Trim is Missing a Key Off-Road Feature

The Toyota 4Runner is one of the last truck-based body-on-frame SUVs now that most are built on a unibody frame. This is one of several factors that help to make the 4Runner a great off-road vehicle.

To be a fantastic off-road vehicle, a great suspension is a requirement, and Toyota has that covered. Some of Toyota’s vehicles make use of the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which makes for good handling off-road and on. Here’s a look at what KDSS is and the off-road 2021 Toyota 4Runner trim that doesn’t have it.

The 2021 Toyota 4Runner

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As a Toyota, the 4Runner offers plenty of reliability. As a truck-based SUV, it does not have car-like handling and has some lean when going around corners. Kelley Blue Book does call its engine “superb.”

The 4.0-liter V6 has plenty of power, generating 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. Fuel efficiency for the 4Runner isn’t great though, averaging about 17 MPG. When equipped with the off-road suspension, the 4Runner offers 9.6 inches of ground clearance.

The TRD trims for the 2021 Toyota 4Runner

A Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro on display
A Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro at an auto show | Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

According to Chicago Auto Show, of its eight trim levels, three of the 2021 Toyota 4Runner’s trims are TRD trims. The 2021 trims are SR5, SR5 Premium, Venture Edition, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, Limited, Nightshade, and TRD Pro.

TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development. A number of Toyota’s vehicles offer TRD variants, and TRD aftermarket components are also available.

What is KDSS?

A couple of the 2021 4Runner’s TRD trims have an interesting available feature specifically for off-roading. To limit body lean and prevent rollovers when driving at speed on street, SUVs have stabilizer bars or anti-sway bars.

While these features are helpful on the road, they do limit the wheel articulation when driving off-road. Those limits bother off-road drivers enough that some disconnect their stabilizer bars.

According to White River Toyota, the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) is different, giving Toyota models better handling both on the road and off-road. The system uses hydraulics to automatically disconnect both stabilizer bars and adjust lean resistance as needed.

It softens the suspension and gives more wheel articulation when driving off-road and has anti-sway bars to reduce body lean when on-road. The feature is great to have when driving on difficult terrain, but it’s only available on certain 4Runner trims.

No KDSS on the top TRD Pro trim

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Toyota and Lexus both have a few models that use KDSS, including the 2021 Toyota 4Runner. KDSS is an option on the TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium trims. However, it is not available on the TRD Pro trim level.

In addition to the optional KDSS, the TRD Off-Road trim adds several features great for taking on rough terrain. These include part-time four-wheel drive with active traction control, hill-start control, multi-terrain select with crawl control, and a locking rear differential.

The TRD Off-Road Premium trim adds several comfort and style features. These include simulated leather upholstery, heated/power-adjustable front seats, self-dimming rearview mirror, navigation, and TRD Off-Road headrest badging.

Even without KDSS, the TRD Pro trim is the most rugged option. It provides a hood scoop, upgraded front skid plate, chunkier tires, Fox shocks with TRD-tuned front springs, and a raised suspension.

It also offers black 17-inch flow-formed alloy wheels, black basket-style roof rack, a sunroof, LED high beams, high-performance LED fog lights, a TRD shift knob and mats, and a 15-speaker audio system.

The 2021 Toyota 4Runner offers buyers eight different trims to pick from, and three of those are TRD trims. Buyers specifically interested in the KDSS feature, though, should only look at the TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium trims and not the TRD Pro trim level.