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A likeable SUV that reminds you, for better or for worse, of its truck-based origins.
Great crash-test scores, roomy interior, truck-tough underpinnings, power-down hatch glass, standard VSC with traction control, brake assist system.
Hard to climb in and out of, dated dashboard design, weak V6 engine, truck-like ride quality and handling.
Available 4Runner Models
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Optional color-coordinated fender flares are available on the SR5. An AM/FM/cassette/CD is now available on base models, and is standard on SR5 and Limited models. Daytime running lights are now included with the antilock brake package.
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. In terms of Toyota's lineup, the 4Runner is more expensive than the Tacoma, but less expensive than the Land Cruiser.
The interior is quite roomy, and a low floor and wide doors make getting into and out of the 4Runner less of an exercise in contortionism. Gauges are clearly marked and legible. 4Runner Limiteds receive walnut wood inserts on the dash, though this can also be gained on base and SR5 models through an option package. Toyota has thoughtfully provided rear passengers with heat and air conditioning ducts that can be operated independently to adjust fan speed and temperature.
There are two engines available on the 4Runner. The base model is propelled by a 2.7-liter inline four cylinder that makes 150 horsepower at 4,800 rpm and 177 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. Both the SR5 and Limited models receive a 3.4-liter V6, producing 183 horsepower at 4,800 rpm and 217 foot-pounds of torque at 3,600 rpm. While the V6's numbers are acceptable, both the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee have optional V8 engines that produce considerably more horsepower and torque. Suspension-wise, the 4Runner is near the top of the pack. An optional locking rear differential (4WD models only) allows for effortless trips off highway, and the 4Runner is equally at home cruising suburban asphalt, but you'd better like a somewhat harsh ride.
Overall, the 4Runner is a 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 approximately $22,500 for a 2WD four-cylinder base model to over $37,000 for a fully loaded Limited. This lands the top 4Runner right smack dab in Mercedes-Benz ML320, Lexus RX300, 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.
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