The Toyota 4Runner is renowned for its all-terrain prowess and rock-solid reliability, and remains an excellent choice if you need a midsize SUV that can take you off road. Most reviewers agree, however, that the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee (Base MSRP: $26,995 to $54,470), is better on the pavement and benefits from a more modern car-like design.
The 4Runner is an old-fashioned truck-based SUV, as opposed to most new midsize SUVs and crossovers. While this rugged construction is good for off-road applications and towing, it ultimately compromises on-road handling. Experts note that it's a bit clumsier on-road than much of the competition, with Edmunds.com editors stating that it "lacks the comfort, utility, and general convenience" you're bound to find in most family-friendly crossovers.
With a 270-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 and technology like hill descent control, available center and/or rear locking differentials and advanced traction control, the 4Runner is eminently capable when the going gets rough. Reviewers note that it accommodates a decent amount of cargo (90 cu. ft.) and that the option of a third-row seat is nice, even though space for rearmost passengers is relatively limited. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard, and non-4-by-4 4Runners have rear-wheel drive.
Most critics correctly point out that the majority of drivers are better suited with an all-wheel-drive crossover that offers better road manners, as most shoppers will never need the 4Runner's genuine off-road capability.
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
V6 2WD: 17 mpg city / 23 mpg highway /19 mpg combined
V6 4WD: 17 mpg city / 22 mpg highway /19 mpg combined
Fuel economy estimates assume the use of regular-grade gasoline.
NHTSA Safety Ratings:
Front Impact: 4 stars
Side Impact: 5 stars
Rollover Resistance: 4 stars
Overall: 4 stars
IIHS Safety Ratings:
Front Offset Impact: Good
Side Impact: Good
Roof Strength: Acceptable
For additional details, see our 2010 review
The 4Runner hasn't changed much the last couple of years. For a deeper look at what reviewers have to say about it, read our report on the 2010 Toyota 4Runner (Base MSRP: $27,500 to $39,800).
Edmunds.com editors give a firsthand rundown on the 4Runner's on- and off-road performance, interior comfort and overall utility.
Review: 2012 Toyota 4Runner, Editors of Edmunds.com
Since the 4Runner holds steady once again, the full report on the 2010 model still contains valuable and relevant insights from a broad selection of pro reviewers.
Review: 2010 Toyota 4Runner, Editors of ConsumerSearch.com, July 2010
The 2012 Toyota 4Runner should return around 19 mpg whether equipped with rear- or four-wheel drive, according to EPA estimates.
Review: 2012 Toyota 4Runner, U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency
The 2012 Toyota 4Runner fares well in the government's crash-testing, earning an overall crash-safety rating of 4 stars (out of 5).
Review: 2012 Toyota 4Runner, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 4Runner the highest rating of Good for front- and side-impact tests, but a rating of only Acceptable for roof-crush strength.
Review: Toyota 4Runner, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety