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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 hatch glass.
Hard to climb in and out of, dated dashboard design, weak V6 engine, truck-like ride quality and handling.
Available 4Runner SUV Models
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Base models have been dropped, leaving Limited and SR5 trim levels equipped with a standard automatic transmission, Vehicle Skid Control (VSC), traction control and ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and BrakeAssist. All 4Runners have power door locks this year, as well as a prewired trailer hitch harness, a modified grille design and freshened taillights. New wheels for Limited and Sport debut, and a new premium 3-in-1 audio system with a CD changer is available. Revised sun visors with extensions and a HomeLink programmable transmitter come standard on Limited and can be ordered on SR5. Limited also gets a new color of wood trim, and standard front seat heaters. There's bad news for hard-core off-roaders -- the optional differential lock has been discontinued with the demise of the manual transmission. Three new colors replace two old ones on the color chart.
In the six years since the current 4Runner debuted, the segment of the marketplace in which it competes has exploded in popularity and become littered with fine sport-utes. Yet, Toyota's rugged entry continues to represent an excellent choice, despite its age and distinctly truck-like underpinnings.
That's right. If you're looking for a tall car, the 4Runner is likely to disappoint with its stiff ride and general lack of road feel. But if it's a roomy vehicle made for serious off-road work, combined with creature comforts and a solid reputation for reliability, that you're after, then you've come to the right place.
For 2001, Toyota has overhauled the 4Runner lineup, limiting selection to two trim levels and a single power plant. Choose from standard SR5 or luxurious Limited outfittings in either two- or four-wheel drive. A 3.4-liter, dual overhead-cam V6, attached to a four-speed automatic transmission, makes 183 tortured horsepower at 4,800 rpm, and peak torque doesn't arrive until you've revved into the middle part of the band. It's adequate, but you'll likely find yourself wishing for more go-power. The manual five-speed transmission and the differential locks that could be added to models with row-'em-yourself gears are gone for 2001.
Toyota has added some impressive technology as standard equipment for 2001. Vehicle Skid Control (VSC), traction control and ABS enhanced with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist comes on every new 4Runner. VSC is a stability control system that helps keep the 4Runner under control when a lateral skid is detected. Brake assist can apply maximum braking power under emergency situations quicker than the driver can.
Inside, passengers, once they manage to clamber aboard, are greeted by a chunky, purposeful dash that wasn't so much styled as it was pieced together. No matter, it works from an ergonomic standpoint. Seating is comfortable and supportive front and rear, with backseat riders benefiting from plenty of legroom. Cloth upholstery in the SR5 Sport is abrasive, but the Limited has far more pleasing leather hides covering the seats. Limited models have a standard new sun visor design with extensions and a HomeLink transmitter, a setup that is optional on SR5 models.
Cargo capacity measures 44.6 cubic feet with the rear seat in use, and 79.8 cubic feet with it folded. Able to tow 5,000 pounds when properly equipped, the 4Runner excels off-road, with as much as 11 inches of ground clearance when the optional P265/70R16 tires are selected. A slick, powered rear window in the hatch, combined with the large, optional sunroof and lowered side glass, results in an open, airy vehicle - much like a convertible, but not.
Add the available Sports Package to the SR5, and you'll get a fender-blistered, hood-scooped, monochromatic exterior treatment on the outside with larger brakes, bigger alloy wheels and a performance-oriented rear differential underneath. Limited is loaded with chrome accents, fake wood, heated seats and two-tone paint to set it apart as the more refined choice.
4Runner is nevertheless a truck for people who like trucks. Stout and sturdy, rugged inside and out, and boasting excellent crash-test scores from both government and industry entities, this SUV, like most other Toyotas, can take whatever you throw at it.
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