The 2004 Toyota 4Runner shares almost nothing with the mid-size SUVs Toyota sold just two years ago. The 4Runner was redesigned from the ground up for 2003, but its priorities haven't changed a bit. Everything from the basic design to the standard instrumentation and skid plates says this SUV is capable of hard-core off-road work. While other SUVs are becoming more and more like cars, the 4Runner is the real deal. It's loaded with the latest off-road electronic technology, including Hill Start Assist and Downhill Assist Control. True to its truck roots, however, the 4Runner is built on a rugged ladder frame with a solid rear axle. While some consider this design dated when compared to the latest SUVs with unit-body construction and independent rear suspensions, Toyota believes the traditional package offers better off-road capability and long-term durability in working-truck conditions. This latest-generation 4Runner is larger and roomier than its predecessor, and ride quality has been greatly improved. Optional features like a linked shock-absorber system have improved handling on the highway, and the standard V6 delivers more power for excellent acceleration. The 4Runner also offers an optional V8, but the V6 is so strong you won't need the upgrade unless you plan to do a lot of towing. Order the base 4Runner and you have a comfortable, well-equipped, highly capable SUV that can get things done. Order a 4Runner Limited with leather, heated seats and a killer stereo, and it feels like a poor man's Range Rover. Okay, to be politically correct, it's more like a poor person's Land Cruiser. Toyota almost never naps. Even though the 4Runner was brand new for 2003, the company has broadened its appeal for 2004 with an optional third seat that expands passenger capacity to seven. All models now come standard with running boards and more upscale body-colored bumpers and lower body cladding. For 2004, the optional GPS navigation system includes a rear-mounted video camera for backing up. While the 4Runner may seem old school to people who want an "on-road" sport-utility, it's the hot ticket for drivers who want genuine off-road capability, but don't want to be punished for it on the way to work every day.