Why The 2022 Toyota 4Runner Is The Vehicle Of The Year Though The Year Is Only 6 Days Old

Why The 2022 Toyota 4Runner Is The Vehicle Of The Year Though The Year Is Only 6 Days Old

2021 brought the 4Runner its best year in sales since its 1984 debut, so clearly the old boy still hits the spot for many fans.

While the 2022 model may lack any dramatic changes and it’s still underpowered when compared to others in its class, its looks and basic tough-guy-no-nonsense flavor makes it a great driving car as well as a capable off-roader, and its week’s test was everything we hoped it would. 

Our test car was grasshopper green, though the company calls it “Lime Rush.” Some loved it. (Me.) Others hated it. (My sister-in-law.) As Bill Murray said in “Groundhog Day,” “Different is good.”

The TRD’s strengths are pretty obvious. First, there are many, many configurations; SR5, Trail Special Edition, TRD Sport (our tester) SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Platinum, Limited and TRD Pro. The conspicuous and mean-looking skid plate up front practically begs: “Take me off-road.” Another thing I liked was the optional slide-out door in the cargo area. One can always use more room.

Our TRD Sport Trim brought us goodies like a locking rear differential and Toyota’s sophisticated suspension system called KDSS, both in aid of keeping your grip over rough terrain. If you live in a city and rarely get off-road, you might want to research further. But over hill and dale and mud and snow? Here’s your boy. It’s mileage isn’t so hot at around 17 MPG city/highway combined. Is there an electric in the future? I’d like to see it/drive it.

Each trim arrives with a 4.0-liter V6 making 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. and a five-speed automatic transmission. The SR5, Trail Special Edition, SR5 Premium, TRD Sport and Limited trims are available with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive (4WD). The other 4Runners have standard 4WD. Five-passenger seating is standard, and a third-row seat is optional on certain trims to boost capacity to seven people.

Inside, it’s reasonably upscale and reasonably responsive; the audio/nav system synced with the Droid lickety-split. The drive was assured, if a bit numb here and there. You have to downshift if you want anything resembling power, but that was ok. It still felt tough-tough, and it got plenty of respect on the road, surprising given the funny color.

Ok, that’s my review. Now here’s why this car deserves a kiss and a thank-you card and a box of chocolates: 

We had a snowstorm that clobbered us with 10 inches of the white stuff a week ago.

I took my grasshopper-green test 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro out to shoot its photo the day after the storm. I went to a self-car wash, did the deed, drove a little bit and pulled over to dry the vehicle. Left it running.

When I got back in, buckled up and put it in drive, a bong-bong-bong was heard. I looked at the dash and saw “Key not detected – check area.”

Got out and looked carefully around the vehicle – and there they were, in the snow. My keys. Not just the keys to the 4Runner, but the keys to my house, my other car, my bike lock and so forth.They’d fallen out of my pocket while I was drying the vehicle.

A man without keys is a man screwed, especially in winter. Had I driven away, there was of course no way I would have ever seen my keys again unless someone found them and “turned them in” or such.

I praised the heavens that when I dropped my keys on the street for the first time in four years, I was operating the 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro instead of the luxury SUV I was driving in 2018 80 miles from my house, which required my brother get out of bed and come pick me up, and the vehicle towed.

Thus the “Vehicle of the Year” headline above for the Toyota 4Runner, and a round of claps for a company with the smarts to include this feature.