2012 Toyota 4Runner


2012 Toyota 4Runner Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/8/2011

Over 25 years ago, the Toyota 4Runner helped create the sport utility craze for people with active lifestyles. Back then, SUVs were little more than boxes built on truck frames for rugged off-road capability. Fast-forward to today's designs: a sculpted exterior on a car-based platform limited to light off-roading. The 2012 Toyota 4Runner bucks this trend and continues on a truck chassis to provide a rugged alternative to the more refined Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Honda Pilot.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you are looking for an SUV that serves dual purposes – family commuter during the week and an off-road-capable hauling vehicle on the weekend – then add the 2012 Toyota 4Runner to your short list.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If a car-like ride with room for seven passengers and their luggage are more important than rough-road prowess or towing ability, then look at the Ford Explorer, GMC Acadia, or Honda Pilot.

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Toyota 4Runner adds major audio and connectivity updates such as standard SiriusXM satellite radio, a USB port with iPod connectivity, and hands-free phone capability. For those who refuse to leave their technology behind, there is Toyota's available Entune multimedia system: a collection of popular mobile apps including Bing and Pandora, as well as data services like a fuel price guide and sports scores that will keep you connected.

Driving It Driving Impressions

On the road, the 2012 4Runner's drivetrain shines. The Toyota SUV accelerates briskly with an eager 270-hp V6 engine mated to a smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic transmission. Despite being on a truck chassis, the Toyota's ride is fairly smooth with its compliant suspension absorbing bumps well. Outward visibility is good all-around even with the raised rear-seat headrests, so you can change lanes with confidence. The steering, however, is overly-assisted in situations such as parking lots or tight turns and is slow to respond, thus requiring constant corrections. The brakes - bit "grabby" at times – took a little getting used to as well. At highway speeds, wind noise is sometimes loud enough to interrupt cabin conversations. The 4Runner continues to be a capable off-roader offering part-time and full-time 4-wheel-drive (4WD) systems to confidently assist you on rugged adventures.

Favorite Features

Power Rear Liftgate Window
Gain access to the 4Runner's rear cargo space without opening the rear liftgate - especially useful in a tight garage or when someone is parked close behind. As a bonus, you can carry long objects such as lumber out the back window without fuss.

Sliding Rear Cargo Deck
This convenient sliding deck lets you reach your gear in the back, supports 440 pounds, and is handy for your next tailgate party.

Vehicle Details Interior

The 4Runner interior is both functional and inviting. Drivers will welcome the clear instrumentation with large buttons and rotary knobs for climate and audio controls, especially useful when wearing gloves. Pairing a smartphone using Bluetooth is refreshingly easy and does not require reading the owner's manual. The large center console has an available 120V AC power outlet to run your laptop or computer games. Power-adjustable front seats are comfortable and provide good support. In the rear, a 40/20/40 split seat offers numerous cargo/seating configurations and also reclines for additional comfort. For 7-passenger seating, a third row (best for children) is available.


The 2012 Toyota 4Runner remains true to its utility heritage, featuring an upright windshield, long roofline and nearly vertical liftgate contributing to its boxy appearance. Impressively, that box can swallow 47.2 cu. ft. of cargo with the rear seats up. With a large flat front end, bulging fenders and 9.6 inches of ground clearance in the 4x4 version, the 4Runner shows off its rugged personality. Access to the rear cargo is through a single-piece liftgate with a unique power rear window. The SR5 and Trail editions ride on 265/70 mud and snow tires mounted on 17-inch alloy rims while the Limited sports 245/60 tires on 20-inch alloy rims.

Notable Standard Equipment

Three trim levels are available on the 2012 Toyota 4Runner: SR5, Trail, and Limited. The SR5 sports the 4.0-liter V6 engine and 5-speed automatic transmission shared by all 4Runners, plus Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), and integrated towing receiver hitch with wiring harness. A USB port with iPod connectivity, SiriusXM satellite radio, hands-free phone, trip computer with outside temperature, and three 12V auxiliary power outlets are also standard. The rugged Trail adds part-time 4-wheel drive, water-resistant fabric seats, power moonroof, Optitron instrumentation, integrated backup camera display, electronic locking rear differential, sliding rear cargo deck, and Multi-terrain Select and Crawl control. The top-line Limited features dual-zone automatic climate control, Display Audio with Navigation and Entune, leather-trimmed and heated front seats, pushbutton starting, and Safety Connect (emergency assistance, stolen vehicle locator, roadside assistance, and automatic collision notification). All 4Runners feature eight airbags and the Star Safety System - stability and traction control, antilock braking system, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, and smart-stop technology.

Notable Optional Equipment

Only a few option packages are available on the 2012 Toyota 4Runner. Now hold your breath and get ready for the lists: The SR5 Premium Package with Third Row includes the Display Audio with Navigation and Entune, power adjustable leather-trimmed seats, power moonroof, and other interior/exterior upgrades. For the off-road enthusiast, the Trail offers a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) for enhanced wheel articulation over deep ruts and large obstacles. The audiophile can choose the Limited with voice-activated touch-screen DVD navigation system, JBL AM/FM 4-disc CD Changer, 15 speakers including subwoofer, and NavTraffic.

Under the Hood

The sole powertrain combination in the 4Runner is a sophisticated 270-hp, 4.0-liter V6 engine mated to a responsive 5-speed automatic transmission. There are three drivetrain choices: rear wheel drive (SR5, Limited) part-time 4WD (SR5, Trail), or full-time 4WD (Limited) with a limited-slip, locking center differential. Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.

2012 Toyota 4Runner
4.0-liter V6 engine
270 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
278 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 mpg (rear-wheel drive)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/22 mpg (4-wheel drive)

Pricing Notes

The 2012 Toyota 4Runner starts at a Manufacturer's Suggest Retail Price (MSRP) of $31,900 for the rear-wheel-drive SR5 and tops out at over $46,000 for the full-featured Limited 4x4. Pricing for the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Honda Pilot is similar to the 4Runner. The Toyota, however, has the highest projected resale value in this competitive set, confirming a wise purchase decision. In fact, Toyota won Kelley Blue Book's 2012 Best Resale Value Award for Best Brand – the second time in three years. A look at the Fair Purchase Price on Kbb.com shows what others are paying for the 4Runner in your area, so be sure to check it out before you purchase.

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