It has been a couple of years since we last checked out the Toyota 4Runner. Since that time, the crossover marketplace has grown even further and becoming the clear choice for many consumers. But there are still some who want/need the capability of an SUV like the 4Runner. Who should consider it?
- Toyota hasn’t changed the 4Runner’s exterior since we last checked it out. This isn’t a bad thing since one of the things I liked about it was the styling. The front end still looks like it is wearing a muzzle with a large surround for the grille and chunky front bumper. Other design details to take in are a set of flared out wheel arches, hood scoop, and rear tailgate with a window that can be raised or lowered.
- The interior follows the exterior with no real changes. Many materials are of the hard plastic variety which is ok considering the off-road character of the 4Runner. Having materials that can stand up to rough and tumble of off-road conditions isn’t a bad thing. The chunky knobs and simple layout of the dashboard are still here, making it easy to find certain controls when on the move.
- It would be nice if Toyota could swap the 6.1-inch touchscreen for something a little bit larger. It isn’t as easy to read at a glance and more often than not, you’ll be hitting the wrong touchscreen button. At least the Entune infotainment system is simple to understand.
- Space is plentiful for passengers in both rows with an abundance of head and legroom. There is the option of a third row, but it would be wise to skip it since it isn’t comfortable for most people to due to the minuscule amount of legroom.
- The powertrain remains a 4.0L V6 with 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque, and a five-speed automatic transmission. Most trims will have the choice of either two-wheel or four-wheel drive. The TRD Pro and Trail (the model seen here) only come with four-wheel drive.
- The power figures may make you believe that the 4Runner has enough grunt for the daily grind, but it falters once you take it out on the road. Around town, the V6 provides a decent amount of grunt. But where the engine falters is trying to make a pass or merging onto a freeway. It seems to make more noise than actual power in these situations. The automatic transmission provides smooth gear changes. But adding an extra gear would not be a bad thing since would drop engine rpm on the expressway and improve overall fuel economy. I got an average of 19 mpg for the week - EPA fuel economy figures stand at 17 City/21 Highway/18 Combined for 4WD models.
- SUVs have made progress in terms of ride and handling, but you wouldn’t know that if you were driving a Toyota 4Runner. Take for example the ride quality. At low speeds, the 4Runner’s suspension does a good job with smoothing over bumpers. At higher speeds such as driving on a freeway, the ride becomes very bouncy. Going around a corner isn’t a pleasant experience as there is a fair amount of body lean. Steering is on the heavy and makes certain tasks such as pulling into a parking space a bit of a chore.
- But the 4Runner does redeem itself when it comes to off-road driving. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to take this 4Runner off-road which is quite a shame because the Trail adds some goodies to help when it comes to going off the beaten path. There is a locking rear differential, Crawl Control which is a low-speed cruise control system to allow the SUV go through a rocky trail, Multi-Terrain Select that alters throttle and traction control settings for various conditions, and the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that adjusts the suspension to allow for more wheel travel.
- The Toyota 4Runner is an old-school SUV wrapped up in modern clothing. It makes no apologies for what it is and that is something I respect. This is a model that should be considered by those who want to go to special place in the woods or out in the desert on a regular basis.
- If you’re not planning to go off-road on a regular basis, then the 4Runner is a poor choice. Stick with a crossover or something like a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the 4Runner, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: Trail Premium
Engine: 4.0L DOHC Dual VVT-i 24-Valve V6
Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, 4WD
Horsepower @ RPM: 270 @ 5,600
Torque @ RPM: 278 @ 4,400
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/21/18
Curb Weight: 4,750 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
Base Price: $39,095
As Tested Price: $40,148 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge and $750.00 'Keep it Wild' savings)
Remote Engine Start - $499.00
All Weather Mats/Cargo Tray - $200.00
Cargo Cover - $155.00
Cargo Net - $49.00