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Toyota 4Runner

The mid-size SUV for people who really want an SUV.

The Toyota 4Runner is the last — and best — of its kind. Its body-on-frame and live rear axle appeal to buyers who still expect their mid-size SUV to do the things for which SUVs were actually invented: go off-road and tow. Those who spend most or all of their time traversing parking lots and highways might want to stick with the Highlander, because the 4Runner suffers from a bumpier ride and less-confidence-inspiring steering. That said, the 4Runner, last redesigned for 2010, is a much more refined and efficient vehicle than the mid-size trucks that dominated the sales charts even ten years ago. For one, it comes only with a V-6 engine, the same 4.0-liter that Toyota offers in the FJ Cruiser and the Tundra pickup. 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 lively atmosphere for tailgate parties.

COMPETITORS

Ford Explorer

Honda Pilot

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Nissan Pathfinder

new for 2013

The 4Runner carries over essentially unchanged.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front, side, side curtain, and knee air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; a backup camera; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard.

MPG

CITY 17

HWY 22–23

PRO

Real SUV utility and capability

Handsome inside and out

More refined than one expects

CON

Trucklike driving dynamics

Not very fuel efficient

Base Price Range: $32,185–$37,850

SPECIFICATIONS

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

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