When Toyota redesigned the 4Runner in 1996, it created a good-looking and competent, off-road hauler with enough luxury amenities to win over any middle-class suburbanite looking for something to drive to work Monday through Friday and take skiing on the weekends. In 1996, the 4Runner was a new breed of SUV, one that put some distance between itself and its "truck" heritage. That differentiation brought with it a high price tag which made the 4Runner one of the more expensive midsize sport-utility vehicles available. People didn't seem to mind the high prices, though, as we received mail from readers for nearly 18 months after the 4Runner's overhaul indicating that the truck was selling at or near MSRP--a sure sign that consumers were crazy about this truck.
What a difference three years makes. The 4Runner still sells well, but the reasons are less clear. Lately the trend in SUV design has been one toward car-like handling and luxury amenities rather than truck-like character. Since the redesigned 4Runner came to market, most of the entrants have become smoother, quieter and more refined. Toyota, and its upscale counterpart Lexus, offer two car-based SUVs that do well, the Lexus RX300 and Toyota RAV4. Mercedes has introduced the ML320, which is a true truck that has been equipped with a number of "car" parts to improve on-road ride and handling. Even Jeep has gotten into the comfort game, refining the Jeep Grand Cherokee and positioning it against this new breed of sissified SUVs.
The 4Runner we tested was certainly not a sissy. The SR5 V6 four-wheel-drive model we drove comes standard with a 3.4-liter V6 engine that makes 183 horsepower @ 4300 rpm and 217 foot-pounds of torque @ 3600 rpm. These numbers might suggest that the revs must build before the engine has any appreciable grunt or power; that is simply not the case. The 4Runner's DOHC powerplant comes on remarkably strong down low, giving this SUV capable acceleration. Midrange power is impressive too, allowing the 4Runner to make the most of openings in traffic on congested freeways.
All 4Runners are equipped with rack-and-pinion steering, although one of our drivers commented that it felt slower and less communicative than the recirculating-ball steering found on his mother's '76 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. This means that 4Runner drivers are apt to wrestle with the truck and its large turning radius when trying to finagle into a parking space at the supermarket. We sure did.
A double-wishbone front suspension and solid-beam rear suspension help keep the 4Runner's tires planted to terra firma when the terra becomes infirma. Yes, the 4Runner is an enthusiastic off-roader made better this year by the addition of a driver-controlled locking differential. This boulder-bashing goodness is augmented by an 11-inch ground clearance that will allow all but the lamest off-roaders to keep the 'Runner's underbelly components safe from jagged outcroppings.
As one might expect, the 4Runner's suspension doesn't provide the most compliant on-road ride, which is unfortunate, since sport-utility vehicles spend most of their time on the road. The 4Runner is smooth enough on suburban boulevards, but becomes uncomfortably choppy on the freeway where expansion joints and pavement irregularities are the norm. The tires don't help either, humming and bouncing along like Lenny in Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men."
Edmund's staffers have issues with the 4Runner's interior, and it is here that the 4Runner is most obviously outclassed by the new wave of sport-utility contenders. The 4Runner's seats are low and uncomfortable for both front and rear passengers. This was surprising for us, since our truck came equipped with optional sport seats that provided six-way manual adjustments. With all of our fiddling, you would think that we could have found a comfortable driving position. Instead, we ended up frustrated and uncomfortable.
Other interior missteps include a poorly placed stereo faceplate, a flat center console that isn't oriented toward the driver, and slide levers for the climate-control system. No, none of these problems are earth-shattering but they all make the 4Runner feel out-of-date when compared to the likes of the Nissan Pathfinder or Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Our biggest gripe with the 4Runner is not its on-road ride or interior flaws; it's with the truck's high price. Our model topped the $30,000 mark, and didn't include things like running boards or a leather interior. We think that 30 grand is a high price to pay for an SUV, especially one that doesn't offer anything more, content-wise, than a Nissan Xterra or Jeep Cherokee. If Toyota wants to sell the 4Runner as a full-purpose four-wheel-drive vehicle, that's fine with us. They just need to bring the price down to put the 4Runner in line with vehicles that occupy the lower end of the market. If, however, Toyota wants to sell the 4Runner to middle-class families who are looking for solid value, they're going to have to add content without raising the price.
Toyota sells quality vehicles. Sometimes that quality is accessible, as in the case of the Camry or Corolla. Sometimes it is out of reach but worth the stretch, as in the case of the awe-inspiring Land Cruiser. Three years ago Toyota might have been able to get away with commanding a premium for the 4Runner simply based on the truck's bulletproof reputation. In the intervening years, however, the competition has answered with vigor. Everyone is selling trucks now, and everyone has improved their quality. Nissan, Jeep and Ford have compelling reasons for you to visit their showrooms when you are thinking about buying an SUV. It's time for Toyota to take off the gloves and get serious in this segment.
Is the 1999 Toyota 4Runner a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 1999 Toyota 4Runner and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 1999 4Runner featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process All of our reviews are written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
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How do people like the 1999 Toyota 4Runner? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 1999 Toyota 4Runner and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 1999 4Runner 4.6 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 1999 4Runner.
Review Great vehicle if you like the outdoor lifestyle. I love driving with all the windows and sunroof open. Feels like a Jeep but without the noise and rides much better. The V6 engine is weak once you start to load up the vehicle. Although it does have great off the line torque. The ride is truck-like but I am happy with it. The reliability and build quality is quite good. As long as you keep a good maintenance, this vehicle will practically run forever. Lots of aftermarket upgrades for the vehicle. I end up adding a TRD supercharger, URD fuel mods, Doug Thorley header, TRD exhaust, IPT valve body upgrade, 32" A/T tires, Bilstein shocks, and offroad armor. Overall, it is a very capable vehicle.
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What options are available on the 1999 Toyota 4Runner?
Available Toyota 4Runner 1999 Submodel Types: SUV
Available Trims: SR5, Limited, SR5 Premium, TRD OFF-ROAD Premium, TRD OFF-ROAD, Sport Edition, Trail, TRD PRO, Trail Premium, SR5 V6, Base
Exterior Colors: Magnetic Gray Metallic, Midnight Black Metallic, Classic Silver Metallic, Super White, Blizzard Pearl, Nautical Blue Metallic, Black, Barcelona Red Metallic, Titanium Metallic, Natural White, Galactic Gray Mica, Attitude Black Metallic, Salsa Red Pearl, Pacific Blue Metallic, Dorado Gold Pearl, Millennium Silver Metallic, Shoreline Blue Pearl, Driftwood Pearl, Imperial Jade Mica, Shadow Mica, Stratosphere Mica, Dorado Gold, White, Beige Pearl Metallic, Cardinal Red, Cavalry Blue, Imperial Jade/Imperial, Inferno, Quicksand, Stellar Blue Pearl, Sunfire Red Pearl, Thunder Cloud/Thunder
Interior Colors: Black leather, Black cloth, Graphite cloth, Graphite leatherette, Black leatherette, Sand Beige leather, Redwood Leather leather, Sand Beige leatherette, Sand Beige cloth, Stone, Stone cloth, Gray, Sand Beige premium cloth, Black/Graphite premium cloth, Dark Charcoal cloth, Taupe cloth, Dark Charcoal, Graphite premium cloth, Oak, Taupe