The Toyota 4Runner 2016 is known for being true to its roots. It’s one of the last remaining old-school SUVs, which is to say it’s still a truck. It has not crossed over to being a tall car. Its body is bolted to its rugged chassis, like they used to do, back when SUVs were tough and before they were gentrified. If you want one of those, buy a Toyota Highlander. If you intend to go off road, get the 4Runner. (The FJ Cruiser is gone.)
But don’t get the wrong idea, the 4Runner has been updated and refined over the years, and doesn’t feel rough on the surface. It comes with a smooth 4.0-liter V6 making 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque that’s plenty quick, and a 5-speed automatic transmission. It drives better than its roots might suggest. It’s delightfully maneuverable, especially at low speeds and in parking lots.
The 4Runner is comfortable for long trips, with a reasonably smooth ride and very little road noise, although the cabin doesn’t quite match the refinement of the Ford Explorer or Dodge Durango. And its narrower body and taller floor steal some cargo space, compared to those models that aren’t body-on-frame.
With eight airbags (and rearview camera) standard, the Toyota 4Runner scores well in crash tests, although it doesn’t get the very best ratings from NHTSA and IIHS.
The base Toyota 4Runner SR5 with rear-wheel-drive is EPA rated at 17/22/19 miles per gallon City/Highway/Combined; four-wheel drive gets 1 mpg less. The Trail and TRD Pro Series offroad models only come with 4WD. The TRD Pro is serious, with Bilstein shocks having remote reservoirs, Nitto all-terrain tires, TRD front springs, skid plates, exclusive wheels, and TRD trim and badging.
The 2016 Toyota 4Runner is updated with the Entune multimedia system with Siri Eyes Free function and connected smartphone navigation.
The Toyota 4Runner still looks like an SUV, with a truck-like front end and box-like body, with bits of chrome pasted on here and there. The windows are high, proportions brawny, and rear pillars sloped downward toward 1986. It’s unconcerned with looking unsleek, unlike those oversize crossovers pretending to be trucks. Still, the nose has changed in recent years, trying to keep up with the aggressive trend, maybe becoming a bit cartoonish, looking like a grumpy catfish.
The TRD Pro Series takes the mad fish look one step farther with its mouthy grille and skidplates like silver scales under the chin. It’s available in a TRD color called Inferno.
The 4Runner cabin isn’t fancy but it’s detailed well, with simple and sensible controls that are chunky yet still precise. Not much chrome, that’s not the 4Runner’s style. The controls for offroad functions are positioned overhead, so the centerstack controls are fewer. Duplicate controls on the steering wheel perform audio and Bluetooth.
The front seats are wide and supportive, and with the optional perforated leather, they look and feel great; long trips are no worry. The comfortable contoured seats in the second row, which fairly seats three, recline 16 degrees. A third row is available for the SR5 and Limited, but it’s difficult to climb back there.
Given its less-than-sleek shape, the 4Runner is remarkably free of wind noise, and very low on road noise thanks to the soft suspension. However we still give the nod to the Explorer and Durango for cabin comfort and refinement.
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