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2003 Toyota 4Runner

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2003 Toyota 4Runner Review

Walks the talk and blends great looks with excellent features.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The Toyota 4Runner first rolled out in 1985. The 2003 Toyota 4Runner offers V-6 and V-8 engine options. It comes in three models: the SR5, Sport Edition, and Limited.

The Range

Body Styles: midsize SUV
Engines: four-liter V-6, 4.7-liter V-8
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed automatic
Models: Toyota 4Runner SR5, Toyota 4Runner Sport Edition, Toyota 4Runner Limited

What's New

The 2003 Toyota 4Runner is redesigned completely but remains true to its truck-based origins. The manufacturer injected upscale features like the more potent V-8 engine and an option to have a navigational system. The vehicle is bigger and more spacious than before.


The 2003 Toyota 4Runner has a longer wheelbase at 109.8 inches. The overall length was also increased to 187.8 inches. The increase of 4.5 inches on both is clearly reflected on the front legroom that measures 43.7 inches. The legroom though at the rear decreases to 34.7 inches from 34.9 inches. It also offers more room as its width gains an additional 7.3 inches compared to the 2002 model. The additional width results in an additional 4.4 inches of shoulder room in front, and 5.5 inches more hip room in front.


The 2003 Toyota 4Runner can accommodate five individuals with bucket seats in front and split-folding rear bench. It has a generous cargo capacity of 75.1 cubic feet. The Limited version gets leather treatment for its upholstery. The backup mirrors installed on the rear pillars help the driver back out of a parking slot without any problem. The driver also benefits with the navigation system that was first offered for the 2003 model. Other options include a 10-speaker JBL surround sound system. The materials used for the interior are of high quality. The shape of the seats work well for comfort while the switches are very precise. The tunnel design of the instruments somehow makes them difficult to see in some daylight conditions. The opening of the rear door is a bit small and makes it tough for entry and exit.

Performance & Handling

The 2003 Toyota 4Runner provides an I-Force V-8 power plant that can deliver 235 horses and a torque of 320 lb-ft. This power is sent to a new five-speed gearbox. The V-6 engine with four-liter displacement gives out 245 horsepower. Both engine options offered can have a rear- or four-wheel-drive configuration. The V-8 comes with a full-time four-wheel drive and a switch for differential lock system. There is also a crank hold system, which cranks the engine even after the car key has been let go as long as it has been in the Start position for about two-tenths of a second. The V-8 is fairly quiet even when driving on high speeds. The engine is very responsive, bringing the car to an eager lunge when the driver taps the throttle. The acceleration is also very confident when passing other vehicles.


The 2003 Toyota 4Runner gets anti-lock brakes as standard for all models. The side curtain and side-impact airbags come as an option.

EPA Fuel Economy

Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-liter V-6: 16/20 mpg city/highway
Toyota 4Runner SR5, 4.7-liter V-8: 15/18 mpg city/highway
Toyota 4Runner SR5, four-liter V-6 4x4: 15/19 mpg city/highway
Toyota 4Runner SR5, 4.7-liter V-8 4x4: 14/17 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Powerful engine
  • Good off-road capabilities
  • Good list of options

You Won't Like

  • Cargo capacity is not big enough
  • Fuel economy
  • Entry and exit accessibility
  • Visibility

Sum Up

Walks the talk and blends great looks with excellent features.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Toyota Highlander
  • Acura MDX
  • Ford Explorer

See the New 2015 4Runner.

Front & Driver Side View

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