By KBB.com Editors
Few SUVs are held in such high regard as the Toyota 4Runner. Generation after generation has come to love this midsize SUV for its near-bulletproof reliability, excellent build quality and strong resale value. Although the 4Runner has grown larger and more luxurious over the years, at its core it remains a versatile and rugged SUV, as comfortable traversing a boulder-strewn desert as a four-lane highway. Still, it is easy to find newer SUV and CUV designs with more interior room, smoother rides and more electronic goodies. Budget-conscious buyers will probably suffer sticker shock, as even the most basic rear-wheel drive 4Runner model starts around $29,500.You'll Like This Car If...
The 2009 Toyota 4Runner provides ample space for four adults and their gear but, in a pinch, can fit seven people. If you're looking for a rugged, powerful midsize SUV that has a reputation for superb reliability and great off-road manners, the 4Runner should be at the top of your list. It also has some exclusive features not found on other SUVs, such as power rear window that retracts into the rear liftgate.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're one of those people who needs an SUV more for its interior accommodations and sheer size than its ability to leave civilization behind, the Toyota 4Runner may not be the best choice.What's New for 2009
For 2009, Toyota is offering a new Trail Edition package option for the V6-powered SR5 4WD. Trail Edition 4Runners gain a locking rear differential, Bilstein shock absorbers, Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), water-resistant seat fabric and a new audio system with a detachable TomTom navigation unit. The system also provides Bluetooth connectivity, iPod integration and satellite radio.Driving It Driving Impressions
To help the driver remain in control under all driving conditions, Toyota has equipped all 4Runners with a feature known as HAC (Hill Start Assist Control). The HAC system prevents the 4Runner from rolling backwards when starting to climb a hill from a start. Also standard on all four-wheel-drive 4Runners is the DAC (Downhill Assist Control), which combines the vehicle's brakes with engine braking to avoid unwanted downhill acceleration. Four-wheel-drive models have a Torsen limited-slip center differential which transfers the bulk of the engine's torque to the rear wheels, thus helping the vehicle remain stable in both off-road and slippery situations. These features complement the 4Runner's standard Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and traction control.Favorite Features
Rear Back-Up Camera
The 4Runner's rear backup camera option allows you to see objects out of the range of your rearview mirror.
Flip-Up Third-Row Seating
The 4Runner's flip-up third-row seating lets you convert from cargo hauler to people hauler in just seconds.
The 4Runner's dash is typical Toyota: Handsome, functional and assembled of the finest materials with the tightest tolerances. The seats are wide and tall to better accommodate full-sized adults. There is more headroom, shoulder room and, most importantly, rear legroom than in previous models. Toyota adds the option of third-row seats on SR5 and Limited trims. A rearview backup camera is optional. It's linked to the optional GPS navigation viewscreen and engages when the vehicle is placed in reverse. For vehicles not equipped with navigation, standard cargo area backup mirrors built into the rear pillars provide a low-tech solution to better rear visibility.Exterior
The 2009 Toyota 4Runner uses a compilation of bulging fender flares, blocky front and rear bumpers and a wide-slat grille to convey its message of stylish off-road capability. Standard rear privacy glass hides valuables from prying eyes, and the back window that rolls down into the liftgate is a real bonus. With coil springs front and rear, available auto-leveling rear air shocks (Limited V8 only) and about nine inches of ground clearance, the 4Runners' off-road capabilities are not in doubt. Dealer-installed options such as a front skid plate, ski attachments for the roof rails and seven-pin to four-pin adapter for towing further add to the 4Runner's rugged image.Notable Standard Equipment
The 4Runner is available in three trims: SR5, Sport and Limited. Standard features include a V6 engine, five-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), Hill Start Assist Control, Downhill Assist Control, Vehicle Stability Control and traction control, side-curtain airbags, front side airbags, automatic air conditioning, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry, fog lights, dual power mirrors, three-in-one audio with MP3-compatible CD player, side running boards, cruise control, tilt wheel, 16-inch alloy wheels and a rear wiper/washer.Notable Optional Equipment
Options vary by trim and include a V8 engine, four-wheel drive, leather interior, auto-dimming rearview mirror, onboard navigation, rear backup camera, rear DVD entertainment system, JBL audio, upgraded wheels, Trail Edition package, an off-road package and a power glass moonroof. There's also a new Urban Runner package for the Sport trim, which adds the TomTom navigation unit, 18-inch alloy wheels and a number of interior trim upgrades.Under the Hood
The 4Runner's V6 is more than adequate to move this vehicle with gusto. For those who need to tow a heavy trailer, the V8 makes perfect sense, but it does use more gas.
236 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
266 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/21 (2WD), 16/20 (4WD)
260 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
306 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/19 (2WD), 14/17 (4WD)
The base two-wheel-drive SR5's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $29,500, while the four-wheel-drive model is closer to $31,500. The V8 engine option adds roughly $2,000 to the sticker. A V8-powered two-wheel-drive Sport model starts around $33,000 and a loaded four-wheel drive Limited can easily top $45,000. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows the typical transaction price being paid for the 4Runner in your area so, before you buy, be sure to check the latest prices. In the volatile world of SUV resale values, the 4Runner continually outperforms the competition. The 4Runner SR5, for example, is projected to retain exceptionally high five-year resale values, far better than those of the Nissan Pathfinder SE, Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer.