The mere evocation of its name awakens by reflex an idea of freedom, large spaces, robustness. The 4Runner has managed to become over the course of its career started in 1984 a cult object in the off-road universe, a destiny shaped from one crevasse to another. A visual feat, but the venerable SUV is getting old. While it completes a full decade without technical change, is the charm still operating?
One thing is certain, the 4Runner retains its solid visual identity, a skillful strategy in an industry that sometimes stumbles in the gray areas personified by crossovers. But we have to admit that the whole also suggests an idea of deja vu. The design, as a whole, is simple, essentially seeking to comply with the technical requirements allowing it to be as good on difficult roads. Its front bumper is thus placed very high and the overhang is short, to allow a better angle of attack of obstacles. Most body parts are bulged, fenders passing through the hood and the bumpers fueling the image of adventurer that can not be clamped. As with previous generation SUVs, the glass surface is generous. The livery tested was also equipped with a roof basket allowing it to strap in additional food or other objects during excursions.
If, at first glance, the exterior presentation dates, the interior also does not seek to make this observation. You can get into it quite easily given the ground clearance to discover a sea of hard plastics. It is hardly justifiable for the asking price. The presentation is also rather outdated with a juxtaposition of materials that are not very flattering to the touch. That said, space is well taken advantage of for a ladder-frame vehicle. You can be quite comfortably seated both in the front and in the back. Rear passengers will however have to negotiate with a fairly narrow door opening. The rear cargo space is vast at 1337 L, but its loading threshold is high. Fortunately, the extending rear bumper provides an additional point of support when objects are engulfed in it.
Under the hood
Unlike the Tacoma, its platform cousin, which benefits from a fairly modern V6, the SUV must fall back on the same 4L V6 that powered it by 2010. With a power of 270 ch and producing 278 lb-ft of torque, this big six-cylinder does an acceptable job, nothing more. Admittedly, it is generally discreet, but has a fairly rough appearance at high revs and a not so harmonious sound. The five-speed automatic transmission is also aging in its handling of gear changes. The biggest gap here remains fuel consumption. On the highway, it is difficult to descend under the 12 L / 100 km and it increases exponentially in the city. Many modern V8s consume less, if not as much. Of course, its undercarriage designed for rough trails has something to do with it, as is its bodywork, which offers a lot of air resistance.
Behind the wheel
The 4Runner defends itself fairly in terms of road behavior. The steering, although disconnected from the feeling, guides it well. The roll is acceptable and the comfort very suitable. It also has a fairly sophisticated double wishbone front suspension. However, this analysis should be read in light of its off-road mandate. Basically, the 4Runner is never going to behave like a crossover, especially in emergency maneuvers when its muzzle practically embraces the asphalt. Braking clearly lacks modularity. But overall, it's much more suited to everyday use than a Jeep Wrangler, for example. The 4Runner obviously has a four-wheel drive system that is activated by a lever placed on the center console. The version tested also has a system that manages downhill speed (CRAWL control), allowing the driver to focus his attention on the direction when driving off-road.
Toyota has chosen to equip its 4Runner with several usual technological elements. We now obtain keyless starting and emergency braking assistance in addition to adaptive cruise control. However, it is necessary to ignore other elements which should inevitably be offered in a vehicle exceeding the 50 00 $ 0. No blind spot sensor, let alone power tailgate or diodes to enhance the visual aspect. The infotainment system, in the form of a touch screen, is simple to use and fairly responsive. It is however reduced in terms of functionality. We would have liked an off-road component presenting certain data that allow us to have an added value that we find in the competition.
There is no doubt that the 4Runner is not a vehicle designed for everyone. While most buyers are looking for a crossover that feels like an SUV, the 4Runner does not compromise on positioning. It’s a real SUV, no matter what that strong identity entails. The fact remains that a certain charm emanates from this idea, failing to be very accessible, including financially. The mid-range model tested commands a price of 57 00 $ 0. At this price, many more luxurious or flashy options are available in other segments. However, you may not be able to take the same trails or benefit from its excellent resale value or its high reliability. It all depends on priorities. The fact remains that this 4Runner deserves a real overhaul in order to avoid falling into oblivion.
Four-wheel drive in two ways
Most versions of the 4Runner have a conventional four-wheel drive system activated by means of a lever, except for the Limited and Nightshade liveries, which have an all-wheel drive that automatically modulates the distribution of torque.
Slightly less agile than the Wrangler
The 4Runner has lower off-road limits than those of the Wrangler due, among other things, to its lower approach angle (26 degrees compared to 41), but they have a guard at the similar soil (24 cm compared to 25 cm).
A window on the tailgate
The 4Runner has a sliding tailgate window, something that was once common in SUVs but has disappeared over time.
It can tow
The 4Runner can tow a load of up to 2268 kg , what many crossovers can do.
Model under test: Toyota 4Runner Venture
Engine: V6 DOHC 4 L
Power: 270 ch at 5600 rpm
Couple: 278 lb- ft at 4400 rpm
Transmission (test model): 5-speed automatic with manual mode
Drive architecture: Front longitudinal engine, four-wheel drive
Consumption (EnerGuide): 12, 8 L / 100 km
Price (with options, transport and preparation): 57 336 $
Direct competitor: Jeep Wrangler
Anything new in 2020? : No major changes
To find out more: https://www.toyota.ca/toyota/fr/vehicles/4runner/overview