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Toyota 4Runner



  • I am looking to purchase a new SUV to replace my
    1991 Ford Bronco. I wanted to go to a mid-size vehicle and was looking at the Chevy Trailblazer and the Explorer. I have a 19 foot runabout, weighs 3500lbs or so. I have always liked the 4runner, but was concerned about the 3.4 V6 lacking power, and, I have seen some 2002 and prior 4runners towing and the rear end droops quite a bit.

    I happened upon a 2003 V8 model and enjoyed driving it. Smooth and quiet, plenty of power...
    but that body cladding is ugly. The Limited (without the cladding) is really expensive. I am starting to think more about the 2002 model.

    Any opinions on the 2002 model (I like the Sport version for instance) and tow capability?
    If I only tow 5 or 6 times a year, would I be OK?
    I don't want to be barely making it up hills while worrying about overheating the engine and trans. I also don't want to have the rear end dragging. Anyone have experience adding after market products to make the 2002 better at towing?

  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    If you're towing a 3500 pound trailer, Toyota (and many other brands too) require you to have trailer brakes.

  • Thanks for your answer. The boat trailer has surge brakes. I am concerned with the 2002 engine/trans/suspension capability. For instance,
    would I need to add an oil and/or trans cooler?
    Would I need to add a kit to the rear suspension?

    As I said, I would rather have the V8 in the 03 version, but that cladding is a turn-off. thanks again.
  • dmetzgerdmetzger Posts: 160
    Transmission cooler I would surely add. Oil cooler would help also, but may not really be needed the few times you tow.

    You really need to think this one over. I know I would be kicking myself in the butt for not getting the 2003 model with either engine, when you start to tow up a steep incline with people and gear and it shifts down into second gear. Then you wonder how much damage you are doing to your vehicle.

    I do not like the body cladding either. But, operation wise, it will help to prevent nicks, scratches, and dings from debris and other events.

    You are going to spend a lot of hard earned cash. Get something you know you are going to be happy with or you will be miserable.

    If you buy a pre 2002 4Runner, you can add the TRD supercharger. Cost is around $2800. Then for sure I would add the oil cooler.

    I tow with a 96 T-100 SR5 Xtracab 4x4 with the 3.4 motor. The one boat weighs around 2500#. It pulls it OK in third gear on the auto tranny. But going up steep hills, loaded up, it will get down around 45-50, then jump down into second.

    Food for thought!
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    welllllllll, my Runner was the equivalent price when it was new...point is I bought it used to go off and have some offroad takes a brand new $35K truck into the sticks with their precious paint. The point is, this truck will be used some day just like mine was when I bought it, but unfortunately it will not be as capable as mine. Toyota doesn't care about that -they will have moved on to their latest and greatest by then and the soccer crowd will be loving it.

    OTOH, listen to dmetzger above - Toyo sure addressed his needs. Clearly, for moderate to heavy towing the 3rd gen left people wanting. So the new truck will meet his needs and a lot of other peoples' needs a lot better.

    Bottom line: when I get to the point in 4 or 5 years that I will be buying a "new" used Toyota to go offroading, it probably won't be 4Runner, it will probably be a 4WD, V-6 double cab Tacoma, which will serve this need a lot better. Hopefully they don't mess that one up when they redo it next time.

    Is it so terrible to celebrate the fact that the 2nd and 3rd gen Runners really stood out from the crowd, and that the 4th gen doesn't? By that, all I mean is that the earlier trucks were still unique even in the last year of their production (some would say, in negative ways! They were skinny and high off the ground, and didn't have an especially great on-pavement ride!). The 4th gen is a mainstreamer - for one or two years it will have the edge in power and techno gadgets, but then the market will overtake it once more, and this time it will have nothing left to make it unique until the next time Toyota redoes it.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • mrwhipplemrwhipple Posts: 378
    Have you had a 4th generation off road yet? Just curious.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    and that is what I would very much like to do - problem is, how could I do it? I am looking for ideas here. That is why I was saying it would be really great if Toyota had mini offroad courses at their dealerships like Land Rover.

    But I think maybe you mean to imply there is no way for me to know that offroad ability is reduced, and you are right about that, but the numbers are not encouraging - they are way off the 3rd gen numbers. And there is certainly no denying that it is wider than the previous ones. It is visually lower - all you have to do is go to the local dealer and look at two of them side by side, as I did. It is so much lower that if you look underneath you can see it without looking very hard, and this has me wondering how Toyota measured ground clearance on the 4th gen - was it by the same method as the previous trucks?

    I would love to hear from someone who takes theirs off pavement and actually is brave enough to do so with their new '03...

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • kjack100kjack100 Posts: 133
    You make some good points. The design is more mainstream, no question. But, '03 does address two major shortcomings: power and for me, AWD. I would think as well that the three new assists would make it more capable off road, not less.

    I have a mental list of some of the great Japanese designs, and the 3rd generation 4Runner is at the top of the list. It is a great design that when your '98 4Runner is clean and people ask if you've gotten a new car. Two Japanese cars that make my list are the '89 Prelude, the '90 Legend, for example.

    I'd be interested to hear your off-road impressions. Good luck finding a way to pull that off. Maybe drive to VA, and you and Cliffy disappear into the night with one. :)

    I have the perfect vehicle for you: the LandCruiser FJ80 ('91-'97). No offense, I just see that vehicle suiting you well from what all you have said.
  • Check out this link for a test of the 4Runner off-road by an enthusiast, not some magazine:

    It sounds to me like Toyota did a pretty good job with this one...
  • mrwhipplemrwhipple Posts: 378
    I agree, the mini test track would be nice.

    I can't imagine the '03 being lousy off-road. It is lower, but most people tend to lift their trucks for more serious off-roading anyway. Even just some nice BFG's a series taller on stock rims would do nicely.

    That 1st gear in the V8 4WD drive is very torquey. 4Lo is impressive. I have a friend that bought one but I haven't talked her into going off-road yet. She's still breaking it in. Understandable. We tested the 4lo around the block just to get an idea of the extra low grunt. Very nice. Itching for dirt in that baby.
  • intmed99intmed99 Posts: 485
    The 3rd gen 4Runner shares the same platform as the previous generation of Toyota Prado (some countries calls it, Hilux Surf). According to data from one country, the Toyota Prado (with 3.4L V6) can do an:

    1. Incline of 42 degrees (90% grade).
    2. Sideway of 41 degrees (87% grade).

    Toyota Land Cruiser (TLC 100) can do an:

    1. Incline of 45 degrees (100% grade).
    2. Sideway of 45 degrees (100% grade).

    Now, the new Prado (same as GX470 and '03 4Runner) can do an: (Note, this may be with the new V6, not the V8)

    1. Incline of 32 degrees (62% grade).
    2. No info on sideway grades.

    Again, this is all derived information. But, this info is FACTS on the respective vehicles from Toyota websites in other countries. The website on the new Prado is:
  • mrwhipplemrwhipple Posts: 378
    still doesn't tell me it's lousy.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    I'll say!

    Toyota Land Cruiser (TLC 100) can do an:

    2. Sideway of 45 degrees (100% grade).

    (a) is that with or without the engine running?

    (b) is that with or without the driver?

    (c) if (b) = "yes" then is the driver on the uphill side?

    (d) if (c) = "yes" then is the drivers body extended out the window?

    (e) if (c) = "no" then is the driver's leg extened out the door propping it up?

    What exactly was your source?


    SUVs; Aftermarket & Accessories
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059

    It's not particularly informative in terms of the details. Frankly, I'd not try a 45° incline under real world conditions!

    SUVs; Aftermarket & Accessories
  • intmed99intmed99 Posts: 485
    45 degrees is pretty much the maximum of ANY vehicle! Beyond that, physics take over...say goodbye to your investment!

    It is really unfortunate that US-webpages are so UNinformative! is useless! Webpages in other countries have so much more information. It seems like Toyota assumes US customers have no idea what off-roading is!
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Really! The irony is that we have so much more in the way of fantastic offroading areas in the U.S. than most of Western Europe and Japan.

    SUVs; Aftermarket & Accessories
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I think it's a lawyer thing :-)

    "Dude, you rolled your rig". "Man, the web page said it was good up to 45%.. or was that 45°? I'm suing..."

    Steve, Host
  • peter78peter78 Posts: 284
    There has been a lot of comparison of the 3rd and 4th generation. I know a lot of people were shocked when certain specs were down instead of up. People even said maybe the numbers are off, such as cargo space, payload, clearance and overall off road ability. Then there is the look, more of a Chevy than a 4Runner.

    Well, I just got a new "Toyota Connections" in the mail and it had a article about the 4Runner. At the end of the article it said "But let Toyota Motor Corporation's chief engineer of the 4Runner, Junichi Furuyama, have the last word. "From the beginning, the goal of Toyota engineers was to develop on all-new 4Runner that would move from niche vehicle to core vehicle in the U.S. mid-size arena. In the process, we have have not only established a new benchmark in the mid-size SUV class, but the best all-around SUV on the market." "

    Peter78 translation, don't compare the 4Runner to the old 4Runner, compare it to a Chevy or a Ford. Being too extreme is for a "niche" market.


    Note: If you get "Toyota Connections", it has a $20 coupon to go test drive a new Toyota. Might as well make it a 4Runner.
  • felch1felch1 Posts: 19
    I would like to get some feedback on selling my 02 4 runner. I have to get rid of my vehicle(lost my job).
    02 SR5 4 Runner Sport Edition. With leather, moonroof,towpackage,roof rack,hood deflector and it has 13,500 miles on it and it is Thundercloud Grey.
    The dealer is offering $24,500 for a trade in, but that falls short of paying off the loan. Thought I might try to sell it privately for $27k but not sure how long that will take.
    Anyone have any suggestions? I live in NY near New Paltz.
    Any help would be appreciated.
  • intmed99intmed99 Posts: 485
    What is "Toyota Connections"?? How do i get it? I am always very accepting of coupons!
  • peter78peter78 Posts: 284
    Toyota Connections is a Magazine for Toyota owners. I am sure you have seen this type of magazine for other car makers. Inside the magazine it has a write up of the Toyota cars and one or two stories, in this issue it has a story of Southeast college football.

    This issue also has $300 dollars cash back on certain new Toyotas, sorry not the 4Runner. Here is a link that can at least let you see the cover of the magazine.

  • bigbwbbigbwb Posts: 12
    Went to my local dealer last night & ordered a 2003 SR5 (black/grey cloth) 4x4 V8, options include, sunroof, 17" rims, running boards, rear spoiler, and roof rack. I have bought tons of vehicles here in the past and got a great deal. Paid $30k for it. (MSRP-about $33k). Love it. That V8 flies and the ride compared to my 2000 is incredible. Question to new owners of the same, anyone know off hand the size of the door speakers? I put all my own stereo stuff in and don't know if the sizes have changed.

    Thanks for any feedback.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    I spent the last three days in a grueling F&I training class and missed some of the fun.

    One question that was raised but not fully answered was how the X-REAS suspension works. The right rear and left front shocks are connected, as are the left rear with the right front. They are connected to allow hydraulic fluid to be passed between them. This means that in a hard corner, as the outside front shock begins to compress, it is given a boost from the opposite end. This increases the pressure and therefore keeps the front end from nose diving in a hard corner.
  • joatmonjoatmon Posts: 315
    I just drove and crawled all over the new runner. My take:

    Exterior: Limited, Well, not tooo bad, but why do the wheel wells that way? SR-5, come on guys, if you want us to buy a Limited, just don't offer the SR-5. It looks GMish and is not befitting the overall quality of this SUV.

    Interior: I was amazed that it didn't seem much bigger that my 97 SR-5. The cargo area is smaller. Not being able to put your shoes under the front seats limits the rear seat comfort. The SR-5 interior appointments seem better that before, but not anything special. The Limited leather seems very nice and the overall cabin has a nice feel to it. The thigh support does not appear to have improved.

    Driveline: As Mr. Clifford says, "You gotta drive this thing before making a decision". He's right on folks. It drives like a Lexus. After the drive, I wondered why anyone would buy an Infiniti QX4. Smoooth.

    Handling: Just a short run, but the highway handling is like a little Lexus.

    Underneath: Well, I didn't have my Saturday attire on so I did a cursory inspection, but the skid plates looked a lot weaker than on my 97. Gee, it has 4-wheel disc brakes. Welcome the the 90's, I mean 00's, Toyota.

    Summary: This is the 4 Runner that Ford and GM have feared. It's ultra smooth and refined. Lots of nice little features that tend to sell cars. 3rd gen lovers may look elsewhere for a fix, but this 4 Runner has broad appeal and thus will sell and sell and sell.

    BTW: X-REAS is available on 2WD.

    Happy motoring!
  • mackabeemackabee Posts: 4,709
    I just hope the TV commercials start running soon. Ours are starting to pile up. That means discounts are coming.
    : (

  • newgradnewgrad Posts: 25
    Hey guys--Toyota's website has some new info. on the 4th gen 4Runner that I think those who don't really like the new design should see. (Go to and click on the 4Runner interactive minisite.) Then in the new window that pops up, click on "Designed 4Adventure" and after the new page loads, click on "Behind the Design" in the middle of the page. This gives you some of the initial design concepts they were considering. Now click on "Intermediate Exterior Model" and click on pages 3 and 4. Am I nuts or does this concept model look 10x better than what the designers finally went with? Oh if Toyota had only asked us first, then they would have a total hit on their hands...This is what the 3rd gen should have evolved into in my opinion. Hey can we persuade Toyota to go with this design for 2004??? If not, I'll be keepin' my 2000 Sport for quite some time...
  • mackabeemackabee Posts: 4,709
    You are 100% CORRECT! Wow! Why they didn't pick that one over what we have is beyond me! The pics on page 3 and 4 are a natural progression of the 3rd gen.
  • intmed99intmed99 Posts: 485
    You probably have seen this off-roading picture of the Touareg. Please note the extreme lack of rear wheel articulation! That articulation is no more than the Acura MDX/Pilot/Mercedes ML.

    See, the LEFT (airborn) rear wheel is supposed to touch the ground. The RIGHT rear wheel is supposed to COMPRESS. In the picture, both wheels severely lack any form of articulation.

    Sorry, my '02 4Runner has TONS more rear wheel articulation than that! Almost embarrassing that VW is saying this thing can off-road with the best!

  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    It's no worse than the photo I saw of the '03 4Runner in Truck Trend magazine. I have no interest in 3rd-generation 4Runners. I'm not considering one as a possible future purchase.

    Bottom line: the vehicle got through the situation even with one wheel is in the air. Articulation, while important, isn't the only factor in off-roading. You seem to think that if all 4 wheels aren't touching the ground, the vehicle is going to get stuck; not necessarily so...

    Before you write it off, why don't we wait for it to be tested by folks in the know. Speaking of which, here's one from 4Car, a UK car rag:

    Here's a quote from page 3 of that link:

    << Most of the time, the Touareg sends half of its power to the front wheels and half to the rear, but the multi-plate clutch in the centre differential can divert up to 100 per cent to one end or the other depending on available grip. The centre diff can be locked manually if needed, and there's an optional second lock for the rear diff which means the Touareg can keep moving even if one rear wheel is the only wheel left with grip. Each wheel's slippage is also controlled automatically, via the brakes, with EDL (Electronic Differential Lock) >>


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