On The Road

Venerable 4Runner still a great all-road vehicle

4 Runner
Mike Hagerty/Special to the Town Crier
The Toyota 4Runner is built for all roads and all weather.

Think about all the things that have changed in 11 years. Pretty much everything, right? Among the few exceptions: the Toyota 4Runner.

Introduced in the fall of 2009 as an all-new for 2010 model, the 4Runner, with only minor changes and refinements, soldiers on to its 11th model year in 2021.

Like its distant cousin, the Lexus GX460, which also turns 11 this year, the secret lies in just how good the 4Runner was to begin with and how well it manages to do what it was intended to: provide go-anywhere-in-any-weather transit for up to five people and a bunch of their stuff.

Under the hood is the same 4.0-liter, dual overhead cam, 24-valve V6 that was there in the 2010 model. It has 270 horsepower, 278 pounds per foot of torque and is mated to a five-speed (yes, five) automatic transmission and a part-time four-wheel drive system with Active TRAC.

That adds up to adequate power and speed, some serious low-end grunt for off-roading and, by contemporary standards, some abysmal fuel economy – an Environmental Protection Agency estimate of 16 mpg city, 19 highway. We managed just under 17 mpg in a mix of city streets, Sierra foothill backroads and urban freeways. But nobody in the market for a 4Runner is basing their purchase on gas mileage.

Our tester was the 2021 Toyota 4Runner 4x4 Trail. The Trail Special Edition adds 17-inch dark-gray alloy wheels, sliding rear cargo tray, 40-quart removable cooler with tie-down straps, all-weather floor liners, Yakima LoadWarrior cargo basket on the roof and black badge overlays to the standard 4Runner equipment for a starting price of $40,190.

Our tester also had extra-cost options, including $1,585 for a premium eight-speaker audio system with eight-inch touchscreen and navigation, $179 for a cargo cover, $169 for carpeted floormats, $79 for a door edge guard, $169 for high-performance LED fog lights and $80 for wheel locks.

The sticker also included a $500 “Keep It Wild” discount, so with $1,175 for delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of the 2021 Toyota 4Runner 4x4 Trail totaled $43,126.

The Trail Edition is the perfect complement to the 4Runner’s rugged, capable character. With age comes experience, and Toyota continues to build one of the best all-road, all-weather vehicles out there 11 years on.

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