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2012 Toyota 4Runner

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2012 Toyota 4Runner Review

A real off-roader

Reviewed by Automotive on

Originally a compact pickup truck with five-passenger seating and a permanent bed shell, the Toyota 4Runner has evolved considerably since its humble origins in 1984. The current fourth-generation Toyota 4Runner underwent a major overhaul in 2010 and continues to play on its uniqueness and strengths, one of which is true off-road capability that it shares with the Toyota FJ Cruiser.

Toyota dropped the 2.4-liter inline-4 engine last year, leaving the 4.0-liter V-6 as the sole engine. Built on a rugged body-on-frame construction, the 2012 Toyota 4Runner is available in a variety of configurations.

The 2012 Toyota 4Runner continues to be offered three models: SR5 base; feature-rich Limited, and the off-road Trail model. The 4Runner is available in standard two row seating or with an optional third-row that allows for up to seven-person capacity.

Toyota has calibrated the 4Runner SUV's suspension to feel almost like a crossover. But it's on the trails that the 4Runner really shines. All 4Runner 4x4 models feature standard Downhill Assist Control (DAC). Both the base SR5 and Trail 4x4 models have a two-speed lever-operated, part-time system while the Limited is equipped with full-time, four-wheel-drive system with a locking center differential. It's the Toyota Trail model, though, that offers the greatest off-road capability with its standard Crawl Control (CRAWL) system, Multi-Terrain Select system, and optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS).

The Range

Body style: SUV
Engine: 4.0-liter V-6
Transmission: five-speed automatic
Models: SR5, Trail, Limited

What's New

The Toyota 4Runner SUV underwent a complete redesign and engineering back in 2010 so subsequent changes have been minor. For model year 2011, the Toyota 4Runner received a new brake override system. Inside, the sliding cargo tray/cargo organizer became optional on certain 4Runner Limited and a separate option on 4Runner Trail models.

For model year 2012 power running boards are optional on the Toyota 4Runner SR5 and Limited models while the upcoming Entune infotainment system, which allows hands-free access to mobile apps and various online data services, will be offered as an option on Toyota 4Runner SR5 and Trail models and standard on 4Runner Limited models.


Undergoing a complete reengineering and redesign back in 2010, the 2012 Toyota 4Runner SUV carries over essentially unchanged into the new model year. Power running boards are optional on SR5 and Limited models.


While there are few tweaks to the interior of the 2012 Toyota 4Runner, Toyota's new Entune system - including mobile apps and data services - is now available.

Performance & Handling

Designed to perform off-road, the 2012 Toyota 4Runner, with its body-on-frame architecture and live rear axle, can be a bouncy ride though still smooth compared to many competitors' offerings. Handling sometimes feels on the light side though it makes it easy parking the full-sized vehicle. Acceleration is brisk and the brakes are progressive and strong. Note the 2012 Toyota 4Runner can tow up to 5000 pounds.


The 2012 Toyota 4Runner, like all current Toyota vehicles, comes standard with the Toyota STAR safety system which includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), brake assist, Smart Stop (SST), traction control (TRAC), and vehicle stability control (VSC). Also standard including six airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, and front-and-rear side-curtain airbags. The 4Runner also comes equipped with Auto LSD (Limited Slip Differential) for better traction on slippery surfaces. Airbag system includes front, side-mounted and knee airbags for the driver and front passenger, and side curtain airbags for those in the second and third row seating. Owners may also subscribe to Toyota's Safety Connect telematics system which offers Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location, Emergency Assistance Button (SOS), and Roadside Assistance. Finally, a rear view camera and sonar system are offered on the Toyota 4Runner.

EPA Fuel Economy

Toyota 4Runner with 4x2: 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway
Toyota 4Runner with 4x4: 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway

You'll Like

  • True off-roading capability
  • Exterior style
  • Seven-passenger capability

You Won't Like

  • Dashboard gauge display
  • No V-8 engine option

Sum Up

A real off-roader

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Dodge Durango
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Nissan Xterra

See the New 2015 4Runner.

Front & Driver Side View

2012 Toyota 4Runner Consumer Rating

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