Toyota 4Runner

Toyota needed a midsize SUV to enter the booming SUV market in the early 1980s, so the Toyota 4Runner was conceived. Originally designed to be a Toyota pickup that used a fiberglass shell to create the appearance of an SUV, the Toyota 4Runner became one of the top-selling vehicles for the company.

First produced in 1984, the Toyota 4Runner went through five different generations, each introducing significant changes to the line. The Toyota 4Runner is currently in production as of 2012.

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About the Toyota 4Runner

The Toyota 4Runner is known for its value in comparison to larger SUVs in the Toyota line as well as its power and reliability. Unlike other comfortable suburban SUVs, the Toyota 4Runner has the same strength and stamina that its pickup predecessors embodied. The 4Runner is capable of off-road driving and other brawny pursuits, but does suffer a bit on the road.

Toyota 4Runner Features

The 2012 Toyota 4Runner is available in three different trim models: the SR5, the Trail, and the Limited.

The 4Runner SR5 is the base model vehicle in the line. It is available in both two-wheel and four-wheel drive. A 4.0-liter V-6 24-valve with dual independent variable timing powers. The engine produces a staggering 270 horsepower at 5600 RPM with 278 lb-ft at 4400 RPM, making all 4Runner vehicles super tough.

The SR5 is fairly equipped. Multi-reflector headlamps, integrated fog lamps, chrome bumpers, handles, and 17-inch six-spoke alloy wheels come standard on the outside. A moonroof with sunshade is also available as an option. Inside on all vehicles, standard air conditioning and heating with second row vents are added to keep everyone in the vehicle comfortable.

The Limited model adds dual-climate control. Sirius XM satellite radio, CD player with Mp3 playback, and an audio jack are available for entertainment. Unfortunately, the Limited model drops all the entertainment luxuries. Seats are fabric trimmed on the SR5 and the driver’s seat has six-way adjustments. Eight-way adjusting, water resistant seats are included standard on the mid-model Trail. The passenger seat also boasts four-way adjustment. In-key remote keyless entry and 12-volt auxiliary outlets are also included standard.

All Toyota 4Runners boast several impressive safety features. The Star Safety System includes vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, brake assist, and smart stop technology. Driver and front passengers are protected by an advanced airbag system, thorax, pelvis and abdomen front mounted airbags and active headrests. The Limited model receives a safety connect system that includes an emergency assistance beacon, stolen car locator, and automatic collision notification.

Toyota 4Runner Evolution

Five Toyota 4Runner generations were created. Generation one was introduced in 1984 and was called the 4Runner as well as the Toyota Hilux Surf. The first 4Runner was actually a modification of the short bed pickup with a removable glass top on the back. The vehicle was a two-door model and boasted the same 2.4-liter engine. All of the vehicles were four-wheel and front-wheel drive.

In 1986, the vehicle received an independent front-suspension, a change from the solid front axle. This change improved the safety and handling of the vehicle. A turbocharged engine was introduced. In 1988, an optional 3.0-liter 3VZ-E was introduced.

The second generation was introduced in 1989, which brought big mechanical changes from the modified pickup. Almost all of the second-generation models were introduced as four-door vehicles. The engines were powerful in the second generation.

The third generation was a complete redesign. Although aesthetically the same, the engine was a big improvement. A 2.7-liter 3RZ-FE I4 had 150 horsepower and the 3.4-liter had 190 horsepower, making this generation the most powerful yet. The body of the vehicle was larger as well.

The fourth generation was introduced in 2002. The chassis as well as the engine was changed. A new 4.0-liter 1GR-FE V-6 was introduced boosting the horsepower to an immense 271. This generation was also the safest model yet, gaining high praise. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported the 4Runner had the lowest fatality rate of any other SUV on the market.

The fifth and most current generation was introduced in 2009. It was released at the Texas State Fair in September 2009. The engine was improved again to a 4.0-liter Dual VVT-I that improved fuel efficiency and power.

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