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Review: 2002 Toyota 4Runner 4x4

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SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide

2002 TOYOTA 4RUNNER SR5 4X4-By Brendan/Mikele 


      Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 29,101
      Price As Tested                                    $ 34,123
      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


      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

BRENDAN - Toyota has built a reputation as a leading car maker over the last 20 years or so, and the 4Runner has been one of their best selling models for almost as long. It was introduced in '84 and the 4Runner has seen many changes in styling and packages, but it still ranks among the highest rated vehicles on the market. For 2002, the 4Runner offers a few minor enhancements from last year's model, but none of them are earth-shattering. Almost all of the changes are cosmetic, and the powerplant is still a 3.4-liter V6 with 183 ponies. The 4Runner makes its case as a true off-road machine by its use of Toyota's advanced Multi-Mode four-wheel drive system. It allows the driver to switch from two-wheel to four-wheel drive with the touch of a button.

MIKELE - The new 4Runner has other off-road capabilities too. It also has a"4WD Low" mode for extra "oomph" when it's needed most, and locking the center differential makes sure that a 4Runner in motion remains in motion, even under the most extreme conditions. The four-speed electronically controlled transmission is common stuff now for SUVs, and it's a smooth unit that seems to have its ratios all in the right places. On the road, the 4Runner it handles quite well, although if the driver is used to a small sedan, it may seem a bit top heavy at first. Vehicle Skid Control (VSC), plus Active Traction Control make the 4Runner able to maintain traction in skids caused by adverse conditions. The A-TRAC system helps to minimize wheel slippage by controlling engine output and utilizing brake fluid pressure that's applied to the slipping wheel and distributing the drive force to the remaining wheels. All that information means that it will achieve superior traction.

BRENDAN - That was impressive. Now maybe you can explain it to me in easier terms later. I'm beginning to realize that I'm not as well versed in automotive technology as you are. The 4Runner's front independent double-wishbone suspension and front stabilizer bar, coupled with rear four-link suspension, coil springs and a stabilizer bar make for a smooth ride that isn't normally felt in an SUV. Maybe its low-pressure gas-filled shock absorbers give it that extra bit of smoothness. The 4Runner SR5 interior comes equipped with air conditioning, power windows and doors as you would expect, and it also features a nice sounding 3-in-1 AM/FM ETR/Cassette/CD with six speakers. Upgrade to a six-disc in-dash CD player and you're in business. It also has a tilt steering wheel, good for us big guys with long legs, and remote keyless entry with rear window power-down operation. Our dogs loved that feature.

MIKELE - Outside, the 4Runner has a few new items for 2002, like the standard 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels on all SR5 models, and P225/70R15 tires. Our tester has the optional 16-inch alloys with bigger tires but either way, it adds a lot to the looks of the vehicle. The license plate garnishes are now chrome. Our test rig came with the several upgrade kits that added those bigger alloy wheels, sports seats, heavy-duty brakes and several other goodies that added $900 to the price but its these kinds of add-ons that make a vehicle truly personalized. It provides more brightwork on the outside but personally, I think it's a little too much. Safety-wise, 4Runner has a plethora of items that are essential in today's busy and sometimes unsafe driving world. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes are included, as well as driver and front passenger air bags. Also, the front and rear doors have side-impact beams, and the dash features air bags, seatbelt, low-fuel level, door-ajar, battery, check engine, oil pressure, brake, ABS and tail lamp bulb failure warning lights. These lights are annoying to some, but essential to those who don't pay attention to their car much and need a warning light to tell them when there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

BRENDAN - My Dad used to call those things "idiot lights" but all cars seem to have them now.

MIKELE - In this busy world, maybe people just need bright lights to get their attention.