While almost every other midsized SUV has moved to car-based construction, the 4Runner remains an old-school, body-on-frame SUV, good for off-roading but not much else. The ride is unsettled and handling is clumsy.
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; an automatic system is available only in the top-level Limited trim.
The 4.0-liter V6 engine is powerful but roars when accelerating. 18 mpg overall is decent for this brick-shaped SUV, especially considering the antiquated five-speed automatic transmission. Although truck-based SUVs like the 4Runner traditionally excel at towing, its 4,700-pound rating is beat by many car-based models.
Living with the 4Runner can be a hassle. A high climb-in and low ceiling compromise access and driving position. Cabin space is modest given the exterior dimensions. A tiny third row seat is optional. Controls are simple, with big buttons and knobs, but the radio touchscreen is relatively small. Modern electronic safety gear like blind-spot monitoring and forward collision warning is unavailable.