2009 Toyota 4Runner SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Toyota 4Runner SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Toyota 4Runner Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 4.0 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Four Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 236 hp @ 5200 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 16/20 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2009 Toyota 4Runner

  • For a go-anywhere traditional SUV, the 2009 Toyota 4Runner remains one of our top choices. However, those looking for an urban people carrier with little or no off-road capability may want to consider a car-based crossover SUV instead.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Strong V6, pleasant highway ride, outstanding off-road prowess.

  • Cons

    Third-row seat is cramped and doesn't fold flat, limited cargo space.

  • What's New for 2009

    The 2009 Toyota 4Runner adds a new trail edition option package for enhanced off-road capabilities.

Full 2009 Toyota 4Runner Review

What's New for 2009

The 2009 Toyota 4Runner adds a new trail edition option package for enhanced off-road capabilities.


When Toyota introduced the 4Runner in 1984, the "SUV" acronym was mostly unknown to the masses. Two-plus decades on, the SUV is a familiar, ever-evolving part of our automotive landscape. In the beginning, sport-utility vehicles were rugged off-road warriors designed to bust trails and scale rocky peaks. Nowadays, the SUV category offers a wide range of choices, including luxury SUVs, crossovers, mini-utes and so on. There's a sport-utility to suit nearly any taste.

The 2009 Toyota 4Runner is available in several flavors with varying degrees of utility and luxury, but its foundation of off-road strength remains undiluted; the 4Runner was, after all, originally designed to bully mountain paths, and the current model stays true to those roots. Based on a body-on-frame truck chassis, its rugged underpinnings can tackle the gnarliest of backwoods ruts. Thanks to Toyota's engineering and fine-tuning, the 4Runner is also well-mannered and easy to pilot in the city and on the highway.

This isn't to say that the 4Runner can match the convenience of modern crossovers. Vehicles like Toyota's own Highlander, the GMC Acadia or the Hyundai Veracruz all best the 4Runner in terms of on-road comfort, interior roominess and amenities. Meanwhile, there are still some other traditional midsize SUVs out there that are either more powerful or have had some recent updates, such as the Dodge Durango, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Nissan Pathfinder. Help is on the way, as Toyota is expected to release a redesigned 4Runner in the next model year. In the meantime, a 2009 4Runner is still a respectable choice for consumers wanting something that stays true to the original SUV formula.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Toyota 4Runner is a midsize SUV that is offered in three trim levels: SR5, Sport Edition and Limited. The SR5 is the base model, and it comes with standard features that include 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control with rear ventilation, remote keyless entry, cruise control, full power accessories with a power rear window, a tilt steering wheel, a power driver seat (on V8 models) and a CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary audio jack.

Upgrading to the Sport Edition will add 17-inch wheels and Toyota's X-REAS suspension that dampens body roll and pitch, enhancing on-road handling. Also included are power front seats (V6 models) and a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with cruise and audio controls. The decidedly upscale Limited trim level goes a step further by adding illuminated running boards, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a household-style power outlet, a leather-trimmed interior, heated front seats, driver seat memory and a six-CD changer. Most of the Sport Edition and Limited add-ons are available as options for the SR5 model.

Additional 4Runner options include a voice-activated navigation system, an upgraded 10-speaker sound system, a rear-seat entertainment system, detachable personal navigation, iPod connectivity, Bluetooth hands-free, satellite radio, a sunroof, a rear spoiler, third-row seats and a two-tier cargo system. The X-REAS system is offered on the Limited as an option along with a height-adjustable rear suspension. Available in conjunction with the sport package is the urban runner package that includes many of the upmarket features and options listed above, as well as some interior and exterior accents unique to this model.

New for 2009 is the trail edition package for the V6 SR5 with four-wheel drive, which adds a locking rear differential, traction control and Bilstein shocks for added off-road acumen. Also included are seats covered in a water-resistant material and other exterior and interior trim.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2009 Toyota 4Runner is offered with a standard 4.0-liter V6 or an optional 4.7-liter V8. Both engines are available with either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. The V6 produces 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, while the V8 churns out 260 hp and 306 lb-ft of torque. In any configuration, the power is routed through a five-speed automatic transmission. Towing capacity for V6 models is 5,000 pounds when properly equipped, while the rear-wheel-drive V8 manages 7,300 pounds when properly equipped (the four-wheel-drive V8 maxes out at 7,000 pounds).

EPA fuel economy estimates place the rear-wheel-drive 4Runner V6 at 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. A V8 version has a 15/19/17 mpg rating, and four-wheel-drive variants get mileage that's only slightly diminished relative to this figure.


Fostering occupant safety, all 2009 Toyota 4Runners come equipped with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, traction control, front-seat side airbags and roll-sensing side curtain airbags for the front seats and second-row seats. In government crash testing, the 4Runner scored four out of five stars for driver and passenger protection in frontal impacts and a perfect five out of five stars for both front and rear side-impact passenger protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded its highest rating of "Good" for frontal- and side-impact passenger protection.

Interior Design and Special Features

The standard Toyota 4Runner offers spacious seating for five passengers, with the ability to seat two additional passengers in the optional third-row seats. Unfortunately, the third-row seating is extremely cramped, providing barely enough legroom for children. Making things worse, the 50/50-split third row does not stow or fold flat for added cargo space. Instead, the seats must be folded to the sides or removed altogether. Even with the third row left behind, maximum cargo capacity is 75 cubic feet, which is on the small side for a midsize SUV.

On the whole, the 4Runner's interior is handsomely designed with quality materials. Comments on the Limited version's accommodations are akin to those you'd hear regarding a Lexus. Dials and switches are intuitive and well-placed with the exception of the odd, joystick-like climate controls (we'd much rather have conventional knobs).

Driving Impressions

Whether you choose the V6 or the optional V8, power is plentiful -- more than enough to satisfy heavy-footed drivers. If substantial towing capability is required, opting for the V8 is a wise choice; otherwise, the more-fuel-efficient V6 will easily manage any other situation.

Despite being based on a traditional truck platform, the 2009 Toyota 4Runner exhibits a very civilized, smooth and controlled ride. When fitted with the X-REAS suspension, the 4Runner delivers reasonably tight and responsive handling. Perhaps more impressive is its off-road ability, as 4WD 4Runners can overcome steep obstacles and navigate wilderness trails with relative ease.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews


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Vehicle: 2009 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I could not agree more with Jeef's review: something is seriously wrong with the transmission. When I get off the gas, the car shifts down, and instead of coasting along, the increased rpm slows it down. It actually shifts into first gear at as much as 14 mph, leading to a jerky bounce when you re-accelerate, only to immediately notice its mistake and shift into the (also very short) second gear. Bottom line, this nervous transmission actually makes the car quite annoying to drive. Other gripes: The car is overall too smart for it's own good: it won't let you turn off the air intake when in defog mode (think school bus). Also annoying: the 4WD does not engage (or disengage) when you need it.

Annoying transmission bump

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

Bought late in season and have had it for 2 years now. Truck drives and handles well. Fuel mileage better than expected. Only complaints are for an upscale truck many little things left off, ex:no vanity lights, no power seats silly heat/ac controls. But the most annoying is a bump you feel after you stop and let your foot off the brake. It feels as if you are bumped from behind. It has been to the dealer many times hoping they will come up with a fix but no luck yet. The dealer is aware of problem, they call it differential backlash and it is a design defect. In the long run it cannot be good for transmission or my sanity. I am trading truck for another make any day now. Stay away.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Needs new transmission

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Vehicle: 2009 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

Overall I think this 4runner is a good performing SUV. Handles good and everything works as promised except for the transmission. When I slow down for a turn or a stop sign, (while not coming to a complete stop) then step on the throttle the transmission hunts for a gear and the engine revs until the gear is found. This is very annoying because it happens all the time. The dealer says this is normal. If I would have experienced this during the test drive, I would never have bought this vehicle. I am going to suffer with this until the warranty is up then I will get something new. Normally I keep my cars close to 10 years like my previous 1999 4runner which I wish I still had.

So far, so good!

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Vehicle: 2009 Toyota 4Runner Sport Edition 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I have only had this vehicle for 4 months but thought I would post a review. This vehicle is fun to drive. It feels solid, safe and responsive. I have only driven on the highway and around town, but I am anxious to get it out into the country. One complaint is that the transmission frequently feels as if it is not engaged, sort of free spinning. Initially I had difficulty finding a truly comfortable driving position and constantly shifted positions, especially my right leg. But I notice that less and less as time goes on. Even though it is labeled mid-size this is a big vehicle. Plenty of room and storage for friends and gear. Gas mileage is much better than expected at 20.8 per gallon.

Poor navigation system

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

Have had a 1999 4-Runner and needed a new one for the family. Although the vehicle is solidly built and I can't complain about performance, the Navigation System, in word, stinks! Why can't my pax input addresses and/or change addresses on the fly? How inconvenient is it to have to come to a full stop in order to utilize the navigation system? We have a garmin for our other 4-Runner and we have no complaints. I wish I could install the garmin in our 2009 vehicle. For being a Japanese made vehicle, the Navigation System is counter- intuitive. It is absolutely, positively horrible. Moreover, it is not user friendly like our Garmin. We would not have paid for this feature had we known...

Talk About The 2009 4Runner

2009 Toyota 4Runner Discussions See all Started By

2009 4Runner - 4300lbs with 236hp which gives it 18.22lbs/hp vs 2010 4Runner - 4675 lbs with 270hp which gives it 17.31lbs/hp. In this case, the lower number wins. I'll take the off road capabilit...

I tow almost every weekend; either a 600 lb aluminum trailer or a 1,000 lb steel trailer and cargo consisting of two or three dual sport motorcycles, or an ATV and motorcycle, or a couple snowmobiles....

The next generation 4Runner will be a 2010 model (it will be available in Fall of 2009). The 3rd gen 4Runner lasted 7 years. Since this one came out in 2003, 7 years will make it 2010. The dealers are...

Gas Mileage


  • 16
  • cty
  • 20
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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