Did you know that the 4Runner is a legend in the automobile industry? I mean, a real-world legend, that workhorse-kind-of-legend, not some supercar that comes and goes but catches your attention with a flashy design and a ridiculous price-tag. I’m talking about ground-breaking stuff, you know, like staying on top of the game ever since the debut back in 1984. And the Toyota 4Runner is not just your regular all-around model – it’s like the Father of all the mid-size SUVs! That’s right, this good-looking stud is running big shots around town, and some folks even claim that it single-handedly made the market appealing to a large customer base, one that’s got a huge piece of that industrial pie in its hands. Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but I will say that the original 4Runner was indeed a compact SUV, but the latest editions have turned into something of a cross between a compact and a mid-size SUV. The CUVs (that’s what they call them now) have pretty much monopolized the segment of family-friendly, fuel-efficient and affordable vehicles that used to be ruled by the big-bad sedans like Toyota’s own Camry, Honda’s Accord, and others.
The Perfect Time To Arrive On The Market
Minivans came through for a short period of time, but the biggest advantage of compact crossovers over any other body style is they look cool, and that’s a major selling point, my friends. The middle-class cars these days are not just your boring, routine and not-sexy-at-all steel boxes from back in the day. No today, in 2016, the market is super-crowded and competitive, and that’s why we’re getting to enjoy high-quality models for affordable price-tags. Didn’t the government tell you that monopoly is a bad thing? Exactly! On the other hand, the customers got a bit tired of the whole compact thing, and so, a mid-sizer is the perfect compromise. I gotta say that the 4Runner is constantly being compared to the friendly Highlander, which is a “true” mid-size crossover SUV. If you wanna read all about the differences between the two, the pros and cons, the whole 4runner vs highlander thing, check out my review. It’s safe to say that the 2015 Toyota 4Runner is one of the most respected and loved SUVs on the market, because it never breaks down, never disappoints and looks cool – the perfect mix.
The Concept Behind The 4Runner
So, the first thing you need to know about the Toyota 4Runner is that it was the essential bridge between traditional passenger vehicles and off-road beasts. Today, when speaking of the 4Runner, off road comes to mind automatically, because you just can’t have the one without the other. The construction platform on this one is unique, as it combines the ground clearance, the “scary looks” and the weight of traditional SUVs with a bit more family-friendly attitude and a nice, comfortable ride quality on the city road. I have to also mention that the Toyota 4Runner weight has changed a lot in the up-to-date models (Toyota 4Runner 2015 and 2016) and is at 4,400–4,805 lb right now, which makes it better in terms of durability and safety. Now, the folks at Toyota have been thinking on the concept for a long time, ever since the early days, and in Japan, the hometown, it was known as the Toyota Hilux Surf. As mentioned above, the first real-world model debuted in 84 and made a lot of buzz around town, thanks to the attractive design and a mighty powertrain. But let’s talk about it all in order…I said order in court, please!
The First Generation – The Beginning (1984–1989)
Before we dig into the rabbit hole and take a cruise down the memory lane, let me tell you a few amazing facts about the Toyota 4Runner: first of all, this year, in 2016, it earned the number 3 spot on the list of top-ten longest-lasting vehicles on the market, compiled by iSeeCars.com. Second, about 5.2 percent of the 4Runners roaming on the world-wide roads has gone beyond that magical threshold of 200K miles. It’s available in America, Canada, Central America, South America and pretty much in every corner of the world as a used model. Go to any 4Runner forum and the nice folks will tell you where to get a solid pre-owned model. Alright, now let’s talk history! Back in ’81 Toyota debuted the Trekker truck, which is considered to be the first ever “4Runner trial”, but it’s not considered to be the first gen, so, let’s just leave it at that. The real first generation, the N60, lasted from 1984 to 1989 and was just a modification of the existing Helix model with short-bed pick-up truck body. So, it wasn’t an entirely new model, but still, it was pretty good (however, if you compared it to, say, the 2015 4Runner, you’ll be amazed by how much it changed since). The Hilux went through a big-time redesign in ’83 for 84 and the same changes were present in the SUV as well, for example, the 4Runner rear window was not a panel anymore, it had rear seats, a removable fiberglass canopy and a bunch of other stuff.
Borrowing From The Competitors
To be honest, all that glory was already present in the rivaling Chevy K5 Blazer and Ford Bronco. So, mechanically speaking, the first-gen 4Runner was identical to the Hilux. Here in North America the first runners were available since May ’84, and you had an SR5 package available that added better fabrics, additional gauges, and more. In ’85 Toyota introduced the 22R-EC I4 engine, which was good for 100HP. Next year, in 1986, our champ changed the front suspension’s design a lot and switched to the Hi-Trac independent front suspension. Track width was also increased – by 3 inches. That allowed the truck to be more comfortable on the road, with good handling and stability. Fun fact: during the ’84-’86 period the 4Runners here in the US didn’t have rear seats. So, with 2 seats only the were constantly classified as traditional trucks; however, the majority of owners had aftermarket seats installed. The 87 4Runner introduced a mighty 3.0-lit V6 engine, known as the 3VZ-E. It was a lot stronger than the 4-cylinder but not as reliable. As for the 1988 and the 1989 models, they only got cosmetic updates here and there, nothing major. But that’s understandable, as Toyota was finally ready to introduce the second generation.
The Second Generation – Better In Each Direction (1989–1995)
At the time the second gen arrived – in 1989 – the 4Runner ratings were good, and it was time for Toyota to strike hard. Both the Hilux Surf and the 4Runner debuted for the 1990 model year. The 2nd generation line-up is known as the N120/N130 series and it was still heavily influenced by the Hilux pickup construction platform. It’s safe to say that it was quite literally identical to the Hilux from the B-pillars forward. However, there were some fundamental differences compared to the first gen. The new Toyota 4Runner boasted a brand-new, fully steel-integrated body that came mounted to the existing frame, as opposed to the previous combination of an enhanced truck with fiber-glass cap. Nearly all the forerunner Toyota models from the 2nd generation were 4-door models, but there were some 2-doorers as well. Commercially speaking, the second generation wasn’t a huge hit for Toyota, but it did raise a lot of eyebrows in the industry and folks started to respect the Japanese manufacturer for at least trying to compete with the big-bad American giants.
The Toyota 4Runner Horsepower, FWD And Safety Issues
As for the engines, you still had the same choice between the good-old 2.4-lit 4-cylinder and the stronger 3.0-lit V6 that was perfect for it, taking care of the 4Runner horsepower the right way (145HP and 180 pound-feet of torque). Furthermore, you had a choice between RWD (rear-wheel drive) and FWD (four-wheel drive), most commonly referred to as the 4Runner 4×4. Now, the other fish in the sea, the rivals, including the Explorer from Ford and the Pathfinder from Nissan, featured taillights that opened upward, but the second-gen truck-SUV was stuck with the same retractable-glass tailgate. So, if you’re looking for that old-school used Toyota forerunner, this is it for you. In 1991 the model received cosmetic changes, nothing worth mentioning here, trust me. The same goes for the ’93 and the ’95 editions, which were simply building up to the official arrival of the third generation. Now, I gotta say a few words about safety, which was kinda bad with the 1st and the second gens. In the 80s and early 90s crash regulations for light-weight trucks were not as strict in the United States as they are today, and all the early 4Runners featured doors that were not as safe as they should’ve been. However, that wasn’t even the biggest downside: the Toyota SUVs, along with all the other models on the market, really “loved” to rollover. The center of gravity was too high and it was pretty easy to make these big, scary monsters to flip over.
The Third Generation Of The Four Runner Toyota SUV (1995–2002)
The 1996 4Runner hit the dealerships with a major redesign – an all-new body shell and a brand-new chassis. This time around Toyota finally separated the 4Runner from the Hilux and from now on they had practically nothing in common. The new chassis was borrowed from the friendly Land Cruiser Prado 4door wagon. Now, while the transition from the first gen to the second one was smooth because the build quality, the features and the options were roughly the same and on par with the competition in the segment of mid-size SUVs, the 3rd gen was all about turning the model into a near-luxury vehicle. I guess the Japanese think alike, because Nissan choose the same direction with the Pathfinder, as opposed to the Ford Explorer and Chevy Blazer. It’s safe to say that ’96 marked Toyota’s big departure from the old competitors. In terms of design, though, the third generation looked almost identical to the previous gen. In terms of the powertrain we had a choice between some new engines that came from the first-gen Tacoma mid-size truck. The first unit was a 2.7-lit 4-cyl that was good for 150HP and 177 lb-ft of torque, while the second, the 3.4-lit V6 was capable of 183HP and 217 pound-feet of torque.
The 1997 Toyota Forerunner
The next year was a minor one for the model, and the 1997 Toyota forerunner received only tiny fixes here and there. ’98 remained largely the same, too, except for a couple of new electronic features. You had a new steering wheel, new switch control panels – that kind of thing. However, the third gen featured a larger body, a longer wheelbase, more interior room, a more generous cargo capacity, dual airbags, coil-sprung suspension all-around and more exciting stuff. The Hilux Surf switched to 16-inch wheels. The 1999 Toyota 4Runner, on the other hand, had major cosmetic updates and improvements on the inside. We got new styling for the headlights, a new fat bumper that allowed for an extended crush zone, new foglamps and a bunch of other stuff. The models with the Limited and Sport Edition trims got front/rear bumpers on the outside and different ergonomics for the inside (all the controls “migrated” to the center of the dashboard).
The 2000 Toyota forerunner was almost identical to the previous edition, while the 2001 Toyota 4Runner got a new front-grille design and new taillights. Plus, the design of the side view mirror was changed, but that’s the minor stuff, really. The Toyota 4Runner SR5 4WD and the entry-level model came packed with the Vehicle Stability Control. In my opinion, if you’re looking for the best pick from the 3rd gen, the 2001 Toyota 4Runner SR5 is your ultimate choice, because it looks and feels old school but still has a few of the modern-day features and tech to keep you happy on the road. And that’s about it for the 3rd Gen.
Going Mainstream With The 4th Generation (2002–2009)
Now, despite the fact that the fourth generation was intended for pretty much the same public as the previous one, it managed to broaden the fan base and become truly popular here in the States. Besides, the body and the chassis have been improved a lot. True, it was still a mid-size SUV (entry-level luxury) with special love for the off-road travels, but it was based on the Land Cruiser Prado 120 series. The powertrain got updates as well and the customers got a brand-new 4.0-lit V6 that was pumping out 245 Horsepower and 282 lb-ft of torque as the standard unit, plus, a V8 was available as well – a 4.7-lit engine that was good for 235HP and 320 pound-feet of torque. As for the 2002 – 2006 Toyota 4Runner MPG, you had the SUV returning 20 miles per gallon on the highway and 17MPG in the city with the V6 and 19MPG hwy/15MPG city with the V8, which was pretty solid for back in the day. Trim levels were the same – SR5, Sport and Limited – more than enough to go around.
Sticking With the Old Construction
Now, even with the 4th gen on the market the SUV was still using a body-on-frame construction design, compromising a bit on the interior space and handling on city roads. If you’re wondering about what is the towing capacity of a Toyota 4Runner 2002-2009, I’m happy to say that it’s pretty impressive: the V6-equipped models can tow anything up to 5K pounds, while the V8-equipped models with RWD can tow up to 7.3K pounds, and that’s solid even by today’s standards. So, that’s the Toyota 4Runner towing capacity for y’all. Furthermore, Toyota finally introduced the HAC system (Hill-Start Assist Control) that prevented the SUV from rolling on its back and swinging with all four legs. The 2004 Toyota 4Runner was almost an exact copy of the 2005-2009 models, with little to no differences. And with the fourth generation the 4Runner was starting to become more tech-friendly, offering standard equipment such as remote keyless entry, single-zone (automatic) climate control, navigation, a 10-speaker sound-system, etc. Backup camera was optional. In 2009, with the end of the gen, Toyota decided to discontinue the Hilux Surf, which automatically made the 4Runner the king in the company’s line-up.
The Fifth Generation – Modern-Day Classics (2009–present day)
Alright, ladies and gentlemen, we finally arrived at our destination – the current generation, the 5th one. It was first introduced to the world in 2009 (September 24th), at the Texas State Fair and was available in 3 trim levels, with the Trail Edition being new and available only as a 4WD model. The 4.0-lit V6 got the Dual VVT-i that improved HP, torque and fuel-efficiency and was standard for all the trims. Sadly, the 4.7-lit V8 didn’t make it to the 5th gen. A 2.7-lit 4-cylinder was available on 2WD editions, but was let go of after the 2010 model year. So, don’t go looking for a 2010 Toyota 4Runner review – I’ve got it all covered right here. By the way, the current model is based on the same platform as the FJ Cruiser, so, if you were looking for a 4Runner vs FJ Cruiser comparison, here it is: they’re constructed upon the same architecture, so, that means they have a lot in common. The 2014 4Runner received a facelift, meaning an updated front and rear fascia with projector head-lamps and LED tail lamps. The interior was also changed a bit, with the addition of soft-touch materials, Toyota’s Optitron instrument cluster, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and more. Moving forward with the Toyota 4Runner 2014 review let me just say that all the North American models are equipped with a 4.0-lit V6 that’s putting out 270BHP and 278 pound-feet of torque and is paired to a 5-speed automatic ECT transmission. As for the Toyota 4Runner 2014 MPG, it was pretty decent, but not class-leading.
The Toyota 4Runner 2015 And The Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro 2015
The 4Runner 2015 edition was pretty much the same as the previous model, but with one important exception: last year the 4Runner TRD Pro debuted, pushing the SUV sales up to the top of the charts. Essentially, it was (and still is) a king of off-roading, ideal for conquering those mountain heights, forest hills and deserts/blizzards. A lot of folks have been waiting on Toyota to finally introduce the wild and free version, and they got it eventually! Now imagine now cool a black 4Runner looks with that “I can climb anything” package! Alright, back to the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro: with it you’ll get Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs, a front skid plate and TRD-tuned front springs, ideal for off-road activities. Furthermore, the trim offers matte-black 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, improved suspension, and a bunch of other stuff. The TRD Pro 4Runner will cost you around 37-40K, but it will be one hell of an investment for your bucks. The 2015 Toyota 4Runner Limited is the ultimate trim available and comes with 20-inch (alloy) wheels, automatic headlights, front/rear parking sensors, dual-zone (automatic) climate control, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, a 15-speaker sound-system and more. The 2015 Toyota 4Runner SR5, on the other hand, is the entry-level trim, but it’s still pretty good. check out my article to learn all about it in details.
Toyota 4Runner 2016 – The Current Model
These days we’ve got tons of crossovers and compact cars on the market, but not enough real, hardcore, old-school SUVs. Thankfully, the 2016 4Runner is still true to the fine traditions and represents everything we love in the original models. It offers 3 rows of seating, a generous cargo and Toyota’s trademark durability, reliability and safety. Plus, it’s as off-road-happy as ever, staying true to its roots as a ready-for-anything type of vehicle, one that you can rely on. Even if you go with the entry-level SR5 trim, you’ll get a champ of the wild and free. You’ve got skid plates, hill-descent control, hill-start assist, and more. And it’s good with towing, too, so, keep that in mind if you love to camp out and take your favorite trailer with you. However, if you’re looking for a family-friendly SUV, the Toyota 4Runner might not be your best choice, because it’s pretty bad with fuel-efficiency and feels a bit uncomfortable on those sterile, smooth city roads. And that 3rd row of seating is only good for your kids – no adult will feel comfortable back there.
Comparing The Champ Against The Best On The Market
A lot of folks love to compare the Jeep Grand Cherokee vs 4Runner, and I gotta admit that it beats the Toyota beast in almost every aspect, offering a few engines to pick from, better economy, a premium-quality interior and solid off-road performance. Another popular comparison is Honda Pilot vs Toyota 4Runner. Now, these two don’t have much in common, because the Pilot is an exquisite SUV that’s good for in-city driving with your family in the back, not for off-roading. I’d say it’s a better match against Toyota’s Highlander. Again, if you’re interested in a more elaborate discussion, go to and read it through and through. At the end of the day you could say that we’ve got an exceptional SUV on our hands, one that’s not afraid to show what it really is, and that’s awesome, my friends. Toyota certainly did deliver this time around and I’m actually looking forward to the upcoming 2017 edition, because rumor has it the team behind it is cooking up something truly awesome.
Toyota 4Runner 2017 – A Peak Into The Future
Now, I don’t usually like to speculate on the future models, because it’s kind of a drag to gossip, you know? However, if it’s the 4Runner SUV, I can make an exception. Make sure to read all that I have to say at, and for now let me share a few highlights with you. Well, first of all, the powertrain will still be the same old combo of the V6 and the V8. Fuel-efficiency will be around 18-19MPG, towing capacity will be good for 500K and the mightiest engine will be pumping out 270 Horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. And while that’s more than enough to make you feel good and strong on the off-road, I still hope Toyota will introduce something entirely different for 2017, right? Sure, they’ll offer a few of the latest technological features and safety equipment, but that won’t be enough to make it the next big-time SUV. Yep, big changes are a must, so those rumors about the team creating something awesome better come true…
It’s Been Too Long Without A New Gen
And I have to say that it’s been 6 years for the fifth generation, so, maybe it’s time to introduce a brand-new, fully redesigned and breath-taking gen, the 6th? That’d be great, huh? The price-tag will most definitely remain the same, as I’m not expecting any ground-breaking changes in the design or, as I just said, in the powertrain. It’s definitely coming, ladies and gentlemen, because the competition is always harsh in the segment of SUVs, and the Japanese mogul just can’t let the rivals become any stronger. Regardless, even the Toyota Four Runner 2015 was (and still is) a super-dope off-roader to go have fun with and live life to the fullest. In fact, if you ask around about this hustler, I bet the majority of “interviewees” will call it the best on the market. Right, finally, let’s talk about the Toyota Forerunner for sale, shall we? As they say, you gotta see the product before you buy it.
Toyota 4Runner For Sale
So, with everything I just said about the famous Toyota SUV, it’s no surprise that folks are constantly looking for a 4Runner for sale – because they know that even the older models (like 2000+ old) will still look dope and will be more reliable, dependable and safe that the majority of competition out there. By the way, if you’re interested, it won’t be a problem to track down a decent pre-owned model in your vicinity. I bet they’ll have a shiny used Toyota 4Runner in your block, you just never knew about it. Go to the “usual suspects” like CarGurus, Cars.com and Autotrader.com and learn about all the available options. For example, the Gurus has a pretty impressive collection: you can get a 2000 Toyota 4Runner for 2.5K, a 2002 Toyota 4Runner for 5K, a 2005 Toyota 4Runner for 9K, et cetera, et cetera. On each of these web-sites you’ll find information about the mileage, the location, the dealer rating, tons of comments, and, of course, the price-tags. I don’t think I gotta tell you that a 1995 4Runner will have probably around 200K miles on it and 20 years behind its back, so, if you still want to go retro, make sure to check it thoroughly. Or, better yet, have a mechanic you know take a look at it. Hey, and keep in mind that folks spell it wrong sometimes and write Toyota four runner or Toyota forerunner, so, don’t forget to search with those keywords as well, otherwise you might miss a good offer of two.
The Best Place To Shop For A Used Toyota 4Runner
Now, even though you could go to the well-known sources for picking just the right offer, I would strongly recommend checking out your local Toyota dealership, because first – they won’t ever want to mess with you (they don’t need the negative attention), and second – they’ll offer you a 1-year warranty, which is pretty great for a used car. So, remember – the best Toyota 4Runner for sale will wait for you at a certified dealership, even if that means you’ll have to pay up a bit for the legal papers. Trust me, you don’t want to buy from a private seller only to find out later that you’ve got a bad car on your hands with no warranty, insurance or even the owner’s address -been there, done that. Right now the most popular models in the line-up are the 2014 Toyota 4Runner and the 2015 Toyota Four Runner, which is a bit strange for me, as folks usually wait for at least 3 years to sell their cars (for half the price). By the way, I bet you’ll find a lot of customized models as well, because the 4Runner is one of the most popular vehicles when it comes to modifications. Again, be vigilant with these ones, and if you’re a fan of tuning, check out my Toyota 4Runner Lifted post. And if you’ve got any kinds of question about how to pick just the right Toyota Four Runner for sale, hit me in the comments so I can share a few tips and tricks on the matter.
Alright, my friends, this is it! The complete story of the now-legendary Toyota 4Runner, one of the best off-road friendly models on the planet. It’s a super-popular vehicle and it’s always been climbing up and going forward, never backwards. People really love it for that aggressive attitude, reliability, durability and amazing options with customizing. That’s why the aftermarket is welcoming the next pre-owned 4Runner with arms open wide. Today we discussed the SUV’s most memorable moments in history and talked about places where you can shop for your own piece of off-road heaven. Keep up the good work, keep your heads up and don’t forget to be happy! That’s the most important thing, even when you’re not behind the wheel of an awesome Japanese beast that’s sliding down the road…
Check out this video: 2017 Toyota 4Runner