Forty candles. The “big four-0.” The Toyota 4Runner will reach the 40-year mark with the 2023 model year… and, to celebrate, Toyota is offering a distinctive 4WD-only 2023 4Runner 40th Anniversary Special Edition. Appropriately, Toyota will make 4,040 of these special editions available for the U.S. market. Over the past four decades, 4Runner has amassed more than 4 million cumulative sales while carving out its place as the ready-for-anything SUV that’s equally at home on pavement or trail.
The 2023 Toyota 4Runner 40th Anniversary Special Edition is based on the SR5 Premium grade and will be available in three colors: White, Midnight Black Metallic, and Barcelona Red Metallic. It will stand out from the lineup thanks to bronze-colored 17-inch alloy wheels, a body-color-matching TOYOTA heritage grille, and a bronze-colored 40th Anniversary exterior tailgate badge.
The biggest eye-catcher, though, is likely to be the heritage graphics package created especially for this anniversary model. The first 4Runner was built on the Toyota pickup platform, which itself founded the heritage of Toyota’s illustrious success in off-road racing. As an homage to those early racers, the 4Runner 40th Anniversary Edition will be wearing some very cool, retro-inspired yellow/orange/red body graphics.
The anniversary theme continues inside, where the 4Runner 40th Anniversary Special Edition gets exclusive badging on the center console and features a bronze-colored cross-stitch shift knob, bronze-colored seat stitching, 40th Anniversary floormats, and a 40th Anniversary logo on the Black SofTex-trimmed seats. Topping it off is a standard power moonroof.
Fun facts: When the first 4Runner arrived, “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” was the top-grossing movie in America, and “Every Breath You Take” by the Police had ended the year at #1 on the Billboard 100. (Yep, that was then “Jedi” was the third Star Wars movie, not “Episode Six.”)
A 4Runner for All Seasons and Reasons
The 2023 4Runner lineup covers a broad range of tastes and needs in a high-capability SUV. The line includes grades SR5, SR5 Premium, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, Limited and TRD Pro. The 4Runner exudes a rugged look in all grades yet maintains a timeless SUV style all its own. The SR5 and TRD models ride on 17-inch alloy wheels that are available in three designs: 6-spoke for SR5 models, 7-spoke for TRD Off-Road models, and flow-form matte black alloy wheels for TRD Pro.
The TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium grades are distinguished by color-keyed bumpers and overfenders, hood scoop, and silver-colored painted front and rear bumper accents. “TRD Off-Road” badges adorn the C-pillars. The Limited is the only 4Runner with a chrome-plated grille insert and chrome-finished exterior trim. All 4Runner models have LED fog lights as standard equipment, with the TRD Pro featuring Rigid Industries LED fog lights.
The Ready-for-Adventure SUV
The 4Runner’s inherent strength starts with its tough-as-nails, body-on-frame construction featuring a four-link rear axle and coil-spring suspension. The robust chassis is also the foundation of 4Runner’s comfortable ride quality.
A 270-horsepower DOHC 4.0-liter V6 engine with 278 lb.-ft. of peak torque gives 4Runner plenty of get-up-and-go. The engine’s Dual Independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) helps optimize torque across the engine’s operating range, enhancing responsiveness in a variety of driving conditions.
The five-speed ECT-i automatic transmission features a sequential shift mode for manually shifting when desired. All 4Runner grades are standard-equipped with an integrated tow-hitch receiver and wiring harness, and all models can tow a maximum of 5,000 pounds.
The 2WD 4Runners provide an ample 9.0 inches of ground clearance, while 4WD models offer an even more generous 9.6 inches. All 4Runner 2WD models feature standard Automatic Limited Slip Differential (Auto LSD), a function of the traction control (TRAC) that allows some wheel slippage to help the vehicle dig out from sand or snow, for example.
4×2 and Two Kinds of 4×4
The available part-time 4WD system uses Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) and bolsters off-road capability with a two-speed transfer case with selectable low-range. By distributing drive force to any one wheel in contact with the ground, A-TRAC can help maintain traction when it senses wheel slippage occurring on terrain irregularities and slippery patches.
Exclusive to the 4Runner Limited, a full-time 4WD system uses a Torsen center differential with locking feature and a three-mode, center console-mounted switch. The system employs a 40:60 torque split in most driving situations and alters that in response to slippage. In addition, if the front wheels are slipping while the vehicle is turning, the Torsen® differential changes the torque split to 30:70. If the rear wheels slip while the vehicle is turning, the split changes to 53:47.
Maximum Traction Tech
The Toyota 4Runner offers a variety of tools to suit different off-road missions. An array of technologies enhances the capability provided by the 4Runner’s high-strength chassis and available 4WD. Standard Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) provides additional control when accelerating from a stop on a steep incline. The system helps to briefly hold the vehicle stationary while the driver transitions from the brake pedal to the accelerator.
Limited and SR5 models equipped with 4WD also feature standard Downhill Assist Control (DAC). This feature augments low-speed descending controllability by helping to maintain a constant slow speed and preventing wheel lockup, therefore allowing the driver to concentrate primarily on steering.
The 4Runner TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro models add the capability of an electronic-locking rear differential and Toyota’s Crawl Control (CRAWL) feature. With the transfer case shifted into low range, CRAWL is designed to regulate engine speed and braking force to slowly move the vehicle forward or in reverse at one of the five driver-selectable, low-speed settings. This function allows the driver to focus on steering without having to also modulate the throttle or brake pedal in challenging terrain.
As trail conditions change, the driver can adapt the vehicle using the standard Multi-Terrain Select system using a dial (located overhead along with CRAWL settings) to choose a mode that matches prevailing surface conditions. The system will then adjust wheel slip control accordingly.
Both 4Runner TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro feature the Multi-Terrain Monitor on the list of off-road tech features. Using strategically placed cameras, the system lets the driver check surroundings on the trail, with the ability to spot potential obstacles not easily seen from the cabin. The TRD (and Limited) models also add a premium Multi-information Display.
Road-Hugging TRD Sport
The 4Runner TRD Sport grade, which first joined the line for 2022, focuses less on the trail and more on road-focused features while adding style and flair. For an emphasis on everyday comfort and road dynamics, the 4Runner TRD Sport employs the Cross-Linked Relative Absorber System (X-REAS) suspension to enhance on-road handling. The X-REAS system adjusts the damping force of shock absorbers when driving over bumpy surfaces or when cornering. A center control absorber cross-links the shock absorbers on opposite corners of the vehicle, like an “X,” to help reduce pitch and yaw by offsetting opposing inputs.
The 4Runner TRD Sport is available with either 2WD or part-time 4WD with a 2-speed transfer case. Based on the SR5 grade, the 4Runner TRD Sport swaps the SR5’s 17-inch wheels for machine-faced 20-inch wheels with Dark Gray accents. Notably, all 4Runners come equipped with a full-sized spare tire, regardless of wheel size.
The TRD Sport gets its own look with color-keyed accents on the grille, rocker panels and body molding, plus the signature TRD-style hood scoop and a front spoiler and black roof rails. Inside, TRD Sport replaces the SR5 grade’s cloth seat surfaces with power-adjustable black SofTex-trimmed seats. The seats feature unique gray-colored contrast stitching, and the front headrests have gray-colored TRD stitched logos. TRD Sport floor mats are included, and a standard TRD shift knob completes the cabin makeover.
TRD Pro Earns Its Name
The TRD Pro badge on any Toyota truck or SUV signifies the most off-road-capable vehicle in its respective Toyota lineup. The 2023 4Runner TRD Pro is also a bold looker, offering Solar Octane, White, Magnetic Gray Metallic and Black color options.
Leading the way for off-road upgrades are some of the features not as easily seen, because tucked away at each corner are specially tuned Fox internal bypass shocks and TRD-tuned coil springs yield an inch of front lift for improved trail-tackling capability. The rear Fox shocks feature piggyback-style remote reservoirs to maintain damping performance over demanding off-road terrain. Delivering the best of both worlds, the shock tuning improves trail driving isolation and high-speed performance without compromising on-road comfort and steering response.
Like other Toyota TRD Pro vehicles, the 4Runner TRD Pro features a 1/4-inch-thick aluminum front skid plate with red TRD lettering. The TRD roof rack is exclusive to 4Runner. Black TRD alloy flow-form wheels come standard on TRD Pro and are fitted with Nitto Terra Grappler tires.
A standard TRD-branded cat-back exhaust gives this trail star a powerful-sounding growl for the V6 engine. Inside, the TRD Pro features upgraded HVAC controls like those found in the Limited grade, plus a standard moonroof and Premium Audio with JBL speakers and Clari-Fi™ technology for enhancing digital music formats.
For 2023, TRD Pro will offered in the exclusive exterior color of Solar Octane, which is available alongside staples Black, White and Magnetic Gray Metallic.
On and Off-Road Suspension
For even greater off-road prowess, the TRD Off-Road grade can be equipped with Toyota’s optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which allows extended wheel travel at slow speeds for greater off-road capability and control. The KDSS system hydraulically adjusts the lean resistance provided by the stabilizer bars. Sway resistance is reduced for off-road driving to help minimize any tendency for wheel lift. On pavement, KDSS enables the bars to work conventionally, reducing body lean to enhance agility and control.
The 4Runner Limited, while certainly off-road capable, emphasizes everyday comfort and pavement handling with the X-REAS suspension system also shared with the TRD Sport.
Adventure Expert With Emphasis on Safety
With room for up to seven, the fifth-generation 4Runner offers room for the whole family. All 2023 4Runner models come standard with Toyota Safety Sense-P, an advanced suite of driver-assist technologies that includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Sway Warning System, Automatic High Beams and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
For the 2023 model year, Blind Spot Monitor + Rear Cross Traffic Alert is standard on all grades. All models have standard LED high beams, in addition to the LED low beams and fog lights on most grades.
Along with TSS-P, all 2023 4Runner models also come equipped with Toyota’s Star Safety System that includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with traction control (TRAC, or A-TRAC with 4WD) and Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and the Smart Stop Technology (SST) brake-override system.
Eight standard airbags include driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System; front seat-mounted side airbags; driver and front passenger knee airbags; and all-row, roll-sensing side curtain airbags. All 2023 4Runner models add Rear Occupancy Alert. When operational parameters are met, the system does what its name suggests, it reminds the driver to check the rear seat for a child or pet before exiting the vehicle.
Space for People and Gear
For carrying gear, 4Runner offers multiple options. With the second-row seats in use, the cargo area offers up to 47.2 cubic feet of carrying space. If it’s just two people hitting the road or trail, folding the second row opens a cavernous 89.7 cubic-foot cargo area. The second-row seats fold flat without having to remove the headrests.
The 4Runner SR5 and Limited grades offer available third-row seating, with a split 50:50 seat that folds flat. When so equipped, the 40:20:40 second-row seat has a one-touch walk-in function to provide easy access to the third row. The seats can be folded from the side or at the rear, using separate one-touch levers. The second-row seats, which include a center armrest, individually recline up to 16 degrees in four steps.
For power on the go, the 4Runner has a standard 120V outlet and two 12V outlets. The available pull-out cargo deck can support up to 440 pounds to make loading and unloading heavy items easier. It also provides seating for tailgating and campsite relaxation.
Toyota Value from Bumper to Bumper
All 4Runner grades are equipped with Smart Key with Push Button Start. The SR5 Premium and TRD Off-Road Premium add a significant comfort upgrade with SofTex®-trimmed seats, heated front seats, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The 4Runner Limited delivers a luxury experience with leather-trimmed, heated, and ventilated 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat (with memory) and 4-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, along with dual-zone automatic climate control. Limited grade’s standard front and rear clearance sonar system help make parking maneuvers easier and safer. The Limited’s Panoramic View Monitor (PVM) provides a 360-degree bird’s-eye view to help the driver see objects around the 4vehicle.
The Premium Audio system in the 4Runner Limited and TRD Pro adds 15 JBL speakers including a subwoofer and amplifier, Dynamic Navigation with 3-year trial, Dynamic POI Search, Dynamic Voice Recognition, Destination Assist with 1-year trial, Remote Connect with 1-year trial and Wi-Fi Connect with up to 2 GB within 3-month trial.
For more information on the 40th Anniversary of the Toyota 4Runner, be sure to visit Toyota’s website.