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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2016 TOYOTA 4RUNNER


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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE 4RUNNER VEHICLE
The rugged Toyota 4Runner honors tradition over trend with body-on-frame engineering and excellent off-road capability at just the base level – even more so with legendary TRD performance options. For the model year, new features include Scout GPS Link cell phone navigation and an increase in towing for certain trims.

I drove a 2016 Toyota 4Runner with the standard 270-horsepower 4-liter V6 engine with 278 pound-feet of torque, paired to a five-speed automatic transmission and part-time four-wheel drive system. Available in four trims – the base SR5, Trail, Limited and TRD Pro for those who want more off-road ability – my Trail with a Premium Package test-drive came with the following standard feature highlights: SofTex upholstery; heated front seats; upgraded JBL audio system; Toyota’s Entune; Bluetooth; a 6.1-inch touchscreen with backup camera; navigation; moonroof; front and rear parking sensors; tow hitch receiver; power-sliding rear window; seventeen-inch black wheels; color-keyed bumpers; hood scoop; locking rear differential; and selectable terrain modes. Total price as described came to $39,095.

The Grand Jeep Cherokee is the 4Runner’s best trail-rated match, but competitors include other rugged three-row SUVs such as the Dodge Durango and GMC Suburban.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: You sit high in the 4Runner, especially with the optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) for a truck-like drive, but secure with an accommodating driver power seat. Brushed-chrome accents and vivid blue illuminated digital displays give the interior a sleek look. Equipment for the tech-minded includes Entune, Toyota’s multi-media system for streamlining your smartphone to hands-free navigation, calls and music with App Suite allowing for quick searches on the 6.1-inch split-screen. The power-sliding rear window is an attraction for many who will use this vehicle as an alternative to a truck. My test drive also came with a very convenient $350 sliding rear cargo deck and the $1,750 Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2016 Toyota 4Runner ratings of “Good” in all crash-test areas with the exception of a “Marginal” in small overlap front. I also love that the organization is now rating the ease of use with child seat anchors, with the 4Runner getting just another “Marginal” rating in this area. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the vehicle an overall rating of 4-Stars – rollover earned just 3-Stars, frontal crash 4-Stars and side crash 5-Stars.

Cost Issues: A base SR5 4Runner starts at $33,810; the Trail trim at $36,715; the Limited trim at $42,125; and the TRD Pro at $41,850. My Trail Premium trim with options test drive cost $40,445.

Activity & Performance Ability: Plainly stated, the engineers behind the 4Runner appreciate and understand durability. Having driven last year’s TRD Pro Series trim on private roads in the Stanislaus National Forest on the outskirts of Yosemite, I am pretty sold on those particular package upgrades – but nevertheless, any current 4Runner model (including my most recent Trail) will feature a more generous approach angle than competitors, absorb all off-road abrasions, and generally please in both a paved and unpaved real-world situations. Note the Limited trim has increased its towing capabilities.

The Green Concern: The 4-liter V6 gets 17-city and 21-highway for a combined 18 miles-per-gallon combined – typical for this type of working SUV.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2016 Toyota 4Runner continues to seduce those with a pallet for a more rugged SUV. At any trim level, the 4Runner will impress with off-road performance and modern technology conveniences. Owning a 4Runner is like being a part outdoor history and is a personal favorite with my family, first on our wish list above fancier and roomier crossovers.

©2016 Katrina Ramser

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