It is hard to make rugged vehicles give off a more modern look and that is one of the things that kept drawing me back to the 4Runner. It is one of the most capable SUV's on the market today and that is what makes it such an attractive vehicle. Not for its looks, but what it can do off-road. I've been wanting to drive one of these for a long time and had the opportunity to drive one just over a week ago. This is the 2017 Toyota 4runner TRD Off-Road Premium and out of all the Toyota vehicles I've had the chance to drive, this one has been my favorite.

Growing up we would spend a lot of time outdoors. Whether that was going to the beach, hiking, going fishing, or camping. Along went family and close family friends. Soon a 4Runner joined the mix and as a kid, I thought that was the coolest vehicle.This was back in the late 90's through early 2000's. There are a lot of memories attached to that and that may lead me to be somewhat biased here, but I do want to share with you my experience with this 4runner and what I honestly think of it from a young adventurous dad's point of view. 

I specifically requested this one since it was around the area where we live and it was a vehicle that I was considering to purchase. Driving it through its paces and living through real-life moments with it is a great way to experience a vehicle and find out if it is really for you or not. Right off the bat, is it for me? Yes. For my family? No. At least not at the moment.

I would buy this right now if it was a vehicle for myself, and/or if the kids were older and out of their car seats. They just wouldn't fit. We are always with 2 toddlers and soon a newborn baby so this was out of the picture. So will I buy this in the future? It's very likely 

One of the first things I did after it was dropped off in our driveway and just like every other vehicle before it, we all go out and take a first look.Kids loved it and the sliding rear cargo deck is cool and very useful. I had planned to go ride the bike trails with my brother at Brazos Bend State Park soon after. We packed up and made our way over to one of our favorite state parks. Unfortunately, Ashley decided to stay behind with the kids so it was somewhat of a solo trip. 

We saw lots of wildlife out and about this time and saw more alligators than other visits with a total of 23. We even saw a snake which we couldn't properly identify. There are many trails and even though we have visited many times, there were a few places we had not explored yet. Since we were both on bikes, we planned to cover lots of new trails and see the places that are a little farther than most would walk to.

This is something that I love to do. Spending time outdoors and appreciating the world around me. I have also become more aware of the things we can all do to preserve these places and protect the wildlife that call these places home. 

We tried to go on as many trails as possible, at least the open ones since some were closed off. We took off and ran into a local who talked to us about the flooding that happened at the park during Harvey. We came across lots of wildlife photographers and had most of the park to ourselves since we arrived early. It is a really nice place to get away from the city and I feel that it lives up to Toyota's hashtag: #letsgoplaces .

Prairie Trail Platform

Live Oak Trail

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 The end of our ride was met by the mighty Brazos River. We had always wanted to see this river up close and this was a nice moment to just admire it and take some quick pictures before it started to rain. We did not stay for long and at this point, we were only thinking of getting back on the 4Runner and heading home.

It had been a while since we rode bikes so it was a long ride back home. Thankfully we did take along snacks and had water in our backpacks that kept us constantly on the move.

It felt so good to get back to the 4runner and we sat around before packing back up. The rear cargo area is very spacious and even more so with the rear seats folded down. This truck is very practical and would make for an awesome camping trip with family and friends.

My wife and the kids loved it, but we did come to the conclusion that it is not the best truck for a family with 3 or more children using car seats, just like most cars. We wouldn't be able to use the truck until one of them left a booster seat. Besides this, I love how rugged it looks and performs. The ride quality is nice, and the KDSS system works great on and off road. KDSS is Toyota's Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that hydraulically unlocks the sway bars when off road to give each wheel more articulation. On the road, it keeps the sway bars locked to reduce sway by up to 50%. It's a cool system that the TRD Pro does not have and I think it performs better. 

The KDSS system is one advantage the Off-Road has over the TRD Pro, but another one that I really enjoyed was that this model has a sunroof which the Pro does not have available. I think this is pretty cool and I really enjoyed driving it off the road. Over the course of the week, I ended up with 17.8 miles per gallon which is not great nor bad, at least in my book. The 4.0L V6 makes 270 horsepower which many think makes it sluggish, but it's not too bad. I feel that adding a turbo would improve mileage but adds more parts that could break down when off-roading. Supercharge it? I think we can go that route. Maybe a V8 option on the TRD pro? I still love this SUV and I would take this over a Wrangler for the comfort, mileage, less cabin noise, reliability, and off road capabilities.

Maybe in a few years, we can travel around Texas and beyond in one of these and take the family on new adventures!