6 Reasons to Buy the 5th Generation Toyota 4Runner
by Brenan Greene
When it comes to choosing a family-sized SUV with off-road capability, there are a lot of options available. Comparing different models on the market, you will find that the vehicle you choose depends on a range of factors including, for instance, how often you plan on taking your vehicle on remote hiking trails, family needs, and individual preferences. SUVs like the Jeep Compass, Dodge Durango, and Nissan Pathfinder, while good options in terms of size to accommodate a family, do have their limitations when it comes to off-road capability. The Nissan offers a spacious interior and is pretty decent when it comes to navigating off-road trails while the Durango boasts a refined feel and is great for everyday family use while featuring impressive towing capacity. However, if you want the ultimate vehicle that can handle the most challenging off-road trails, the 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner is the vehicle for you.
The Toyota 4Runner is a rugged mid-size SUV with a family-sized cabin designed for optimal off-road capability. It is a powerful vehicle that features a 270-horsepower 4.0L V6 engine and generates 278 pound-feet of torque. Not only do we recommend this dependable SUV for your off-road adventures (we recently tested this vehicle’s off-road performance) but it is also a car you should consider for family use as it is engineered with abundant space to accommodate a family. Let’s take a look at some of the awesome benefits you’ll enjoy with a 2016 or other 5th generation Toyota 4Runner.
Quality Body Design for Exceptional Off-Road Performance
The 4Runner’s sturdy, body-on-frame construction design gives it the ruggedness and power of a pickup truck. Body-on-frame construction provides off-road and towing performance that a unibody design does not provide. This is because the body of the vehicle sits on a ladder-like frame which allows the vehicle to resist twisting better than a unibody vehicle. (With a unibody design, the frame is integrated into the body construction for a more comfortable ride). Not many SUVs today come with that sturdy truck-base design. The body of the 4Runner, which features an elevated suspension, is able to navigate rough off-road terrains and withstand demanding environments. Basically, the 4Runner looks like an SUV but operates like your typical pickup truck.
Standard 4Runners come equipped with skid plates and mudguards which protect the vehicle from damage as it navigates off-road terrains. You can further boost the performance and functionality with enhanced 5th Gen 4Runner Mods like Bilstein shocks. Consider upgrading to 34-inch off-road tires for enhanced performance in tough terrains. Some trims of the 4Runner come with multi-terrain select and locking rear differential. Another cool feature you can add is the Crawl Control feature which lets you slowly and safely navigate a steep incline.
The 4Runner has an approach angle of 33 degrees and a departure angle of 26 degrees. This allows it to drive over steep ramps and obstacles without getting damaged, giving it the edge to take on the toughest trails. (Although impressive, the Jeep Wrangler does fare better in this department, boasting a 42.2 approach degree angle and a 32.3 departure degree angle. )
In terms of driving performance, although the 4Runner does not offer the same smooth ride quality as some of its rivals, it steers easily and lightly. The 5th Gen 4Runner’s performance is more or less on par with that of its competition. However, the 4Runner does not feel as precise as its counterparts like the Dodge Durango and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. Compared to the Toyota Highlander, the 4Runner struggles a bit more when rounding curves. Still, the 4Runner handles the off-road much better than these other options.
Well-Built, Functional Interior
Despite the rugged exterior of the 4Runner, the interior is functional, well-built and more on the stylish side, although it is still not as chic or refined as other Toyota SUV options like the Highlander. With a wide variety of 4Runner accessories, it is incredibly easy to customize the look of your interior cabin. The 4Runner cabin is spacious and features two rows of seating with the option of a third row. Keep in mind that the first two rows offer much more space than the third row and accommodate five occupants. The third row is much tighter and less roomy making it more suited to accommodate little kids. Overall, with the extra 3rd row, the 4Runner can accommodate seven passengers. The seats of the standard Toyota 4Runner are comfortable and come with cloth upholstery but leather and leatherette options are available.
Multiple Trim Options
There are six trim options available for the 2017 4Runner, starting with the base trim level SR5, SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, Limited, and TRD Pro.
The SR5’s features include skid plates, mudguards, keyless entry, LED taillights, hill-start assist and heated exterior mirrors. The SR5 Premium adds to these features with heated front seats, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, sunroof and an upgraded Entune infotainment system. The Limited adds to the standard SR5 Premium with features like power tilt moonroof, dual zone automatic climate control and front and rear parking assist sonar.
The TRD Off-Road, as the name implies, is designed to optimize off-road performance with features like Multi-Terrain Select, Crawl Control and locking rear differential. The TRD Off-Road Premium has heated power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators.
The TRD Pro is the toughest of the bunch with heavy-duty features like dirt clawing tires, off-road TRD Bilstein® suspension, and a ¼-in.-thick aluminum skid plate to help the vehicle withstand the harshest elements found on trails.
Substantial Cargo Storage Space
The 4Runner offers impressive cargo space. Behind the optional 3rd row, you get only 9 cubic feet of storage space. However, the third row folds to accommodate 47.2 cubic feet of cargo while removing the second row gives you 89.7 cubic feet of cargo. This means that on long road trips and family outings, there is more than enough space for you to store your belongings such as camping gear and off-road necessities. The 4Runner also offers a sliding rear cargo deck (priced at $350) that allows for quick access to your camping gear, cooler or other cargo. This deck can support up to 440 pounds of weight so you can use it as a makeshift table to place stuff like light refreshments for a quick bite before you set out to explore the outdoors.
If you need to haul a trailer, boat or any other heavy load, you will be happy with the towing capacity of the 4Runner. The standard 2016 Toyota 4Runner comes with a tow hitch receiver and is capable of towing up to 5000 pounds of load which is quite good for a midsize SUV. Compare this with its rivals like the Jeep Wrangler, Ford Edge and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport that can each only handle a maximum towing capacity of 3500 pounds.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Just because the 4Runner has a rugged exterior does not mean that you do not get to enjoy some cool, modern technological features. The standard 5th generation Toyota 4Runners come equipped with features like integrated navigation, rearview camera, eight sound speakers and Toyota’s Entune App Suite which includes a 6.1” touch screen with USB/Ipod/Bluetooth integration. There are additional features available blind spot monitor including push-button start, power moonroof, 15-speaker JBL system, parking sensors (front and rear) and dual-zone automatic climate control. The 4Runner also comes with retractable running boards.
Overall, the Toyota 4Runner is one of the most off-road-capable vehicles available today. It is one of very few SUVs with a body-on-frame construction. It’s ruggedness and features allows it to handle and perform optimally in demanding off-road trails. It’s cargo space and towing capacity is quite impressive. We would not recommend this vehicle for day-to-day family errand as there are other SUVs better suited to handle on-road applications. However, if you are the adventurous type that enjoys the outdoors and exploring trails, the Toyota 4Runner is a great choice.