- Written by Wilson Calvert
What it is: The 4Runner is ToyotaÃƒï¿½Ã¯Â¿Â½Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â¢Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â¯Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â¿Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â½Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â¯Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â¿Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â½s beefy and highly off-road capable SUV. It comes in three trim levels: the SR5, which is the base trim; Trail, which is the extra off-road capable version; and the Limited, which is the high-end luxurious version. They really do have a 4Runner for everyone, and I will be reviewing the Trail edition in my article. First I wanted to say that it worked out extremely well to review the Toyota Highlander immediately preceding the 4Runner because it is viewed as a comparable buying choice to a lot of people. With the latest generation, however, Toyota has pushed the vehicles further apart, and they are trying to bring a more capable image to the 4Runner. The Highlander is the much better choice for suburb dwellers that just want something bigger to run back and forth to work in. The Highlander is front-wheel drive, which provides much less capability off-road, but provides a 15 percent MPG jump in fuel economy. The Highlander provides a much smoother and quiet experience as well. As soon as the pavement ends, however, the 4Runner is preferable. The Trail trim only comes in a 4-wheel drive version unlike the other trims which offer rear-wheel drive in addition. The Trail version is also visually very distinctive with black accents everywhere including bumpers, grill and a large utility roof rack. My test model had black paint as well and looked MEAN. Options are limited with the Trail as things like alloy wheels and a moonroof are standard. My test model was equipped with the $2,420 touch-screen navigation system, which worked really well. The other big option for buyers to choose is the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) which is $1,750 and is only available on the Trail trim. It is an active suspension system that decreases body roll while turning on-road, but increases the amount the suspension can travel (and actively adapts it) when traversing off-road. Price: SR5 starts at $30,305, Trail at $36,555 and Limited at $38,400. Upsides: Mild-mannered enough to drive every day, and capable enough to drive anywhere on the weekends. Downsides: Fuel economy is a little lacking at 17 city/22 highway, but this is a real SUV, not a minivan mom replacement crossover. Wrap-up: The 4Runner is a no-compromise SUV that still performs well for day-to-day errands. For those who donÃƒï¿½Ã¯Â¿Â½Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â¢Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â¯Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â¿Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â½Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â¯Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â¿Ãƒï¿½Ã‚Â½t regularly take their cars off of the pavement, the Trail is probably a little overkill. Both the Limited and SR5 trims are still supremely capable vehicles, and that includes off-road as well. Fun Fact: Toyota has produced nearly 2 million 4Runners since 1984, and Toyota claims that 70% are still on the road today.