By on January 14, 2010

Remember what 4Runners used to be like?

We’re at a difficult phase in the global economy. Economists would have you believe that we’re out of recession and things are starting to look rosy. But just talk to someone like Peter Schiff and he’d have you believe that a second downturn is inevitable. It really is tough to say where the economy will go and it’s showing in the car market. USA Today reports that Toyota are looking at their 4Runner & FJ Cruiser models and wondering whether to build a new generation or not.

“We have to look at that market closely,” said Jim Lentz, head of Toyota’s U.S Sales operation. Mr Lentz went on to mention that with the market for truck based, full-frame vehicles contracting and the fuel economy standards coming into force, the case for these vehicles’ existence makes less sense. Do they make more sense as unibody trucklets? That’s one of the possibilities Toyota is exploring.

However, one vehicle which Toyota will not give up on is the Tundra. Toyota has indicated that it will push  forward with full size pick up trucks, and indeed, ToMoCo has just added a second shift at its San Antonio Tundra plant. Therefore, it’s a good bet that the Sequoia SUV will carry on production, as it is built off the same platform.

Toyota sold 19,675 4Runners last year, as volume fell 59 percent. FJ Cruiser volume for 2009 was 11,941, down 58 percent. Tundra sold 79,385 units last year, a 42.2 percent drop from 2008.

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32 Comments on “Truck Thursday: Toyota Mulls FJ/4Runner Replacements, Boosts Tundra Output...”

  • avatar

    So if Tundra is down 42% YOY, why in the world are they boosting production and adding a shift?

  • avatar

    Because Toyota is the new GM.

    (snark off…..)

    • 0 avatar

      A quick look at the article would show the following: “Production at Toyota Motor Corp.’s San Antonio truck plant is slated to return to full swing on the last week of February for the first time since the summer of 2008, and it’s looking for another 150 workers.”  Basically, they’ve been underproducing since the economic meltdown… you know, making as many as they are selling to keep incentives low.  Smacks of being “the new GM” like crazy, huh?  You know, doing something crazy like lowering production when sales were low.  Sales are returning, not to 2007 levels, but better than late 08 ~ most of 09, so they are likely selling more Tundras.  Plus, the plant initially didn’t build the Sequoia model either.  Indiana had all Sequoia volume when the Texas plant started up. 

      edit: damnit, caught by racebeer’s ninja edit. haha

  • avatar

    After considering several different CUVs for my family and utility vehicle, I took a look at the new 4Runner.  I’ve always been a fan of the vehicle and even considered buying a local used one this fall.  I test drove the 2010 SR5 on Friday.  There is no doubt about it.  That is the utility vehicle I want.  It has a real 4WD system to get up and down unpaved, unmaintained roads, a very solid chassis feel, and 22mpg highway.  It will suppliment my GTI and MINI Cooper S for vacation/camping/biking/hiking duty plus be capable of pulling a small trailer for home depot runs.  Considering the 4Runner’s great reputation for longevity, I don’t imagine I’ll have to buy another one for 15 years or even more.  Simply put, Toyota, don’t kill the 4Runner.  It is too functional to let die. 

    • 0 avatar

      This is news to no one.

      I hate to put a dampen on your parade..
      Last few months have put plenty of dark clouds over Toyota, in their manufacturing, in their cost cutting, plenty of lawsuits, including frame issues, computer and pedal issues.

      Then again..
      Their CEO publically admitted that they need to scale back the amount of factories they have and and cut down on the SUVS.

      On top of…
      They arent building exciting vehicles and they are playing the same SUV / CUV game that Ford is, with the 500lb v cost v weight v size v efficiency difference in the Edge / Escape and current Exploder.

  • avatar

    USA Today reports that Toyota are looking at their 4Runner & FJ Cruiser models and wondering whether to build a new generation or not.

    Toyota just came out with an all-new 4Runner, so these plans would be a few years out.  I’m not aware of their plans for the FJ, however.

  • avatar

    I thought the Tacoma was going to Texas, anyone know?

    • 0 avatar

      From the linked article: “A plant spokesman said Wednesday that on Feb. 22, production at the 2.2 million-square-foot facility where Tundra pickups — and come this summer the Tacoma — are built will ramp up back to two shifts, which will help beef up Tundra inventory before workers start building the midsize Tacoma pickup. “

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “the market for truck based, full-frame vehicles contracting and the fuel economy standards coming into force”

    Diesel? Yeah, never mind.

  • avatar


    From how their vehicles line up…
    The 4Runner doesnt do anything that the larger Sequoia cant do.
    NTM, the 4Runner doesnt do anything that the smaller (by inches) Highlander cant do.

    Of course knowing.. that (in order of size / cost) RAV4, Highlander/Venza, 4Runner and Sequoia have ALL gained weight and or size.

    So in essense..
    If ANYTHING Toyota needs a vehicle smaller than Rav4.
    And, they all have “4wd” but without snow tires.. in snow areas (only actual reason for having 4wd in any vehicle especially a truck based SUV).. its all pretty much useless.

    • 0 avatar

      “The 4Runner doesnt do anything that the larger Sequoia cant do.
      NTM, the 4Runner doesnt do anything that the smaller (by inches) Highlander cant do.”

      Obviously you have driven all three of these vehicles and can thus backup that statement with actual fact?

      The sequoia is a bloated beast fit only for driving on the street.  The new ’10 4Runner was able to run the Rubicon pretty much stock (aftermarket rock sliders and factory sized AT or MT tires were added for the run).  Two completely different vehicles, and your statement is patently false.  The Highlander is pretty much a car, and can’t do what the 4Runner does either.

      If anything the Sequoia should die, and the 4Runner should shrink in size.

      “And, they all have “4wd” but without snow tires.. in snow areas (only actual reason for having 4wd in any vehicle especially a truck based SUV).. its all pretty much useless.”

      Really?  Have you ever even driven a four wheel drive vehicle?  Time for a reality check.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota co-produces a smaller Rush with Daihatsu, it’s pretty rad (although honestly I only touched it at their Odaiba showtrack). They still have a big domestic market for miniature, yet real 4×4 SUVs. I knew why when I saw the roads outside of Tokyo and Kyoto. But I’m certain Rush is a non-starter here. Too small, too lightweight.

    • 0 avatar

      Smaller than the Rav4? I think thats called the Venza? And the Venza is pretty unusual to say the least. And if you really want something smaller than a Rav4 maybe an SUV or Crossover is not what you really want.

    • 0 avatar

      The majority of the 4Runners I see on a M-F trip to work.. they are the same outfitted vehicles as every other vehicle Toyota tries to push off as uniquely rubicon tested.. or some such shit. Last time I checked.. Rubicon isnt what is on the minds of those who buy Jeeps and definatly not the Unlimited Wrangler versions, or the Liberty / Compass either.

      SO it truely DOESNT matter how the company tries to outfit the vehicle for such an intended purpose… the vehicle wont be used ass such.

      I also dont need to get into a Sequia and drive it to the local quick-e-mart back to back with a 4Runner to figure out the differences between the two. I also dont need to do the same with a Highlander or the Venza either.. as those buying them.. are only interested in size and security for their BROOD.

      And as for FWD / AWD.. that point is the biggest crock of shit, Ive ever had the patience to listen to. The Cayenne has the ability… with a FWD bias, so does the CRV and or any Jeep unit. Ya got Jeep G.Cs with 4wd, side by side the Sante Fes and Pilots with the same FWD bias unit. Dont even start with the Subaru b.s, theyve been pushing awd for about 20yrs (previously FWD) now shoved into a every JACKED wagon they care to market.

      Best part..
      SNOW tires would do WONDERS for any vehicle… / complete negate the concept of awd. But no one bothers cause the point of it with a suv  / cuv is pointless to the Nth degree.

      It truely doesnt matter who puts out 4wd.

      I also dont need to stick my hand in fire.. to find out its hot.

      The RAV is the smallest… , but the Venza is still built on the Camry frame (making it.. NOT the smallest, as average would indicate).. almost negating any purpose for the Highlander..

  • avatar

    There’s no way they’ll kill the 4Runner outright.

    That’s the single most popular vehicle among young girls where I live (age 16-22). Despite high gas prices and insurance rates, there’s still no reasoning with “Daddy” and his need for his little girl to be safe. Son, well he can just get a job and buy whatever he can afford.

    • 0 avatar

      Im sure 100% of those girls would be just fine in a white base model 2wd Liberty with the 3.7ltr and (a pile of cash on the hood) from 2yrs ago.

      Then again…
      If the girl could drive worth a shit and use the vehicle as designed..

    • 0 avatar

      Actually quite true, but RAV4 works too. All right, let me be frank… Mine at first turned her nose, because SUV was “hard to park”, but she came around after the first crash. So yeah. BTW, you know what the “rich” girl in the class drives? A Volvo.

  • avatar

    The latest totally redesigned 4Runner only recently reached dealers. If they want to, they can delay this decision for at least three or four years. Though getting off their strict cadence (already done with the Corolla) would be very GM of them.

  • avatar

    Ever since I saw TV video tape of the Taliban driving Toyota pickups in Afghanistan, I figured that truck and the 4Runner had to be incredibly robust vehicles.  I think Toyota should continue the 4Runner, but I don’t like the bloated new body style.  The 4R’s from a few years back are a very clean looking design, and international design.  The newest ones have that American bloat fat.  I’d go for a used 4 from a few years back to get the body style.

    • 0 avatar

      They mostly drive HiLux in Afghanistan. I saw some Tacomas too (they aren’t called that though), but it’s a 60-40 mix at best. Actually I’m pretty certain there was a review at TTAC that panned HiLux badly for its poor driving dynamics. But it’s uniquely robust.

  • avatar
    Kyle Schellenberg

    Full sized trucks will always have a niche because of the skilled labour industry/recreational market/large family scenario.  It’s a vehicle line that is capable of producing a healthy profit margin and can provide some image halo to other vehicles (i.e. tough, durable).  I agree with Toyota’s thoughts on staying in that market, especially if they foresee a certain fall from grace by the twins whose names begin with “S”.
    I’ve always appreciated 4Runner and the Nissan Xterra for making no bones about being truck-based SUVs.  There are people who actually want a capable off-road performer, but that market is likely shrinking with the wannabees having their fits and fiestas.  I think Tacoma uses underpinnings from Tundra, but if they want to streamline they should do with the 4Runner what they did with the Sequoia, just make it a cabin-based version of the Tacoma.
    FJ? Seemed ridiculous when it first came out and still seems ridiculous today.  No love lost if it goes to dodo heaven.

  • avatar

    Let’s talk some numbers…
    In 2009, at 10.4m SAAR, severely skewed in favor of smaller cars by c4c and recession and altered by clearance sales from GM and Chrysler,  Toyota North America sold about 125k Tacoma and 90k Tundra.
    2010 is a transition year. Tacoma will move from NUMMI to Texas and a second shift will need to be hired and trained. At 11.5m SAAR estimated for 2010, they should sell about 140k Tacoma and 100k Tundra.
    At 12.5m SAAR estimated for 2011, Tundra’s North America sales figures should come in around 120k. Tacoma’s around 160k (about 50k would come from Mexico).
    That would put the Texas plant in overtime territory- they will have to run two 9 hours shifts to satisfy demand.
    Past 2011, the situation is un-sustainable. Toyota North America sold around 170k Tacoma and 150k Tundra in 2008 (13.2m SAAR) and 2008 was not a pretty year.
    Toyota will need to expand both Mexico and Texas operations, or start building Tundras in Indiana again.

  • avatar

    As an FJ owner it will sadden me to see the FJ go away.  I heard from a Toyota salesperson that they will stop it after 2010.

    I considered the 4Runner, but the MSRP of the 4R was around $34K while the FJ started at $24K.  If I had kids, then I would get the 4R, but its just the girlfriend, the dog and myself.  I can easily hose the interior down and It doesn’t get me stranded in the Ohio winters.  Also, the FJ is one of the most capable off-roading vehicles in stock form.

    I agree with the poster above that the Sequoia should bite the dust.  I would rather get the Land Crusier if I were in the market for a large SUV.  I wonder what sales of the Land Cruiser would be in they removed the Sequoia?

    • 0 avatar

      If the Land Cruiser wasn’t so incredibly huge I would seriously consider one.  However at the current size/price it is of no interest to me.  Slightly smaller than the current 4Runner would be perfect for me.

      Why must manufacturers grow every model?  If they want to have a larger SUV create a new model.  Instead they increase the size of every model and then introduce a new, smaller version (highlander anyone?)

    • 0 avatar

      LandCruiser is crazily expensive. Bying 2010 Cruiser is like buying a 2006 Montero. Otherwise it’s quite nice. You can import lots of accessories for it.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    With increasingly sophisticated side-by-side offroaders to do the traditional Jeep job, it would seem to make sense.

  • avatar

    Toyota needs to think long term with the Tundra. One thing they can do immediately is offer a better warranty – and their marketing folks should come up with a (backhanded insulting) way to imply that GM and/or Chrysler won’t be around to honor theirs.

  • avatar

    One question I have is, how many BOF SUV’s does Toyota really need?  I mean, they have 3 already.  They have 6 SUVs and Crossovers, not including a not so mini van.  The question is, why so many?

    • 0 avatar

      Really they have 4 BOF SUVs.  The FJ has run its course I think, although I guess it makes sense to keep making and selling the current one while the numbers hold up.  The LC seems to be a prestige thing but the sales numbers really make me wonder why they bother.  The Sequoia makes sense as long as it’s based on the Tundra.  Even if it sells in fairly small numbers it helps keep the SA plant busy.
      The next Gen 4runner would make a lot more sense to me if they would get back to building it on the small pickup platform like they used to.  Especially if that brings it back down market a few thousand dollars.  Move production to TX and it’s a pretty low risk play.

    • 0 avatar

      The Land Cruiser, here in the US,  has somewhat of a reputation as a prestige vehicle, however they have traditionally been very overbuilt for use in harsh conditions.  Unfortunately they tend to fill the Land Cruiser with extraneous “luxury” type items here. 

      The prestige bit probably comes from the people who walk into the dealer and want the most expensive thing Toyota sells which, with few exceptions I can think of, has been the Land Cruiser

      Even the current Land Cruiser is extremely capable off road.  I believe I read somewhere that they sell a stripped down basic version in other countries.  Too bad it isn’t offered here.

  • avatar

                    The US 4runner is just a reskinned Land Cruiser from the rest of the world, hence pretty cheap for Toyota US to keep around. The US GX is a not even reskinned, just heavily contented, one. The US Land Cruiser is an expensive luxury vehicle pretty much anywhere.
                    Unless Toyota decides to drop BOF worldwide, which is unlikely, I don’t see 4runners being much more than found revenue for them. I wouldn’t be surprised if the platform is eventually unified with the larger Land Cruiser, as its getting pretty close size wise, and many important (for marketing reasons, if nothing else) Land Cruiser markets probably don’t have roads for the “big” Land Cruiser to grow Sequoia sized, where it could be economically built on large volume full sized pickup frames.
                    Unless Range Rovers gets a bit cheaper and stop falling apart, or Honda or someone actually manages to build and time test a unibody competitor that develops a similar reputation for reliability, configurability and sheer ability in adverse conditions even when abused, I doubt conservative Toyota will walk away from all the brand equity the BOF LC (and 4R) has developed over the years, in pretty much every market in which it is sold.



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