2008 Toyota 4Runner Review
2008 Toyota 4Runner Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Strong V6 engine, smooth highway ride, above-average off-road capability.
- Third-row seat doesn't fold flat and has little legroom when in use, below-average cargo capacity.
The 2008 Toyota 4Runner gets the formerly optional side curtain airbags as standard equipment.
A longtime favorite of ours, the 2008 Toyota 4Runner is a traditional midsize SUV that does just about everything well. Consumers who don't plan on much recreational use, however, would be better served by a top crossover.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2008 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.11 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$213/mo for 4Runner SR5
Avg. Midsize SUV
Sport-utility vehicles, if one was to paraphrase George Bush Sr., have become considerably "kinder and gentler" in the past 10 years. And that's been a good thing -- crossover models, with their car-based architecture and on-road-biased handling, are much better suited for the way most consumers use their SUVs. But there are still people who like the idea of owning a traditional truck-based SUV, and for them, there's the 2008 Toyota 4Runner.
The body-on-frame 4Runner, a mainstay of Toyota's lineup since the mid-1980s, still has the expected rugged good looks and true off-road capability of a stout, no-nonsense sport-utility vehicle. 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 -- Toyota's redesigned Highlander is a perfect example. But if you want a midsize SUV that doesn't faint at the first sign of dirt, the Toyota 4Runner is still the real deal.
This isn't to say the 4Runner is a feckless choice for urban duty. It drives well, has a powerful V6 or available V8 under the hood, and is reasonably comfortable. But there's no getting away from the fact that it's an older model last redesigned in 2003. Among the old guard of SUVs, the 4Runner still holds its own, though three of its closest competitors, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder and Dodge Durango, have been significantly updated this year. Compared to most modern crossovers, the 2008 Toyota 4Runner is outclassed in terms of interior space, ride quality and fuel efficiency. SUV shoppers not planning on doing much towing or outdoor recreation would be much better off with something like a Highlander, GMC Acadia or Nissan Murano.
Performance & mpg
The Toyota 4Runner is available with rear- 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. Fuel economy estimates for four-wheel-drive 2008 4Runners stand at 16 mpg city and 20 mpg highway for the V6 and 14/17 mpg for the V8.
All models come standard with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control and roll-sensing side-curtain airbags for the first and second rows of seating. Front seat side airbags are also standard. In government crash testing, the 2008 Toyota 4Runner earned four out of five stars in the frontal-impact category and a perfect five stars for side impacts. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the vehicle earned a top "Good" rating for its protection of occupants in frontal-offset and side-impact collisions.
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 2008 Toyota 4Runner delivers a smooth, controlled ride, and handling around turns is surprisingly tight and responsive for a traditional body-on-frame sport-ute. Models with the X-REAS system have their dampers diagonally linked. (The front left damper, or shock, is linked to the rear right and the front right is linked to the rear left.) The system helps improve on-road handling and dampens body roll and pitch. Taken off-road, this Toyota SUV is right at home, tackling steep passes with little drama and delivering an almost luxurious ride even on rutted trails.
The Toyota 4Runner offers roomy quarters for four to five passengers. The optional third-row seat strikes us as an afterthought, however. It provides minimal legroom even for kids and it doesn't fold flat into the floor. Instead, each half of the 50/50 third-row seat must be stowed in an upright position along the sideboards or removed completely if you want to carry cargo. The overall design of the interior is aesthetically pleasing and 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.
2008 Toyota 4Runner models
The 2008 Toyota 4Runner is a midsize SUV. It 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, remote keyless entry, cruise control, full power accessories including a power rear window, tilt steering wheel, power front seats (V8 models), a trip computer and a CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary audio jack. Stepping up to the Sport Edition adds larger 17-inch wheels, "X-REAS" shock absorbers, color-keyed exterior mirrors, power front seats (V6 models), special seat fabric and a telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. High-dollar Limited models pick up illuminated running boards, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 115-volt power outlet, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a six-CD changer and satellite radio.
Options include a navigation system, Bluetooth, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a premium JBL audio system, a third-row seat and a two-tier cargo shelf. The X-REAS shocks are optional for the Limited and come with a height-adjustable rear air suspension.
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4.88 out of 5 stars
2008 Toyota 4Runner Sport Edition 4dr SUV 4WD (4.7L 8cyl 5A)
I bought this truck used in 2011, with 138k miles. Yes, you read that correctly: 138,000 miles! Everything had just been 100% serviced and it was like buying it brand new. In the 30k miles I have had it (including driving halfway across the country), I have only had 2 issues. 1. I have had the driveshaft (?) lubricated twice due to a "thunk" sound and small lurch when stopping - no … charge by the dealer; apparently it is common. 2. This winter, the back hatch has begun to freeze when it's below 30° outside and becomes impossible to open (at least for this gal!). Sort of a pain. Of note: the paint scratches relatively easily, but I haven't noticed any rust issues. Just irritating.
5 out of 5 stars
It keeps going…and going…and going…
2008 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
Update, 5/23: Finally, something broke, at 215k miles. On a rural freeway my radiator sprang a leak. I had it towed to my repairman. He found there was evidence of very slow leakage in all four corners. One tow and new radiator. First major repair, ever. Perfect vehicle. Toyota has me as a customer for life. Update, 11/22: Still going strong. 210 k miles. Still no repairs. Engine … purrs; steering’s tight. A car can’t be any better than this! Update, 5/22: Other than normal oil, lube, filters and tire rotation, no change. I just had it detailed, to clean up some puppy mud. I replaced three little light bulbs in the dash in about 1/2 hr. Still going strong at c. 203k. Update 11/21: Nearing 200k. About a year ago the latch that closes the rear hatch froze up with rust. We have lots of salt in MN winters. The dealer repaired it. So far, other than maintenance, my needed repairs were: 1) A rubber boot on a front axle needed to be replaced. 2) That latch needed to be replaced. That’s it. Perfect vehicle. It might make 300k. Update: 11/20: Good old 4Runner now has 185k miles. No repairs done since last review. The latch release for the rear hatch has rusted shut. I finally need to have dealer repair work at nearly 185k mikes. Excellent vehicle. Update: 4/20 Still its same wonderful self. 175k now. Doesn’t use a drop of oil. 19 mph; 17-18 with trailer. This winter the electric latch on the tailgate quit releasing, and I need to replace a dash lightbulb in the heater control section. Amazing vehicle. Update: 4/19 4Runner now has 162k miles. Steering is still tight. No rust except small spot on driver’s door sill. The only repair was a torn boot on a front CV joint. Mechanic, who is a family friend replaced both front CV shafts for good measure. That’s it at 162 k. Remarkable, amazing vehicle!! In June of 2013, a full-sized crew cab Chevy pickup ran a red light and hit my left front corner. My left rear corner swung around and his his R. R. side. $23,000 body damage to 4runner, and they couldn't open the hood. Front end was bent about 10" to the right. Adjuster said the 4runner probably saved me from serious injury or worse. I came out without a scratch. Update: 4/18- ' Car now has 145k, and has been problem-free since I bought it at 28k. I have replaced one set of tires, brake pads and front rotors, and regular maintenance. That's it. Front end is still tight, and even though it's now 10 years old, it only has one tiny spot of rust, and that's on the driver's door sill, about the size of a dime. An outstanding vehicle! The dealer found me an '08 with only 29k miles- it's virtually identical, but grey not black. It's been a great vehicle. It's been elk hunting in CO, fishing on logging roads in Canada, and through some bad winters in MN. Excellent vehicle. I get 19 mpg unless towing a heavy boat, (16). 24 at 65 on the freeway. Update: 4/16 4Runner now has 90k miles. I have still had zero repairs. Steering and suspension still feel tight. I have one spot of rust on the driver's side door frame. Update:10/17 I just replaced the Sam's Club Michelin tires that had 115k miles, and still had about 3/16" of tread. 4Runner now has 130k miles, and the only repair has been to replace the spark plugs, brakes and front rotors, as well as normal maintenance. It has been as close to a perfect vehicle that I can imagine. Steering and suspension are still tight and sound. All systems are functioning perfectly, although sometimes the side mirrors are slow to respond to controls. Rust spot on door frame hasn't changed. No other body rust. Update: 10/19: Just passed 170k. Still no repairs needed. Front end still feels like new. All A-OK.
4.88 out of 5 stars
Yea, I loved my 2008 Urban Runner
2008 Toyota 4Runner Sport Edition 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
This was my dream vehicle. It handled well on the highway, was great in winter conditions, and is one of very few SUV's that have any strong styling anymore. Furthermore, with the truck frame, I believe it is one of the safest. I too was involved in a head on accident at 65 Mph and survived well in this truck! When I originally purchased this vehicle in Spring of 2009, I was glad to have … the confidence of all the safety features, but never thought I would have to use them in such a severe accident. Glad to have survived, wish my 4Runner did too.
5 out of 5 stars
Bought it with 180k miles, and it rides like new!
Indiana Bruce, 10/28/2016
2008 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
I saw this on a dealers lot with over 180,000 miles on it, and it looked like new. Knowing it was a Toyota, I bought it. Am SOOOO glad I did. I have the 6 cylinder and often pull a 7x14 lightweight cargo trailer with it. It does great. I love so many things about Toyotas. A headlight went out, and it was about $12 and took less than 5 minutes to replace. I just changed the oil … tonight, and it's so easy. The filter is easy to get to, and even has a shroud around it to catch any oil that runs off so it doesn't mess up the engine area. Oh, and it's now about 210,000 and doesn't use a DROP of oil and runs like new. The body and paint are still perfect with no signs of rust or corrosion. I expect to easily get 300k or maybe more. Love, love, love it.
2008 4Runner Highlights
|Combined MPG||18 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$213/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||rear wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
NHTSA Overall Rating
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver4 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover3 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestNot Tested
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintPoor