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#19

in Affordable Midsize SUVs

MSRP: $33,010 - $43,420
Invoice: $30,369 - $39,945
MPG: 17 City / 22 Hwy
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Toyota 4Runner Performance

According to test drivers, the 2015 Toyota 4Runner has impressive off-road capabilities. Some critics say it feels composed on paved roads, but others find the 2015 4Runner uncomfortable and not as easy to drive as a crossover SUV. They say it generally has enough power, but many feel the 4Runner’s performance is held back by its five-speed automatic transmission, which doesn't have as many gears as rivals' transmissions.

  • “The 4Runner is in the running with the Jeep Grand Cherokee for the 'most capable midsize SUV' award. However, the same features that are a boon in the bushes, like the slow-ratio steering and tough-as-nails truck suspension, make the 4Runner a bit of a handful on paved roads." -- AutoTrader
  • "With so many competitors in this segment having more car-like chassis, the 4Runner, which is built on a ladder-frame, is automatically saddled with an internal disadvantage. Still, for those looking for something a little more rugged and capable, the tradeoffs might be worth it." -- Cars.com (2014)
  • "Toyota is trying hard to please two masters with the 2014 4Runner, but its split personality works against it. Buyers needn't look far to find more comfortable soft roaders or capable off-road machines." -- Road and Track (2014)
  • "It's not as refined or fuel-efficient as the average unibody crossover, especially when one throws the impressive Jeep Grand Cherokee into the mix, but it's the most capable for those who require a traditional body-on-frame truck to take daily abuse." -- Autoblog (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 4Runner comes with a 4.0-liter V6 engine that produces 270 horsepower. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard. Fuel economy is up to an EPA-estimated 17/22 mpg city/highway, which is a bit low for the class.

Most test drivers feel that the 4Runner's V6 provides reasonable power, but some say that acceleration is a bit sluggish. Reviewers mention that the five-speed transmission is outdated, pointing out that rivals like the Jeep Grand Cherokee feel livelier because they have more gears.

  • "Acceleration has never been a weak point with the 4Runner, thanks to its 270-horsepower V6 engine and smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic transmission." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The difference lies in the gearbox. While the Toyota trundles along with a five-speed automatic, the Grand Cherokee gets eight gears to play with, giving both Jeeps the sensation of more power. The 4Runner is left stuck in each gear longer, and the engine feels like it needs to hustle to move the 4525-pound SUV." -- Road and Track (2014)
  • "Part of the powertrain noise can be blamed on the five-speed automatic. It might also take the blame for less-than-stellar fuel economy. The 270-hp, 4.0-liter V-6 isn't bad in terms of refinement, but feels a bit lazy." -- Motor Trend (2014)
  • "Power is adequate but not breathtaking from the big V6." -- Left Lane News (2014)

Handling and Braking

The 4Runner differs from most other midsize SUVs in that it is not a car-based crossover SUV, and a few reviewers say it doesn’t ride as comfortably as most rivals. Still, most test drivers are pleased with the 4Runner’s ride comfort for an off-road SUV. Some like the responsiveness of its steering, though others say it feels vague and frequently requires correction.

  • "We do think Toyota has done a nice job tuning the ride, however, as there's little of the trucklike jitteriness that plagued previous 4Runners." -- AutoTrader
  • "Thanks to Toyota's excellent suspension and spring settings, the 2015 4Runner SUV has been magically tuned to deliver acceptable ride and decent handling." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 4Runner is still constructed using body-on-frame architecture and it shows every minute of every mile on the road. Steering is ponderous at best, requiring constant correction. The ride and handling would be best described as outdated, and the truck isn't particularly quiet." -- Motor Trend (2014)
  • "The ride is surprisingly smooth and quiet, with a hint of chassis shake and shiver over big bumps and railroad crossings. The steering is more precise than you'd expect; the brakes are a tad touchy at the top of the pedal travel but offer linear response afterward." -- Car and Driver (2014)

Off-Roading

The Toyota 4Runner is available with part-time four-wheel drive, or full-time four-wheel drive on the Limited trim. Trail and TRD Pro trims have a locking rear differential and better approach and departure angles. Test drivers write that the 4Runner is very capable of traversing off-road trails. They note that the 4Runner’s downhill assist control system is helpful when going down slippery hills, as it automatically keeps the vehicle at a low speed so you can focus on steering.

  • "The TRD Pro makes quick work of rough trails and Los Angeles potholes alike, eating up moguls with none of the steering wheel shudder or jarring vibrations endemic to lesser SUVs." -- Left Lane News
  • "The 4Runner is sure-footed off-road, and standard downhill assist control was helpful on muddy hills, and likely would be in the snow, too." -- Car and Driver (2014)
  • "Even when cursed with street tires, the onboard wizardry can shimmy the 4Runner up slick inclines, through deep water, or across rutted terrain without any drama." -- Road and Track (2014)
Review Last Updated: 11/17/14

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