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On a year-to-year basis, 4Runner sales dropped 10 percent in calendar 2000, ending just shy of 112,000 units. The likely reason? More competition from newer midsize SUVs, including a growing number of car-based "crossovers".
But 4Runner fans won't be waiting long for an updated version of their favorite. It's due to arrive by mid-2002 as an early '03 model. Tipsters say it rides the same new platform destined for Toyota's redesigned 2003 Tacoma pickups, and will be engineered for greater refinement and better performance. Even so, the '03 will maintain 4Runner's traditional truck-tough character so as to stand clearly apart from Toyota's new car-based Highlander. A four-model lineup should carry over from 2001 as Toyota goes with the market flow and gives Highlander more emphasis as its mainstream midsize SUV.
SUVs of all types keep on getting bigger and costlier. The new 4Runner should be no exception, though it may not grow to 2002 Chevy TrailBlazer size, and Toyota will employ all its latest manufacturing tricks to minimize sticker shock. An optional 3rd-row seat is an outside possibility, but we can't confirm that or details at this point. Keep checking back with us for further information as it comes to light.
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