What's New for 1998
For 1998, the Toyota 4Runner gets rotary HVAC controls, a new four-spoke steering wheel and revised audio control head units.
In 1996, Toyota separated this high-volume SUV from its pickup truck roots. Thus, the current 4Runner shares little with the Tacoma pickup. As a result, engineers have created a refined vehicle without sacrificing tough off-road ability. Generous suspension travel and tread width provide capable off-road ability, ride and handling. The interior is quite roomy, thanks to a wheelbase that is two inches longer than the previous version. A low floor and wide doors make getting into and out of the 4Runner less of an exercise in contortionism than those riding in Jeep Cherokees or Nissan Pathfinders are likely to experience.
Two engines are available on the 4Runner: a 2.7-liter inline four cylinder that makes 150 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 177 foot-pounds of torque at 4000 rpm, and a 3.4-liter V6 producing 183 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 217 foot-pounds of torque at 3600 rpm. These figures represent a substantial improvement over the previous anemic four cylinder and wheezy V6. In fact, the 2.7-liter four is more powerful than the 1995 model's 3.0-liter six, and is nearly as powerful as the base engine found in the Ford Explorer XL.
Needless to say, all of this adds up to a very competitive sport-ute. Safety isn't ignored in the 4Runner, either, which sports dual airbags and standard antilock brakes on V6 models. (Antilock brakes are optional on four-cylinder models.)
Overall, the 4Runner is a very nice truck which provides the sophistication that we have come to expect from Toyota products with the overall ruggedness more often associated with Jeeps. Prices are high, however, running from $21,000 for a 2WD four-cylinder Base model to over $36,000 for a fully loaded Limited. This lands the 4Runner right smack dab in the Mercedes-Benz ML320, Nissan Pathfinder LE and Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited territory. The competition in this segment is getting fierce and there are plenty of good choices for your money, definitely something worth considering when shelling out such a large chunk of change.