Toyota 4 Runner Trail Edition Facts + Off Road Build Review

White Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition with special bumper and skid plate

The rugged Toyota 4Runner has long been a popular choice for off-road enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. But with the new Trail edition, Toyota has taken the 4Runner’s capabilities to the next level. In this article, we’ll explore what makes the Trail edition stand out.

We’ll review the key specs and features that improve its performance on dirt, rocks, and trails. We’ll hear from a 4 Runner Trail owner who has customized his SUV for recreational off-roading. And we’ll compare the Trail to other trims in the 4Runner lineup so you can decide if this specialized edition is worth the investment for your next off-road rig. With its locking center differential, all-terrain tires, and upgraded suspension, the 4Runner Trail edition is ready to take you places most SUVs can’t.

Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition is the special off-road trim level of the Four Runner (more simple than a TRD Off-Road and TRD PRO) with part-time 4WD system, A-TRAC but no rear locker.

2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition Overland Project Storm Runner

Overview of the Toyota 4Runner Trail Special Edition

What is the Toyota 4 Runner Trail Edition?

The Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition is a relatively new addition to the 4Runner lineup that first debuted for the 2020 model year. It slots between the SR5 and TRD Off-Road trims and brings enhanced off-road capabilities to the popular midsize SUV.

Toyota added the Trail Edition after seeing growing demand from 4Runner owners who wanted extra off-road performance without going all the way up to the tricked-out TRD Pro model. It gives buyers an option for solid off-road chops at a more affordable price point than the Pro.

What sets the Trail Edition apart from other 4Runner models?

So what sets the Trail Edition apart from other 4Runers? The key upgrades are:

  • All-terrain tires with rugged tread for off-road grip
  • Upgraded suspension with thicker anti-roll bars to improve wheel articulation
  • Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control for optimizing traction and throttle control on different surfaces
  • Skid plate to protect underbody components from rocks and debris
  • Lower price compared to TRD PRO

Who is the Trail Edition designed for?

The Trail Edition is aimed squarely at outdoor enthusiasts who want to explore off the beaten path. It’s for 4Runner owners who actually utilize the SUV’s off-road capabilities and need enhanced traction and clearance for adventures away from paved roads.

Pros and cons of the Trail Edition

Pros of the Trail Edition are its improved off-road performance and protection versus lower trims, while retaining good value. Drawbacks are that it lacks some of the luxury features of higher trims and remains focused on capability over comfort. But for those who crave ruggedness over refinement, the Trail Edition hits a sweet spot.

Lifted Toyota 4Runner Trail Special Edition with RCI Aluminum Skid Plates and TRD Pro Grill

Features of the Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition

Exterior Features

On the outside, the 4Runner Trail Special Edition stands out with its standard roof rack, unique 17-inch alloy wheels, and Yakima Megawarrior roof basket. The grille is also distinct with dark gray accents. Upgraded all-terrain Nitto Terra Grappler tires provide increased traction on loose terrain.

To protect the underbody while off-roading, the Trail Edition comes equipped with a 1/4-inch aluminum skid plate. Additional exterior features include fog lights, front and rear parking sonar, and a power rear liftgate.

Interior Features

Inside the cabin, the Trail Edition includes SofTex synthetic leather seating for easy cleaning after muddy adventures. The front seats are heated, while the driver’s seat has 8-way power adjustability. Automatic climate control and a 9-speaker audio system also come standard.

For hauling gear, a sliding rear cargo deck and AC power outlet in the cargo area are included. There is plentiful room thanks to the 4Runner’s cavernous interior and split-folding rear seats.

Safety Features

Toyota equips the 4Runner Trail Edition with a robust suite of active safety tech. This includes pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control. Further driving aids like traction and stability control, multi-terrain ABS, and hill start assist ensure stability on slippery surfaces.

Passive safety measures include a total of 8 airbags, 3-point seatbelts for all positions, and lower anchors and tethers for securing child seats.

Technology Features

At the center of the dash is an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The Trail Edition also features in-vehicle WiFi capability, USB media ports, hands-free phone operation, and integrated streaming apps like Spotify. Additional tech goodies include a power moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, and rear parking sonar.

Comparison of the Trail Edition to other Trims

Differences between the 2022 Toyota 4Runner Trail Special Edition and the SR5

The SR5 is the base 4Runner model, so the Trail Edition adds a some amount of off-road capability and features. Key differences include:

  • Engine and transmission are the same 4.0L V6 and 5-speed auto on both models
  • Both have rear-wheel drive standard, with optional 4WD system with A-TRAC
  • Fuel economy is identical at 16/19/17 mpg city/highway/combined
  • Trail Edition adds unique 17″ dark gray wheels and all-terrain tires vs. 17″ alloy wheels on SR5
  • Trail Edition has blacked out emblems, SR5 does not
  • Interior fabric on Trail Edition has unique tan accent stitching
  • Trail Edition includes cargo cooler and all-weather floor liners, not on SR5
  • Trail Edition has sliding rear deck, SR5 does not unless optioned
  • Both models come equipped with Toyota Safety Sense-P and 8 airbags
  • Options like running boards and navigation are available on both versions

In summary, the Trail Edition adds more off-road focused wheels/tires, unique styling cues, and some extra storage/utility features over the SR5. But the two share the same core powertrain, capability, and safety tech. The Trail Edition brings added trail-readiness to the 4Runner formula.

Differences between the Trail Edition and the Limited

The Limited is the most luxurious 4Runner trim aimed at comfort and refinement. Compared to the Trail Edition:

  • Limited has full-time 4WD system, Trail Edition is part-time 4WD
  • Limited has X-REAS sport tuned suspension, Trail Edition does not
  • Both get 16/19/17 mpg fuel economy
  • Limited has 20″ wheels, Trail Edition has 17″ dark gray wheels with all-terrain tires
  • Limited has color-keyed bumpers and rocker panels, Trail Edition has blacked out overlays
  • Limited interior is leather, Trail Edition is fabric with unique stitching
  • Limited has heated/ventilated front seats, Trail Edition seats are not heated or ventilated
  • Limited has premium JBL audio with more speakers, Trail Edition has standard audio
  • Trail Edition includes cargo cooler and floor liners, not on Limited
  • Safety tech and options like moonroof are similar

In summary, the Limited is more luxurious and refined while the Trail Edition is oriented toward off-road use. The Limited has more comfort features while the Trail Edition has more utility add-ons. Depending on priorities, one may be willing to sacrifice luxury for trail prowess or vice versa when choosing.

Differences between the Trail Edition and the TRD Pro

The TRD Pro is the ultimate 4Runner for off-roading. Versus the Trail Edition:

  • Both have part-time 4WD system with A-TRAC, same fuel economy
  • TRD Pro has higher ground clearance and upgraded FOX shocks
  • TRD Pro has unique front grille, hood scoop and exterior color options
  • Trail Edition has 17″ dark gray wheels, TRD Pro has 17″ matte black wheels
  • TRD Pro interior accents include red stitching and TRD emblems
  • Trail Edition has cargo cooler and floor liners, TRD Pro does not
  • Audio and tech features are similar on both models
  • Safety equipment like TSS-P, airbags identical on both
  • Running boards, navigation offered as options on both

In summary, the TRD Pro is engineered for more extreme off-roading with its suspension upgrades while the Trail Edition offers light trail enhancements. Exterior and interior styling is more aggressive on the TRD Pro as well. The Trail Edition focuses more on utility and value. For serious rock crawling, the TRD Pro is better equipped. – Based on 2021 Toyota 4Runner Sales Brochure.

How does the Trail Edition compare to other SUVs in its class?

The midsize SUV segment offers a variety of choices for shoppers, but few can match the 4Runner Trail Edition’s blend of off-road grit and daily driving comfort.

Compared to rivals like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Edge, and Honda Passport, the 4Runner Trail stands out with its body-on-frame construction, rugged suspension, and advanced off-road tech like the Multi-Terrain Select system. These give it an edge for serious off-pavement use versus most competitors’ unibody crossover designs.

The Grand Cherokee and Passport do offer legit off-road trims in the Trailhawk and TrailSport respectively. But the 4Runner Trail still surpasses them for all-out trail capability thanks to things like its off-road crawl mode and low-range gearing.

For interior accommodations, the 4Runner Trail Edition holds its own with roomy seating for five, Toyota’s reputation for reliability, and standard features like a power driver’s seat and dual-zone climate control. But competitors like the Edge, Grand Cherokee and Passport offer nicer cabin materials and a more car-like ride for road driving.

Shoppers who want comfort or luxury should look elsewhere. But for maximizing off-road performance while still functioning as a daily driver, the 4Runner Trail Edition is hard to beat in the midsize segment. It blends just enough creature comforts with serious trail chops.

Expert’s Opinion

As an automotive journalist who’s reviewed hundreds of off-road vehicles over the years, I can confidently say that 4Runners have always been some of the most capable off-road SUVs around. You could fairly call them the top dogs when it comes to off-pavement prowess. These are solid all-around off-roaders that work great for beginners who keep them close to stock, as well as hardcore enthusiasts looking to push the boundaries of what’s possible.

In my opinion, the Trail Edition is going to be the better choice for that “close to stock” category of 4Runner owners who aren’t really interested in a sophisticated FOX suspension available on TRD PRO. Between the all-terrain tires and other goodies, the Trail Edition offers easy integration of aftermarket accessories at your own taste and budget, be it a simple leveling kit or a custom long travel unit to rival the factory TRD PRO edition.

While you can certainly push a Trail Edition even farther with a lift kit, skid plates or other upgrades, I think most weekend warrior types will be thrilled with its capabilities straight out of the box. For those who want to play in the dirt without spending a forune, the Trail Edition 4Runner is a very compelling package. – Matt Grabli, chief Editor at Offroadium.com

2014 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition off road capabilities

White 4Runner Trail Edition Overland Build + Interview with the Owner

Overlanding and vehicle assisted off-road travels have always attracted adventurers as they allow them to get deeper in the wild and enjoy untouched nature. Many SUVs and trucks that we see on the internet are rocking tons of gear and overlanding equipment worth some crazy amounts of money. A good adventure vehicle doesn’t have to be loaded with all possible mods and tweaks, as long as it simply satisfies the needs of the owner, and makes travels more convenient.

This 2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition with the nickname StormRunner isn’t packed with loads of gear and extreme mods, however, it serves the role of an ultimate adventure mobile for its owner Josh from Flagstaff, AZ, and features some cool functional upgrades that are worth taking a closer look.

See Also
Lifted Mitsubishi Pajero 1 with 285/75/16 off road wheels

Suspension Lift

The StormRunner is equipped with a Toytec Ultimate Lift to improve the ground clearance and give more room for larger mud tires Goodyear Duratrac sized at 285/70R17.

Rims

If you’re not a 4Runner guy and don’t know factory equipment specifications, you may be surprised by the fact, that good-looking rims on this rig are stock. Powder-Coated Trail edition rims look beefier thanks to the 1.25″ Wheel Spacers by SpiderTrax, and properly sized M/T tires.

Roof Rack

The low profile roof rack is Eezi-Awn K9 2.2M and it helps Josh to pack just about anything on top of his StormRunner for the next adventure, whether it’s kayaks, bags or any other gear.

Skid Plates

RCI Aluminum Skid Plates and StormRunner Designs custom rock sliders take care of the rocker panel protection on the trails and give a convenient leg up for the passengers.

Toyota 4Runner Overland Roof Rack

I decided to arrange the further piece of this post in a simple interview manner to let Josh speak with his own words and share his experience of owning this beautiful Toyota 4 Runner.

What inspired you to build the StormRunner?
– Previous Builds. I did a Stormtrooper themed VW Passat W8 and off-road I have built up a Jeep TJ, Dodge Dakota, and Jeep KJ. StormRunner is a blend of those builds and new stuff that I find I need as I travel.

Main purpose of your vehicle?
– Overlanding, recreational offroading, daily driving

How often do you take it offroad?
– Weekly

What are your plans on future mods?
– Travel! Travel is definitely the most important mod to me and as I travel I find things that could make life more enjoyable on the road or make the 4Runner more capable off-road. Next I will likely be looking at an awning and building my own on vehicle water system.

Who would you like to mention or thank for the help on your project?
– Just my wife who puts up with my long weekends in the garage building things for the truck or installing things on the truck. And every now and then when I could really use an extra pair of hands she will come help me.

Anything else you would like to tell us about your vehicle?
– Just a suggestion to other overlanders: Build your truck for YOUR needs. You don’t have to have a Roof-Top Tent and 22 Lightbars to have an “overland” vehicle. Go out and explore and decide on what would make your life more enjoyable while out and focus on those things. The goal for me is for my 4Runner to deliver me to amazing places and for it to be comfortable and enjoyable in getting there. The 4Runner is an amazing platform for that.

Toyota 4 Runner Overland With Kayak carrier

MODS & UPGRADES

  • RCI Aluminum Skid Plates
  • TRD Pro Grill
  • TREDPro Traction Boards
  • Ellis Precision Shift Knobs
  • StormRunner Designs Custom Drawer System
  • TRAIL Badges (Shapeways)
  • Odyssey Group 31 Battery
  • PelfreyBilt Battery Cage
  • Blue Sea 12-Circuit Auxiliary Fuse
  • BlockPelfreyBilt Fuse Panel
  • ARB 50Q Fridge
  • Painted Bumper Valences
  • Grand General 77650 Grill Lights
  • Interior LED Light Conversion
  • Differential Breather Re-Locate
  • Fog Light Independent Control
  • Sharkfin Antenna Delete
  • Dipped Fender Flares

Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition Specs (2022)

Engine and Transmission

  • 4.0L V6 engine
  • 5-speed Electronically Controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) andsequential shift mode
  • 270 horsepower with 278 lb.-ft of torque

Fuel Economy

MPG City/Hwy: 16/19

Wheels and Tires

  • 17″ silver aluminum Wheels

Dimensions

  • Wheelbase (in.): 109.8
  • Length, Overall (in.): 190.2
  • Width, Max w/o mirrors (in.): 75.8
  • Height, Overall (in.): 71.5

Other Features

  • 4-wheel drive
  • ABS and driveline Traction control
  • Dual-stage driver and passenger seat-mounted side airbagsToyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) and Star Safety System
  • Available Yakima LoadWarrior cargo basket
  • Available sliding rear cargo tray
  • Available 40-qt premium accessory cooler with tie-downs
  • Towing Capacity

Production years

  • 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.
  • Toyota 2023 line up no longer offers this trim, yet it may return for 2024/2025 thanks to it’s popularity.

Colors

  • White, Green, Black

*Please note that these specs may vary depending on the specific model and options chosen.

Toyota 4 Runner cargo area

Key Takeaways

  • The 4Runner Trail Edition slots between the SR5 and TRD Pro models with enhanced off-road capabilities for a moderate price.
  • Key upgrades include all-terrain tires, wheel, bumper, upgraded suspension, underbody protection, and advanced traction tech.
  • Compared to other midsize SUVs, the 4Runner Trail stands out with body-on-frame design, rugged suspension, and legit off-road features.
  • For light to moderate off-roading, the Trail Edition removes the need for many aftermarket upgrades thanks to its factory boosts.
  • The Trail Edition hits a sweet spot between family SUV comfort and hardcore rock-crawling prowess.

Conclusion

The Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition hits the bullseye for enthusiasts seeking an affordable off-road rig. It takes the 4Runner’s legendary bouldering skills to the next level without breaking the bank. For weekend warriors who don’t need a hardcore rock crawler, the Trail Edition’s blend of enhanced traction, protection, and tech make it a well-rounded package ready for adventures right off the dealer lot. If you’re craving a 4 Runner built for taking the path less traveled, be sure to test drive the Trail Edition. And check back on Offroadium.com as we continue reviewing 4Runner builds and upgrades to push your Toyota to its limits.

View Comments (5)
  • Thank you for sharing your rig with us! I like your philosophy on how you approach your builds. “Go out and see what you want/need to make your travels more enjoyable”. I will use this approach as I begin my build my 2018 TRD Off Road. Best wishes to you and safe travels!!!

  • Nice photos! Someone has a photo career in there a future if not already! Where did you get the black fender trim? I will be ordering a 2020 TRD pro in April of this year, thanks

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