Bought our very first 1995 4Runner v6 manual. I had always wanted one but had NO IDEA about the head gasket problems. I had a feeling not to buy it but I didn't and now I wish I hadn't. I mean I love this car but I wish it had more horse power, and with 150 hp it's not nearly powerfull enough for a v6. It's extremely slow going up hills and it sucks down the gas at incredible rates. I really don't think this thing could pull anything and get up a hill properly. So last week it didn't pass smog and to our horror it was a blown head gasket. We bought it at 174,000 miles and it's at 209,900 right now. Going to get another better, more powerful vehicle. The engine is shot now. Crappy engine!!
It does have absolutely awesome 4wd. Personally it's not a good daily driver, but a SUV you can use for snow or going to the high country. It's not suitable for lugging kids around in or long trips and not much anything else. Mostly it's an offroad, pleasure vehicle and not a daily family driver. I speak from experience because I have tried both.
The whole engine is crap and needs to go. The head gasket flaw which is from the exhaust pipe being too close to the engine block and it wears the gasket down prematuraly..or something like that. The gasket is not long term repairable no matter how many times you have it re done. It has been known to go out very frequently(every 40k-80k miles) and it's very costly. Avoid this 3vze engine and get the 3.2L version or anything else but the v6 3.0L, it's crap.
don't get me wrong, I love this car. but stomp on the gas, and don't expect much to happen except a lot more noise. that being said, this is simply the most reliable, capable vehicle i've ever driven. i've had mine for 5 years, it has 300,000 miles, and it runs just fine. off road, it's absolutely unstoppable. the storage and versatility is awesome.
UPDATE: head gasket blew, which is common for this engine. the recall had already been done to mine, so it was up to me. A word of advice: unless you have a backup vehicle or motorcycle, get in good with a shop and hopefully they will give you a discount, because it is mega expensive. I did it myself, and the way this engine is put together is ridiculous. You basically need 12 foot long arms as big around as toothpicks to get to some stuff. And take pictures. And if you do it, absolutely change the knock sensor AND wiring harness. It is in the cylinder valley under the intake plenum, and is just as much a pain to get to as the head gaskets. Mine went bad IMMEDIATELY after I put it back together, which apparently is also common. I now drive a Jeep Cherokee, which I have always been a fan of, and the engine is a little simpler to work on if you're a do it yourselfer.
Very slow, poor fuel economy (14 mpg in mixed driving), not nimble, starts every time. Rust is a problem. Not a lot of legroom if your 6' or taller, good headroom though. I don't drive it everyday so I don't have big expectations for it other than running when I need it. Does well in the snow. The rating I gave it may be low, but I only need it to do a limited amount of things so the rating kinda reflects that as it might apply to a full time vehicle.
MORE POWER, smoother engine, fuel economy (something this under-powered should do much better)
I purchased this vehicle with 126K miles on it. It now has 130K and is sitting in the shop with a $3,700 transmission bill. I had very high hopes when I bought it and was hoping to keep it for years to come. Unfortunately, the failure of the transmission took me by surprise. I am very surprised it wore down after only 130K miles. I really do love the truck, unfortunately someone before me did not take care of the transmission and now I'm stuck with the bill. I guess its off to Craigslist to see who wants a mechanic's special.
Great off-road capability, even before shifting into 4x4, great interior quality and lack of wear for the age. Very sturdy, very roomy cargo area, high ride height, nice exhaust sound and good looks.
Improve mechanical quality, especially the transmission. I've also heard many issues with the head gasket on the V6 (never personally had any problems). Way too much rust for a 15 year old rig. Extremely weak (uphill with the AC is an issue). Horrific gas mileage. Flimsy factory sound system.
SR-5 v6 auto. Bought used w/ 103k. It's an occasional use vehicle, everything works (tailgate window a bit slow). Not powerful or acceptable w/ gas. I use plus fuel to help minimize pinging. I use it about once a week and during inclement weather (snow or flooding). More comfortable at around town speeds of 35-45 mph. It'll do 70 but seems like it would rather not. 4wd works well in the snow. It starts every time I've needed it. I'm 6'-2" and it's tight on leg room (I wish I could move the seat back even more), good headroom though. "Original" front brakes were changed @ 103k.
reliability, cargo capacity
More power and better fuel economy (only getting 14 mpg in mixed driving). More legroom, smoother engine