2015 Toyota 4Runner
Since the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) was first created in 1984, the category has grown steadily in popularity. There are now SUVs for every taste and budget, which can make it hard to choose one.
During a recent road trip in Tampa, Florida, we decided to kick the tires on the Toyota 4Runner and see how it worked for a vacation ride.
To start with, the off-road-ready 4Runner is a big vehicle. It sits high off the ground and at least one person we encountered said, “Wow that’s big,” before standing next to the 4Runner to measure its height against his. The result? One of the tires came up to the top of his hip. Yeah, told you it was big.
And despite being kind of boxy, the 4Runner is a decent looking ride, especially in Barcelona Red, the color of our test-drive vehicle. Speaking of style, the 4Runner’s hood scoop makes it look sporty and powerful, even when parked.
At A Glance
A big vehicle best suited to drivers with lots to lug, the 4Runner leans toward function over form.
Miles per gallon: 18 combined city/highway. Even though that isn’t a high number, the gas tank was huge, so it took the better part of a week to run down towards “E.”
Cost to fill ’er up: $50
Pricing: Starts at $38.6K. As tested, $42.2K
The offerings inside the cabin of our test drive model were pretty Spartan. Many of the features that have become standard on other new cars, like automatic headlights and blind spot notification, were not present here. This felt like more of a “hands on” vehicle, suitable for a do it yourselfer. Even the seating was comfortable but far from luxe. The red contrast stitching was a nice touch but, in warmer climes (like Florida), the seats can get exceptionally hot without air-conditioned seats.
It was very easy to link our iPhone phone to the 4Runner. Once linked via Bluetooth, the navigation screen changed to allow four speed dial numbers to be programmed onto the home screen. We hadn’t seen this nifty feature in a car before and it was exceptionally useful for keeping one’s eyes on the road. No more reaching down for your phone to dial mom while on the go. Honestly, this should be a standard features on all new vehicles.
The 4Runner could be a good everyday car, provided you have a large, dedicated parking space. It had plenty of cargo space in the rear but our test drive model didn’t have a motorized rear lift gate, which is another feature that has become almost standard for SUVs. The 4Runner also sits high off the ground so a running board should really be standard for this vehicle. Several of the people we ferried around had trouble getting in and out because of the height. One of our favorite features, however, was a pull out platform in the rear cargo area that you can use to load up with anything from groceries to DJ turntables. Once loaded, just push the platform and it slides back inside the vehicle.