Buying Guide

2012 Toyota 4Runner

Fair Market Price $23,961 Limited 2WD

EPA MPG:

17 City / 23 Hwy

Cargo (Std/Max):

NA / 89.7 cu. ft.

Seating:

5/7

The 4Runner is in many respects a throwback and, like the related Tacoma, is one of the only remaining vehicles of its kind. Its body-on-frame construction and live rear axle appeal to those who still expect their mid-size SUV to do the things for which SUVs were actually invented: going off-road and towing. Those who spend most or all of their time traversing parking lots and highways may want to stick with the Highlander, as the 4Runner suffers from a bumpier ride and vague steering. That said, the 4Runner is a much more refined and efficient vehicle than the trucks that dominated the sales charts even ten years ago. For one, it comes with only a V-6 engine, the same 4.0-liter offered in the FJ Cruiser and the Tundra. Toyota initially offered a four-cylinder as well but killed it after less than a year when it became clear that not many people were interested in lugging around a 4400-pound vehicle with only 182 hp. The interior isn’t luxurious (there needs to be a reason for the Lexus GX460 to exist, after all), but it is comfortable and nicely laid out, with fold-flat second- and (optional) third-row seats. It also incorporates a neat party trick, literally: at the push of a button, the stereo will send full power to the back speakers, creating a fun-hearted atmosphere for tailgate parties.

Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel

Trim levels: SR5, Trail, Limited

Body style: SUV, 5- or 7-passenger

Engine: 4.0L V-6. 270 hp, 278 lb-ft

Transmission: 5-speed automatic

Passenger volume: 103.1 cu ft

Capacities: Towing 5000 lb; cargo (behind third/middle/front seats) 9.0/46.3-47.2/88.8-89.7 cu ft

Bluetooth and iPod connectivity become standard for 2012. Power-retracting running boards are now standard on Limited models.

Front, side, side curtain, and knee air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; a backup camera; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard.

All: 17 mpg city/22-23 mpg highway

  • Real SUV utility and capability
  • Handsome inside and out
  • More refined than you might expect from a truck
  • Trucklike driving dynamics
  • Not very fuel efficient

An SUV, not a crossover.

  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Nissan Pathfinder
  • Suzuki Grand Vitara

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