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The Toyota 4Runner is an SUV with a front engine rear-wheel or four-wheel drive layout introduced in 1984 as a compact SUV remodeled as a midsize SUV starting in 2002. The Toyota 4Runner is a top selling SUV in the U.S. and abroad and is still in production by the Japanese automaker. Its reputation is one of reliability, fuel efficiency within its class, and moderate to good off-road capability. It is marketed as a convenient SUV for urban and suburban driving that is as comfortable in the city as on vacations in the country.
When the Toyota 4Runner was first introduced in 1984 it was nearly identical mechanically and in design to the small Toyota pickup truck, with fiberglass molding over the bed. The seats were pushed back only slightly and the rear storage area was almost identical to a truck bed. As other makers began selling more SUVs and the genre become more popular Toyota began making the 4Runner independent of its short bed pickup and in 1986 it underwent a major redesign aesthetically but mechanically remained very similar to trucks in the Toyota lineup.
The first generation 4Runner included those in production from 1984 through 1989, all compact SUVs with two-doors, but with a range of powertrain options including a two-liter four-cylinder, 2.4-liter four-cylinder, turbo and turbodiesel, and a three-liter V-6. The 1990 model year saw some significant changes for the 4Runner. The second generation abandoned its truck roots with a completely new body style. From 1990 through 1995 most 4Runner models were four-door wagon styles with a two-door wagon styles still in production. These were still compact models. Engine options remained similar with the addition of a three-liter four-cylinder and more diesel options. The third generation 4Runner included those from the model years 1996 through 2002. Billed by Toyota as a major evolution for the 4Runner, the body style remained very similar to the second generation models. All two-door models were discontinued and the list of engine options was shortened to only three, a 2.7-liter four-cylinder, a three-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder, and 3.4-liter V-6. These were paired with either a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission. Fourth generation models include those from 2003 through 2009. The front was modified to be sharper with a new grille and headlights and the molding was a different color than the body paint. The biggest change was a reclassification to a midsize SUV. All models were four-door. They received a significant power boost, a three-liter four-cylinder or turbodiesel, four-liter V-6, and on the upper end a 4.7-liter V-8. All models came with a five-speed automatic. The 4Runner is currently in its fifth generation starting with the 2009 models. The exterior was redesigned making the body and front boxier with a new more aggressive grille, lower intake and an intake on the hood with some models. Engines include a 2.7-liter four-cylinder and a four-liter V-6 paired with as four-speed and a five-speed automatic transmission respectively.
4Runner sales were highest in the early to mid 2000s and began dropping sharply starting in 2008, going from 87,000 to 47,000 units sold. The newer models have been steady at those numbers since. The 4Runner is a conveniently sized SUV that performs well off-road and it has a reputation for being dependable. It is priced moderately within its class and is often compared to models like the Chevrolet Tahoe, Buick Enclave, and the Dodge Durango.
The 2013 Toyota 4Runner has a 270-hp four-liter V-6 engine with a five-speed automatic transmission. It gets 17/21 to 17/22 mpg city/highway. It is priced between $31,490 and $41,030. There are three trim levels, the SR4, Trail, and Limited and drivers can choose between 4x2 and 4x4 models. Safety features include eight airbags all around, antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability, and rear parking sensors. Some of the notable features include optional Entune multimedia system, optional navigation, optional dual-zone climate control, and optional leather upholstery. All models have a CD stereo with MP3 compatibility and Bluetooth audio streaming. 17-inch alloy wheels are standard and 20-inch wheels are optional. All models get roof rails, moonroof is optional as well as extended running boards.
When first introduced the 4Runner was simply a truck with a camper bed slightly modified for a bit more room in a rear row. Later models earned their own production line and were no longer based on Toyota trucks in exterior design but mechanically kept many of the same features as the Toyota truck line. From early to mid 2000s the 4Runner was one of the most popular SUVs on the road. Models were upgraded to midsize (from compact) and were given more luxury and technology features geared toward urban driving as opposed to utility.