2012 Toyota 4Runner Review

Pros & Cons

  • Outstanding off-road capability
  • pleasant on-road demeanor
  • strong V6 engine
  • ample cargo capacity
  • available third-row seat.
  • No V8 option
  • cramped third-row seat.
List Price Range
$17,399 - $23,995

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Edmunds' Expert Review

For the relatively few drivers who require an all-conquering all-terrain SUV, the 2012 Toyota 4Runner is a top choice.

Vehicle overview

Like the white rhino, the Toyota 4Runner is an endangered species. It's one of the last SUVs left with body-on-frame construction and a traditional outdoor work ethic. If you're looking for a vehicle with true off-road capability and all the rugged hardware that makes it possible, the 2012 Toyota 4Runner is here for you.

Being endangered doesn't mean the 4Runner is a relic. Motivated by a powerful 270-horsepower V6, the two- or four-wheel-drive 4Runner will keep up with the Joneses and their more common car-based crossover SUVs while still getting decent fuel economy. The 4Runner's interior is also pretty roomy for cargo and can be optioned with a third-row seat for seven-passenger capacity. Toyota's new "Entune" smartphone integration system is new for the 4Runner this year as well.

In terms of off-road gear, every 4Runner loads up with a specialized traction-control system, hill-hold and hill-descent control and a full-size spare tire. Depending on the trim, there are two types of four-wheel drive (available with low-range gearing, locking center and/or locking rear differentials), two suspension options (one of which can disconnect the front and rear stabilizer bars for greater wheel articulation over rough terrain) and specialized tires.

The main issue you'll want to think about is that when compared to a modern crossover such as the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot or even Toyota Highlander is that the truck-based 4Runner lacks the comfort, utility and general convenience found in those suburban-duty vehicles. And compared to its closest competitor, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 4Runner doesn't offer a V8 engine option and isn't as upscale on the inside. But overall, we like the 2012 Toyota 4Runner and recommend it, even if it represents the last of a dying breed.

2012 Toyota 4Runner models

The 2012 Toyota 4Runner is a midsize SUV offered in three trim levels: SR5, Trail and Limited. The SR5 and Limited are available with 2WD or 4WD and bookend the Trail-grade 4Runner that is 4WD only.

Standard features on the 4Runner SR5 include 17-inch alloy wheels, skid plates, hill-start assist and hill-descent control, heated mirrors, foglights, air-conditioning with rear ventilation, cruise control, full power accessories, a power rear window, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth (with audio streaming) and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.

The 4Runner Trail level is only available as a 4WD model, and it includes the above equipment plus mud guards, a locking rear differential, Crawl Control (which electronically modulates throttle and brakes when ascending or descending hills), off-road-oriented tires, a sunroof, water-resistant seat fabric, power front seats, a rearview camera with a monitor integrated into the mirror, a sliding rear cargo deck, upgraded gauges and two 120-volt household power outlets.

The Limited includes 20-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, keyless ignition/entry, automatic headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats and power lumbar support for the driver seat. Also standard for the Limited is an integrated rearview camera, HD radio and Toyota's Entune smartphone integration system.

Many of the features incorporated by the 4Runner Trail and Limited are available as options for the SR5 model, though specifics will vary based on the region of the U.S. in which you live. Other option highlights include a voice-activated navigation system, a 50/50-split third-row seat, automatic deploying/retracting running boards (not available on Trail) and the KDSS off-road suspension (available only on Trail models).

2012 Highlights

For 2012, the Toyota 4Runner receives new sound system features, including Toyota's new Entune connectivity system. Automatic-deploying running boards are a new option for the SR5 and Limited trim levels.

Performance & mpg

The 2012 Toyota 4Runner comes standard with a 4.0-liter V6 engine that produces 270 hp and 278 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic is the only available transmission. The SR5 and Limited trims' 4WD systems differ in that the SR5 uses part-time dual-range and the Limited utilizes a full-time system with a lockable center differential. The Trail comes only with part-time dual-range 4WD but with a locking rear differential and selectable electronic terrain-sensitive systems. Regardless of model or trim, the 4Runner's towing capacity is rated at 5,000 pounds.

In Edmunds instrumented testing, a rear-drive 4Runner SR5 accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds (8.2 seconds for a 4x4 Trail model), which is about average among competing SUVs. The EPA estimates 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined for a rear-wheel-drive 4Runner, which is also average in this segment. A four-wheel-drive 4Runner gets 1 mpg less on the highway.

Safety

Standard 4Runner safety features include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front knee airbags, front-seat side airbags and full-length, roll-sensing side curtain airbags. For 2012, the Limited comes with Safety Connect, Toyota's emergency assistance (stolen-vehicle locator, roadside assistance and automatic collision notification) system.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 4Runner its top rating of "Good" for both frontal-offset and side-impact protection and a second best "Acceptable" in the roof strength test. In an Edmunds test, a rear-wheel-drive 4Runner SR5 came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, which is average among other SUVs in its class. However, a Trail model with its off-road-oriented tires consumed 140 feet to come to a standstill.

Driving

Cruising around town, the 2012 Toyota 4Runner is surprisingly smooth and comfortable. Despite being built on a truck chassis, there is very little of the bouncy, over-sprung ride you expect from a body-on-frame vehicle capable of serious off-roading. Though no V8 engine is offered, the standard V6 provides plenty of grunt and should be suitable for just about any driver.

On the downside, the 4Runner's on-road handling limits are notably low and the steering feels disconnected and uncommunicative on the pavement. Although the low-speed light effort of the steering makes for easy maneuvering in parking lots, this attribute also makes for less kickback on a rutted or rocky trail.

Off-road, the 4Runner performs very well -- perhaps one of the best -- particularly if it's a Trail model fitted with KDSS.

Interior

The Toyota 4Runner's interior features a geometric, industrial theme that supports this SUV's rugged image. Hard plastics are abundant throughout the cabin, though most touch points are lightly padded. The oversized climate control knobs underscore the 4Runner's utilitarian design, but have a wobbly feel when operated. Notable for 2012 is Toyota's new Entune smartphone integration system that allows one to utilize many popular applications such as Pandora and OpenTable through the car's audio system and display screen.

For more conventional endeavors, the Toyota 4Runner offers spacious seating for five passengers. The 40/20/40-split second row offers cargo-carrying flexibility and each section reclines through 16 degrees in four steps. The optional third-row seat increases the count to seven, though it's suitable only for small adults or children. With all seats folded flat, maximum cargo capacity is a useful 90 cubic feet. An optional sliding rear cargo deck can support up to 440 pounds. Tailgate partygoers will appreciate the optional Party Mode, which directs most of the audio system's sound to the speakers in the liftgate and increases bass response for a thumpin' good time.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Toyota 4Runner.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

It is what it isn't
urbanadventur,06/23/2013
Dollar for dollar, the latest generation 4runner is the best body on frame suv ever. Obviously, this is not a car. It is not a crossover which is nothing more than a tall car in suv clothing. The 4runner eats rocks and mud for breakfast and then with one pass through the car wash rolls down main street with class and style. It is not designed to slalom like a sedan. This is intentional. The 4runner ride is exceptionally smooth and the off road capabilities and reliability are not comparable to any other vehicle in this price range. If you want nothing more than a tall car buy a Durango, Equinox, Cherokee, Explorer or even a Highlander. If you want a real suv buy a 4runner.
Makes Me Laugh!!
pipes3,02/21/2013
I laugh every time I read the reviews about the 2012 4runner because they are all way off!! People, please remember this is not a sports car or a preppy crossover which all of the experts unfairly compare this truck to. What these so called experts do not realize is that there is nothing out there comparable to this burly, reliable, beast of an SUV. Consumer reports with the 4-foot red-head who bashes the 4runner is ridiculous! She has the truck going through a slalom and says there is too much body roll! Really!! This truck is solid as a rock, will run for 300,000 miles and looks tough as nails. Do yourself a favor and test drive this truck and do not listen to the bad reviews....
Got What I Expected...
eglzfan,12/26/2012
Purchased a 2012 4Runner 6 months ago. After 10K mi. the vehicle still performs as it did on day 1. The 4L engine is the largest V6 available in a mid sized SUV. Fuel mileage avgs 19-20 mpg with the best at 23 on longer road trips. If you actually test drive this SUV you will notice a stiff ride, similar to that of a truck...that's what I like about it. Ample storage space satisfies the needs of our family and all our stuff. Dashboard electronics work as expected and nav system got me up north without a problem. Biggest complaint would be lack of headroom. At 6' I'm at the upper limit without hitting my head on the roof. Compared to similar SUVs out there this is a great buy.
It's a Truck!
toytruck1,03/15/2013
Had my 2012 for 10 months with 8,200 on the clock. Be aware: the 3 models have different suspensions; the SR5 being the softest. I didn't need the Trail, the Limited was a bit pricey, so I opted for the SR5. I swapped out the soft factory shocks for Bilstein HD's all around. Well worth it. No more nose dive or side to side wallowing. Gas mileage excellent. I consistently average 19.5-20 mpg. T4R is built like a tank and very tight; no squeaks or rattles. A few caveats: a few interior bits are cheap (door grips), transmission is quick to upshift, could use more sound deadening. Engine feels like it has less than 270 hp, but mash the pedal and it scoots. No problems to date. Nice truck!

Features & Specs

MPG
17 city / 22 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
270 hp @ 5600 rpm
MPG
17 city / 23 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
270 hp @ 5600 rpm
MPG
17 city / 22 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
270 hp @ 5600 rpm
MPG
17 city / 23 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
270 hp @ 5600 rpm
See all Used 2012 Toyota 4Runner features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover24.6%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Acceptable
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2012 Toyota 4Runner

Used 2012 Toyota 4Runner Overview

The Used 2012 Toyota 4Runner is offered in the following submodels: 4Runner SUV. Available styles include SR5 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SR5 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A), Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), Limited 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A), and Trail 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Toyota 4Runner?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Toyota 4Runner trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 is priced between $17,399 and$20,995 with odometer readings between 103670 and159807 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited is priced between $23,995 and$23,995 with odometer readings between 91356 and91356 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2012 Toyota 4Runners are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Toyota 4Runner for sale near. There are currently 3 used and CPO 2012 4Runners listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $17,399 and mileage as low as 91356 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Toyota 4Runner.

Can't find a used 2012 Toyota 4Runners you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Toyota 4Runner for sale - 5 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $9,863.

Find a used Toyota for sale - 1 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $21,669.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota 4Runner for sale - 5 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $10,911.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota for sale - 12 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $21,487.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 Toyota 4Runner?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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