Thank you to Toyota for loaning us the 2000 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro for our trip.
Our family recently took the Toyota 4Runner on a road trip in Washington State. We traveled around Olympic National Park and Mt. Rainier for a week. Here’s how the SUV performed for our family and how it worked for a road trip.
My biggest concern with the 4Runner for our road trip was gas mileage. The quoted mileage is 16 city and 19 highway, but I always assume those quotes are going to be higher. I’m happy to report that they’re pretty close.
While in Seattle traffic I was worried to see we were averaging about 14-15 MPG. But once we got on the open highways and while traveling around Olympic National Park we had an ongoing average of 18.5 MPG.
For a large SUV, I was extremely happy with that mileage. Yeah, it’s not the 25’ish MPG our minivan gets, it’s still not too bad. And with a 23-gallon gas tank onboard, the gas mileage was not an issue for us on the road trip.
As anyone who has taken a road trip knows, cargo space is a huge factor. With four of us traveling for a week, I was a bit worried that the trunk wouldn’t be able to handle all our stuff. I’m happy to say that we didn’t have an issue at all. There was surprisingly more room than I expected.
We fit all four of our carry-on size suitcases in the back side-by-side and still had room for some extra bags for things like snacks, extra shoes, and towels. You can also get an optional retractable trunk cover shade that works great on road trips to help cover your suitcases or bags that are in the back.
I will say that the storage space throughout the rest of the vehicle is a little more tricky for a long road trip. There isn’t a lot of floor space for each passenger to keep their own bag or backpack at their feet like I recommend for how to pack for a road trip.
Passengers in the back have to share the middle seat space or keep their bags in their footwell space. The floor also raises up between the two main back seats, so someone sitting in the middle seat would have to straddle the hump. it also means it’s not easy to store bags there since they’ll likely fall over onto a passenger’s feet during the trip. But overall there was very little complaint from my kids and husband when they rode in the back.
As the driver for the trip, my biggest issue as a female was finding somewhere for my purse. I often had to store it behind the middle console on the backseat floor hump along with our snack bag. I am spoiled driving a minivan since we have an open floor space between the two front seats.
There is a center console between the front seats that is fairly deep. If you had a small purse or just a wallet, there is ample room in the console to store supplies. We kept hand sanitizer, wipes, and other road trip essentials stored here during our trip.
We all were very comfortable in the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro. The leather seats were comfortable and we could all adjust them as needed with a little bit more recline if we wanted. The driver seat also has lumbar support which is convenient for long road trips.
There was some issue with keeping airflow in the back as the snack bag and my purse would block the vents which are on the backside of the front seat middle console. But when we finally realized that it was easy to make sure the vents were clear. There is not a separate climate control panel for the backseat, just the dual-zone climate control for the front row.
As a driver, one of my favorite features that’s helpful for comfort is the dynamic radar cruise control. This lets you set your cruise and the following distance and the car will automatically slow you down and speed back up to go with the flow of traffic in front of you. I love this feature!
From a ride aspect, it is a bit rough. Definitely a truck ride versus a car. The start and stop is a bit jerky, even with finesse on the gas and brake. So while I appreciated knowing I could drive on rough roads and shoulders, for a long road trip a smoother ride might have been better.
There’s not much to say for the entertainment. The Toyota 4Runner comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM. Connecting to your phones to play your own playlists is very easy. The menu functions of the touchscreen are a bit clunky and as a driver, it’s not quick and intuitive to quickly browse and change music channels.
A huge positive for the 4Runner are all the charging ports in the seating areas. With family of four, you can never have too many USB ports on a road trip and thankfully we didn’t have any teen fights break out over whose turn it was to charge since there were dual ports in the front and back. Plus, we brought our car inverter which works great for laptops since my husband worked some while I drove.
One of my biggest surprises was with how easy it was to navigate and park the 4Runner. It feels like a monster of a car but surprisingly nimble to drive and the turning radius is great, making it easy to park. I was sure that I’d constantly need to back up and readjust but that wasn’t the case at all.
We fit in basically any parking spot we tried. So even though the car feels big, it actually handled no differently than my minivan. And the backup camera certainly is helpful for parallel parking and getting out of tight spots.
Overall we loved our road trip with the Toyota 4Runner. I loved the adaptive cruise control. The cargo space was plenty for our family of four. And the gas mileage was a non-issue.
It does ride a bit like a truck and is a jerkier ride than I’d like for daily life. And I don’t think it’s just a matter of finesse and comfort with the vehicle, I think it’s just a little rougher in response than other vehicles I’ve driven.
For a national park vacation, the 4Runner was ideal. I didn’t have an issue fitting into parking spots and really appreciated the rugged tires when we had to park on a shoulder gravel/grass section at some trailheads. And I’ll just mention that the Army Green color turned a lot of heads and we loved driving it!