I stumbled upon this car because I needed an SUV after moving to Chicago (very hasty purchase). We had just purchased a house, had a baby and my wife was not working. I drove Honda ( till it was stolen), and 5 german vehicles prior. This 4runner was 15 years old with 126000 miles and affordable ($4K out the door after trading in my Audi A4). I went straight to my mechanic and Replaced the Timing/drive belts, gasket, fuel filter, plugs, battery, and wires. I also poured sea foam into the gas tank and vacuum lines. I also replaced the rear front rotors, pads, rear drums and cable lines (a year later). All in all, $2500 in preventative/replacement maintenance work and $1000 on Dura-trac tires (5). It has been a very dependable, low maintenance vehicle. The only problem I have is an intermittently working digital clock (and If you have ever owned European vehicles, this is laughable or even "cute" problem...REALLY!) I had very little expectations of they vehicle and Toyota in general as I (honestly) snubbed the brand. This truck/runner has been a true winner and worthy vehicle. The 3rd generation build is simple, and ruggedly handsome per-se and I have truly come around to appreciate it greatly (just like Glocks!). I was so impressed that I purchased a 2011 Toyota Highlander for my wife, which we later traded for a Lexus GX 470 (we preferred the body-on-frame V8 - a superb vehicle based on the 03-08 4runner). Back to the subject. What makes this a superior vehicle is the simple design! It drives like it is new, no squeaks or rattles. I will not hesitate to drive this thing to the ends of the earth (literally because parts are readily available world-wide). The engine is amazing! It is not sluggish like the older 4runners/Land Cruiser 80, nor is it as peppy as its modern V6/8 counterparts but It is ample at best. The best thing about the engine is that it is a "non-interference engine" which means that if the TIMING BELT breaks, your engine will just STOP and NOT BE DAMAGED!! I really love this truck and have decided to have the frame sand blasted and undercoated to extend the service-life (what's the point of a 500,000 mile engine when the frame succumbs to rust right?) My mechanic and I have come to the conclusion that my only future repairs will be the bearings/bushings (whenever it goes), regular maintenance and wear replacements. As the blue book value drops, one be sure that this vehicle can command a higher value given the condition. I will most probably never let go of this gem and simply pass it down/on.
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.
This is the BEST car I have ever owned. Purchased it new in 1999. Never had any problem with the engine or transmission. I change the oil approximately every 10,000 to 20,000. I use synthetic Castrol, since day one. Replaced timing belt around 200,000. Almost time for another one. I've owned many cars through the years but this one is outstanding!
Have put 120,000 miles on the '99 4Runner. The only repair issues are a small oil leak, replacing the clutch every 8-10 years, and a brake job or two. All relatively minor repairs. Handles and drives great. Wonderful in the Colorado snow. Great visibility. Sturdy design. Relatively quiet inside although newer models are even quieter. It's a V6 so it has decent power but not great, especially up mountains. If you're thinking of buying a used 99 4Runner and it's got 200k miles on it - Do it! Plan to drive mine another 100k miles at least. Older, reliable vehicles are better for your bank account than losing thousands of dollars in depreciation every year. Repair costs have been minimal in the 9 years I've owned it.
I just purchased a 1999 4Runner Limited with 260K on the odometer. I had driven many Toyotas and Subarus prior to this purchase. The interior shows wear but the drive and the ride are amazing. I live in Florida and this machine has never been in the snow/salt of the cold north. My plan is to fix and repair as needed. I am amazed that this truck feels so new. The only thing that needs fixed/replaced is the climate control module. It is intermittent.