Just about every automaker has committed itself to going “all-electric” at some point in the next decade, and whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing, it means that the internal combustion engine (“ICE”, for the purposes of this article) is dead tech walking. Death and discontinuation are usually one-way tickets to the scrap heap for cars – but some cars are different. Some cars are special, and being made rare or obsolete just makes them more appealing.
The Great Jack Baruth once called this The Grand National Problem, and I think there are a few ICE cars out there that will be more appealing to car guys and gals than others in 20- or 30-years’ time. As such, I’ve taken some time to look at the automotive class of 2022 and pick my 5 future ICE Age Classics. Enjoy!
Toyota is updating the 2020 4Runner with more safety tech, infotainment options, and a compelling new trim. Based on the TRD Off-Road Premium trim, the 4Runner Venture Edition ditches the chrome to furnish customers with the ever-popular blacked-out experience. Mirrors, door handles, badging, and rear spoiler are all swapped for the darkest hue available.
The rest of the package plays to the body-on-frame 4Runner’s strengths. Toyota has fitted a Yakima Megawarrior roof rack as standard equipment as the vehicle’s crown jewel. Venture Editions also receive gunmetal 17-inch TRD wheels, while removing all other exterior references to Toyota Racing Development. The manufacturer suggests this provides the trim with “a cool, minimalist look,” and we find it difficult to disagree.
What’s the matter with the car I’m driving? / Can’t you tell that it’s out of style? / -Billy Joel
William Martin Joel might’ve been on to something here. Late last week, while behind the wheel of a new 4Runner, I was reminded of just how much I like the thing, despite its prehistoric infotainment system and Ralph Kramden driving position. Plenty of others seem to agree, as Toyota has no trouble moving them off dealer lots.
Then I realized something mildly startling — this isn’t the first slightly-outta-date new vehicle that I thought was the bee’s knees.
It’ll be a sad day when Toyota parts ways with the 4Runner SUV, but at the present moment there’s no plan to strike the long-running, body-on-frame model from the lineup. You will, however, pay more to get behind the wheel of the 2019 4Runner’s ballsiest variant.
At the extreme opposite end of the size scale, Toyota wants to make it cheaper to bring home a Toyota that’s actually a Mazda.
The old mining track descends from the shattered and tilted tablelands toward an imposing palisade of Wingate sandstone running to the horizon in each direction. This is one of the more dramatic and violent geologic upheavals on the Colorado Plateau and the road across it isn’t kind.
Sunbaked boom-time miners once hacked out jeep tracks across this wilderness, scouring for uranium to feed America’s nuclear frenzy. Only a few made it big, but if there ever was a more intriguing landscape in which to lose your mind seeking fortune, I’d like to see it. We’re here for lighter reasons, though, blithely rolling over rocks and ruts that would have halted most CUVs miles before, dropping into steep wash crossings that would stub the long front overhang of an Outback, and confidently inching up a stepped bedrock shelf that would trouble the long wheelbase of a full-size pickup.
The Rare Rides Pristine Vintage Toyota Precedent (RRPVTP) was set a few weeks ago, when we featured a Tercel 4WD Wagon. Then, Matthew Guy happened to present the redesigned 1990 Toyota 4Runner in his Ace of Base segment. This seemed a very timely coincidence, as a few days before we’d received a Rare Rides tip from commenter StephenT: a 4Runner of the first generation, lovingly maintained and for sale in Alabama.
You don’t see them like this very often.
It’s leg day at the Toyota Athletic Center. As the Chicago Auto Show kicks off, Toyota has changes in store for its off-road TRD Pro lineup that should help drivers of the brawniest Tacomas, Tundras, and 4Runners keep their sunglasses perched on their nose while blasting through an arroyo.
For the 2019 model year, the same 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks found on the existing Tacoma TRD Pro make their way into the full-size Tundra and midsize 4Runner SUV, along with other suspension improvements. The net effect is a higher ride height and milder manners both on-road and off.
In the case of the Tacoma, going TRD Pro means you’ll never leave home without your snorkel.
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.
While the name isn’t as intertwined in Ford history as much as Mustang or F-Series, the Bronco nameplate is something Ford can’t affix to just anything.
And according to rumors we’re hearing, we don’t need to worry about Ford refreshing an Everest for North American consumption and relying on a nostalgic nameplate to carry it off the lot.
As the calendar flipped out of the coked-up 80s and into the next decade, the mash-up that was Diamond Star Motors cranked out all-wheel drive turbo coupes, Chevy unleashed the ZR-1 (with the hyphen, thank you very much), and we were watching Robert Duvall play an excellent portrayal of Harry Hyde.
Toyota, for its part, launched a new 4Runner sporting handsome and cleanly contoured sheetmetal, arriving at the perfect time to ride the wave of customers who were suddenly trading their cars for SUVs.
“About twice a week, I’ll come out to the parking lot and see that somebody’s left a note asking to buy it,” Peter said, chuckling. “But the only reason I’d sell it would be to get a newer one. And the prices on those are even crazier. So I’ll keep it. Forever. It’s my car for life, no matter what else I buy or own or whatever.”
A devoted ultra-marathoner and trail-runner who thought nothing of running 30 kilometers on Saturday and then doing it again on Sunday, Peter was the photographer assigned to me on a recent project for another media outlet. He was (obviously) hugely fit, extremely disciplined, and very much in love with his car.
But what kind of car could inspire that kind of affection from a guy like Peter, to say nothing of all the parking-lot stalkers who keep trying to buy his car? Is it a Boss 302? A 458 Speciale? A pristine MkIV Toyota Supra Turbo? I’m afraid not. The belle of Peter’s ball is a homely little box of a car that, when it was new, rarely left a showroom without the assistance of a massive trade allowance, a flatbed tow truck, or possibly both.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are road tests, and then there are off-road tests. In a typical road test, writers use the car on their daily commute, playing with all the features and determine which bother them and which don’t. There may be some family activities thrown in, like going on a weekend trip or driving around the soccer team carpool. Sometimes, they might attempt to verify the manufacturer-reported performance numbers and use their smartphone to record 0-60 acceleration times and lateral g-forces in the corners. Other times they might go to the hardware store and fill the trunk with bricks to cargo volume and payload capacity. But most of the time, writers just utilize the car for day-to-day activities, evaluating a product in the most mundane of circumstances.
The various models of the Toyota Land Cruiser are some of the most respected off-roaders in the world. But what works elsewhere in the world does not necessarily work in North America. Dressed up in what is perceived to be luxury, how does this fancy Land Cruiser Prado, as its known everywhere else in the world, perform in the United States?
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Jack Bummer, his successor sounds like just another electric car shill :(
- IH_Fever Nissan should call for a real pickup before they call for electrification...
- Bobbysirhan Direct injection cuts certain emissions that were already so small as to be completely meaningless, but it introduces particulate emissions that aren't a problem on port-injected engines. Stay tuned for a particulate emissions panic to be used as a justification for banning all of the ICE engines produced under recent EURO emissions standards tiers.
- Kosmo I want to know why Mazda thinks anybody is interested in multiple teasers on a CUV!
- Namesakeone Please ask the Mazda representative this: Will Mazda ever make cars (besides the 3 and the MX-5) again? I know SUVs and crossovers are all the rage and sell so well and are so profitable, but Mazda made its reputation on sports cars and sedans and coupes that were interesting to drive. Not everything has to be a vehicle that looks like what every other manufacturer is selling. Mazda has enough SUVs in its lineup. Give the enthusiasts something.