Vehicle Type: Mid-size 4×4 SUV
Optional Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select systems were on board, allowing drivers to tell the vehicle what sort of terrain they’re about to encounter, and allowing the computer to effectively optimize throttle sensitivity, braking and shifting as appropriate for the situation at hand. The Crawl Control setting, notably, is like an off-road cruise control system that maintains a crawl-like speed, regardless of terrain or inclination, allowing drivers to focus solely on steering.
With towing capacity at 5,000 lb and a generously-sized interior with plenty of storage and flexibility, the 4Runner is easily adapted to the job at hand. A quiet ride and easygoing power steering, for instance, makes for a highly civilized drive around town, or for the daily commute. Upscale feature content, including a sunroof, navigation, premium JBL audio system implements and automatic climate control are all on offer for long-haul comfort.
Engines / Trim: 4Runner is powered by a 4.0L, 270 horsepower V6 that’s more powerful than the larger V8 engine it was conceived to replace. All models got an automatic transmission. Look for a part-time 4×4 setup, or an all-time multi-mode 4×4 system with locking differential. Multiple grade levels were available, including the value-based SR5, the Trail model, which sits mid-pack for pricing and focuses on off-road capability, and the top-line Limited model.
What Owners Like: Owners report a high degree of off-road capability, a sense of confidence in all terrain and weather conditions, decent space, and a relatively comfortable ride. The engine is a decent all-around performer, too, according to many drivers. The high-end stereo system is a feature content favourite as well.
What Owners Dislike: Common complaints include sometimes-nervous handling at speed, soft and squishy suspension calibrations, and a big turning circle. Many owners also wish for better fuel mileage.
Here’s a look some owner reviews.
The Test Drive: We’ll start with a note on modifications. Most shoppers should avoid a used 4Runner model that isn’t stock, especially if modifications to the suspension, engine, or wheels and tires are present. Here’s a writeup on non-factory tire and wheel fitment, outlining the pros and cons. The gist? Though bigger wheels and tires will make the 4Runner look tougher and enable added capability, they can also cause excessive wear on various components, including axles and axle seals, and cause an inaccurate speedometer reading.
Have a mechanic inspect the axle seals of the 4Runner you’re considering, especially the front ones. Leaks are most often the result of the current or former use of oversized wheels, and in some cases, bad axle seals can allow contaminants and moisture into other components, like the front differential, which can cause added damage.
Lighting modifications are also popular in the 4Runner world, though shoppers are advised to confirm that any non-factory lighting hardware is legal, properly installed using relays and quality parts, and that all wiring is safe and intact to avoid potential electronics issues or dangerous shorts.