Three 4Runner trims are available for 2013: the base SR5, Trail and Limited.
The engine on all trims is a 4.0L V6 making an impressive 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. The standard transmission is a 5-speed automatic. The SR5 and Limited can get either rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive (part-time on the SR5, full-time on the Limited).
Standard safety features include antilock 4-wheel disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, traction control, anti-skid system, active front head restraints, front knee airbags, front-seat side airbags and full-length roll-sensing side curtain airbags.
Toyota's A-TRAC system is standard on all 4-wheel drive trims, which can distribute driving force to any one wheel in contact with the ground, making rough driving much smoother. Four-wheel drive trims also get standard Downhill Assist Control. Trail trims also get Toyota's Crawl Control, which regulates the vehicle's speed in severe off-road conditions and Toyota's Multi-Terrain Select system, which allows drivers to manually adjust the 4-wheel drive hardware to suit their needs.
All 4Runner trims come with Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), which provides additional control by keeping the vehicle stationary while starting on a steep incline or unstable surface. The Limited trim comes standard with an X-REAS suspension system that automatically adjusts the damping force of shocks when driving over uneven surfaces or cornering. The Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) is available as an option, which can disconnect the front and rear stabilizer bars at speeds below 40 mph for greater wheel articulation. A system designed to prevent accidental acceleration by cutting throttle when both the accelerator and brake are pressed simultaneously is standard across the all trims.
Standard equipment on the SR5 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, trip computer and audio system with an auxiliary audio jack. SR5 trims with 4-wheel drive also get heated side mirrors with turn indicators and puddle lights, chrome roof rails and grille and a tow hitch receiver.
The Trail trim adds a hood scoop, a locking rear differential, Crawl Control, off-road tires, smoked head- and taillights, back-up camera, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, water-resistant upholstery, power front seats, a sliding rear cargo deck and an upgraded audio system with satellite radio, a USB port and iPod connectivity.
The Limited trim adds 20-inch alloy wheels, Toyota's X-REAS adaptive suspension dampers, keyless entry and ignition, automatic headlights, dual climate control, an upgraded audio system with a navigation, a 6-inch touchscreen display and backup camera. Also included are a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery, heated front seats and driver's seat power-adjustable lumbar support.
While many automakers claim their SUVs have rough and rugged, go-anywhere attitudes, few can actually deliver that sort of performance. When it comes to climbing rocks and getting properly muddy, you need a true 4x4 SUV to handle the rough stuff. Enter the tried-and-true Toyota 4Runner.
The 4Runner is one of the few SUVs available today with body-on-frame construction, as opposed to the car-based crossovers that are increasingly popular with shoppers. Available with seating for up to seven passengers, as stripped-out or fully loaded as you like, the 4Runner can be many things to many people. But all four-wheel drive models pack serious off-road chops, with a two-speed transfer case and 9.6 inches of ground clearance. No, the 4Runner isn't as smooth and comfortable on-road as car-based crossovers, but if you plan to hit the trails, its abilities are hard to match.
Under the hood is a positively ancient 4.0-liter V6, pushing out 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque though a five-speed automatic transmission. In a world where eight-speed automatics are increasingly the norm, this old fiver doesn't quite cut it. Sure, it shifts smoothly, but it doesn't do the 4Runner any favors as far as fuel efficiency is concerned. The EPA claims the 2020 4Runner should achieve 16 mpg in the city, 19 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined. During my week with the off-road-ready TRD Pro trim, I saw just 14.6 mpg. Yeesh.
The Good ~ Unmatched off-road ability ~ Standard driver-assistance technology ~ Wide range of available trims and options
The Bad ~ Harsh on-road ride quality ~ Old V6 is hardly fuel-efficient ~ Toughest competitor is a used 4Runner
The Bottom Line The Toyota 4Runner is a solid off-roader that'll get you way off the beaten path, but it comes at the expense of daily comfort and fuel economy.
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