Midsize SUV; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,200 – $8,600*


1996 Toyota 4Runner SR5 V6


1996 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Limited


1996 Toyota 4Runner interior


1996 Toyota 4Runner interior


1996 Toyota 4Runner interior

Pros:
  • Optional antilock brakes
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Quietness
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Entry/exit
  • Fuel economy
  • Price

Domestic rivals such as the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Blazer, and Jeep Grand Cherokee might be better bargains, but a 4Runner includes Toyota’s reputation for reliability.

Overview

On sale in March 1996, 4Runner shared powertrains and some chassis elements with the Tacoma pickup, but styling, wheelbase, rear suspension, and interior design differed. Dual airbags were standard, along with 4-wheel antilock brakes and side-impact door beams. Wheelbase was two inches longer, door width grew by 1.5 inches, rear leg room was up three inches, and the floor was lowered by 2.4 inches. A new one-piece rear liftgate replaced the former 2-piece tailgate, with a standard power window. The 4-door wagon came with 2- or 4-wheel drive in base, sportier SR5, and luxury 4WD Limited trim. Base engine was a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder. Standard in the Limited and optional in others was a 183-horsepower, 3.4-liter V6. A 5-speed manual gearbox was standard, 4-speed automatic optional (standard on Limited). All 4x4s except the Limited used a part-time 4WDemand system. Only Limiteds got Toyota’s electronic One-Touch Hi-4 system, with a handy button on the transfer-case lever to shift between 2WD and 4WD High range.

Yearly Updates

1997 4Runner
A 2-wheel-drive version of the posh Limited became available for ’97. A more sophisticated sequential fuel-injection system went into the 4-cylinder engine, as did a new ignition system.
1998 4Runner
The only change for ’98 involved a dealer-installed supercharger for the V6 engine. It increased horsepower by nearly 70 and torque by 50. It also carried the same warranty as regular V6 engines.
1999 4Runner
Toyota added full-time 4WD on the Limited. Other models made do with part-time 4WD systems. Across-the-board changes included a mild facelift, standard auto-off headlamps, and a new center console. SR5 models gained an optional Sport Package that added fender flares, fog lamps, hood scoop, and color-keyed bumpers. Limiteds also received a tailgate-window down feature on the keyless remote, plus auto climate control.
2000 4Runner
Changes were minor for 2000. Daytime running lights were fitted to 4Runners with ABS. A new CD/cassette stereo was optional for base models, standard for SR5 and Limited. Body-color fender flares became available for SR5s, and were included in an optional “Highlander” Sport option package.
2001 4Runner
4Runner lost its base 4-cylinder models and manual transmission for 2001, but all models now had full-time 4-wheel-drive and an antiskid/traction-control system. All models also got a revised grille and taillamps, and the Limited added standard heated front seats, Homelink remote door opener, and an optional in-dash CD changer.
2002 4Runner
For ’02, 4Runner got a new Chrome Package with bright exterior trim. Also new were standard instead of optional air conditioning, remote keyless entry, and alloy wheels for SR5s. 4Runner was redesigned for ’03.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

Either a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder dual-overhead-cam engine or a 3.4-liter V6, also with dual overhead camshafts, might be installed in a 4Runner. The 4-cylinder engine got some improvements for 1997, but power and torque ratings stayed the same at 150 horsepower and 177 pound-feet. The V6 engine developed 183 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque. Limited models came only with a 4-speed automatic transmission, but others had a standard 5 speed manual gearbox, with automatic as an option. 4-cylinder models and manual transmission were unavailable in 2001.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.7/164
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 177
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
16/21
18/22
dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.4/207
Engine HP 183
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 217
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
16/19
16/19
14.2
17.1

Road Test

Because this version weighs less and also comes with stronger engines, it can charge up hills that would have overtaxed the old 4Runner. On-road performance is therefore more relaxed, especially when towing a trailer or hauling a full load of people and cargo. Acceleration with the smooth V6 is indeed snappy in town, though highway passing is more ordinary. We recommend a V6, because the 4-cylinder engine, despite being enlarged, still lacks the torque to propel such a heavy vehicle. Later models with the dealer-installed supercharger accelerate with authority–moving to the head of the midsize sport-utility class–aren’t overly noisy, and don’t consume much more fuel.

Solid-feeling on rough pavement, a 4Runner copes admirably when it encounters off-road terrain. Engine and tire noise are less noticeable than they used to be. The current suspension promises a comfortable ride on almost any surface. Steering is carlike and precise, delivering stable cornering.

Running boards on the Limited are a virtual necessity when climbing aboard, due to the uncomfortably high step-in level. Once inside, space is ample for four adults, and not bad at all for a fifth. Cargo room is generous, even with the rear seat in use, helped by a spare tire that’s mounted beneath the cargo floor. The 4Runner’s power liftgate window is a convenience that’s not offered by any other compact sport utility.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2001 Toyota 4Runner Limited auto

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
60%
Cargo Room - 8
80%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 52

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
105.3 178.7-183.3 66.5 67.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
79.7 18.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 38.7 43.1 34.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 4Runner 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 146
Injury 98
Theft 313

Trouble Spots

Oil consumption
Description: Excessive oil consumption caused by sludge buildup on the cylinder heads. Company is extending warranty. (1996-2001)
Oil leak
Description: Head-gasket failures, particularly on higher mileage engines. In some cases, the company has issued a service campaign or extended warranty. (1996)

Recall History

1996
Description: Sticker alerting driver to “particular handling and maneuvering characteristics of utility vehicles” was not affixed to driver’s sunvisor.
1996-98
Description: Some 2WD models could lose directional stability when hauling heavy loads and under severe driving maneuvers. Although 4WD models did not exhibit this condition, they were also recalled, to avoid confusion.
1998-99
Description: Some wheel lug nuts are defective, causing loss of torque, fatigue fracture of wheel, and possible loss of wheel.
2001-02
Description: Surface of lower ball joint in front suspension might have been scratched; joint may eventually experience excessive wear and looseness, resulting in increased steering effort and possible loss of steering control.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.