In a world of car-based Sport Utility Vehicles, the 2017 Toyota 4Runner reminds us of what a true, body-on-frame SUV looks like. Sure, the 4Runner isn’t as refined as a Nissan Pathfinder, nor is it as technically advanced or fuel-efficient. But just try taking a Pathfinder rock crawling and see how far you get.
You'll Like The 2017 Toyota 4Runner If...
If you spend most of your free time exploring remote desert climbing spots or hard-to-access trailheads, Toyota’s 2017 4Runner SUV is the perfect companion. The 4Runner has plenty of power for towing, room for up to seven passengers and offers a sophisticated 4-wheel-drive setup.
You May Not Like The 2017 Toyota 4Runner If...
If you need the towing ability and room afforded by a midsize SUV, but not the brutish ride, limited safety features and poor fuel economy, a nice crossover SUV like the Nissan Pathfinder or GMC Acadia might make a better choice. Those seeking an affordable off-roader might consider the Jeep Wrangler.
For 2017, the Toyota 4Runner Trail and Trail Premium are renamed TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium.
Although rather simple, the 2017 4Runner's cabin is roomy and versatile. The 4Runner's large dials and buttons operating everything from the radio to the low-range gearing are a cinch to use. The large center console has an available 120V AC power outlet, helpful for charging accessories. The power-adjustable front seats are comfortable and supportive. In back, a 40/20/40-split seat offers numerous cargo/seating configurations and reclines. Seven-passenger seating is available in SR5 and Limited trims, though the small third row is best suited for children. Folding the rear seats yields a flat floor and nearly 90 cubic feet of cargo space.
Not much has changed on the outside for the 2017 4Runner. In an effort to give the SUV a "more rugged and aggressive appearance," Toyota has endowed the front fascia with large, boomerang-shaped indentations below the slanted headlights. If that gaping design is a deterrent, know that it doesn't apply to the top-line Limited edition. The rest of the 4Runner successfully carries on the SUV's rugged, boxy shape. We dig the 4-wheel-drive TRD model's hood scoop and additional ground clearance that totals 9.6 inches. All trims feature a standard roof rack.
While Toyota’s 2017 4Runner SUV delivers a noticeably firm ride, the spring and suspension settings are not so primitive as to render it incapable of delivering acceptable levels of cornering and comfort. The 4Runner’s V6 produces a healthy 270 horsepower, perfect when you need to pass slower traffic or tow heavy loads. The 5-speed automatic is the right choice for this kind of vehicle, although it must accept some blame for the 4Runner’s rather dismal fuel-economy figures. Due to its weight and high ride height, the 4Runner can’t round curves like a Highlander, but its narrow body is a bit easier to maneuver than a full-size SUV, at least in the urban jungle. One weak spot we found is the 4Runner ‘s brake pedal that at first feels a bit soft, but after applying more pressure, causes the brakes to grab too quickly.
Toyota’s 2017 4Runner SUV has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $34,200 for a base 2WD SR5 model. TRD Off-Road models begin closer to $38,300 and Limited models start around $43,500. The TRD Pro Series starts close to $43,400. At its starting price, the 4Runner costs more than the Nissan Pathfinder, Ford Explorer and Kia Sorento, though those three are car-based crossover SUVs not meant for serious off-roading. The Jeep Wrangler is amore like-minded competitor, and all have starting prices several thousand dollars below that of the 4Runner. Before buying, check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Toyota. In long-term value, the 4Runner is a Best Resale Value Award winner, with predicted residuals near those of the stellar Jeep Wrangler.
Toyota’s 2017 4Runner SUV is available in six trims: SR5, SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, Limited, and TRD Pro Series. The base SR5 includes Entune Audio Plus with Connected Navigation app and Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth music streaming, rearview camera and an 8-way-power driver's seat. The TRD models, which include 4-wheel drive instead of rear-wheel drive, add water-resistant seat fabric, locking rear differential, and multi-terrain select with crawl control. Limited models add leather-trimmed seats (heated and ventilated in front), dual-zone climate control, a 15-speaker JBL sound system with navigation, moonroof, X-REAS automatic-adjust suspension, and 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
Depending on trim, extras for the Toyota SUV include a 3rd-row seat, 4-wheel drive (4WD), Entune premium audio with navigation, and the helpful sliding rear cargo deck. TRD Off-Road models can be equipped with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which can disconnect the stabilizer bars to allow more axle travel to help conquer tough terrain.
REAR LIFTGATE POWER WINDOW
The Toyota 4Runner SUV for 2017 includes a power-retractable rear window, making it easier to load in gear without having to open the flip-up liftgate. Being able to lower the glass is also handy when dust or mud impedes rearward visibility.
TRD PRO SERIES
With its Bilstein custom off-road shocks, Nitto Terra Grappler tires and additional skidplating, the TRD Pro Series proves it is serious about tackling the most notorious off-road obstacles. For 2017, three new colors are offered: Cement, Barcelona Red and Super White.
Under the Hood
The sole powertrain combination in Toyota’s 4Runner SUV for 2017 is a 270-horsepower V6 mated to a responsive 5-speed automatic transmission. There are three drivetrain choices: 2-wheel drive (2WD) in the SR5 and Limited, part-time 4WD (SR5 and TRD), or full-time 4WD (Limited) with a limited-slip, locking center differential. Towing is a strong point for the 4Runner, with an SAE J2807-compliant rating of 5,000 pounds. A not-so-strong point is fuel economy, with 2WD models returning a combined 19 mpg and 4WD models rated at 18 mpg combined. Thankfully, the Toyota's V6 drinks regular unleaded.
4.0-liter V6 engine
270 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
278 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/22 mpg (2WD), 17/21 mpg (4WD) Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Toyota 4Runner is a durable, 5-passenger body-on-frame SUV that also happens to have a well-earned reputation for reliability, longevity and high resale. On paved roads, the 4Runner’s standard suspension won’t ride or drive as smoothly as will a Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot or Nissan Pathfinder, but you’d be hard-pressed to take any of these competitors over the kind of terrain the 4Runner tackles without fuss. On the flip side, the 4Runner’s stiff ride feels a bit truckish, and it lacks many of today’s modern safety and driver-assist features such as blind-spot monitor, lane-keep assist and forward-collision mitigation. However, if you need your SUV to be more capable off-road than on, a 2017 Toyota 4Runner is probably the perfect fit.