Are you looking for a capable SUV that’s ready for off-road adventures and can tow your boat and toys? The Toyota 4Runner is a body-on-frame SUV ready to take you off the beaten path. If you’re looking for an SUV or crossover as a daily driver and family hauler, the 4Runner may be too rough and rugged.
The 2018 4Runner is available in six trims: SR5, SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, TRD Pro and Limited. Starting prices range from $34,910 for the 4×2 SR5 to $46,415 for the 4×4 TRD Pro.
The 4Runner is available with 2WD, part-time 4WD with a 2-speed transfer case, or, in the Limited, full-time multi-mode 4WD with a 2-speed transfer case and locking center differential. All four-wheel-drive models have 9.6 inches of ground clearance. All 4Runner models can tow up to 5,000 pounds, with a maximum 500-pound tongue weight.
The 4Runner is available with two or three rows of seating for five or seven passengers. The third row is available on SR5 and Limited trims.
All trims are powered by the same engine: a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque paired with a five-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift mode.
There’s enough power for everyday driving such as accelerating up to freeway speeds and passing on the highway. It’s built like a truck, so it’s no surprise that the 4Runner handles much like a pick-up. And with the large front end, I often felt like I was driving a truck. As you’d expect, the ride is firm and you’ll notice bumps and potholes, although the ride is not uncomfortably jarring. There’s also a fair amount of body lean when cornering. I like the high seating position that provides great visibility all the way around.
Fuel efficiency is below average for the class. EPA mileage estimates for my tester are 17 mpg city and 20 mpg highway with a combined rating of 18. I got 18 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
Ready for off-roading? This is where the 4Runner shines. The 4Runner TRD Off-Road, Off-Road Premium and TRD Pro models have an electronic-locking rear differential and Toyota’s Crawl Control (CRAWL) feature. CRAWL helps maintain a constant speed in slow-speed off-road situations, providing better vehicle control when driving up, over or down obstacles. With the transfer case shifted into low range, CRAWL regulates engine speed and braking force to propel the vehicle forward or in reverse at one of the five driver-selectable low-speed settings. The driver can focus on steering without having to also modulate the throttle or brake pedal. Toyota says as conditions on the trail change, the 4Runner TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, and TRD Pro driver can adapt the vehicle with the Multi-Terrain Select system. A dial is used to select the mode that matches prevailing terrain and conditions, adjusting wheel slip accordingly. For example, on loose terrain such as mud and sand, more-than-normal wheel slip is permitted, allowing wheel-spin to work in the vehicle’s favor. The Mogul setting is for any extremely uneven terrain, such as V-ditches, slopes, and ridges — uphill or down. In this mode, wheel slip is minimized and the system acts more like a limited slip differential. On 4Runner TRD Off-Road models, an overhead console groups the off-road control switches into one location.
The cabin is attractive but not fancy. Materials appear durable as you’d expect in a trail-ready SUV. Seats are comfortable and passengers in the first two rows enjoy good leg- and headroom. The optional third row is tight and best suited for kids.
Standard features in all 4Runners are cloth seats, rear view camera, 6.1-inch touch-screen infotainment display, USB port, Bluetooth, HD radio, satellite radio, eight-speaker audio system, Siri Eyes Free, navigation, advanced voice recognition and a regular 120-volt power plug in the cargo area.
Available features include proximity key, push-button start, faux leather, dual-zone automatic climate control, smartphone integration via the Entune App Suite, power sunroof and a 15-speaker JBL GreenEdge sound system.
Toyota’s Entune infotainment system is easy to figure out and there are also knobs and buttons that are easy to reach and use so you don’t have to use the touchscreen interface for routine functions.
Android Auto or Apple CarPlay are not yet offered in Toyota products.
The 4Runner has 47.2 cubic feet of storage with both rows of seating in place and 89.7 cubes with the second row folded. The second row folds flat, providing a level load floor. The optional pull-out cargo deck can carry up to 440 pounds which makes it easier to load and unload heavy items. And it’s a convenient feature to have when tailgating or camping!
Ready for serious off-roading
Available with several options for your needs and budget
Available with a third row
Lots of cargo space
User-friendly infotainment system
Drives like a truck
Not many available safety features
More expensive than many other midsize SUVs
Below average fuel efficiency for the class
My tester starts at $39,495. Sliding rear cargo deck with under-floor storage compartment is $350. Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System is $1,750. Power tilt and slide Moonroof with sunshade is $850. “Keep it Wild Savings” is a $750 deduction. Delivery fee is $995 bringing the grand total to $42,690.
If you want an SUV that’s geared for serious off-roading, the Toyota 4Runner is ready to take you on your next adventure. If you’re looking for a more civilized SUV or crossover for daily driving, the 4Runner probably won’t be your first choice.