Full 2006 Toyota 4Runner Review
What's New for 2006
The Toyota 4Runner has revised exterior styling for 2006, highlighted by new bumpers, lamps, grille and lower cladding. There are also new 18-inch alloy wheels for the Limited model and a new roof rack and tube steps for the Sport Edition. Toyota has also thickened the 4Runner's windshield and front window glass for reduced wind noise. In terms of new standard features, there's now an auxiliary audio jack for portable devices and power seating for the Sport and SR5 V8, and a seat memory feature and a six-disc CD changer for the Limited.
Redesigned for 2003, the Toyota 4Runner is now in its fourth generation, and that says a lot about the popularity of this midsize Toyota SUV. With rugged good looks and true off-road capability, the 4Runner has earned a reputation as a stout no-nonsense sport-utility vehicle. While other SUVs in its class have evolved into kinder, gentler versions of their originals, the 4Runner has retained much of its truckish character. This might seem like a misguided philosophy when you consider that few SUV owners actually go off-road, but Toyota looks at the situation a bit differently. It sees the 4Runner's all-terrain capability as a selling point over its rivals. If you want a "soft roader," there are plenty to choose from (the Toyota Highlander being a convenient suggestion). But if you want a real sport-utility vehicle, the Toyota 4Runner is still the real deal.
This body-on-frame SUV has two available engines: a 4.0-liter V6 or a 4.7-liter V8. There's a decent amount of cargo room with a maximum capacity of 75 cubic feet, but the Toyota 4Runner still lags behind the competitors in this regard. Toyota isn't completely oblivious to this fact as the company offers a foldable cargo shelf that allows for two-tiered loading. Those hoping for a third-row seat are in luck, as it's optional, but the bad news is that it doesn't fold flat into the floor unlike in the Explorer, Pathfinder and Durango. Overall, the 2006 Toyota 4Runner stacks up favorably against just about any other midsize sport-ute on the market when it comes to creature comforts and standard equipment. Add in the powerful engines, advanced vehicle control systems and stout underpinnings, and there's little doubt this Toyota SUV upholds the legacy of the numerous 4Runners before it.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The four-door Toyota 4Runner comes in three trim levels: SR5, Sport and Limited. Standard features on the base SR5 include 16-inch wheels, automatic climate control with rear vents, a CD player, remote keyless entry, a power driver seat, a telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, a trip computer, running boards and full skid plate protection. Stepping up to the Sport Edition adds larger 17-inch wheels, X-REAS shocks (which reduce body roll in turns), a hood scoop, color-keyed exterior mirrors, a power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with stereo controls and high-contrast seat fabric. High-dollar Limited models pick up illuminated running boards, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery and heated front seats. Options include a DVD-based navigation system, a rear-seat entertainment system and a third-row seat. The X-REAS shocks are optional for the Limited and come with a height-adjustable rear air suspension.
Powertrains and Performance
The Toyota 4Runner is available with either two- or four-wheel drive and one of two engines. The standard 4.0-liter V6 makes 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. The optional 4.7-liter V8 generates 260 hp and 306 lb-ft of torque. All 4Runners get a five-speed automatic transmission. Towing capacity is 7,300 pounds on V8 models, while V6 models top out at 5,000 pounds.
Toyota 4Runner models come with standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes with BrakeAssist (BA) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). Stability control (called VSC) is also standard. Optional on all models are front-seat-mounted side airbags and overhead side curtain airbags for first- and second-row passengers. In government crash testing, the 4Runner earned four out of five stars in the frontal-impact category and a perfect five stars for side impacts. In IIHS frontal-offset testing, the 4Runner received a "Good" rating, the highest.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Toyota 4Runner offers roomy quarters for four to five passengers, plus a couple extra kids if you opt for the 50/50 third-row seat. To make way for cargo, each half of the third-row seat can be stowed in an upright position along the sideboards or removed completely, but it does not fold flat into the floor. The overall design of the interior is both aesthetically pleasing and seriously functional with most controls easy to find and use. Our only major ergonomic complaint concerns the climate controls, which look like intuitive dials but work more like joysticks. Maximum cargo capacity is 75 cubic feet, which trails behind most of the 4Runner's midsize competitors.
Both engines move the 4Runner out quickly; although the V8 is a must if you plan on doing any serious towing, most buyers will be happy with the less expensive and more fuel-efficient V6. When driven on pavement, the 2006 Toyota 4Runner delivers a smooth, controlled ride, and handling around turns is surprisingly tight and responsive for a traditional body-on-frame sport-ute. Taken off-road, this Toyota SUV is right at home, tackling steep passes with little drama.