The 2012 Toyota 4Runner is a midsize body-on-frame SUV that holds five or seven passengers based on whether the buyer opts for the third-row seat. According to the automotive press, the 4Runner offers rugged off-road capability, a roomy interior, pleasant on-road handling, and a strong V6 engine. It comes in three trim levels; MSRP ranges from $31,090 to $38,595.
The 4Runner is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 engine that makes 270 horsepower. This is combined with a five-speed automatic transmission. The SR5 and Limited trim models come standard with rear-wheel drive and optional four-wheel drive while the Trail uses 4WD by default. Two different types of 4WD are available on the 4Runner: the SR5 and Trail offer part-time dual range 4WD and the Limited uses full-time 4WD. The Limited and Trail also utilize a locking rear differential, but only the Trail offers Active Traction Control, Multi-terrain Select, VSC cutoff, and Crawl Control.
Properly equipped, the 4Runner can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Fuel economy is 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway for the rear-wheel drive and 17/22 for the 4WD.
The base SR5 trim level comes with standard 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, windshield wiper de-icer, heated mirrors, privacy glass, remote keyless entry, and skid plates to protect the vehicle’s underbelly during off-road driving. A power moonroof is optional. The Trail gains black trim accents and mud guards and makes the power moonroof a standard feature, and the Limited model adds 20-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition and entry, and automatic headlights. Automatic running boards are optional on the SR5 and Limited versions, and Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System is optional on the Trail only.
Standard features on the SR5 include folding split second-row seats that also recline, second-row center armrest with cup holders, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with controls, Bluetooth connectivity, power liftgate, and HomeLink. Options consist of a navigation system, Entune telematics system, power front seats, leather upholstery and heated front seats, split fold-flat third-row seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror plus integrated backup camera display, sliding rear cargo deck with under-floor storage compartment, and two 120V AC power outlets.
The Trail model adds water-resistant fabric upholstery and power front seats; the sliding rear cargo deck becomes standard, and third-row seats are not available.
On the Limited version, additional standard features consist of dual zone automatic climate control, navigation system, Entune, leather upholstery, power front seats, push button start, and auto-dimming rearview mirror plus integrated backup camera display. The third-row seat and sliding rear cargo deck remain optional. A DVD navigation system with voice activation is optional as well.
The SR5 and Trail come with a CD player with MP3 capability plus eight speakers, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack, and USB/iPod connectivity. This can be upgraded to the same audio system that comes standard in the Limited: a 6.1-inch touchscreen display for navigation and Entune systems, the audio features mentioned above, and HD radio. Entune provides access through a smartphone to services such as Bing, Pandora, live traffic updates, weather, fuel prices, and more; access is provided for the first three years.
In the Limited model, the audio system may be upgraded to a touch-screen voice-activated DVD navigation system plus 4-disc CD/MP3 changer and 15 speakers including subwoofer, plus the features mentioned above.
Standard safety devices include traction control, stability control, ABS, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, Smart Stop Technology, front side airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbags for all rows, daytime running lights, tire pressure monitor system, and hill start assist. Safety Connect comes on the Limited while rear parking assist sonar comes on the SR5. The 4Runner scored among the top two rating levels on IIHS crash tests.
The 4Runner’s interior reflects its industrial ability with hard plastics and a utilitarian design. As noted by reviewers, on-road driving feels comfortable and smooth; surprisingly, it doesn’t feel as bouncy as a truck chassis usually does. The V6 provides plenty of power, but the on-road handling and steering suffer due to being optimized for off-road driving.
Image Credit: Toyota Pressroom