New Car/Review

Toyota

Toyota 4Runner SR5 4X4 (2001)

SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 28,895
     Price As Tested                                    $ 33,859
     Engine Type              DOHC 24-valve 3.4 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 207 cid/3378 cc
     Horsepower                                   183 @ 4800 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               217 @ 3600 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  105.3"/70.9"/183.3"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4245 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  18.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          P265/70R16 mud & snow
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/Five-door
     Domestic Content                                 15 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            16/19/17
     0-60 MPH                                       10.5 seconds
     Maximum payload capacity                        1180 pounds
     Maximum towing capacity                         5000 pounds
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(Matt Hagin comments that Toyota has been in the SUV business since '51. Bob Hagin is thankful that the new Toyota 4Runner isn't the roughneck its ancestor was.)

BOB - The Toyota 4Runner started off life in '84 as the little brother to the Toyota Land Cruiser. It carried a four-cylinder engine and was marketed against the mini-SUVs that the domestics were producing. Since then the SUV market has exploded and their makers are exploiting the American craze for vehicles that look like rugged off-roaders but may very well never see anything more challenging than an icy driveway up to the family garage. Toyota has five different sport/utility vehicles, the RAV4, Highlander, Sequoia, Land Cruiser and right in the middle, the venerable 4Runner. If you factor in the half-dozen pickup trucks that carry the Toyota logo, the company could have a whole separate brand.

MATT - The 4Runner has gone even more upscale this year and there's no base model in the lineup anymore. Its two trim levels are the SR5 and the Limited, and they're both only available with a very smooth 3.4-liter engine. It's a 24-valve V6 that uses twin-cam aluminum heads on an iron block. It puts out a not-too impressive 185 horsepower, but the torque is pretty high at 217 pound-feet. This is pretty much in keeping with the fact that the 4Runner is truck-based with a separate ladder-type frame and a solid rear axle in back. The five-speed stick-shift that was previously offered in the SR5 of last year has been dropped and now the only transmission available is a four-speed automatic. But that's just fine with me.

BOB - I though you liked shifting for yourself, Matt. The SR5 is also available in two-wheel drive but the four-by-four version is going to be the number one choice of 4Runner buyers. In the Limited, the system to get into the all-wheel drive mode is pretty slick and it can be engage at up to 62 mph so it can be put into play on pavement if road conditions suddenly get slick. There's an electronically-controlled center differential that will lockup the front and rear axles if the driver decides to do some serious off-roading, and there's also a low range transfer case if the going gets even more rough. The 4Runner has anti-lock brakes and a traction control system that is tied into the ABS through the vehicle computer to apply braking power to a wheel or wheels that might be spinning in the dirt or snow. At the same time, the computer reduces engine power a bit to keep things under control. Our SR5 had an optional 16-inch wheel and tire combination which not only uses a slightly lower axle ratio in front and back but has one-inch bigger disk brakes up front. As is common in lots of SUVs, the rear brakes are drum, a fact I'm not too pleased about.

MATT - The interior of the new 4Runner is a bit tight, but once everybody is seated, all will be comfortable except for the center passenger in the rear seat. The wiring for a tow hitch is built in but the hitch setup itself is an optional extra and it's good for 5000 pounds of towing capacity. The roof rack, fancy pre-painted fender flares and running boards are optional and add up to another $1000 but those running boards make getting up onto the tall 4Runner lots more graceful, so they're well worth it. Our unit also had an upscale sound system as part of the Upgrade Value Package Number Three which added a lot to the bottom line, but the 4Runner has long ago shed its low-priced entry-level persona. Its became a very swanky means of transportation but it hasn't become strictly a boulevard cruiser. It's too expensive to take on those boulder-crawling excursions put on by off-road clubs.

BOB - Matt, At this point, I'm one of those people who only use four-wheel drive in an SUV to get up an icy driveway and into the garage.

 

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