By on May 31, 2017

2017 Toyota 4Runner

A great advantage to being one of the world’s largest automakers is that one can afford to wait for a bet to pay off. Witness this body-on-frame fifth-generation 4Runner, introduced to an apathetic and SUV-adverse public in the dark days of the 2009 as a ’10 model. It is still sharing showroom space with Corollas and Camrys today. Contrast this to Kia that introduced its body-on-frame SUV – the Borrego – at around the same time. It landed in the market with a dull thud and quickly resigned itself to the automotive dustbin of history in North America.

The 4Runner’s fortunes are on the upswing assisted by consumers consuming SUVs with all the restraint of a record producer with a garbage bag full of cocaine and a garden hose. Toyota sold more 4Runners in 2016 than at any other time in the last dozen years despite the brand’s glacier-like design cycle and the 4Runner being largely unchanged since the turn of the decade.

Back then, Toyota offered the 4Runner with a 157 horsepower inline-four, which must’ve accelerated at the pace of continental drift tasked with carting around two tons of body-on-frame SUV. Today’s shoppers will find a 24-valve 4.0-liter V6 making 270 hp as the 4Runner’s sole engine offering. Four-wheel drive is a $2,220 option, but Toyota sees fit to pack a limited-slip diff into the rear axle of 4Runners whose power is sent only astern. A gnarly 30-degree approach angle (hello, Ford Raptor) and 9 inches of ground clearance promise off-road chops so long as the Ace of Base customer remembers they only have a brace of driven wheels. Quarter-inch skid plates lurk under the chassis.

Yes, I poked fun at the age of this thing, but the design has worn well in these jaundiced eyes, showing off a rugged stance likely to frighten the two-tone paint off its youthful C-HR cousin. Economies of scale make sure the cheapest of Runners come equipped with projector beam headlamps and LED rear lamps, just like the fancy TRD and Limited models. Every 4Runner is shod with 265/70R17 meats.

Air conditioning with vents for rear passengers, natty power-sliding liftgate window (just like the Bronco, Mark!), and backup camera are all present and accounted for, as they should be for a sticker of $33,710. Nearly 90 cubic feet of cargo space greet household movers and kitchen cabinet builders when they fold down the rear seats. A third row is optional. You don’t need it. A quintet of 12-volt ports keeps all hands empowered, with a 120-volt outlet and a USB port tossed in for good measure.

Toyota’s Entune system with a 6.1-inch screen, satellite radio, and eight speakers shows up in the base 4Runner, with wireless-this and handsfree-that taking charge of the tunes and calls. Sadly, the killjoys at Toyota seemed to have deep-sixed the Party Mode button a couple of years ago.

It’s worth noting a base 2WD 4Runner is only $1,215 dearer than a loaded 2WD CR-V, or — staying in the same showroom — $1,040 less than a 2WD top-of-range RAV4. Viewed through that lens, I can suddenly understand the 4Runner’s increased sales numbers.

Loaded jellybean soft-roader or base body-on-frame bruiser? For roughly the same cheddar, I know which one I’d choose. How about you?

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars absent of delivery and other fees. As always, your dealer may sell for less. Unless they’re selling a lot of them, in which case they probably won’t.

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103 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2017 Toyota 4Runner SR5...”


  • avatar
    redapple

    THAT FACE

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I caught the glimpse of the front bumper corner in a parking lot while walking out of a store ..holly shit that car got hit! Nope, it is Toyota and Lexus design language today.

  • avatar
    Coolcar2

    I do like the looks of these from the outside but step inside and all of that cheap plastic shows through in spades.$33k for the base RWD is way too high to have a Playskool interior like that. When compared to a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, the interiors are worlds apart! I prefer a lighter interior and the tan cloth in the 4Runner is atrocious. Oh well I am sure they are reliable as a doorbell but the brand name does not warrant the asking price.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Of course the brand name warrants the asking price. It’s a freakin’ 4Runner, and hardly any of its limited competition is any cheaper.

      But you’re right about the cheap interior. This car was designed in the late 2000s, when Toyota had started to rapidly cheapen all their car interiors. They’ve swung back the other way, but given the half-arsed Tacoma redesign (and the eminent arrival of a Bronco) I hope they hit the next one out of the park.

      • 0 avatar
        Coolcar2

        True, but given the sales of these things you would think they would show a little love to the interior. Is it that hard to do a mild refresh? I was shopping at my local Toyota dealer last month in Atlanta and they still had NEW 2016 4Runners on the lot, so I am not sure these sell as well as you would think based on this article. The salesman barely knew anything about the various option combinations on the 4Runner. I think the majority of Toyota dealers focus on Highlander, RAV4, Camry and Corolla and the rest of the models just sell based on internet shoppers with personal knowledge.

        • 0 avatar
          cgjeep

          I don’t know why but the shipped a bunch of 16s very late and started production of the 17s months later than usual. So on Toyota’s website for the longest time all the other 17 models were listed and but for the 4Runner it still had the 16. I don’t know if it is because they are still made in Japan or what.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          It depends upon where you live. Here in Oklahoma, the 4Runner and other truck-based SUVs have always been popular. In general, dealers do not have to discount it much. Ditto for its Lexus cousin, the GX460.

          • 0 avatar

            Here in southern New England 4runners have always been popular but there was a very noticeable down swing from about 2006-7 until about 2012. For instance during those years a few of the local dealers didn’t even bother stocking them. That’s all changed in the last few years thous as I see them everywhere again.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            When I got my 4R the dealer had only 3 SR5 to choose from, no trail models, and 3 or 4 Limited. When I went for service a couple months ago they had 15-18 of varying trims. So at least they finally started pushing the 4R instead of doing what they do with the Sequoia

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          “… you would think they would show a little love to the interior. Is it that hard to do a mild refresh?”

          They did. If you think the current one is cheap inside then take a look at the 2010-2013.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Honestly post ’14 refresh, I find the interior to be perfectly good for the price/class on the SR5/Trail. Yeah not as softly finished as the Grand Cherokee, but I’d argue the intent is different. Comparing more so to pickup trucks and especially stuff like the Xterra, the 4Runner is actually in the upper tier of things IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        I don’t mind the hard plastics all over the dash, padded materials there are unnecessary and a durability issue in the long run. My problem is how easily the hard plastics scratch. All of them, from dash to silver-painted console to glovebox door must be handled with kid gloves. I’d prefer the dash materials used in the 90s Tacomas. They were durable and the surface texturing was pretty good looking.

        As you wrote, the primary contact points in this 4R are actually fairly nice–padded & stitched armrests and door sills, padded center console, leather steering wheel.

        If you want to see a truly garbage interior, the half ton pickups prior to the current generation were pretty appalling for the price.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          You say a truly garbage interior but I saw a V8 pickup for $18k. But I do agree the interior of the old Tacoma did seem a bit nicer since it couldn’t be scratched the way the new 4R can.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    You don’t know when you’ve had your last kiss…or held your baby for the last time…until the next time never comes…This gen 4runner has my heart…

    I’d be content with the base model with the TRD grill…I think it deserves the T O Y O T A letters strewn across the grill like its forefathers.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    When I bought my 2009 Camry SE – I sat in one of these in the showroom. Maybe they have changed since then, but I was surprised at how little room there was for the driver, how low the seat was to the floor (legs straight out), and how the seat adjustments really didn’t help much.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      This generation is better in that regard than the pre-2010s. The seat is a tad closer to the floor than average–especially in this age of bolt-upright CUVs–but I’m nearly 6 feet tall and find the driving position comfortable and pretty roomy. The standard power seat bottom tilt/height adjustment is very useful here. The Tacoma has retained the legs-straight-out ergonomics and has very poor adjustability.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Yeah the 5th gen was a big departure from prior 4Runners in seating position. The body is definitely taller now to account for that high floor/clearance, the seating position is not the splayed out legs style that older 4Runners and Tacomas had.

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    Hate to be that guy, but adverse ≠ averse.

  • avatar
    Loser

    My wife looked at new 4Runners to replace her ’03 2WD 4Runner. She wasn’t impressed with the V6, her old one has the V8. Another thing, 2WD is not available in our current location, Ohio. Got the old one while living in SC. Everyone thinks they need 4WD for the snow. The 2WD does just fine in the snow.

  • avatar
    Speedygreg7

    This truck, like the Tacoma, Tundra, Sequoia and Land Cruiser do not have a mechanical rear limited slip differential. Toyota cut that cost long ago, and gives you a traction control simulated limited slip using the brakes. Seems like most people get fooled by Toyota just as they intended.

    The domestics on the other hand do offer actual limited slips on all their off road truck and SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      Mine has an actual locker for the rear, not a LSD but it is the Trail model.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I was hoping others would catch this. Yes it is simply a ABS-based system like most vehicles with a pretense for offroading have (Jeep calls it BLD, Nissan ABLS, Toyota’s 4wd version is ATRAC).

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        This is my one pause about opting for the SR5, and I’m curious how often I will notice this deficiency. A friend had a mid-90s base Tacoma 4×4 without a locker or ATRAC and we managed to get it down some quite rough roads without a problem. I’ve used ATRAC once on my 4R and it worked well at locking down the rogue wheel and allowing me to crawl over the obstacle. If a road’s bad enough to need a locker, I’m not sure I will risk taking the family down it. My four-wheeling involves access to the backcountry rather than recreational wheeling.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Honestly for most people short of hardcore offroaders, it is unnecessary. The Electronic offroad aids have definitely improved significantly in the last decade or so with improved response and effectiveness. I’m still stuck in the mentality of really liking that mechanical rear locker as a backup, but I can only think of a single instance recently where it helped me out, and even then I could have just backed up and used more momentum (climbing a very iced over rutted fire road in rural Central NY). The mechanical locker is nice in that it is selected preemptively and does not allow slip in the first place. As good as they are, the Brake based systems will always be reactive (albeit very quickly reacting).

        • 0 avatar

          For backcountry driving tires would be my first upgrade. My ramcharger had open axles for years doing lots of dumb stuff (mud over the hood and very rocky trails with lots of body damage) and was great with aggressive tires (weight balance helped as well). Same with my 87 Yota. My XJ with a locker, ramcharger post locker and Dakota with a limited slip where better thou.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Indeed, tires will be upgraded once the stocks wear out. Just this weekend I saw a silver SR5 with more serious rubber and what appeared to be a nice modest 1″ lift. Since I had scuffed the rear mudflaps and tailpipe end on a few steep washouts just hours before, that did get me thinking.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I went with fairly aggressive General Grabber AT2s (tread pattern looks like a straight BFG KO knockoff), and I loved them for wheeling some powerline trails and farm acreage in Kentucky, but the MPG hit from my mild General Grabber HTS all seasons was very real: I went from a consistent 20mpg highway to more like 18. For the winter I have dedicated General Altimax Arctics on separate wheels, they are actually very nice for winter wheeling (pretty large voids near the outside and side wall), and still return solid MPG and are quiet.

          • 0 avatar

            I ran General grabbers on the ramcharger for a while good allround tire. It’s had mud rovers on it for a while now didn’t notice much worse MPG actually but a lot better off road. But also a lot louder on the highway and somewhat sketchy handling in the rain.

        • 0 avatar
          cgjeep

          I agree, get better tires. I really like having the locker now because it will let me try stuff that I wouldn’t normally try with the crappy tires it came with. Any place I would need a locker I would usually have friends available to help me if I got stuck. Will be putting about 12k miles on before winter hits and then am going to replace the tires, probably with Cooper AT3s/ATPs.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          ATRAC works fine unless you need it “locked” and a fair amount of power at the same time. Think sand. Or max towing up, say, a boat ramp.

          A much more everyday noticeable advantage to the Trail for most people, is KDSS. The disengaging swaybars allows for much more aggressive anti sway when on-road, so pavement handling is much less rolly. Yet once articulation is required, KDSS trumps (albeit less noticeably) the SR5 compromise there too.

      • 0 avatar
        Speedygreg7

        In this case the author was talking about 2wd 4Runners which don’t have ATRAC, but I think have “Auto LSD” which is a more aggressive mode for the standard traction control. As I understand it,standard traction control cut throttle and drags the brakes to shift power, but “Auto LSD” does not cut power and uses more brake pressure to move power form wheel to wheel without bogging down. I believe ATRAC does the same in 4WD.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    There’s no doubting the off-road credentials or longevity, but these are crude on the road, and are pretty uncomfortable to boot. The floor-to ceiling ratio is off – watch your head getting in and out.

    As an alternative to a Wrangler, this is the better choice on road. As an alternative to the rest of the SUV/CUV competitors, notsomuch.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “but these are crude on the road, and are pretty uncomfortable to boot”

      I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. I find the ride in a 4Runner to be particularly comfortable in terms of swallowing up bad roads with confidence. Yes there is a lot of brake-dive as a consequence of that long travel suspension. I will say the front seat on my SR5 rental was not the most comfortable thing for a 3 hour drive from Chicago, but I tend to adapt to things, my ’96 Limited seemed uncomfortable when I first got it but I can now knock down 10 hour road trips in it easily. The rear row in the 5th gens is really quite spacious as well.

      • 0 avatar
        ZCD2.7T

        It is indeed a matter of perspective.

        The only generally-available 4WD vehicle that’s WORSE on the road is the Wrangler. If your perspective only extends to that vehicle, then of course the 4Runner has the advantage on road.

        If, however, your perspective extends beyond vehicles that can take on the Rubicon trail without modifications, then the 4Runner is 2nd-to-last in on-road comfort.

        It’s personal preference – I’d never give up the on-road comfort that makes up 99% of any of these vehicles’ driven miles to allow me to tackle the Rubicon.

        YMMV.

        (for the record, 3 of our 4 vehicles are AWD, but the heaviest off-road use any of them might encounter is a dirt road through some hills…)

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          “The only generally-available 4WD vehicle that’s WORSE on the road is the Wrangler”

          Yeah, because the only other 4WD vehicles left are the half-tons and a 12 foot wheelbase rides like a Cadillac unless you spring the bejeezus out of it.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      I think ZCD is exaggerating a bit. I own a TRD Pro, and have taken it on 1,500 mile road trips. It is surprisingly very good at 90MPH on the highway, at least when you consider that it can also dig itself out of a sand trap with very little driver intervention. It really is all about perspective.

      • 0 avatar
        ZCD2.7T

        With the right tires, our Torsen-center-diff equipped Audi Q5 TDi would probably also dig itself out of a sand trap.

        By contrast, 90 mph feels like 60 mph in the Audi, whereas 65 mph felt like 95mph in the 4Runner we recently rented.

        Again, YMMV.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          With the right tires, your Audi Q5 TDi is still a entry level luxury CUV with an ownership horizon that trends toward the disposable. I’m really not sure why it’s being compared, no one thinks they are equivalent vehicles.

          Besides, if on-road performance were a priority, surely one should be opting for the A4 Allroad over the CUV?

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Yea not even a close fight, one is a disposable minivan with a cheaped out engine. The other is a pedigree off-roader using technology that is proven to last, and an engine designed to take extreme abuse. This is another one of those cases where you need to ask yourself if you really want to be seen driving the car your comparing the 4R to?

          • 0 avatar
            ZCD2.7T

            fvfvsix said that his 4R “is surprisingly very good at 90MPH on the highway, at least when you consider that it can also dig itself out of a sand trap”

            I simply turned that comparison around for perspective.

            I think it’s great that people love their 4Rs, and I’ve already acknowledged their durability and off-road prowess.

            That doesn’t change the fact that the 4R is a relatively crude implement with compromised ergonomics. To each their own.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Yes, we’ll not be condescended to about road manners and have our interest in off-pavement capability marginalized, particularly when a $55K CUV is used in reference. CUVs are a compromised vehicle class that does neither of those particularly well–not much to be cocky about there.

            Now, if he wanted to marginalize a $37K RAV4 Limited using the Q5 as an example, he’d be more on target. At least it is the same type of vehicle even if it, like this SR5 4Runner, is still a price tier or two below.

          • 0 avatar
            ZCD2.7T

            30-mile –

            I stated a fact – that 4Runners are somewhat crude and are compromised on the road.

            I also stated multiple times that YMMV.

            Stating facts and acknowledging differing points of view does not condescension make.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            I stated some facts too.

            So just add YMMV to my comments and we’re good.

          • 0 avatar
            ZCD2.7T

            *I* was never “not good” with the discussion, so…

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          “By contrast, 90 mph feels like 60 mph in the Audi, whereas 65 mph felt like 95mph in the 4Runner we recently rented.”

          In a world of 65 mph speed limits this is a bad thing?

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    That’s my car, right there. I was thinking of submitting a reader review of mine.

    It is an expensive base trim but it does come with a fair amount of equipment and 4WD versions are very capable out of the box. This thing drives and feels every bit like a BOF SUV and you’ve either got to like that or plan on using this off road to make the tradeoff worth it. This 4Runner is at home off pavement, with the softer suspension smoothing out washboard and ruts. Mine has only 9K miles on it and I’ve already used it on three different backcountry outings, two of which were on roads tight enough to make travel with a half-ton pickup very difficult, and with wash crossings that would have exceeded the wheelbase and departure angles even if one did plow its way down them. No CUV outside the Cherokee Trailhawk would get anywhere down these roads.

    If you want the contemporary version of those classic late 90s and early 2000s SUV heyday 4Runners, this is it. It is more comfortable, more powerful, it better fits a family of four, feels solid as a rock going down the road, and has retained the off pavement capabilities.

    Interior plastics are a sore point, as is the infinitely scratchable paint–Jeep bests Toyota here and I hope they plan on addressing that during the redesign because it is a bit embarrassing given the price point. The seats, driver ergonomics, steering wheel, and padded armrests are all price-appropriate, however, and the switchgear operates fluidly, so the stuff you actually touch is decent. The engine is powerful enough but I’m not sure why Toyota was unable or unwilling to install a 6spd transmission as found on other Toyota trucks and SUVs. Tighter ratios would improve driveability.

    Unfortunately, I think Toyota’s recent sales of the 4Runner are up in part due to fleet sales–there are several used car outlets around here selling numerous 1 year old examples with ~20K miles, and the CarFax reports identify most of them as ex-rentals. Don’t depress my resale value, dammit Toyota.

    I’m very curious about how the redesign of this vehicle will be implemented. The Tacoma is very hit and miss.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I have to disagree on one part, it rides pretty smooth but it does not feel like a modern SUV in the corners, I’m use to throwing my H2s & H3s through corners with a heavy throttle, I about messed my pants up doing it when I first got my 4R, it goes through corners like a lifted Scout or worse a CUV.

      • 0 avatar
        cgjeep

        My lifted WJ carved up the road compared to the 4runner. Shocking that it handles the way it does in the modern era. The Tacomas actually handles better. I now pay attention to the speed suggestion signs prior to off ramps. But I now have 2k miles on mine and have about adjusted.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Yea I don’t get the cornering thing on the 4R, it’s completely unexpected. And switching back and forth between vehicles doesn’t help the situation.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        It does not like to corner, it has retained that tall and narrow feeling and the soft suspension does not help. I haven’t looked up cornering stats to see if other BOF rigs can handle more lateral Gs or if it just *feels* less capable. Apparently the KDSS system on the Trail version really cuts down on body lean but then you’re well over $40K and that ain’t happening.

        I’ll just learn to love the lean, stability control will keep the shiny side up.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          It’s funny but my 3rd gen is actually significantly less tippy feeling (both side to side and brake dive) than the 5th gen rentals I’ve had. The flip side is that relative to the plush new 5th gens, my 3rd gen on aftermarket KYB front struts and pumped up Mornoe air shocks out back rides like an ox cart. Again, it’s all relative. I get into my 3rd gen after my Ranger on worn 20 year old suspension and the 4Runner is like a luxury ride.

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        Whatever you say, H2 and H3 fan.

    • 0 avatar
      beacio_mo

      Good luck waiting for a redesign.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        That’s what I thought about the Tacoma, but it eventually arrived. It was a worse truck than its predecessor, but it did arrive.

        This 4Runner is a long-term keeper. If I wanted to trade out after five years I would have purchased a Grand Cherokee.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Rented one of these from the airport. I forgot it was a BOF vehicle. It definitely rode like a truck. In fact it rode exactly how it did in the mid 90’s, but the interior has taken big steps backward.

      I didn’t like it and it doesn’t really belong at Enterprise airport locations, but it sounds like it’s good at offroading.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Gimme a 3rd row and I’m in there like swimwear.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Every complaint about theses is true and is the reason I love mine. Though I do wish the interior was nicer.

    Though if you don’t drive off road I think this would be a dumb vehicle to purchase. In that base price (for a 4wd one) is a lot of off road features that you wouldn’t use like 4wd lo, skid plates, tow hooks ect. To have the offroad ability you end up with poor handling, poor gas mileage, and a questionable ride. Offroad wise its only real competitor is the Wrangler Unlimited and the 4Runner is much more refined and has more room on the inside. The Grand Cherokee is worlds better onroad and the interior is several classes better. But start adding all he offroad features it gets well over 40k and still won’t be as good off road,

    I’ve owned various Jeeps for over 20 years and it was a hard decision on what to purchase. I wad an E46 wagon and a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee (WJ). Was looking to get one replacement car as the maintenance cost on both were starting to add up. Am too old and take too many long family trips to drive a Wrangler as only car. So it was between the 4 Runner and the Jeep GC. The GC was a better car for 90% of my driving. However it is the 10% of my driving that puts a smile on my face. By no means am I a hardcore offroader but what I do wold break a GC overtime and the 4Runner will just shrug it off. Plus I think a 4Runner with some mud and scratches on it still looks okay while a GC would just look dirty and old. If the GC had better reliability I might have sill gone with it and just driven off road less. In 5 years the 4 Runner will be paid for with plenty of life left and can I get a fun driving car then. On the plus side the 4Runner makes driving my wifes Golf Sportwagon feel like a Audi S4. Oh and the resale value on them is insane.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      I’m with you on that. I don’t need a car-like ride. I have a car for that. There is a thrill in being able to flat out zoom down poorly graded dirt roads in the middle of the desert with zero worries about what lies ahead, or whether your uber expensive JGC can actually take the beating long term.

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      My wife has been driving her ’13 since new and she loves it. I complain about the truck-ride, body roll, small interior, cheap plastics, and radio screen glare (looks like they fixed that in the refresh), and many times I’ll ask her if she’d rather have a more comfortable luxury crossover for her commutes, but she refuses every time. Something about the 4Runner…I think it is because it looks upscale from the outside but has a rugged driving feel you only get from a BOF.

      And the best part is the off-road. We’ve taken it on many trails in CO and NM, and it just amazes what it can do in 4-low and letting some pressure out of the tires.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        ” small interior,”

        Relative to what, exactly?

        • 0 avatar
          Reino

          Relative to similarly-priced crossovers that don’t have their floor space taken up by a rear-driveshaft and 4×4 suspension components.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            There is certainly some of that going on, but I still wouldn’t call the interior small.

            The vehicle itself isn’t that large–identical in length to a 2012 Altima. It doesn’t quite have the hollowed-out interior of a midsize sedan, but it’s not far off. There’s more than enough legroom for the sit-behind test for a six footer, footwell space is a bit shallower but not bad, and the vehicle has a few additional inches of width to make up for the driveline tunnel. I was actually surprised at how roomy it was for our family of four, particularly after how tight the Tacoma is in comparison.

            Now the Xterra and Liberty–those were just small enough to feel quite tight due to the BOF components when a car-based CUV of their dimensions would still feel roomy.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I think all of these negative comments kinda point to why it’s selling so well. People get tired of mundane crossovers that blend into a sea of similar blobs. No one actually cares if the dash isn’t soft, no one cares if it isn’t as refined as other vehicles. They just want something that feels solid and doesn’t scream “muh feels” in the looks department. Auto critics are the worst at predicting what consumers want, unfortunately automakers cave to the bad press.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    Dependable vehicle that lasts forever.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    The base price also includes trailer tow hitch with electric hook up and a heated front windshield surround.

  • avatar
    MrH42

    I bought a 2015 SR5 Premium in December of 2015, so I’m about a year and half into ownership. I usually get bored with cars really quick, but this is my favorite vehicle I’ve owned to date. Sure, it doesn’t corner, but it’s so damn utilitarian. That soft suspension is actually great for road trips. It can haul a ton of stuff. Great off road. Looks good. Great in the snow. Dead nuts reliable and doesn’t depreciate much.

    I’ll likely keep this thing until 2022 or whenever the next one comes out and buy that. I think they found a life long 4Runner owner in me.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I’ve had a few as rentals and have given serious thought to upgrading from my beloved e-locked ’96 Limited that only has 140k miles and no rust. At this point I’m almost thinking maybe my wife can be convinced to get a new 4Runner and I’ll keep my old one. Her commute is riddled with tire popping potholes and she has to drive at all odd hours to get to her job (medical resident).

    My one serious criticism (and it might be unrealistic) is just how thin both the paint and the sheetmetal are on these new ones, as well as the use of fragile painted plastic bumpers. My ’96 has barely any stone chips on the hood (compared to wife’s Camry where big chips have gone right down past the galvanization), and the doors are fantastically resilient to dings compared to something like my wife’s 2012 Camry, admittedly part of that is how high the doors are and the lower sections are covered by plastic cladding. Finally I love my sturdy chrome bumpers finished on the bottom with unpainted flexible black plastic. Snow banks won’t scrape them up, the one time I’ve ran out of approach angle, I just got some barely noticeable scuffs on the lower plastic bit.

    Another regression from late-3rd gens and 4th gens was the loss of a multi-mode 4wd system: one with RWD, un-locked 4H, locked 4H, and locked 4L modes. The limited gets a fulltime 4wd (no fuel saving 2wd mode) with locking center diff and low range, but the SR5s and Trails have traditional part time systems, for slick-pavement and highway driving unlocked-4H is the way to go. I do love the fact that the Trail gets an honest-to-God mechanical J-pattern transfer case lever. My early-3rd gen likewise is stuck with a basic Part time system (button selected 4H, lever shifted neutral-low-high range).

    The 5th gen 4Runner is easily my favorite Toyota product currently, and I do think at some point in the future I will acquire one of my own.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Yes the sheetmetal is a very serious issue with this gen 4R, seeing the hood ripple as you drive down the road is quite realistically the cheapest thing I’ve seen on a vehicle in my life. Unfortunately that’s not even my biggest issue. While I’m sure the trucks with sunroofs that have more frontal roof support may not exhibit this issue – the roof section on trucks without a sunroof sound like tin foil when you tap them. I may exaggerate some things, but I challenge anyone to find a 4R w/o a sunroof and say otherwise. I remember standing on trucks roofs when I was younger without a second thought, and none of them show any change. I feel like if an acorn fell on the 4R roof it would leave a dent.

      I wouldn’t doubt the paint issues but my 4R came with about 20 individual pieces of clear film over the front end to protect from rocks and the such. So yes there must have been an issue if they had to start putting the plastic film on.

      • 0 avatar
        cgjeep

        I had the misfortune of getting caught in a hail storm the otherr. day. The 4Runner survived unscathed but it sounded like it was totaled from the inside.

        Funny but compared to my wife’s VW the 4Runner feels/sounds like a POS. The doors shut more solidly on the VW, the center rear armrest in the rear seat feels more solid, and the way the seats go done all feel so much better in the VW. You would think the VW would last for 20 years and the 4runner for 4.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          That makes me feel better about it if it can withstand real world issues. I know I already have two door dings in the passenger front door, but you can never tell how hard the arseholes hit your doors.

          I assume you have a sunroof? It’s a free option so you rarely see the ones without it.

          • 0 avatar
            cgjeep

            No sunroof, I have a base Trail. I oftern put things on my roof and want to get a basket, so didn’t want a sunroof. I was glad that day.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          “You would think the VW would last for 20 years and the 4runner for 4.”

          I traded in a 2010 Sportwagen for the 4Runner and…yep, dead on. VW has the tactile thing just nailed. The closing and opening of the doors, the interior materials, the hidden little details. It was a very endearing car that way.

          The 4runner isn’t unusual in that regard, though, most Japanese vehicles have that thin feeling in the door motions and elsewhere and the exterior door panels on an F150 wobble like a kicked bass drum. The structure of the 4Runner is tangibly solid, though. It feels like what it is–a strong frame enclosed by a thin shell. I don’t find the thin shell aspect noticeable when not interacting with the sheet metal, so I still get the impression of 20 year durability from behind the wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      Lightspeed

      If you have a 96 e-locker with low miles and no rust, you can probably sell it for the price of a new 4Runner!

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    The car is incredibly capable and a guy good buy for those that need it, but if you don’t plan to use the capabilities, there are better choices elsewhere. The ride sucks, the visibility is bad, handling is tipsy topsy sloppy even buy SUV/CUV standards, the power train is thirsty and uninspiring, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Visibility is bad compared to what? I can’t think of a vehicle with better visibility, even convertibles are worse with the ridiculously sloped A-pillars and high door sills. Also I’ve been getting just over 20MPG average, you sound like your armchairing your comments there.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “the power train is thirsty and uninspiring, etc.”

      The 4.0L has a very soft throttle tip-in programmed in, sort of an always-on Eco mode. But the motor is plenty potent in terms of acceleration numbers IMO, and is a true truck motor unlike the downsized 3.5 in the Tacoma, 3.6 in the Colorado, etc. Economy-wise, I’d say the 4Runner is every bit as good as most similar sized CUV platforms in the real world (think Explorer). The ride is actually very good, just not as well controlled as the car-platforms it is compared against. Visibility is pretty good too by modern vehicle standards, although I will say in an unfair comparison against my 21 year old 3rd gen, the rearward visibility has been significantly diminished with smaller rear window and smaller rear cargo area side windows.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        The perma-ECO throttle calibration does indeed make it feel lethargic in town until you learn to push through it. Let it downshift into 3500+ rpm range and it scoots well–30-50 and 50-70 mph acceleration times are very similar to a 5.3 Tahoe and 3.5 Ecoboost Expedition.

        I’ve found that conservative throttle response very useful off-pavement.

      • 0 avatar
        cgjeep

        As I explained to my wife, the first 50% of the gas pedal gives you only 30% of the power. I’m amazed given the modest torque numbers down low how it is able to climb stuff in the 1k-2k RPM range at low speeds. While climbing obstacles that gas pedal has similar feel to an E46’s steering. Very confident building.

        View forward and to the sides is outstanding. I don’t even bother trying to look out the back while backing up. Sorry to admit it but I just use the camera. Every other car, even with a camera I just look but you really can’t see much out of the back. Seats are very tall in the back, and that hinders rearward visibility.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I don’t agree on the visibility and the mileage. The beltline is low and doesn’t rise toward the rear. The mileage is superior to a Wrangler and largely indiscernible from the Grand Cherokee with its more modern powertrain. But yes, there are significant tradeoffs here and CUVs are dominating for a reason.

      • 0 avatar
        cgjeep

        I’ve been averaging 17.3 MPG. in mostly DC commuting.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          That’s about what I get around town as well. Highway mileage is all over the map for me. I’ve seen 23 mpg at 70mph, 19 mpg at 75, 19 mpg at 85. Don’t have a handle on that one yet. This weekend’s travel included about 250 miles of mixed 80 mph interstate, 65 mph two lane highways, 45 mph high elevation mountain roads, and 30 or so miles of dirt and the trip average was dead-on the EPA hwy estimate of 21.

        • 0 avatar
          fvfvsix

          My average after 1 year is 17.4MPG, with one very long road trip mixed into a bunch of non-freeway commuting. It’s actually quite good, IMHO – and it takes regular gas.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    I hope this is the last year for the 4Runner and that Toyota stops making them. This should make the resale value if mine go through the roof like the FJ Cruiser and the Supra. Used FJs are now more than they were new.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I love the look, it’s really held up well. But they are ridiculously over priced.

    I recently purchased a new Lexus GX, it was only like $5,000 more than a well equipped 4Runner. It’s such a step up in terms of quality. The 4Runner interior is an embarrassment and there definitely is a cheap feeling to the vehicle, but they seem to have no issues moving them.

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      They are overpriced. mine stickers at 39k and that is with cloth seats, no sun roof; just the basics (or less than)but with Nav (Outdated at that). My coworkers don’t get it. I love the Lexus GX but I wouldn’t take one offroad. If you take the lower cladding off and the running boards they are very capable but I would leave a lot of parts on the trail as they sit.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Mine stickered at 38k w/o 4wd and I drove out for about 30k, so there are discounts to be had if your willing to work.

        Edit, or was it 36k? I’d have to go look.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        For what it’s worth, that $36k or whatever a SR5 4WD without any options goes for is a total steal considering what something like my 3rd gen cost in inflation adjusted 1996 dollars. My Limited at $33k in 1996 would be $52k in today’s dollars, with some extra on top of that for the rear locking diff package. Now you might argue the old truck had superior quality materials, paint, metal thickness, etc. But the new truck has a boat load more features, safety equipment, 100 more hp, etc etc.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      The limited 4R is a poor deal, but the SR5 is fifteen grand below the Lexus and both it and the Trail trims are better suited to off pavement use for the reasons cgjeep listed. I probably would have damaged the gx fascia last weekend. Figure out what you’re buying it for and act accordingly.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Not to mention the 20 inch wagon wheels on the Limited look just plain silly. Weirdly narrow, just a total mess.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Yeah, the Limited lost the plot this generation. The interior that draws a bit of ire at SR5 prices is really out of place in a $45K vehicle and those big wheels are contrary to the rest of the vehicle’s capabilities. The face is godawful.

          The F150 King Ranch reviewed here today is a similar play, come to think of it.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      You say cheap, I say rugged. My father bought a GX this weekend, and he paid about $11 grand more than I paid for my Pro last year. I cross shopped both, and decided that I wasn’t interested in a 4Runner that’s trying to be acceptable to people who want to step up from an RX… so the limited and the GX were out for me. My only complaint was the audio system. A custom sub box, a set of separates, and a pair of 1,000 watt amps later – I’m good.

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      I like the GX, because if there’s two things the 4Runner needs, it’s two more cylinders and one more gear.

      But then I read about the GX tailgate swinging out and that instantly turned me off! How did you get over that?

  • avatar
    scuzimi

    WTH does Ace of Base mean?

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    My truck is the last year of the second generation, a 1995. I picked it up with nearly 200k miles 3 1/2 years ago. Since then I have tuned it and replaced a speedometer cable and 02 sensor. Everything on the truck works and the mileage is from 17 when in the pasture working on fence to 20 when on the highway pulling a trailer. Thanks to the big tire crowd the stock first gear is just about useless but it rides extremely well on the highway. I bought it for the 4wd and it would have been stuck in the pasture often enough to make it useless if not for that.

    I had heard bad things about the 3.0 engine but bought it figuring that by the last year they would have worked the bugs out with the head gasket. It seems they did. I know that if I had bought a year later I would have gotten a reportedly better engine and a land cruiser frame of some genre or other. However, this is what was available. It is less primitive than the first generation but still very much a truck. My wife certainly agrees with the commenter who mentioned the high floor boards. She cannot stand that and it certainly reduces the miles I drive it. Some recent play trips into the forest service roads of the nearby Sam Houston National Forest have convinced her that it has it’s place. Sometimes it is worth the uncomfortable ride.

    I make these comments to say that although my truck is somewhat old, the characteristics that make 4runners is pretty much the same. Texas requires smog inspections on vehicles till they are 26 years old and there will need to be some work done before the next one. It is OBD1 and there appears to be some work needed on the EGR system which I understand is inconvenient to reach. Assuming that I can slip thru the next three inspections this may be the last truck I need to buy. Being dependable and paid for works for me.


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