Toyota’s 4Runner turns 35 this year and remains popular as a body-on-frame SUV ready for just about anything. Toyota offers a new Nightshade special edition 4Runner for 2019, a cool addition with blacked out features, 20-inch wheels, a black bumper, black grille accents and black interior treatments.
The 4Runner has off-road chops and doesn’t mind getting dirty, but even with its grumpy front grille and boxy shape, it cleans up nicely for a night on the town.
All 4Runners are powered by a 4.0-liter V6 that develops 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. of torque. All 4Runners are outfitted with a wiring harness and receiver hitch rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds, with a maximum tongue weight of 500 pounds. The SR5 trims and the Limited trim are available in 2WD or 4WD, while the TRD off-road trims are 4WD.
I was lucky enough to get the new Nightshade special edition for the test week, and it got lots of comments and stares around town. The Nightshade is all about black accents inside and out. Even black LED fog lights are available. Also included in the package are heated power outside mirrors with imbedded turn signal indicators and puddle lamps, side rocker panels and roof rails with end caps.
All 4Runners have projector-beam headlights with smoke trim, LED taillights, fog lights and skid plates to protect the engine, fuel tank and transfer case on 4WD models.
I didn’t get a chance to take the test 4Runner off-road, but 4WD equipment includes hill-start assist, downhill assist control, an electronic-locking rear differential and crawl control. TRD off-road models have a multi-terrain select system, which has a dial to set the drive mode to match the terrain, from mud and sand to uneven terrain like ditches, moguls or side slopes. Models with 4WD have a ground clearance of 9.6 inches, while 2WD models have 9 inches of ground clearance. I like the fact that all 4Runners have a full-sized spare tire.
The 190-inch-long 4Runner rides like a truck, which is great when towing or off-roading, but not as comfortable as other car-based SUVs – like the Highlander – on the road. Front seats are firm, comfortable and well bolstered. The second row is also comfortable, even for adults. An optional third row, though, is better suited for kids.
Headroom in Row 2 is 38.6 inches, which was totally fine for my 6-foot-1 frame. Legroom is a comfortable 32.9 inches. The second-row seats fold flat for transporting larger items, which came in handy for me during a trip to Home Depot for some 2x4s.
Cargo space is excellent in the 4Runner. With Row 2 in place, cargo room is 47.2 cubic feet. Fold Row 2 down and there’s a whopping 89.7 cubic feet of storage room. An available sliding cargo deck can carry up to 440 pounds, which can make loading and unloading easier.
Inside the spacious cabin, even the base SR5 has a nice amenity sheet that includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen, power seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Toyota’s Entune multimedia system is standard, and upper trims offer Premium JBL Audio, navigation, HD radio, Bluetooth, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
When it comes to safety Toyota installs its Star Safety System that includes the required stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. Eight airbags are standard.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 2019 Toyota 4Runner “good” marks in most crash tests, but “marginal” in the difficult small overlap driver’s side crash test. The IIHS rated the 4Runner’s headlights “poor.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 4Runner four out of five overall safety scores, four stars for driver safety in frontal crashes, three stars for front passenger safety in frontal crashes, five stars for side crash safety for passengers in both front and rear seats, and three stars in the rollover test.
2019 Toyota 4Runner Nightshade Special Edition 4X4
Engine: 4.0-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque: 270/278 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Price: $47,000 ($49,373 w/options & freight)
EPA Mileage Estimates: 17 mpg city/20 mpg highway/18 mpg combined
Estimated Highway Range: 460 miles