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Tie Goes to the Runner

With apologies to Public Enemy.

I recently read an article rom Car and Driver ( ) about the Toyota 4Runner (TRO Pro in particular). The headline subtitle is “An SUV From the Jurrasic Era.” They can say what they want, but in 2018 I bought a TRD Off Road model, and it is by far the favorite vehicle I’ve ever owned. Here is why…

  1. Space. The front and rear seats have plenty of room, and you don’t have to feel like you are sitting on the floor, despite the ground clearance offered. I’m 6′ 4″ and have plenty of headroom (although I did seek a model without the sunroof to maximize this dimension). Plenty fits in the cargo area with the rear seats up, and if you need more space having the option to put down 1/3, 2/3, 3/3, or the center pass through of the rear seats adds a lot of flexibility. In addition, having a hard shell around the cargo area feels a lot more secure than a pickup truck. I can put my XL size bikes in the back, close/lock the hatch, and feel reasonably secure that thieves will move on to easier targets. Finally, with a few dollars worth of wood and a cot bought on Amazon, I’ve been able to convert my 4Runner to a camper – enough room for me to sleep comfortably in the back, with minimal compromise.
  2. Capability. There are arguably more capable stock off road vehicles out there for sure (Jeep Wrangler – esp the Rubicon, Mercedes G-Wagon, Land Rover Defender, maybe others) but my TRD Off Road 4Runner does everything I’ve asked of it without breaking a sweat. Plenty of clearance “out of the box,” a low range, a rear mechanical locker, and various electronic assists (“Crawl Control”) mean I can tackle anything I want to – my courage runs out long before the capability does. In addition to the off-road capability, I like the ability to tow up to 5000 pounds, the built in roof rack, stock hitch receiver for a bike rack, and other features. Absent driving on a track (which admittedly I haven’t tried) there are few use cases my 4Runner is terrible at.
  3. Reliability. While mine is only 3 years old, I routinely see 4Runners for sale with 200 or 300 thousand miles, still commanding a premium. I bought mine with the expectation of driving it for 20 years. At least. So far oil changes and tire rotations are all that have been needed.
  4. Old school. There are a lot of things I like about the interior – buttons and knobs are easy to manipulate – no wonky touch screen controls that make you take off your gloves and take your eyes off the road.

So, you might ask if there is anything I don’t like about my 4Runner. So far the list is pretty short.

  1. I’ve had some issues with the hood latch squeaking
  2. The mileage is as advertised. Not really fair to ding it for this but yeah – you’ll get 16-22 mpg depending on what you do with it. Add larger tires, a lift kit, different rack, etc, and it might get worse (mine is stock).
  3. Lack of the latest safety/tech options. While this was somewhat remedied in the 2020 model year, my 2018 4Runner doesn’t have any of the latest options (lane keep assist, radar assisted cruise, etc) that my wife got in her 2019 CR-V.

There are plenty of critics of the 5 speed transmission and available power, but so far I have yet to notice or care.

So, it maybe isn’t for everybody, but I think it is a great truck and am thrilled with my purchase.

What is your favorite vehicle?

2 thoughts on “Tie Goes to the Runner”

  1. I was passed on the right (in the entrance/exit lane!) by a 4runner yesterday driving in the snow and it was very dumb and rude for no reason and i blame you personally, 4runner enthusiast.

  2. Buttons > Touch Screens! It’s unfathomable to me that the safety hazards of touch screens have gone largely un-discussed. I’m hoping the industry swings back the other way in the future, otherwise I’ll be stuck with pre-2020 vehicles forever…

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