2003 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4WD 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 4A)
Bought this car new, spent 10 winters with it in Virginia and Maryland and now enjoying sunny southwest. Only thing that ever failed was an A/C relay that the dealer tried to tell me was a thousand dollar compressor so $16 later the problem was fixed (thanks Internet car forums!). If you have the 4WD version, you do need to "exercise" the 4WD selection, otherwise the solenoid in the transfer case that brings in the front wheels will lockup and it's not a cheap repair. Just putting it into 4WD once a month prevents the problem. Mileage has been acceptable for its size and the technology in place at time of purchase. I towed a race car and trailer all over the eastern seaboard with this rig, never broke a sweat, never lit up the trans overheat light. However, the transmission fluid is an issue in the 03 version. Dealers will tell you it's a permanent fluid in a sealed system that never needs changing. Not true. I have an independent repair shop that uses the specified Toyota fluid in it and I get it flushed and filled every 60K miles, even though I no longer tow. These electronically controlled transmissions cost almost as much as a new engine so take care of them. If you can find one of these at a reasonable price, you will not regret the purchase.
2003 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4WD 4dr SUV (4.7L 8cyl 5A)
This 4runner must be one of the lowest cost to own vehicles of all time. Purchased new 14 years ago and love it even more today. Own a 2017 4wd pickup and a 2014 sedan but can't force myself to part with this 4runner.
2003 Toyota 4Runner Sport Edition 4WD 4dr SUV (4.7L 8cyl 5A)
Bought my 2003 Sport Edition v8 toyota 4runner with 164000 miles on it. It now has 214000 miles on it. It has not been pampered. I spend most of my time off road. It has been on slick rock, sand, snow, mud, water and has powered through with ease. The only big expense was a routine timing belt change. Other than that I have not had one problem with it. Runs strong, no rattles, everything is solid, everything works, no electrical problems and the truck still looks brand new. I have a dog that is in and out and the seats still look brand new. I put a 2 inch leveling kit on it and have been able to be off road and not high center. Not one oil leak. I change my oil every 4000 miles and that'ts it. I plan on driving this until it dies. It will easily make 300,000 miles and still run strong. They are very pricey but well worth the money. The Toyota will out last any car you own. Biggest complaint I have is that I can't buy the exact same year/model brand new. My mom also has the exact same year and model. Not one problem with it. Hers has 190,000 miles on it and has not had one problem... Love the toyota 4runner. Gas mileage sucks but worth it. These people saying they get 23 miles/gallon with the v8 or the v6 are [non-permissible content removed] This thing also tows amazing.. I tow a 7000 pound boat with no problem. No swaying and no power issues.
2003 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Rwd 4dr SUV (4.7L 8cyl 5A)
I was lucky enough to find my 2003 SR5 4Runner (with RWD, 4.7L V8) at a dealer's auction; a friend has a dealer's license. The vehicle had under 17K miles on it when I bought it for 17K 14 years ago, and was coming out of Florida. It had been a warranty return and fell under that state's Lemon Law. Concerned, I called the seller prior to purchase and they told me that the reason for the return was a sulphur smell that they could never fully address for the customer - the one who purchased it new and apparently returned it during the first year. I decided to take a gamble on it and kept it 14 years - enjoying great reliability and comfort while driving it. After two timing belt replacements, brake jobs and basic maintenance I'd planned on keeping it for another 100K, but then the dealer said it needed a new rear end to the tune of 4K. I really wrestled with whether or not to sell it or fix and keep, but ultimately traded it in on a Certified 2014 Toyota Rav4 AWD XLE to obtain the AWD capabilities and fewer miles. I will miss the 4Runner's size, looks, and its ability to easily pull hills even when fully loaded, but the 2WD in the Pacific Northwest was an issue when it snowed, it had a terrible turning radius and visibility (large posts) was sometimes an issue. It's been a great ride though, and if you can do your own repairs when the big stuff happens and don't live in an area where 4WD or AWD is really needed- snap it up!
2003 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4WD 4dr SUV (4.7L 8cyl 5A)
I enjoyed every minute of the 14 years with my 2003 4Runner. AWD is great in the snow and also on the beach. Strong acceleration; never felt top-heavy. A truly reliable and comfortable vehicle. If my son was older, I'd save it for him, but we've got 9 years to go! I'll be shopping for a 4Runner for him when the time comes.