While almost every other midsized SUV had moved to car-based construction, the 4Runner remained an old-school, body-on-frame SUV, which was great for off-roading but not much else. The ride is unsettled and handling is mediocre at best. Limited trim versions have a sport suspension package with somewhat better control, but a stiffer ride. Off-road is where the 4Runner excels.
Alerts
There are 8 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit.
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.
Fuel Economy & Emissions
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Greenhouse Gas Greenhouse Gas The Greenhouse Gas Rating represents the amount of carbon dioxide the vehicle emits compared to other vehicles of the same model year. This score from the EPA ranges from 1 (worst) to 10 (best).
NA
Smog Rating Smog Rating The Smog Rating represents the amount of health-damaging and smog-forming airborne pollutants the vehicle emits compared to other vehicles of the same model year. This score from the EPA ranges from 1 (worst) to 10 (best).
NA

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
NA
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Transmission Minor Transmission Minor Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.
NA
Drive System Drive System Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS available; standard from 2001. ESC standard from 2001. Side and head protection air bags available from 2003, standard from 2008.
Road Test

While almost every other midsized SUV had moved to car-based construction, the 4Runner remained an old-school, body-on-frame SUV, which was great for off-roading but not much else. The ride is unsettled and handling is mediocre at best. Limited trim versions have a sport suspension package with somewhat better control, but a stiffer ride.

Off-road is where the 4Runner excels. Ground clearance is generous and underbody skid plates are standard. The four-wheel-drive system includes a low range for tough off-road duty, but the system is part-time only. Automatic four-wheel drive is available only in the top-level Limited trim.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear, 2 third
Drive Wheels
4WD , Rear
Warranty
Coverage varies among versions of this vehicle

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
4-door SUV
Transmissions Available
  • 5-speed Automatic
Engines Available
  • 4-liter V6 (270 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2012 Toyota 4Runner owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Shocks or struts

"My 4Runner has the X-REAS shock system on it. At 40k miles one of the modules went bad and the dealership had to replace the entire system, front and rear. I have an extended warrantee fortunately. If not it would have cost $3500 they said"

Anonymous, TX (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)

"XREAS shocks leaking. Have to replace entire system"

Anonymous, CA (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)

"XREAS system leaking. Very expensive to repair/replace these shock absorbers."

Anonymous, AZ (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)

"All four shocks started leaking. The 2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited comes with the X-REACT system which ties all four shocks together with lines. The total cost of parts/labor for the replacement was approximately $5,000."

Russell D., LA (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)

"XREAS system leaking again. This is the second time. Cost for each repair is $3200-$4000. I average only 70K miles on each replacement."

Anonymous, AZ (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)
Steering linkage (includes rack and pinion)

"horribly poor turning radius due to steering mechanism"

Anonymous, SC (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

Backup or other camera/sensors

"Works intermitantly. Dealer said they did not know how to repair the current system and a new one will cost close to $1,000!"

Charles K., TX (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)
Display screen difficult to see

"DISPLAY SCREEN IS NOT CLEAR AT ALL. VERY DIFFICULT FOR OLDER DRIVER TO SEE ITEMS ON THE DISPLAY SCREEN! IMAGES ARE NOT CLEAR! TEXT TOO SMALL AND TOO DIM"

Charles K., TX (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)
Display screen freezes up

"Display touchscreen stopped responding to finger touch inputs. Dealer tried to fix by updating software but could not do. Had to have entire radio/display unit replaced. Dealer quoted me $3,000 to fix. Ultimately was able to get Toyota corporate to reduce cost to $1,000 to fix."

Anonymous, AZ (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)
Phone pairing (e.g., Bluetooth)

"We have iPhones and the bluetooth is slow to pair or does not pair at all. Also the satellite antenna went out. Covered under extended warranty."

Anonymous, CA (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)
Radio

"A wire connecting the antenna to the radio was broken during the airbag replacement process. The dealership took care of it completely and provided a loaner car for the three days it took to get the replacement part."

William W., GA (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Calipers

"Replaced brake calipers due to internal corrosion under warranty"

Graham A., MD (2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail 4.0-L V6)
Normal routine brake wear

"Replaced breaks as preventive matience"

Clifford C., FL (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)
Premature brake wear

"Had to have front and rear rotors resurfaced, and brake pads replaced, after 3-3.5 yrs. never had to do that on any prior vehicle. Could be nature of vehicle (truck), and that we moved to Pocono mtns for a couple of yrs"

Henry G., DE (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)
Pulsation or vibration

"Since purchasing the 4Runner in 2014, I've replaced the brakes (rotors, calipers & pads) 3 times due to warped rotors and premature brake wear. The majority of my mileage is due to highway travel (60/40 split probably), so not sure why it keeps happening but it appears a calliper sticks causing the rotors to overheat and warp thereby wearing out the pads. The last time I had the entire brake system fluid purged and changed, but if it happens again I will have no choice but to sell the vehicle as it is not cheap to keep changing all these brake components every 12-15 months."

Anonymous, DE (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)
Rotors

"Didn’t pass inspection until brake rotators were replaced."

Anonymous, WV (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Loose/rattling heat shield

"rust loosened the heat shield"

Michael D., NJ (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)
Other/unsure

"Recall by Toyota due to history of malfunction"

Anonymous, OH (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)

"Apparently there is a problem with the passenger side airbag. It has a recall. It supposedly has the potential to send schrapnel into the air when activated."

Anonymous, CA (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)

"Passenger side Takata airbag safety recall"

William W., GA (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)

"Faulty Takata front passenger airbag had to be replaced. Covered by warranty but I had to sit around for 3 1/2 hours to get it done."

C M., CA (2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail 4.0-L V6)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Body control module

"Running boards are not working properly"

Anonymous, PA (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)
Cruise control

"Cruise control completely failed."

Anonymous, AB (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)
Exterior lights (other than headlights)

"There was a short in the one of the taillight assemblies that was pretty expensive to fix (i.e., have replaced)"

Anonymous, TX (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)
Headlights

"One of them keeps going out every 6 months or so"

Anonymous, TX (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)
Keyless entry

"Door lock actuators broke on both the front driver's side and front passenger side"

William R., FL (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

"lots of cracking around rear wheel covers"

Anonymous, ID (2012 Toyota 4Runner)
Rust

"Rust has appeared on the back tailgate. The tailgate was repainted and then the rust has returned. Toyota is unwilling to fix the issue further claiming it is rail dust, but we don't live near any rail yards"

Christopher C., ID (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)

"first paint bubbled on backdoor, then turned into rust. then turned into holes, then shorted out electrical system. had to repair"

Michael D., NJ (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Tailgate, hatch or trunk

"The tailgate has a persistent rust issue that Toyota will not fix"

Christopher C., ID (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)

"Hatch lift bar failed. Hatch would not stay open. $600 repair"

Anonymous, IN (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Transmission sensor or solenoid

"The transmission sensor had apparently rusted and was no longer functional, so had to be replaced."

Anonymous, ON (2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4.0-L V6)

"shift would not display "D" sometimes when vehicle not in use for prolong period. Had to click in and out of D to get "D" to display. Even when it did not display the "D" , the vehicle would be in gear."

Anonymous, MA (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Seals and/or weather-stripping

"In rain , snow ,and slushy weather windows did not clear when windows were put down"

Anonymous, NY (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)
Wind noise

"Coming from the front window, right side"

Anonymous, AB (2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail 4.0-L V6)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Engine harness

"Rodent(s) ate wire harness covering at multiple locations and eventually caused short. Could start engine but not generate enough power to move car. Research indicated Toyota and another manufacturer had started using wires coated in a soy bean based plastic and this attracted rodents. Commonly known problem found on internet but Toyota denied any responsibility so I had to pay $800+ for fix (twice) and now take preventive steps to repel critters."

Jeffrey M., CO (2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail 4.0-L V6)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

CV joint

"1 CV boot leaked"

Evan C., MD (2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4.0-L V6)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

Change Vehicle