Overview & Reviews
Few SUVs have the level of name recognition that the Toyota 4Runner enjoys. Launched in 1984, the 4Runner has always been Toyota's smaller and more affordable complement to the legendary Land Cruiser. Even though the first 4Runner was little more than Toyota's compact two-door pickup with a removable top, it was nonetheless rugged and tough. Over time, the 4Runner has earned its own reputation as a durable vehicle -- off-road and on.
During the SUV-crazy '90s, Toyota introduced more models, which allowed the company to move the 4Runner up a few notches in size, accoutrements and price. Still truck-based and still outfitted with a solid rear axle, the current Toyota 4Runner boasts old-school brawn. A midsize crossover SUV will likely be a better choice for most shoppers, considering a crossover's more carlike handling and fuel economy, but the 4Runner continues to be a top choice for a dependable SUV that's both comfortable, yet rugged enough for recreational off-road duty.
Current Toyota 4Runner
The current Toyota 4Runner is based on the same platform as the rugged FJ Cruiser. As ever, it has a trucklike solid rear axle for superior off-road performance. There are three trim levels: SR5, Trail and Limited. All are powered by a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. The sole transmission offered is a five-speed automatic. The SR5 and Limited can be had in either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive (part-time system on SR5, full-time system on the Limited), while the Trail comes only with part-time 4WD.
The SR5 comes standard with alloy wheels, skid plates, foglights, air-conditioning, cruise control, a rearview camera, full power accessories with a power rear window, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth, a touchscreen interface, Toyota's Entune smartphone integration system and an eight-speaker audio system. The Trail adds a locking rear differential, Crawl Control (which automatically modulates the engine and brakes when ascending or descending hills), off-road tires and water-resistant upholstery.
The luxurious Limited gets Toyota's X-REAS adaptive suspension dampers (for controlling body roll), keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control and an upgraded audio system. Major options include a third-row seat and a navigation system. The available Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) can disconnect the front and rear stabilizer bars at speeds below 40 mph for greater wheel articulation over uneven terrain.
In reviews, we've been pleased with the Toyota 4Runner's excellent off-road ability and strong V6 engine. It's also useful for carrying people and cargo thanks to its available third-row seat and 90 cubic feet of maximum cargo space. Just don't expect it to drive like a car-based crossover -- this is a traditional SUV. If all you need is an urban runabout, there are better choices.
Used Toyota 4Runner Models
The current 4Runner represents the fifth-generation model that debuted for 2010. The new styling had an edgier look, highlighted by a blocky front grille and pronounced fender flares. At first the SR5 2WD came standard with a 2.7-liter inline-4 (157 hp and 178 lb-ft) matched to a four-speed automatic gearbox. Given its underpowered nature, we weren't sad to see it discontinued in the next model year. For 2012, the 4Runner received Toyota's available Entune smartphone integration system. These 4Runners lack the current version's rather aggressive front end styling, revamped interior and a few newly standard features including the Entune system and a rearview camera.
Prior to this, there was the fourth-generation 4Runner, which was produced from 2003-'09. As before, this 4Runner was meant to be off-road-worthy, good-looking and built to last. The frame employed fully boxed side rails that significantly increased torsional rigidity. This eliminated much of the body flex that gave the previous version a sloppy ride on the highway. The fourth-generation 4Runner also featured a roomier and much-improved cabin.
The standard engine was a 4.0-liter V6 rated at 245 hp, and it originally came with a four-speed automatic. There was also an optional V8 that produced just 235 hp but a healthy 320 lb-ft of torque (vs. 282 lb-ft for the V6); a five-speed automatic was mandatory here. In 2005, the V8 was bumped up to 270 hp and 330 lb-ft, and the V6 received a five-speed automatic. A revised power-rating procedure for 2006 caused output numbers to drop a bit, but actual power was unchanged.
This 4Runner was available in SR5, Sport or Limited trim, and a third-row seat was optional on SR5 and Limited beginning in 2004. Even the SR5 was quite nicely equipped, including features like automatic climate control and full power accessories. The Sport added off-road-ready items like a roof rack and side steps, as well as bigger wheels and front brakes and Toyota's X-REAS suspension system for reducing body roll. The Limited was the top-of-the-line model, boasting leather seating and dual-zone climate control. A navigation system was optional, and it included a back-up camera starting in 2004. Model year 2006 brought more styling tweaks and extra sound-deadening material, and the previously optional side curtain airbags became standard for '08.
In reviews, we found the fourth-generation Toyota 4Runner to be surprisingly light and responsive for a truck-based SUV. For general use, the powerful and more fuel-efficient V6 was satisfactory, but the torquey V8 was useful for towing, and it was also more refined. As expected, this 4Runner shined off-road. On the downside, it provided less cargo space than most of its midsize competitors, and the optional third-row seat didn't fold completely flat and offered limited legroom. Also, the 4Runner's utilitarian roots produced trucklike body motions at times.
The third-generation 4Runner was sold from 1996-2002. It came in three trims -- base, SR5 and Limited. It looked great but lacked power, and it also had a hefty price tag. Depreciation has neutralized much of the price premium, however, and this 4Runner still holds its value quite well, which is advantageous when it comes time to sell.
As numerous car-based SUVs entered the market, the third-generation 4Runner grew old quickly, and its weaknesses began to show. Two engines were available: a 150-hp 2.7-liter inline-4 and a 183-hp 3.4-liter V6 engine, neither of which was particularly strong for the time. Some of our editors also thought that the body was too narrow, making the cabin feel tight and claustrophobic. Furthermore, the stereo was difficult to operate -- an unusual criticism for a Toyota product. Still, this model impressed with its off-road prowess and typically high Toyota build quality. Buyers in search of a tough, capable SUV with a reputation for durability could do much worse than a 4Runner from this era.
Prior to the third generation, the Toyota 4Runner was even rougher around the edges, but it was a solid value in its day. The second-generation 4Runner, sold from 1990-'95, came in two trim levels: SR5 and SR5 V6. The SR5 was powered by a 116-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder, while the SR5 V6 came with a 150-hp 3.0-liter V6. Most models sold were four-doors, though two-door models were also offered.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 2,243.00
Fun and Fast - 2005 Toyota 4Runner
By Patrick - December 30 - 3:56 am
Traded my landcruiser in on 05 Sport V8. Great engine and suspension is firm but very stable. This SUV will hold the road and has the engine to make it fun. Getting 17.5 mpg. not broken in yet so it may get better (still much better then the cruiser). Typical Toyota quality. An all around great vehicle!
Great Truck - 1995 Toyota 4Runner
By John Fogle - December 24 - 10:00 am
I love to drive this truck, it's comfortable, but lacks power. Being 6'4" it could use a little more leg room. Gas milage could be better. Also had a blown head gasket while going up a grade on the freeway, temp. gauge never moved off normal, so cracked the block. Toyota claims that the head gasket recall of earlier engines was fixed and I was stuck with the cost of a new engine.
Very Solid - 2006 Toyota 4Runner
By ColoradoKid - December 21 - 9:43 am
I couldn't be happier! I have researched SUVs for some time; the '06 4 Runner is a great vehicle. Quiet, smooth, and fun to drive.... Kudos to Toyota.
Versatility and Value. Will last 4ever. - 2000 Toyota 4Runner
By PD - December 21 - 8:13 am
Why spend 13 grand on a 2000 Toyota? There's simply no vehicle out there like it. Incredibly versatile. 4 door, 4wd, V6, manual tranny (i might look at a new one if they still offered the stick), decent gas mileage (way better than the Jeep I used to drive), composed on the highway, QUIET for an SUV, really comfortable sport seats, laughs at the snow, and of course Toyota reliability. The build quality is ridiculous. 8 years old and no rattles or squeaks. Almost feels like a convertible with the windows down, the tailgate window down, and the sunroof open. I paid a lot more than I would have for a 2000 Explorer, but compare it to a new 4Runner and it's a no-brainer. Will go forever.
I love my 4runner! - 1999 Toyota 4Runner
By Jess - December 19 - 2:13 pm
I love my 4runner. It's fun to drive, is very reliable, has had minimal problems and overall has been the best car purchase I've ever made. Mine has almost 165K miles and still runs wonderfully. A great buy, I'd reccomend a 4runner to anyone!
Great vehicle! - 2002 Toyota 4Runner
By Luis - December 17 - 12:03 pm
I love this vehicle! I've had it for over 3 years and 80k miles and not one single repair (knock on wood). The only work done on it has been changing the fluids and a new set of tires last month. It represents Toyota's quality at its best. The only complaint is that the interior is somewhat small compared to other SUVs.
Best Car - 2000 Toyota 4Runner
By pumasoccer3 - December 15 - 7:36 am
I have trusted it and it broke down once because of a starter that i did not change which is suppose to be changed every 10 years. And since then i haven't had a problem great car. Going to give it to my 16 year old.
2003 Toyoya 4Runner Ltd AWD V8 - 2003 Toyota 4Runner
By Dave - December 12 - 1:43 am
This is one of the best SUVs made today. As my 4th Toyota, this one really rocks. The V8 Power, excellent acceleration and handling and very good quality make this baby stand out in it's class. When you weigh it all out.. Toyota overall quality is way above all the rest of the rest. Every vehicle has some level of warrantee work and this one needs very little.
4Runner - 2004 Toyota 4Runner
By no - December 11 - 6:06 pm
Excellent vehicle. Good looking, fun to drive, reliable, excellent in snow, sand, & mud. Well built. Gets better gas mileage than some smaller vehicles.
love my car?truck? - 2006 Toyota 4Runner
By Linda - December 4 - 9:03 pm
1st time suv owner. Drives great and quiet. I have a few complaints but so far overall I would recommend this vehicle