This is one of the very few mid sized truck based SUV's out there. I like to do some mild off road activites and have a boat to tow, so a car based SUV is not an option. So far I have loved it. Even though it is a mid size SUV, it has a very commanding stance on the highway. It feels larger than it is, people even comment on how large it looks. The handling is good for this type of SUV, especially since its truck based. It takes some adjustments at first, but once you figure out how to drive it, you'll be pleased. The ride is a little on the bouncy side, but again its a truck! It does well on basic off roads. A great alternative to a full size suv if you need 2 rows of seating.
Update, 6/2016: We did our first long trip in the 2013, from Dallas to Indianapolis via Nashville for the 500. Loved driving it, or being a front seat passenger- comfortable, quiet, great view of the road, but the back seats don't recline like the 2005. I could NOT get comfortable back there. And I really miss the automated comfort controls for a/c. That alone may be justification for getting the Limited version. Mileage is also not as good- I was hoping to see that climb on a long highway trip, but 20.7 is as good as it got. I have yet to pull my trailer with this one, but I am suspecting the larger motor might make it a little easier. Original Review: We use our 4Runner both as a daily driver and weekend ranch vehicle. That's why we went with this, our second 4Runner- first one was a 2005 SR5 that we just traded on this 2013. We wanted the solid body-on-frame construction because we haul stuff all the time, sometimes off-road, and the towing capacity because we pull a small trailer sometimes. Our 2005 was bulletproof- the ONLY failure in 188,000 miles was the a/c evaporator coil. We expect this one to be similar, as most 4Runner owners will attest- they're reliable and will take punishment. They are more utilitarian and ride a little rougher than other SUVs (except for Jeeps) because of the construction, and tend to pitch or roll on uneven pavement, which can be more than some people can deal with. Towing a 2,000 lb trailer is noticeable but comfortable, no strain on the drivetrain. That 5,000 lb limit? Only if I had to for a short distance- nice to know it's capable though. We also do quite a bit of highway, and for that, the 4Runner is great. Pretty quiet (70 mph is just over 2,000 rpm), visibility is super, seats are comfy for long hauls, and we've clocked 22 mpg at 80 mph across Wyoming. Factory sound system is pretty good. Watch out for tires with noisy tread patterns though, they'll cut through. The Michelin LTX M/S 2 is the best replacement tire for low noise and good handling. The interior is very useable with plenty of elbow room, and headroom for a 6-footer. Our 2013 has a nice sunroof too, and I still have a few inches to spare. We did lose some features on the 2013 though that I will miss- the programmable cabin temperature from the 2005 is gone, the powered tailgate latch is gone, and now we have a radio antenna, instead of FM diversity built into the windows. Those are real cost-cutting throwbacks to me. The glove box is half the capacity (no "gun compartment" anymore), and there are no closeable storage compartments around the interior, just open compartments. Just remember why you bought it- decent performance, classy enough for dinner, haul stuff, tow stuff without breaking down. Ever.
I just picked up a 2013 trail edition. I paid extra for Nitto Terra Grappler ATs as I've had so many problems in the past with the standard HTs that come with all 4Runners. I realize that most folks don't off-road but we do a few times a year. I traded in a 2011 trail which ran perfectly. This should be exactly the same but it does feel a little different with shift points and throttle response.
After one year, love it as much as the day I bought it.
written on 05-28-2014
An extremely solid, truck-based SUV. Purchased new in 2013. After 13-months now has 20k miles and it's only been to the shop for oil changes. Ride is better than most trucks, but the build is solid and body stiffness is superb. Seats are quite comfortable, as are heater/AC and the overall ride. My wife -- the ultimate judge of comfort, with a bad back -- has no problem taking road trips in this vehicle. I mostly use this as a commuter vehicle, but occasionally haul stuff or go camping off-road. Average 21.3 MPG in combo city/highway. Engine is more than adequate. It's the perfect vehicle for my needs. A well-engineered, reliable ride.