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