Loved this car from the day my parents got it new; I took over in 2001. For its time (gas near $1/gal, economic boom, popularity & size of SUVs exploding, but before "green" went mainstream), it got good MPGs (few less than 1998 Camry). I get close to 15 MPG with a lead foot in city driving. I've found acceleration from a stop or from merging excellent (V6). I even contemplated putting weight in the rear to improve takeoff handling. Interior fit still tight & looks better than Tahoes up to 6 yrs newer. Only standard, elective maintenance. Bottom line: I could be driving a higher-end new or nearly new car, but this is still my first choice; & dad wants first dibs on buying it back.
I love the slimmer, nimbler exterior design of the 1996-99 4Runners. When it is fresh and clean it still draws the occasional compliment. Steering and handling of comparable quality to newer sporty sedans. Good ground clearance. All electronics still work. Very reliable truck.
Cupholder placement and design are unfortunate. My design complaint is it rattles (if extended) if you only use one side; also rattles with slimmer bottles or half-empty drinks b/c it doesn't get snug grip. Ride rougher & interior not roomy for those used to newer cars, but that's apples/oranges.
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