2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium Review – Off-Roading in Luxury

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Over the years, the Toyota 4Runner has undergone a transformation from a basic off-road SUV to nearly luxurious family hauler. The 2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium is equinox of this transformation with plenty of luxury features AND legendary off-road prowess. Yet, is it that much that different from a TRD PRO?

2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium Review - Front

With its chrome skid plate, tear drop like fog lights and vented hood design, the front end of the 4Runner Trail Premium stands out in just the right ways.

TRD PRO vs. Trail Premium

2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium Review - TRD PRO vs. Trail Premium

With many of the same features and just a few different styling cues, we wonder if their is too much overlap between these models.

A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to review a 2015 Toyota 4Runner TRD PRO. At that time, we said we couldn’t wait to compare it to the Trail Premium edition. Why?

When Toyota announced the TRD PRO version, we wondered how it was going to be different from the Trail Premium. This is especially the case with both vehicles offering the full suite of off-road features like Crawl Control, Locking Rear Differential, Multi-Terrain Select and part-time 4WD with Active TRAC. With these similar features, we felt like the TRD PRO was too closely competing with the Trail edition and it wasn’t justified in the lineup. (This is unlike the Tundra and Tacoma TRD PRO which have a clear spot in their respective lineups.)

After a week of driving each vehicles, we still think there is some overlap. The biggest difference, between the two it seems, is the look/feel of both vehicles with the TRD PRO being more aggressive looking than the Trail Premium. We think this aggressive look works against the TRD PRO since it needs a more aggressive powertrain to back it up. On the other hand, the toned down look of the Trail Premium makes the powertrain feel more adequate.

Looks Match Performance

2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium Review - Rear

The exterior lines cut a striking image against many backdrops.

Vehicle perceptions are funny things. We mean, you don’t expect a Corvette to drive like a Prius and you don’t expect a truck to corner like a super car. This is also the case with the Trail Premium. Whereas we expected the TRD PRO to be faster, the more-nuanced exterior and premium materials used in the interior match our powertrain expectations.

2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium Review - Exterior

This new generation of Toyota 4Runner’s are very distinctive.

On paper, the 4.0L V6 mated to a 5-speed transmission producing 270 HP and 284 lb-ft of torque should have plenty of oomph for this vehicle size and it sure feels like it driving around.

For those wondering how that compares to other Toyota vehicles like the Tacoma, Toyota has setup the 4Runner’s V6 to produce 270 hp @ 5600 RPM and the 278 lb.-ft. @ 4400 RPM. The Tacoma’s V6 produces similar numbers just at different peaks with 236 hp @ 5200 RPM and 266 lb.-ft. @ 4000 RPM. Also, the 4Runner can tow up to 4,700 lbs while the Tacoma tops out at 6,400 lbs.

Finally, this truck-based SUV, like many truck-based SUVs, trades fuel economy for its capability. Fuel economy, for the 4Runner, is EPA-estimated at 17/21/18 mpg city/highway/combined. In comparison, the Toyota Highlander, a uni-body SUV of similar size, is rated at 20/25 mpg city/highway.

Luxury-Like Interior

2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium Review - Dash

One of our chief complaints of the new 4Runner interiors is the cramped feeling from the many knobs and manual shifting 4wd. It isn’t terrible per se, just feels overwhelming.

Another item that stands out in the Trail Premium is how luxurious the interior feels. The Softex (leather-like material), used on the seats, is soft to the touch and has an upgraded feel to it. These seats combined with softer-to-the-touch dash, gives the Trail Premium a better interior feel to it than the Limited trim in our opinion. With the less pronounced black and gray colors, the Trail Premium simply has a substantially more refined feel than the other trim levels including the TRD PRO.

2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium Review - Interior Compilation 2

An assortment of the various controls found in the 2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium.

These interior materials plus the standard moonroof, keyless entry and powered, heated front seats all add to its more refined styling.

2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium Review - Interior Compilation

The Softex leather-like materials is a great alternative to leather. Our model was equipped with the sliding rear cargo deck which is pretty handy.

An interesting add-on with our test model is the sliding rear cargo deck with under floor storage. This $350 option caught us a bit by surprise, yet we grew to like it a lot. Imagine if you have luggage, groceries or other items in the rear. By engaging a latch, you can roll the “floor” to you bringing these items closer to you. You do lose a bit of overall cargo capacity with the cargo deck reducing the height, yet we think the loss of height is a good tradeoff with the ease of accessing items.

All of these great features come with a price. Our test model rings up at $40,890 including a $885.00 delivery and destination fee. For reference, this is about $2,500 less than our TRD PRO test model which came in at $43,224. It is also about $7,000 more than the base model which starts at $33,210.

For us, we like the Trail Premium much better than the TRD PRO and the $7k in additional features is well worth it over the base model. If we were going to buy a 4Runner, this model would be it.

Model – 2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium

Engine – 4.0L V6

Transmission – 5-speed automatic

HP/Torque – 270 HP and 278 lb-ft of torque


  • Sliding Rear Cargo Deck $350
  • Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System $1,750

30th Anniversary Discount – $750

Delivery Processing and Handling Fee – $885

Price As Tested – $40,890

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  1. DJ says:

    Great trucks! Only thing holding them back are the street tires.

    I honestly think the 4Runner Trail Premium and Limited have better interiors than the Tundra. Better fit and finish, better materials, more attractive layout. Disagree about this having a better interior than my Limited though.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Hey DJ,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. And yes, it is true, I’m not a huge fan of the Limited trim which probably adds some bias to my review. I just think the Trail and TRD Pro are the top trims I would buy.


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