Toyota offers the 4Runner in SR5, Trail Edition and Limited trims. All are powered by a 4.0-liter 270-horsepower V6 with a five-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive is standard on SR5 and Limited, while the Trail Edition comes only with a part-time four-wheel drive system with locking differential and an electronic terrain system similar to Land Rover's Terrain Response. The SR5 is available with part-time four-wheel drive, while the Limited gets a full-time system as an option. Towing capacity for all models is limited to 5,000 lbs., or similar to what some crossovers are rated at.
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SR5 models get 17-inch alloy wheels, power windows, locks and heated mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control, a power rear window, Bluetooth and an 8-speaker audio system with AUX and USB inputs. The Trail has the most off-road bias, coming with four-wheel drive, Crawl Control (a system that controls the throttle and brakes for hill climbs or descents), water-resistant seats, big off-road tires and two 120-volt power outlets. The Limited is the most luxurious with adaptive suspension, keyless entry and start, heated leather seats and Toyota's Entune system. A small third-row seat is optional on SR5 and Limited to bring total capacity to seven passengers.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the 4Runner's chief competitor. Jeep offers a V8 with more towing capacity and more luxurious interiors on top trim levels. But the 4Runner offers that hardcore Trail edition and can seat up to seven. The Land Rover LR4 meets or beats the 4Runner off road and also boasts adjustable suspension to boost ground clearance, as well as a more luxurious interior with available third row. But the Land Rover is much more expensive and its V8 is less fuel efficient. The GMC Acadia crossover can tow about as much as the 4Runner and seats up to eight people with a more comfortable third-row, but lacks any off-road prowess. Ford's Explorer has off-road tools similar to the 4Runner's terrain system and hill descent control, and boasts a standard third-row seat and turbocharged engine options. But the Explorer's car-based design means it has less ground clearance and lacks locking differentials.
If your driving includes a lot of towing and crossing treacherous surfaces, the 4Runner could be a good choice. But a number of other SUVs offer the same, or better, off-road credentials and have nicer interiors. And crossovers are better at carrying people. The 4Runner's appeal may be narrower than some midsize SUVs, but for some people it's just the right tool for tackling big jobs the car-based crossovers just aren't cut out to accomplish.
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