Review: Can You Justify The 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Against The Bronco And Wrangler?

Toyota's warhorse faces a new rival — but it still packs old-school charm

Another year, another 4Runner TRD Pro — and it faces more competition this time around.

Gaze upon the oh-so-familiar face of the 2022 Toyota 4Runner, and wonder just how much longer this fifth-generation model can keep the momentum going. Here’s the thing, though: As much as some folks complain that the current model’s been around since 2009, more than 105,000 of you actually bought 4Runners so far this year. By “so far”, that’s just through the end of September, so odds are the final count will shake out around 130,000 range — same as it was in 2020. And 2019. And 2018. Plus 2017…you get the picture.

The 4Runner has been a rock solid seller over the past several years, and it’s actually sold better in the latter half of the fifth-generation thanks in no small part to the TRD Pro, the very model I’m testing once again. Toyota has every reason to keep this run going, and the automaker has taken steps to add equipment as the model years pass, in an effort to keep it relatively fresh. So, for 2022 this car gets more standard safety tech, including LED headlights and fog lights on every trim, as well as blind-spot monitoring (finally) and rear cross-traffic alert on the SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road Premium, Limited and TRD Pro. If off-roading isn’t your jam, Toyota is also bringing in an on-road focused TRD Sport.

Still worth it?

We have the TRD Pro here, though, so let’s focus on that. The game isn’t quite as simple as it used to be, when Toyota only had to worry about the equally popular Jeep Wrangler. Now there’s the Ford Bronco as well, and both SUVs have the looks, capability, tech and powertrains to woo even steadfast buyers away from their beloved, rugged 4Runners.

I got into the TRD Pro this time around with that exact question in mind (and a reputation as TFL’s resident 4Runner fanboy): Can I justify this over the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon or the Ford Bronco Badlands?

What you get with the 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro (It’s still a lot)

So, let’s get into what hasn’t changed here. You still get the battle-tested, 4.0-liter 1GR-FE V6 engine with 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. It’s still mated to an archaic 5-speed automatic transmission, which doesn’t do the old truck any favors in terms of acceleration or fuel economy. Every time I get into this rig, though, what it does feel is stout.

Heading up into the Colorado foothills and onto the trails, you take stock of everything the 4Runner TRD Pro has to offer, and that’s naturally where this truck comes into its own. A proper, lever-engaged low-range is just the start, and beyond that you can hit the Multi-Terrain Select to suit your off-roading conditions, A-TRAC to automatically detect wheel spin and distribute more torque to the front and rear wheels as needed, and even Crawl Control should you really need to concentrate on technical low-speed obstacles.

While the Bronco and Wrangler bring a ton of useful tech to the table — an electronic disconnecting sway bar is an example — you still get a healthy amount of off-road tech here. It’s also worth noting that the 4Runner TRD Pro does have a rear locker, should you need it. As is the way with the top dog, you also get underbody skid plates, Fox shocks, a black “TOYOTA”-emblazoned grille, and some comfort features like a sunroof, dual-zone climate control and a 15-speaker audio system. Even more useful for the “newer” 4Runner, you even get a 360-degree Multi-Terrain Monitor camera system.

But even with its attempts to keep up with the times, the 4Runner does show its age…

Really, though, this camera system sucks. I genuinely looked forward to having it when I first hopped in to head up into the mountains for a weekend adventure. Then I get into some tighter spots where that tech comes in useful, and…This is what you see.

Mind you, I deliberately chose a fairly easy trail because I was on my own. Now, these sorts of systems should put you in better stead since you don’t have a spotter. I’m glad I didn’t really need to rely on these low-resolution images to miss a wheel-smashing rock, because I honestly could not make out a damn thing on the screen. See that roll meter? Even that’s low-res and out of focus, never mind the fact that it looks like a fourth-gen 4Runner in the image.

I know Toyota ostensibly added the cameras to keep their SUV competitive, but MTM already feels a decade old. At $53,335 to start (nevermind the dealer markups), it’s definitely a fly in the ointment. For comparison, here’s how Jeep does it:

It’s a gripe you may be able to overlook, but we’re nearly in 2022 — and in an age of fully-digital instrument clusters and high-def cameras on other models, this needs to change. Hopefully it will when the next-gen 4Runner emerges in a couple years — fingers crossed.

Still, can you justify it?

It’s excellent news, really, that there’s more choice in the off-road SUV segment, to the point where the 4Runner has seen updates, year after year, to try and keep it competitive. Is it really enough, though, when the Wrangler and Bronco are at least just as capable. Well, if we lived in normal times and you could find either for a reasonable price, it’d be tough to argue the matter on powertrains or tech.

But, but…I still love the 4Runner TRD Pro. That’s the weird thing about it: The truck has this spirit of indomitability that make it a fantastic adventuring companion. It pretty much walked the off-road trail I selected in 4-High, but you still have the kit you need when things to get tricky. Multi-Terrain Select, A-Trac and Crawl Control in 4-Low all work as advertised, and at least having a rear locker is peace of mind when you need the traction (not that I really had to use it this time).

Styling is a subjective matter, of course, but I also love the way the 4Runner looks. Even after so many years — granted, it has gotten a couple facelifts in that time — this old-school SUV look hasn’t gotten old. It’s such a Colorado vehicle, it’s no wonder I see these just as frequently as I see Wranglers (and probably Broncos, when folks can actually buy them normally). They’re just damn good trucks — and the frustrating bits just don’t put me off.

Toyota lets you cheat (sort of)

We’ve been saying it for years, but I’ll mention it again here. If you’re in the market for an off-road SUV, you still need to check out a 4Runner. That said, you don’t have to go with the TRD Pro. Instead, you can save a chunk of cash and go for the TRD Off-Road instead. You still get a rear locker, Multi-Terrain Select, Crawl Control and most of the other off-road kit — you just lose the Fox shocks and the TRD front skid plate. If you want to take your TRD Off-Road a step further, you can spec it with KDSS suspension, as well as the “Off-Road Premium” trim to get heated leatherette seats and mirrors, and a few other quality-of-life touches.

Check out more of the 4Runner TRD Pro below, and stay tuned for more videos coming to TFLoffroad soon: