Ford Authority

Ford Spotted Evaluating Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Around Dearborn

In recent months, Ford Authority spies have spotted a number of vehicles from rival automotive manufacturers being benchmarked by Ford near its Dearborn headquarters. This includes the Jeep Gladiator pickup, which could have been the inspiration behind the now-dead Ford Bronco pickup, as well as, interestingly enough, a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, which could be related to the long-rumored Ford Mustang sedan. Now, spies have captured a Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro leaving a Ford facility in Dearborn as well.

As has been the case with other vehicles benchmarked by Ford, this 4Runner is also wearing the automaker’s telltale yellow sticker on its windshield, so we know that it is in the possession of The Blue Oval. The question is, why, exactly, would Ford be benchmarking Toyota’s legendary, segment sales-leading, mid-size sporty utility vehicle, and against what?

Midsize Body-On-Frame SUV Sales - H1 2021 - USA

TOYOTA 4RUNNER +21.80% 69,949 57,428 37% 37%
JEEP WRANGLER +23.44% 118,666 96,131 63% 63%
FORD BRONCO * 801 * 0% 0%
TOTAL +23.35% 189,416 153,559

The current-gen 4Runner has been around for some time now – since the 2010 model year, while the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro launched back in 2015. Dimensionally speaking, Toyota’s long-running SUV is similar in size to the Ford Edge and Ford Bronco, though it’s more likely The Blue Oval is comparing it to the Edge, given its similar mission statement, even though the TRD Pro is an off-road-focused vehicle in the same vein as the Bronco.

It’s certainly interesting that Ford chose the more rugged TRD Pro to benchmark, but not entirely surprising given the fact that these types of vehicles are red-hot at the moment. The Blue Oval has been rolling out numerous off-road-focused crossovers and SUVs in recent months, including the Bronco and Ford Bronco Sport, Ford Explorer Timberline, and even a more rugged version of the European Ford Transit Connect Nugget camper van.

We’ll have more on all of the rival vehicles Ford is benchmarking for future products soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for non-stop Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. TheMan

    These competition vehicles are assessed by Ford and are usually made available to the respective manufacturer (here Ford) from a fleet of vehicles for a period of time (2 weeks) free of charge.
    This is still a competition, but an evaluation (by Ford) on the return also helps the competitor (here Toyota) to make qualitative improvements.
    Since I live in Europe, we have the ACEA and VDA here that carry out this vehicle distribution.
    This is certainly also the case in Asia and legal worldwide.
    Why should an OEM have to buy a vehicle for 2 weeks of evaluation and analysis.

    1. DPD

      That looks like a pre-2020 4runner based on the lack of keyless entry (Keyhole in rear tailgate instead of up/down buttons). I don’t think it is going back to Toyota. Also, I have first-hand knowledge of Ford, having a vendor, buy competitor’s cars for benchmarking. It’s not really a secret and all manufacturers do so.

      1. Kenny

        I have a 2016 4 runner and it has keyless entry. I have the up and down buttons on the tailgate.

        1. Jacob

          The TRD Pro didn’t get the smart key until 2020. This one is a 2019 based on the roof rack. That was the first year for that style.

    2. Jacob

      There’s no way this is going back to Toyota. It is missing various body trim pieces (rear bumper), the rear bumper cover appears to be taped on, and there is a gap in front of the front tire that shouldn’t be there. This one has been disassembled and pieces may have been damaged in that process.

  2. Aaron

    They are trying to figure out why it doesn’t have to be in the shop all the time

  3. JimL

    Probably just an employee who is still waiting for the Bronco he ordered on Day 1 of reservations. So he got this in the meantime.

  4. Kevin

    This is just my two cent but I think Ford is going to bring the Everest stateside in the near future.

  5. Chevelleart

    That is almost as hideous as the Chevy.

  6. Jeffrey D. Sproul

    Maybe Ford should take a close look at what makes Toyotas so good. Wouldn’t it be great if Ford, GM, and Stellantis would use Toyotas and Hondas as a benchmark for making quality vehicles. As a consumer they would have my loyalty and probably get some new customers from Japanese brand owners.

    1. commbubba19

      i don’t think you’ve owned a recent toyota or honda product. they have their faults too

  7. Harry

    Since we recently saw they had an Everest with LHD in the area being evaluated, maybe the 4 Runner is a comparison test for that vehicle. I think they should offer the Everest in the US.

  8. matt

    Its just ford looking at a a suv that will last unlike theres and them stealing idea’s like thay always do .

  9. buloy1

    O=Overhaul &

  10. Frank C

    I have a black 2020 4Runner TRD Pro and the build quality on it is phenomenal. I’ve had it for 14 months and have used it during a house move, pulled trailers with it and attach my bike rack to it. Ford has a great pickup truck and the Mustang is a great sports car. Someone in this thread mentioned that “Toyota has its faults too.” I have not had a single issue with this truck, or the Lexus GX460 I had for 3 years. I love it!


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