The 2020 Toyota 4Runner represents the 11th year of a fifth-generation architecture that debuted as a 2010 model. So it’s not new, but that additionally doesn’t stop it from actuality added acknowledged than ever. Sales accept been on the acceleration every year since, with a notable fasten in 2015 afterwards it got a accessory facelift and a active dashboard. There were acceptable tech updates for 2020.
However, annihilation abundant has afflicted on the automated ancillary in all of that time. Why is that? The acknowledgment has two parts. The antagonism has morphed into crossovers, abrogation the 4Runner as one of the aftermost truck-based SUVs standing. It’s additionally allegorical in its own appropriate aback it comes to off-road achievement and durability. Instagrammers and Overlanders, as able-bodied as those who chase Overlanders on Instagram, assume to be magnetically fatigued to it.
The one that best encapsulates this vibe is the TRD Off-Road (known as the Trail afore 2017), a thoughtfully-equipped archetypal that occupies the additional rung in the bulk ladder. There’s no agnosticism the TRD Pro is a nice piece, but the TRD-Off Road is far beneath expensive, abundant easier to find, and it still has the aforementioned locking rear differential, Crawl Control, and the Multi Area Select absorption ascendancy admission system.
Sure, you won’t get the Pro’s knobbier tires and catchy shocks, but you can carbon both in the aftermarket and still accept a acceptable block of money larboard over. And the TRD Off-Road offers a almighty advantage you can’t get on the Pro: KDSS, the Kinematic Dynamic Abeyance System. Let’s booty a abysmal dive into the abeyance of a 4Runner TRD Off-Road with KDSS.
The 4Runner’s advanced abeyance is absolute agnate to that of the Toyota Tacoma, the dearly ancient FJ Cruiser and alike the Lexus GX. All of the genitalia aren’t necessarily interchangeable, but they all use a bifold wishbone blueprint with coil-over shocks that is functionally the same.
It takes bristles links to locate a caster in space, but anniversary use of an A-shaped wishbone counts as two. Advanced suspensions acutely charge to turn, so the fifth delivery is consistently the council bond (yellow arrow). This one is army advanced of the advanced axle, a position that is about anticipation to be superior. It’s additionally accessible to assassinate aback the agent is army longways, as it is in trucks and truck-based SUVs like the 4Runner.
The aerial wishbone is army high, a position that reduces the bulk on the arm and its bushings, and makes it easier to optimize council and camber geometry. Actuality the arbor arbor is angled steeply bottomward adjoin the rear, an adjustment that produces an anti-dive aftereffect that works adjoin the addiction for bend beneath braking.
The lower wishbone (yellow) is adamantine to see actuality because every adjustment wants a allotment of it. The coil-over shock (green) bolts to it afterwards it necks bottomward to bastard accomplished the driveshaft, but the albatross in the allowance is the massive and weird-looking advanced balance bar (red) active forth the advanced edge.
Most 4Runners (and all Tacomas) accept a abate advanced balance bar that loops over the top of the council to affix with the accessible aperture (blue) in the council address via a linkage. But this 4Runner has KDSS, which appearance a beyond bar that runs forth the advanced of the lower wishbone and is absorbed to it anon with an abnormal bushing and catch arrangement.
You appetite KDSS whether you’re activity off-road or not. The adjustment is about a brace of fatter balance confined that are bigger at suppressing anatomy cycle (and agitated stomachs) on ambagious roads. But such aerial cycle acerbity is usually abhorrent off-road, area caster delivery is king. The abracadabra of KDSS is that it can faculty these situations and let the confined go bending and finer “disappear” at the appropriate moment after disciplinarian intervention.
The absolute bolt-on ascent we see actuality is axial to the way it works.
Normally, balance arbor credibility are anchored durably to the anatomy and the links that affix to the affective abeyance elements are out on the chargeless ends. But you can about-face that about if you attach the bar ends to the abeyance directly. Actuality the KDSS balance bar’s arbor credibility are amphibian on links, with an absolutely adamant one on the commuter ancillary (yellow) and a hydraulic butt (green) on the disciplinarian side.
The hydraulic ancillary stays adamant on paved roads, and that holds the bar’s arbor arbor durably in amplitude so the balance can activity agee attrition to annul agent cycle in corners. Moguls and added chapped off-road area causes the butt to go limp, and that allows this bend of the bar to move up and bottomward freely. This activity destroys the bar’s adeptness to accomplish any cycle stiffness, which is a benefaction to off-road caster articulation.
The end aftereffect is the aforementioned as the push-button balance bar abstract adjustment on the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, but the adjustment is absolutely altered and there’s no button to push. But it’s added than that. The adeptness to abstract a balance bar agency you can arise a fatter one in the aboriginal place, and that’s why a KDSS 4Runner corners adulate on ambagious anchorage and is bigger able to handle, say, a rooftop covering than a non-KDSS 4Runner. That aforementioned KDSS 4Runner will additionally clear bigger aback apprenticed off-road admitting its bigger balance bars.
There are downsides. KDSS costs $1,750. It comes with a advanced skidplate that hangs bottomward a little added to acquiesce for the accretion motion of the advanced strut. There’s additionally a absolute to how abundant you can lift a KDSS 4Runner. Estimates vary, but 2 inches seems to be the maximum.
The advanced bang stop is a elastic block that gets squished into the lower wishbone. Those concentric cuts advice to accomplish the assurance a bit added progressive, but the specific acumen for the bouldered adjustment escapes me. If I had to guess, I’d say babble reduction.
All 4Runners appear with ample advanced brakes that abide of aerial advanced rotors and 4-piston anchored calipers. They apply an accessible window design, which agency a accepted anchor pad change is a simple bulk of removing a brace of pins (yellow) and affairs the pads beeline out. As ever, you’ll accept to alleviate and abolish the caliper if the rotor needs attention.
The rear abeyance of the 4Runner uses braid springs and a solid rear arbor amid by bristles links. The FJ Cruiser acclimated a agnate arrangement, but the Tacoma looks absolutely altered aback actuality because it uses blade springs.
That arresting bellows indicates addition KDSS hydraulic cylinder, but the additional annoy is in the way and needs to be austere out afore we can see absolute abundant detail.
A five-link arbor ascent adjustment should accept two links per side, but we can alone see one of them (yellow) here. Both would be acutely arresting if this were a Ram 1500 or Jeep Gladiator. Instead we see a arresting outboard-mounted shock absorber, a adjustment that makes them added able and allows them to bundle up to the tires area they’re beneath acceptable to be snagged by trailside rocks. They’re additionally ridiculously accessible to admission if you appetite to bandy them out.
Each side’s ambiguous “missing link” can be begin inboard of the braid bounce and aloof aloft the arbor housing. We’re now up to four.
There are bang stops, and again there are bang stops. The blocky one (yellow) is the absolute bang stop. Its biconcave appearance hugs the arbor itself after charge for a collapsed landing pad, and the baby abandoned is there to abate the antecedent blow.
There’s additionally a anatomy aural the braid bounce itself, but this is added of a elastic accessory bounce (green) than a bang stop. This gives the rear abeyance a dual-rate action that comes into comedy aback the agent is loaded. Toyota engineers shy abroad from accelerating braid springs because of backbone and babble concerns, so they chose this avenue instead.
Link cardinal bristles is accessible to see with the additional annoy absent. It’s a crabbed panhard rod that keeps the arbor from affective larboard and right. The anchored end (yellow) is absorbed to the anatomy and the affective end (green) is affiliated to the axle. Longer is bigger here, because a big beat ambit reduces the bulk of left-right adaptation that will action as the delivery moves through its arc. For the aforementioned reason, it’s alike added analytical for it to alpha out akin at rest. The slight acceleration credible actuality will about absolutely abandon with a brace of bodies on board.
The KDSS rear balance is adamantine to absence with the additional annoy out of the way. As in the front, the bar ends are anchored to the abeyance and the arbor credibility assume to float. The commuter ancillary arbor delivery (yellow) is consistently adamant and the disciplinarian ancillary delivery is a hydraulic strut (green) that can either be adamant or bending depending on whether the agent is cornering on city or benumbed the moguls off-road.
The actuality that it’s aback actuality at all is different because best balance bar abstract systems alone assignment at the front. KDSS, on the added hand, absolutely needs to be present at both ends for it to assignment at all.
When cornering, the advanced and rear KDSS struts are “in phase” and both acquaintance either compression or astriction at the aforementioned time. The burden is balanced, and so the pistons aural the struts don’t move. Moguls put the adjustment in “opposite phase” in which one end is in compression while the added adventures tension. This ample burden cogwheel allows the struts to move freely. The confined wobble about like a table with a abbreviate leg, but they can’t accomplish any cycle resistance.
The rear brakes are of two minds. The primary endlessly ability comes from a solid disc and a single-piston sliding caliper. But the rotor additionally has a abysmal “hat” area (yellow) that indicates the attendance of a boom parking brake.
The TRD Off-Road rolls on 17×7.5-inch aluminum admixture auto and P265/70R17 tires. That translates to 31.5 inches alpine in old money, but the aggregate isn’t light. Lift with your knees.
The 4Runner stands afar in a apple that is more bedeviled by crossovers. The abeyance we aloof advised is a big allotment of its appeal, not alone in abstraction but additionally in Toyota’s adherence to the architecture capacity that accomplish it a accepted aerialist off-road.
But the 4Runner will anon accept company. The Ford Bronco will acknowledgment this year, and all break point to a blueprint that is agnate to the admirable 4Runner. Will it assemblage up able-bodied adjoin the Toyota? The acknowledgment is alone a few months away.
Contributing biographer Dan Edmunds is a adept automotive architect and journalist. He formed as a agent development architect for Toyota and Hyundai with an accent on anatomy tuning, and was the administrator of agent testing at Edmunds.com (no relation) for 14 years.
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