By on October 16, 2014

2014 Toyota 4Runner dirt pathThe off-roader is not yet dead, and with recent successes from a couple of well-known rough-and-tumble four-by-fours, the niche category has lives yet to live.

We’re not talking about pickup trucks with Z71 badges or the ever-growing stable of vehicles perceived to be capable of mud-running because of their when-the-wheels-slip all-wheel-drive systems.

No, truck-based SUV platforms with selectable four-wheel-drive are another breed. We’re well acquainted with the Jeep Wrangler’s steady rise up the utility vehicle sales leaderboard, and 2014 is almost assured of ending with record Wrangler sales.

The Unlimited has expanded that Wrangler’s appeal to corners of the market near and far. Wrangler sales in the United States have increased in four consecutive years and are likely to top 170,000 units in 2014.

Yet a far less likely candidate for success in this age is the Toyota 4Runner, sales of which have already risen to a seven-year high in 2014, with three months remaining on the calendar.

(Mr. Kreindler touched on the success of a 4Runner compatriot, the Lexus GX, back in July. GX sales will shoot above 20,000 units in 2014 for the first time since 2007. The GX’s nine-month U.S. sales total is already marks a four-year high.)

It’s not as though the 4Runner is alone on the loosely-defined SUV side of Toyota showrooms. From the RAV4 and Venza to the Highlander, FJ Cruiser, Sequoia, and Land Cruiser, Toyota sales consultants are swimming in utility vehicles up to their ears.

Moreover, the Highlander is an increasingly popular vehicle, with sales rising 12% to 105,526 units in 2014. The FJ Cruiser still matters, too, as Toyota’s clear-out of the cancelled off-roader has resulted in a 30% increase to 12,653 sales through nine months. In fact, 2014 should end as the best FJ Cruiser sales year since 2010, if not 2008.

But while the 4Runner has maintained its boxy shape and rugged underpinnings (and its not exactly track-honed on-road manners) Toyota did update the 4Runner for 2014. Granted, it’s still using a five-speed automatic and it won’t tow any more than a Highlander, but the 4Runner’s equipment levels were upgraded and the exterior was updated, like it or not.

On a monthly basis, 4Runner sales have now increased in eight consecutive months. Third-quarter volume jumped 69% to 19,978 units, 36% of the 4Runner’s 55,271-unit total through nine months.

These aren’t SUV-leading numbers, of course: Honda sells nearly 27,000 CR-Vs per month and America’s top-selling three-row vehicle, the Ford Explorer, should top 170,000 units by October’s end. But the 4Runner has regained volume status, and after forming just 1.3% of Toyota brand sales in 2009, 3.1% in 2010, 3.2% in 2011, 2.8% in 2012, and 2.7% in 2013, the 4Runner is now responsible 3.6% of all Toyota sales.

Indeed, it’s a more popular Toyota than the Avalon, Prius C, Prius V, Venza, FJ, Yaris, Sequoia, and Land Cruiser. In the broader scheme of things, it’s selling more often than the Acura MDX, Dodge Durango, Buick Enclave, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Suburban, Nissan Murano, and BMW X5.

55,271 sales in nine months is an impressive result for a vehicle which averaged 43,130 annual sales over the previous six years. It’s also a figure which tells us something about the market’s swing to car-like crossovers. In four consecutive years ending in 2006, Toyota sold more than 100,000 4Runners. Those days may be gone, but the 4Runner is not.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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102 Comments on “Toyota 4Runner Booms: Off-Roaders Aren’t Dead Yet...”


  • avatar
    goyshahomer

    I love the 4runner. I am amazed at how much money they are even used with 100,000+ miles. It’s really insane the value it holds.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      The 4Runner and Tacoma are two of the few vehicles where it makes little sense to buy used because they depreciate so slowly. If you can just make the monthly payment you will never be underwater. I know someone who sold a beat-up 12-year old Tacoma 4X4 with 260K miles for about $8000. Didn’t take him long, either.

      Now, if only they weren’t $30-40K with cheap-feeling interiors devoid of any tactile or visual delight. I know a lot of the money is going towards the capability of the vehicle, but you just aren’t experiencing much of that in everyday driving that puts 95% of the miles on the odometer.

      • 0 avatar
        Xafen

        I want a used Tacoma 02-04, but an 04 with 150k+ miles is still ~$15k for a 4×4; their residual value is crazy…

        • 0 avatar
          ckb

          I just might happen to be selling my ’03 Taco TRD extracab in the next few months ….200k miles so I’ll cut you a deal at $14999! OK maybe thats a stretch but I think there is a chance I’ll get more than I bought it for 3 years ago.

          I’m just not sure what to replace it with. I was told the replacement must have 4 doors and I need something that manages snow on Loveland pass easily and can handle the occasional 4×4 road. New pickups are all far too big so I’m cross shopping recent grand cherokees, 4runners, and wranglers (listed in order of decreasing practicality/increasing coolness). If I’ve missed any TTAC comparisons or other options I’d be happy to hear about it….

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            ckb, I love the Wrangler, but if you plan to put a lot of miles on it per year as your primary vehicle, I would opt for one of the others. Not so comfy and not as reliable as what you are probably used to with your Taco. Just my 2 cents.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I recently almost sold my 1996 Limited (4wd, v6, rear locker) with 112k miles on craigslist for $7500. There were in fact 3 people lined up with cash in hand. Admittedly, mine is in rather pristine shape and low miles for its age, but still. I actually had second thoughts and decided to keep the truck, I just like this thing way too much, and with 112k miles it probably has at least 75% of its useful life ahead of it.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    I wish Toyota would import a real Wrangler alternative. There is a significant market for vehicles with exceptional off-road capability.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      The FJ Cruiser kinda was despite the borderline cartoonish styling, it performed well off road. If Toyota would’ve toned down the styling a bit and gave it a removeable top, I think the FJ would still be in production and a real challenge to the Wrangler.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Agreed IHC. It was a good start. It had crappy visibility and I hated the styling, but they were at least trying and it was a reliable, capable vehicle.

        I hate to see them give up. I didn’t care for the FJ Cruiser, but I love the real FJ series.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          To be fair, the Tacoma can still be spec’d as a fairly capable rig, as far as factory-spec vehicles go, right? Probably just one of those things where Toyota won’t lose a ton of sales by discontinuing the FJ, they’ll just sell a few more Tacomas.

      • 0 avatar

        The FJ actually did extremely well for what it was. Toyota expected it to be a niche vehicle that wouldn’t last longer than a few years, but it ended up having a longer-than-average model run, and even the oldest examples still command high prices. Also, while it’s true that this is the last year for the FJ in the States, it will continue to be sold in other markets. It’s not that Toyota is giving up; rather, they’re allowing the FJ to exit the market at an appropriate time…

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          That sounds right Kyree. I would just love to see them replace it. I like the Wrangler, but consumers would benefit if it had some direct competition.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            True (axiomatic of any product/market and competition, in fact).

            But it’s a hard competition in terms of making a buck doing it, ain’t it?

            Toyota could probably do it with a “more FJ-40-ish FJ”, if they wanted to. But it might not be worth the cost and effort.

            Rover could probably do it by importing the Defender again, but there are price and (perceived?) reliability issues.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Yeah Sigivald, just wishful thinking on my part, I’m afraid.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Not only Toyota, any car maker, oh, the $120K G-wagon doesn’t count

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I doubt there’s much market for them new, at the prices they cold be profitably sold at. The Tacoma underpinnings have proven it can be modded to well beyond stock Rubicon or Raptor levels of performance, in whichever off road discipline one may desire. “Real” off roaders will beat on their cars to such a degree that warranty, leaseability and the rest of the benefits of a new vehicle become moot.

      The money is in decent offroad ability, combined with refinement. Which Toyota has pretty much perfected in their various Land Cruisers.

      • 0 avatar
        kmoney

        The Land Cruiser market in the US is pretty soft though. The LC is priced to within $5K of the LX570, which is miles and away a better vehicle, so the take rate is almost nil among cross-shoppers. And even at a base of $71,000 for the LC, are you really going to take it on serious trails? It would be cool if they brought in a basic Prado or refined the interior (even to be on par with the tundra/4runner) on the Landcruiser 70 that they sell overseas.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          I was thinking of the Prados as well, when writing “Land Cruisers”, not just the 200/LX.

          Other than for towing (which is kind of moot in the land of every Joe has a full size 4×4 pickup), the Prados make more sense anyway. And the 4Runner most of all.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Idk about Jeep, Toyota, etc, but HUMMER warrantied any off-road damage, whether it be steering components, a differential or anything in between.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Hummers were great. Too bad what happened to that brand. Another GM fiasco?

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          No way would they warranty the inevitable outcome of jumping one, Raptor style, during some friendly, neighborhood “Baja” race. Nor pin striping and high centering on sharp rocks while attempting to follow a modded Jeep though the Rubicon…..

          Not that I’d expect them to, but that is exactly why those who plan to really push their trucks off road, generally buy used; letting soccer moms, ski dads, rappers and Governators take the initial depreciation.

          The Raptor, Rubicon, Power Wagon, TRD Pro Toyotas (and whatever package Hunmmer may have sold), is probably about as far as it makes sense to go for an automaker. Beyond that, the best they can do, is offer a frame and basic platform that is sturdy enough to stand up to the greater forces and longer levers inherent in modding.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I bought my first in 03, modding the vehicle obviously isn’t going to be warrantied, but I’ve seen a diff that was grenaded get replaced with mud and everything else clung to the bottom of the truck, my truck had several steering components replaced due to me being younger and less patient off-road.

            Other than a drive shaft landing on a rock, sharp rocks aren’t a big deal with factory UCP and rock rails, going Baja style would just mean bottoming out the suspension, the center section on an H2 at least (my first hummer) is a 1-1/4 ton section, if you bend that you have other problems.

            Pin striping (off-road varient) is good depending on who you ask.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            .

  • avatar
    Carrera

    The new 4Runner is just plain hideous/scary looking. It reminds me of the beast in the Predator movie. The one pictured here seems to be the previous model. The new ones have some huge gaps in the bumper which makes the front look hideous. I am sorry, I just can get past the looks of it.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Same old 4 runner with different plastic pieces. Slam the doors and there is this hollow metal sounds. The cheapest sounding doors of any car/ truck made today. It has the sound of my 82 Subaru hatchback without rust falling from the car after slamming the door . But as long as it has that old clock on the dash I’m it will make up for the tin sounding doors.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I have no idea what you’re talking about. I test drove a 2014 Trail Edition, and rented a 2014 SR5 not 2 months ago. The doors ‘thump’ about as well as most other mainstream cars these days.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        He’s got a Toyota chip on his shoulder and made some similarly vapid comments on the last Camry hybrid review and Impreza article. If it isn’t snark about Toyota I don’t think he has much to say.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        Maybe some people don’t care about quality the car or truck they purchase. But when you shut the door of 4Runner it sounds like a solid vehicle ? It has an echo hollow tin sound. Do to the Toyoda dealer and shut the door hard, then go to almost any other make and do the same. Having a cheap sounding door does not make it POS, they do last a long time. Two of my neighbors have them 2013 and 2014. They both love there 4Runners but they also say the doors do sound cheap.

        • 0 avatar
          wsn

          Quality of an SUV is represented in its performance, safety, comfort, reliability, etc.

          As for a more satisfying sound? I would probably start with Best Buy. They have some choices of sound systems.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    The logical foil for the 4Runner would be the Grand Cherokee, and while I live in Ground Zero/Mecca for GCs, Chicagoland, I see 50x as many GCs as 4Runners. OTOH, Highlanders are thick on the ground here, and the Lexus RX is basically the official car of many of the local ‘burbs.

    • 0 avatar

      The new Highlander is all over the place in my area. It already seems to be more common than the previous one. As far as luxury vehicles go, the vehicles of choice for yuppies with one to three children seem to be the Lexus RX, Audi Q5 and, oddly, the Volvo XC60. Larger families go for the GMC Acadia, Infiniti QX60 and Acura MDX (the new one)….and of course there are plenty of people who go all out and drop $75K on a GMC Yukon XL Denali, but they’re usually no younger than their early forties. There are also plenty of Grand Cherokees, most of them post-refresh and in Limited or Overland/Overland Summit trims, and Durango sales seem to have picked up. But the most popular three-row crossover of choice is definitely the Explorer. I think that is a decent representation of most of the United States…

      • 0 avatar
        slance66

        Pretty similar here. Grand Cherokee is very common, Explorer even more so. Highlander…lots but mostly the last generation. The QX60 is all over the parking lot at my daughter’s school. XC60 seems way down from a few years ago, losing ground to X3 and Q5 and RDX from what I can see. The Pilot is losing ground fast…and may be responsible for some 4Runner uptick. I see fewer MDXs than I used to, as I think the QX60 is hurting it. Haven’t met a woman yet that doesn’t like the Infiniti better, and they drive a lot of the 3 row CUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      What you see around here sharply depends whether you’re in the city/inner ring or in the exurbs.

      In the city and inner ring families with SUVs/CUVs are all driving JGCs, Highlanders (with a heavy concentration of Hybrids), and Pilots, with a few MDXes and QX60s. The very richest ones are driving GLs and Range Rovers. You see a few Explorers, but not many. 4Runners are never family vehicles, they’re always driven by Extreme Bros. Big domestic BOF SUVs are strictly ghetto vehicles. Crunchy people (guilty as charged) all drive Foresters or Outbacks. Smaller two-row CUVs like the RX and Q5 are extremely common, but they’re being driven by pre-child yuppies and empty-nesters, not families.

      Get out to the exurbs and you still see the GLs and Range Rovers, but damn near everyone else is driving a big domestic BOF SUV if they’re female or a crew-cab pickup if male. Wealth is implied not by the kind of car they are driving but by the brand and age of the big domestic BOF SUV or crew-cab pickup.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        What is common to all these vehicles in all these neighborhoods is that the vehicles are all to be found on the same surface: paved roads.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Suburbs have paved roads! Shocking, I know!

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          I dunno where you live, but in Chicagoland it’s very popular to vacation in WI, and to spend 5 days a week commuting in your fancy 4×4, and then on the weekends hit the road to the cabin/lakehouse/fishing lodge/hunting property/etc, towing all sorts of boats, jet skiis, snowmobiles, vacation trailers, what have you. And often this involves driving on gravel, dirt, or otherwise unplowed/unpaved back roads. Probably nothing an Outback couldn’t handle, but to say they aren’t using the capability of the SUV at all is untrue.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      As someone who would only buy a 4Runner or GC for the off-road capability, I’d likely go for the Toyota because, if I recall, the GC is substantially more expensive when equipped for such duty compared to a 4Runner in Trail trim. The GC certainly looks like a more expensive vehicle inside and out, though.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I think the GC’s big problem in regards to off road prowess is the reliance on air suspension to claim the 10+ in ground clearance. Raising the car up on these air-stilts leaves it with almost no suspension travel/articulation. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride, and highly reliant on the rest of the electronic doodads to manage traction (which the 4Runner has a bevy of as well). Without the air lift, you’re looking at 8.1-8.5 inches of ground clearance. Non-Limited 4Runners, rely simply on having that 9.5-10 inch ground clearance from the get-go, and retain all the wheel travel and reasonably smooth ride associated with traditional steel springs. Of course the optional KDSS ups the ante with remotely disconnecting swaybar links, but that’s another story.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        GC off-road ability? What?
        Graded Gravel roads don’t count.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          You can get optional air suspension that gives admirable ground clearance and approach/departure angles. It’s pricey and I wouldn’t go for it for all the reasons gtemnykh lists above. When I mention off-road, I’m thinking backcountry tracks that would wound a Subaru, but not the Rubicon Trail or all the show-off stunts around Moab.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Strangely, I find myself looking at the 4Runner as a next vehicle, despite the fact that it isn’t a handsome truck, has poor road manners and the MPG stinks (thank you 5sp auto). The old ones were too cramped inside. As I wrote in a few months ago, my 3 Series is just getting brutalized by broken pavement and even low manhole covers. So the idea of something nearly indestructible has great appeal. And my casual observation says I am not alone. I am seeing these new 4Runners, mostly Limited trim, everywhere here in suburban Boston. Not quite as common as the JGC, but not far behind it.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      After shutting the doors a few times and hear the hollow tin sound, you may reconsider the purchase. The 18 mpg from the sluggish v6 may also put a damper on things.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        0-60 takes 7.5 seconds according to car and driver. The Jeep GC V6 did it in 8.4 w/ the 5 speed, 7.5 w/ the 8 speed. In their comparison test of off-roaders, the 4runner returned the best fuel economy. Really, what are you expecting from a BOF off-road biased SUV?

        I like the way my VW’s doors slam, but it doesn’t mean a damn thing in the real world.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          I had my 2010 4Runner for 4 years and 38k miles. I sold it for $4500 less than I paid new. Simply phenomenal depreciation. As far as VW16v’s comments, the throttle is tuned in a strange way. It is what I’d call lazy until you really get into it. It was plenty quick when I mashed it but very casual otherwise. Second, the door sounded cheap if you opened it in a rash way, not when closing. When the door handle stroked out completely and hard, it had a reverb into the door. Shutting the door was a fine thud. I also averaged 21mpg (as hand calculated by Gas Cubby on every single fillup since July 2010 when I got my first smartphone) over the life of my ownership. If you drove it easy, hitting the EPA numbers wasn’t that difficult.

          I still miss that vehicle, but I wanted a sporty car more than I wanted an off-roader.

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Quentin..You did get some good mpg, that is not the norm for a lot of 4runner owners. The depreciation of the 4runner is also damn good compared to other vehicles. Not as good as the FJ cruiser. But, damn good. Guess I’m just picky when it comes to certain things on a vehicle. The hollow sound of the doors was just too much. The Pathfinder, Durango, Grand Cherokee, and Touareg all had a much better build quality when looking last year.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “The hollow sound of the doors was just too much. The Pathfinder, Durango, Grand Cherokee, and Touareg all had a much better build quality when looking last year.”

            The phrase you are looking for is PERCEIVED build quality. The GC is my pick in this category, but only a fool thinks any of the above will be more durable and reliable over its usefule like than the Toyota. There are Touregs that haven’t even been built yet that are already broken down, statistically speaking.

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Perceived is also the key word in most believes of Toyota products. Yes they make good cars and trucks as does a lot of other companies. It’s the perception of the toyota product in why people think they are like there home appliance. In fact shutting my old washing machine lid had a similar sound to the 4Runner doors. And that washing machine is still running like it’s new.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “Perceived is also the key word in most believes of Toyota products. Yes they make good cars and trucks as does a lot of other companies. It’s the perception of the toyota product in why people think they are like there home appliance. In fact shutting my old washing machine lid had a similar sound to the 4Runner doors. And that washing machine is still running like it’s new.”

            I don’t understand if you’re agreeing with me or disagreeing with me. Your post seems contradictory and disjointed.

            But what I’m saying is that your door-closing fetish (seriously, you’ve mentioned it like a dozen times now) is not a good proxy for real build quality.

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            s2k… the copy and paste chump. I never said the 4 runner was a POS. It may sound like a POS shit as like my washing machine. But it will keep on running. When I put my hard earned money into something I want something that feels good, and not feel like my old washing machine. In other words not a crude built vehicle. Toyota is laughing all the way to bank with this 4runner.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Doors too tinny? Is that a manicure?

        The V6 is a dog but only someone who’d never filled up a truck before before would complain about 18 mpg.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          18 isn’t great compared to the V8 GM BOFs, but complaining about 18mpg is stupid to say the least.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            To be fair, the 5.3 with cylinder deactivation and all that stuff gets absolutely amazing MPG for a OHV V8 engine.

            My neighbor’s Tahoe will regularly get mid 20s, sometimes even high 20s.

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            In 2015, only getting 18mpg out of v6 is a bit poor. New F150 with a 5.0 get about the same.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Contrary to some opinion, my OHV engines have always exceeded there epa rated estimates, exact opposite for OHC engines.
            That and not being the size of a large mini fridge I don’t see much advantage of a modern D/OHC over an equivalent sized modern OHV. Ask ford how those V8s compare in MPG to the competition while being smaller.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I don’t disagree VW, it is noticeably poor, domestics have had more time to perfect fuel efficiency in there V8s and V6s as Toyota obviously has a better setup working on 4 cyclinder power and efficiency.

            I’m sure Toyota could source the V6 from Ram and easily exceed the Rams 25MPG HWY rating, being its smaller.

            All about the money, Toyotas V6s in the trucks are lackluster and the sales prove it, with a good V6, that could put the MPG to 22-25 avg I’m sure that would help sales, but to what cost?

            Either way if you do an excel chart for AVG miles driven, fuel cost, and MPG labeled from 10-50MPG, the cost difference really isn’t substantial enough if you enjoy the truck.

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            I know a couple people getting 23-24 mpg hwy out of their 5.0 F150, not average. And a few getting close to that out of their GM 5.3 Tahoe’s. This is why I think 18 mpg out of a v6 in the 4Runner is a bit poor. And if you do step into it, the gas really gets sucked.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            Sure the half ton V8s get 24, on dead flat highway keeping it under 60. A 4Runner will get 24 there too, at steady cruise the engine doesn’t matter much, weight doesn’t matter at all. It’s all aero, the 4Runner is a brick too.

            Add hills and traffic and that 24 immediately drops down to 15 and change from getting 6000 lb back up to speed again and again.

            18, which is where you are with 1200 lbs less truck to lug along, is exactly great.

        • 0 avatar
          slance66

          I’ve never filled up a truck, but this is worse than even most V8 trucks now. Looking at the mileage jump Jeep got with a transmission change and looking at 5 speed in the 4Runner, there’s just no excuse but laziness from Toyota. 18 MPG sucks. I almost never drive on the highway, so highway mileage means squat to me.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    A Nissan Xterra in Pro4x trim competes very nicely in this niche, and is
    quite a bit cheaper. It does not perhaps have all the un-needed bling –
    backup cameras, power seats, etc – but it goes where you point it offroad and is reasonably comfortable on-road. I’m quite fond of mine.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      I looked at one back when I was considering a 4G 4Runner, and I liked it okay but felt ridiculous like I was driving around in an X-Games commercial.

    • 0 avatar

      The reason I bought Wrangler over XTerra was mainly that Wrangler got 4:1 low and front locker for the exactly same money. But XTerra is a fine off-roader with useful internal and external capacity. If I needed to haul more stuff, like 2nd spare, propane cylinders, another table and EZ-up, more guns, more firewood, I would have had to buy XTerra.

      Basically Wrangler is more of a trail vehicle, while XTerra is an expedition vehicle. In that vein, the 4Runer is “I have too much money and I don’t know what I want” kind of vehicle. I’d love me one of those. Maybe when I get rich.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I too was strongly considering a lightly used ProX4 Xterra as a replacement for my 4Runner and daily driver, what kept me away was the smaller cargo area (both with seats up and seats folded) even compared to my ’96, and the lack of a lowering rear window which I grew to see as essential over my ownership of the Toyota. The Xterras are definitely incredible values and very honest, durable trucks. Being able to get one with a 6spd manual is a big bonus as well.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    That thing is so hideous compared to the classic second gen ’89-’95. How come nobody is calling Toyota out on the return to Japan’s oft-derided atomic cockroach school of design?

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Pretty nice truck, it definitely needs to be updated with toyotas 5.7l though, maybe a gear or two extra to appease the whiners that think anything less than 9 speeds is ancient technology that could fall apart at any second.

    I was actually looking at one of these a month or so ago, the plastic bumpers are the #1 turn off, they can’t honestly expect a mass market reach with a tuner civic style front and rear bumper. I’m not sure the payload can take 3/16 plate steel bumpers if not it needs to be updated, but trying to integrate the steel bumpers into the plastic bumper slots is a pain and just makes damage avoidance that much harder.
    At least it doesn’t suffer from the FJs body ripping problem, but Toyota would have an extremely desirable off-roader if they made the vehicle with approach and departure angles that weren’t embarrasing. That and heavy steel usage would be awesome.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I’d honestly want a lighter and more frugal engine, over a more powerful and nose heavy one, if Toyota is going to change it. The 200 already has the 5.7 and a heavier frame if you need to tow heavy. Or carry armor. Or bling.

      As it is, the V6 is well proven on who “knows what octane” flammable liquid people hawk for too much money in Baja and further south. And there are parts inventories and driveline service knowledge for the V6/5speed dispersed in places where updating such things are time consuming and comparatively expensive.

      It’s a shame GM essentially killed off Hummer. Given the amount of overlap in parts and construction between pickup trucks and offroad biased SUVs, it would seem they should be able to compete well in that niche. With Hummer holding up the offroad end, it would also make it much less disruptive to unibody the Tahoe/Suburban, if that ever becomes desired.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        You do make a good point on the weight, Toyotas 5.7 isn’t light.

        Several points on the HUMMER brand.
        In my opinion the brand obtained a status likened to the glory days of American autos. I still get compliments, waves, thumbs up, looks etc… In my bought new 03, 11 year old H2. Foreigners awe over it, I feel full of myself saying that to someone who may have never seen said happen, it’s weird..

        Obviously a situation had been created that put it under poor light, ( what do you expect a 7000# truck with full time 4wd, stock 35″ tires and 6.0 gas to get in fuel economy?) these issues were being remedied near the end of the brands life, the H2 was being tested with the 4.5l dura max which I have seen prototypes of, the H3 was a model year from getting the 2.8l diesel which a few that made it out of the South Africa plant and into Europe can be found online. The Hx design was slated as turbo four or V6 option, small SUV with removable top, GM used some in the transformers movies I’m told? The brands fuel efficiency was becoming issue #2 after keeping off-road prowess.

        If the brand had survived, which lets be honest, it went through the govt and it’s not exactly a PC brand, I fear the results, and thusly have come to peace with its demise. How could GM resist a Cherokee competitor, a cheap crossover HUMMER would have been too appealing and too profitable to ignore. That would hurt my feelings more than the loss of the brand did. The brand could have moved on to great things but I wouldn’t trust any company other than AM General to be able to not screw it up, and they didn’t place a bid for the brand.

        The brand had 3 offers that were exceptionally good, GM didn’t want the brand to go on in my opinion, it’s the only brand that had the potential to steal fullsize SUV sales from GM. The H2 started at 48k in 02/03 for the 03 model year. Over its life it had about 250k sales, the H3 had about 1k less sales over its run than the H2. Don’t ask me to quote that because I saw that figure in 2010 and have been trying to refind it for the last two years to no avail.

        The brand had a lot of potential, but like everything else GM does, they killed it right before they perfected it. I’m upset that an American icon collapsed under those conditions but the advantage of this happening is the mosquito in Sap deal. The bad opinions will live on for a half generation and then the awe factor of seeing a totally different approach taken in this generation will be interesting. Though the interior is still typical GM crap for the 03-07 H2s.

        The HUMMER name expired(s?) sometime this year after which it reverts back to the original owner AM General, who knows what the future holds?
        AM General was talking of making Humvee/H1 kits last year, they would have a lot more sales if they could attach the HUMMER name to them.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          ” Toyotas 5.7 isn’t light”

          Well….. it’s lighter than a cast-iron block with aluminum heads.

          I also noticed that more and more manufacturers are beginning to see the merits of all-aluminum engines, regardless of location within the body and frame.

          Even Corvette has seen fit to lighten the weight of their lead sled of yore, effectively following the lead of their competitors.

          And the 5.7s in my 2011 Tundra and my 2015 Sequoia sure make those heavy vehicles handle a whole bunch better than having a cast-iron block over the front wheels.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            In regards to GM if I remember correctly the only iron block they still have is the 6.0, and I’m a bit hesitant to say it is iron since they had an aluminum variant iirc.

            Modern aluminum blocks have proven themselves almost identical in strength to iron, being lighter makes them a good choice.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I don’t know either since GM is not on my horizon.

            However, I believe ALL engine manufacturers will be switching to all-aluminum or all-magnesium castings to save weight.

            There is such an overabundance of beauxite on the planet that aluminum, both fresh and recycled SHOULD become the metal of choice for transportation.

            BTW, people with an H2 should hold on to them forever because they are already a classic. I know a practicing MD who now owns three (as in 3) Hummers.

            The first one he bought new from Bravo in El Paso, TX. The other two he acquired slightly used, after he got out of the USAF when his eight-year commitment was up.

            He drives them on a rotating basis, sometimes all three within the same day if he goes home when he runs errands or is on a 2-hour break from the Regional Medical Center, between tours.

            He keeps his Hummers in showroom-clean condition, hard to do in the desert Southwest, and garages all three of them at his house in his three-car garage.

            What does his wife drive? He doesn’t have one, but his live-in girl-friend, a former Las Vegas showgirl, drives an H3 he bought new for her years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I made a comment that may show up, but basically I agree aluminum is where the future for engine blocks and components is at.
            As for the Hummers
            Only 2 of mine have tags, the original H2 is staying on the road for the foreseeable future, mods may have to happen to ensure that – if specific parts become unavailable, but me and her are inseparable. Two others are in very good condition and stay garaged, I have a restoration(slowstoration?) going on, on an H1, and the other is sitting for now.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Good for you!

            I’m sure would-be collectors everywhere are green with envy that you have managed to collect these specimens, just like others who value the intrinsic and sentimental value of classic cars. Good show!

            Time and money well spent.

            (My passion right now is to sink cash into guns and rare brass at gunshows and collect a ton of each I can pass on to my kids and grandkids. I recently gave an original all-matte-black 12-ga Streetsweeper to a son. {{Yes, I know about ATF trying to take them out of circulation by making them illegal.}})

            “Sly and Family Stone – It’s a Family Affair.”

            In these times, collectibles are one way to shelter one’s disposable money and pass some personal wealth down to heirs. Cars are good, but I had my run of them and at age 68 I’m too old to tool and wrench on them.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I recently got a 2014 SR5 as a rental car for work, one of my personal vehicles is a 1996 4Runner Limited so I was excited to take the 5th gen for an extended test drive.

    It’s barely worth mentioning that the new truck was far and away eons more civilized and more comfortable than my 96 with its legs out seating position and rough ride, but what I found interesting is that I much preferred the 4Runner to the 2013 Ford Explorer Limited that was my previous rental. Part of that for me is that I liked the 4Runner’s taut ride that still had a bit of that ‘trucky’ edge to it, as well as superior interior ergonomics and layout (IMO). And here’s the thing, the Explorer doesn’t even have a much bigger trunk or much more room in the second row. Both averaged about 20-21 mpg being driven at 70-73mph. So I think it’s not that crazy that many people are choosing the 4Runner over the Explorer when the purported crossover advantages (roominess, fuel economy, ride) are not even evident. The big difference is that the Explorer has a usable 3rd row, the BOF 4Runner’s optional third row is questionable indeed. So unless I absolutely needed the third row, I’d pick the Toyota and its resale (and likely reliability) advantage any day. The lowering rear window is also priceless for people with dogs, I use the one on my 96 all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Love the roll down rear window.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I miss the roll down rear window so much. Opening the moonroof and the rear rolldown window had the perfect amount of airflow through the cabin for most days and the wind didn’t beat you to death.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Yes, the airflow is incredibly laminar with the moonroof+rear window down. On a trip down to the Outer Banks this past June, I didn’t even need to run the A/C very much at all driving on the interstate at 70mph through Virginia and the Carolinas, the fresh breeze flowing through the car while not adding much wind noise with this arrangement is truly fantastic. Between that and the driver’s lower dash mounted ‘crotch vent,’ my 1996 really has this bone-deep thoughtful engineering that makes it so endearing. The fly in the ointment is the terrible dash cupholder setup on the 96-98 trucks, amended for the 99-02 cars.

        As an aside, my 1996 got a consistent 20 mpg over the course of that trip, that’s going 70-73 mph on the interstate and some A/C use at times, and driving through mountainous WV. Worst tank was 18.7 on Cape Hatteras, we spent a lot of time driving on aired down tires, wheeling around the beach in 4Lo.

    • 0 avatar
      bobdod04

      I agree about the roll down window being great. I’ve used it for hauling long items many times also.

      However, regarding reliability, there is a problem with perception that is working against Toyota on this one. I have a 2005 with 180k miles on it. Most of the Toyota faithful would say that this thing is “just getting broken in” or something like that. However, I now have a head gasket leak ($3.5k to fix) and this truck has been impeccably maintained, never towed a thing, and never overheated. I was shocked about this, and when I went online I found that there are tons of people having this same problem with 4Runners, FJs, Tacos… anything that uses the 1GR-FE 4.0 V6. Lots of documented head gasket failures around 150k miles.

      For a GM or Ford, this would par for the course and no one would complain much. On a Toyota truck this is completely unacceptable. Earlier 4Runners from the early to mid 90s also had head gasket issues, and Toyota stepped up and fixed those. This time around, I think Toyota is letting everyone come down to GM levels of reliability expectations. Living up to consistent 300k mile service life in its vehicles is not a profitable proposition for Toyota.

      Don’t buy any Toyota with a 4.0 V6 that’s anywhere close to 150k miles, just like you wouldn’t buy a GM/Ford with mileage that high.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        What on earth makes replacing the head gasket cost $3,500?!

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I’m not sure where $3,500 comes from, or the GM owners expect it thing?
        I don’t expect any failures on any of my GM’s, and a head gasket replacement shouldn’t be any more than ~$40 for the gasket ~$20 for all new torque to yield bolts, and $80 for some decent quality engine oil/filter and radiator fluid.
        Without looking at anything more than the torque specs it I would guesstimate 5 hours of time, which is free if your not afraid of getting dirty.

        • 0 avatar
          bobdod04

          It’s not an easy job on this truck. Over 20 hours. Gotta pull the engine to get the heads off. I’ve had the dealership and two independent mechanics give me quotes between 3 and 4 thousand. This engine was not designed to make this job easy.

  • avatar
    superchan7

    The rabid popularity of the current Wrangler (and evidently the 4Runner too) is good news, as we enthusiasts fear our unique cars becoming forced out of the market by Camrys and CUV-like blobs from various luxury brands.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    My buddy just sold his Avalanche and got a new 4Runner. He also has a new enclosed tandem axle snowmobile trailer ordered. I suspect he will be very unhappy with how it tows that trailer. Especially the first time he has to buck a strong cross wind. The final kick in the pants will be the fuel economy once you start working that V6. Good thing they hold their value well, That will help when he trades it in. I give it one maybe two seasons before he goes back to a real truck.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Why both you and your buddy are suffering under the delusion that a V6 midsize SUV was ever intended to be a substitute for a full-size V8 half-ton, I don’t know. Seems pretty clear to me that the intent and purpose of the 4Runner is not to provide the towing capacity of a 1500 Silverado. Toyota has a 5.7L Tundra to replace his Avalanche.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @30-mile fetch,
        Yep, I agree with you.

        It seems many of the V8 pickup and SUV fraternity are scared that a V6 is an equivalent to a V8.

        These vehicles will do most of what a V8 can do, but not all. They will excel in off road situations that have a V8 full size in difficulty.

        But, from what I can gather very few do tow with full size SUVs and pickups.

        But maybe Carlson Fan should buy a Ram 3500 to tow that snowmobile.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          Sure no one tows with FS SUVs and PUs.That’s why both my Chevy Tahoe and GMC Sierra came from the factory with receiver hitches, transmission temperature gages, tow/haul mode transmission, 7 pin trailer wiring harness, and all necessary wiring to install an electric trailer brake controller. Sure GM builds all their 1/2 ton trucks that way because no one tows with them. Boy your ignorant.

          Oh and I also towed boats and snowmobile trailers with a V6 Toy PU for close to 11 years. But feel free to tell me how it is!….LOL

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            But the 4Runner is not built to be a tow truck. That’s what Toyota sells the 200 for.

            The Prado/4R/GX/FJ is a Camry/ES for places where roads suck. It’s built lighter and smaller than the bigger LCs. It can tow on occasion, or even regularly, if the load’s not too big. But if a primary mission of the vehicle is to tow, why not get a vehicle more purpose designed for that duty to begin with?

            For those who don’t tow much, it’s kind of nice to be able to get a solid, comfortable BOF vehicle that is more maneuverable in tighter quarters than a bloody Power Wagon. Or even a 200.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Firstly, the presence of tow-specific mechanicals implies, but does not by any means guarantee, that its own should or will be towing.
            Secondly, he didn’t say “no one”. He said “very few”, and preceded that with “from what I can gather,” which is basically an admission that not every situation may be the same as his. And it’s “you’re,” meaning “you are.” If you’re going to insult someone over the Internet, do it correctly.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Carlson Fan, our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee isn’t specifically designed for towing either but it did a pretty fair job for a uni-body towing a 5X8 U-Haul loaded to the gills from Detroit to Zephyr Cove, NV.

            In MY area, lots of people tow boats, ski-doos, ATV’s and Snow Mobiles behind vehicles other than a Chevy Tahoe or GMC Sierra.

            Hell, my wife’s dad is currently towing my 9X15 Haulmark all over Hell and back behind his 2013 Suburban, and climbing over the Rockies on I-70 West of Denver, his biggest complaint was the gutless nature of the GM trucks.

            He never had any complaints towing or hauling with his 2009 F250 Banks Turbo-Diesel, or his 1973 454 Suburban 4X4.

  • avatar
    Gtochris

    The 4Runner is in a class of it’s own. 4Runner owners know what they are buying and with the plush Highlander- shouldn’t be confused in the showroom. The GC is a great lease car- I wouldn’t want to own one for the long haul. Too many issues.

    I picked up my 2005 4Runner last year with 63K for $14,000. Yes- they are a bit dated compared to a modern smooth SUV like a GC or an Explorer- but they are Body on frame and time-tested and just “work”. Toyota sticks with a formula that has proven reliable and for most people, that is better than new technology.
    The V6 has good low torque and ample acceleration, the 4×4 system is traditional and reliable, MPG’s are steady and reliable- 18-19 avg all the time. It tows my 21ft boat strong, has great off road handling, is a monster in the snow and reliable. I can’t think of an alternative beside a pickup I’d rather have.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I always thought that the first 4Runner with the removable rear top was cool. As a youth I wanted one when I grew up! To think it was what the JKU (Wrangler four door) is today.

  • avatar

    I only re-visited this post to see if VW16v made the complaint about the door sound 3 times. Nope. He did it 4 times (there was also a non-specific washing machine comparison, which he made after the explicit reference to the sound of the washing machine’s door, but I’ll let that slide).

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      Point taken, I got a little crazy on the doors. Sorry I just don’t believe in product placement on blogs.

    • 0 avatar
      superchan7

      While we’re on this topic, cost-cutting and more space for reinforcement bars have led to a lot of cars with hollow doors. Luxury cars have these filled with foam and Dynamat, but I was disappointed to hear tinny door closing sounds on new Honda Accords.

      Not surprised at all to find it on Toyotas, especially no-nonsense niche models like the 4Runner and FJ Cruiser.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        On a truck that as it is probably needs the thicker KDSS swaybars to survive Moose tests without rolling, and shouldn’t be driven to very loud wind noise generating speeds anyway; I would certainly hope they didn’t stuff the doors with heavy Dynamat….

  • avatar

    I have a 2008 4Runner V8 AWD with 147K miles on it. Bought it new. It runs great burns no oil and I get a solid 21 MPG average. I don’t like the new styling so am inclined to just keep driving it.

    I would consider the new TRD Pro model but the thought of going to a V6 is troublesome. The V8 is pretty darn snappy.

  • avatar

    I bought my 2008 4Runner V8 AWD brand new for 34,000. It has 153,000 miles on it and runs as strong as new. I’ll probably keep it as long as it keeps going. I don’t like the styling of the new model nor the lack of a V8. I get 21 mpg average


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