For some time, the vehicle market has been loaded with likable five- and seven-passenger crossovers, but only a few midsize SUVs like the Toyota 4Runner are available. What's the difference? That’s easy. Built with body-on-frame construction, the 4Runner sits atop a traditional truck platform. More than unibodied crossovers are capable of, a 4Runner can easily take you through deep snow and potholed pavements, whether on your way to work or on a true off-road adventure.
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2017 Toyota 4Runner Overview
What's New for 2017
Toyota added new TRD Off-Road and Off-Road Premium grades – essentially the Trail and Trail Premium grades from the 2016 model year – to the 4Runner lineup for 2017. Otherwise, apart from new badging and body-color choices, little has changed for 2017.
Choosing Your Toyota 4Runner
Every 4Runner starts with a 4-liter V6 that develops 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque, working with a five-speed automatic transmission that incorporates a sequential shift mode. Owing to the 4Runner's truck roots, all examples come with a tow hitch, underbody protective plates, and hill start and descent assists. The third row available on some models boosts seating capacity to seven.
Four-wheel drive with low-range gearing and 9.8-inches of ground clearance is either standard or available on all trim levels. Drivers can choose two-wheel drive, part-time four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case, or full-time multi-mode 4WD with a locking center differential.
A 4Runner can tow up to 5,000 pounds. A Multi-Terrain Select system for TRD versions selects a mode to match terrain and conditions.
Toyota offers the 4Runner in your choice of six trim levels:
The SR5 and Limited are geared toward active families who want a go-anywhere vehicle with room for everyone. The TRD Off-Road is a better choice for drivers who regularly leave the road for recreation, while the TRD Pro is best suited to dedicated off-road enthusiasts.
2017 Toyota 4Runner Review
Eight years into its current model cycle, the 2017 Toyota 4Runner is more relic than cutting edge. Still, its off-road prowess and slick touches make it an ideal companion for weekends in the wilderness.
Pricing and Equipment
Prices for the 2017 Toyota 4Runner start at $35,170 for a rear-wheel-drive model in SR5 trim, and top out at $46,885 for the Limited trim level with four-wheel-drive and equipped with a third row seat. Our tester, in TRD Off-Road trim, had a base MSRP of $37,335 plus a $345 Entune audio package with navigation, a $350 sliding rear cargo deck, and a $1,750 Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System for a total price of $40,220 (including a $940 destination charge). Notable standard features on this trim include:
- Locking rear differential, Multi-Terrain Select, and Crawl Control
- Crawl control, hill start assist control, and downhill assist control
- 17-inch alloy wheels and all-terrain tires
- 6.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity
- Fog lamps
- Eight-way power driver's seat
- Rear-view camera
- Full-size spare tire
Advanced safety systems like automatic collision notification, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, and automatic high beams are not offered.
All 2017 Toyota 4Runners are powered by a 4.0-liter V6 rated at 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. SR5 4x4 models feature a part-time 4WD system with active traction control, while the TRD Off-Road trim adds an electric locking rear differential and Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control. The Limited trim comes with a full-time four-wheel-drive system – our TRD Off-Road has a more traditional, driver-controlled system – with active traction control and a lockable Torsen limited-slip center differential, while TRD Pro models come with an off-road capable Bilstein-developed system, unique visual touches, and huge amounts of underbody protection.
- The 4Runner is perhaps the closest competitor to the Jeep Wrangler in terms of outright off-road prowess, especially in TRD Pro trim.
- Multi-Terrain Select allows even novice drivers to optimize their vehicle for off-road fun.
- The 4.0-liter V6 feels suitable for everyday use on paved roads, despite the 4Runner's hefty curb weight.
- The 4Runner and its off-road suspension are cumbersome – the SUV wallows about in bends.
- Steering is numb, with very little feedback to the driver.
- The 4WD 4.0-liter V6 only manages an EPA-estimated 17 miles per gallon in the city, 20 on the highway, and 18 combined.
- Plenty of front seat room with a more natural driving position than its rivals.
- Optional, pull-out sliding rear cargo floor makes loading items a breeze.
- The power rear window, not seen since 70s-era wagons, helps with loading and natural cabin ventilation.
- Huge ledge on the top of the door panel – perfect for resting your arm while driving with the windows down.
- Tall ride height makes ingress and egress more difficult – the optional running boards are almost a necessity.
- Optional third row seating is only suitable for children or short distances.
- The seating position is upright and typical of an off-roader. It takes a bit of adjusting to.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
All four windows plus the rear window have the automatic up/down feature. Except in the hottest weather, rolling all five down allows a natural breeze to flow through the cabin.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Body-on-frame SUVs aren't supposed to be fuel efficient and, unfortunately, the 4Runner is no exception.
The Bottom Line
Despite being long in the tooth, the 4Runner is an accomplished off-roader that continues to impress us. In fact, Jeep Wrangler buyers looking for a quieter and more comfortable vehicle with room for a family should check it out.
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