After being in production for over three decades, the 4Runner has proven itself. Time and again. It has nothing left to prove, to be honest. For those who want an honest, body-on-frame SUV, there really are not a lot of choices left.
Its recognizable rugged good looks remain intact although it has also evolved into something a little more funky. Toyota has done an awful number on the grille of the lower-trim SR5 and Trail models but thankfully the more premium-feeling Limited gets to hang on to the aggressive, muscular parts without looking nearly as overwrought. It also gets massive 20-inch rims with 245/60-sized rubber.
Let’s talk about first impressions once you’ve given the 4Runner a good once over from the outside. A true SUV sits high off the ground, and the 4Runner is no exception. It sits there, with its 244 mm of clearance, challenging you. It’s a step up, to be sure, and that’s where running boards come in handy. But not these ones. This is, without a doubt, the worst application of running boards I have ever seen in my life. The 4Runner’s spec sheet calls them “unique running boards”. Well, they weren’t kidding. They are mounted directly beneath the edge of the 4Runner’s sides rather than being suspended, which means that there isn’t enough space between the vehicle’s body for your foot. It also means that half of the running boards’ width is hiding beneath the vehicle. So you can get maybe half of your shoe on there, and then you will invariably slip off of it if it’s wet or snowy. My passengers and I actually found them to be quite dangerous because you can’t help but use them, but there is no proper way to use them without slipping off. Terrible.
Once you’re in, the heated and cooled seats (in a rich brown “Redwood” leather) are exceptionally comfortable and offer outstanding bolstering – not so much for sporty on-road driving as for the off-roading this thing can handle.
The interior styling is a mixed bag of the cluttered Toyota of yesteryear and the new. The hard dash plastics are quite nice, with matte finishes, liquid metal plastics and interesting textures, while the door panels are beautifully upholstered. The splash of real wood trim across the dash is a nice touch too. I found the gauges are a bit hard to read with a quick glance. The fat-rimmed, grippy steering wheel is a delight to drive with, on road and in the rough stuff.
The dash houses Toyota’s 6.1-inch touchscreen system which handles the 15-speaker(!) JBL audio system, as well as the navigation system, phone functions and vehicle settings. Comfort is handled through an automatic dual-zone climate control.
There are plenty of storage options scattered here and there throughout the interior – some of it useful, some of it too strangely shaped to be of much utility. Overhead is a sunroof and universal garage door openers. Driver assistance technology is limited to front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera.