2019 Toyota 4Runner Expert Review

3.0 Overall Score
Performance 3.1Comfort 3.1Styling 3.3Value 3.2

Editor's Overview

The 2019 Toyota 4Runner midsize SUV (and it is a proper SUV, not a mere crossover), makes the most of its traditional body-on-frame construction to provide excellent off-road skills as well as decent on-road manners. It can also provide seating for seven. However, those seeking something more genteel and tech-rich might like to check out the Honda Pilot.

You'll Like The 2019 Toyota 4Runner If...

…you’re an adventurer and/or truly live far from the well-trodden paths. The 2019 4Runner offers a third seating row, bringing the occupant count up to seven, and can tow 5,000 pounds.

You May Not Like The 2019 Toyota 4Runner If...

…you’re really seeking comfortable and spacious transport with all-wheel drive and the latest safety features. If so, look at the Honda Pilot or GMC Acadia. Those wanting an inexpensive base vehicle for serious off-roading escapades should check out the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited -- it will be cheaper than the 4Runner by several thousand dollars.

What's New

Changes for the 2019 Toyota 4Runner center on the TRD Pro trim, which receives navigation, an improved JBL audio system, and a revised suspension setup featuring Fox Internal Bypass shock absorbers -- all as standard equipment.

Interior Features

The cabin layout in the 2019 4Runner is simple but effective. Buttons and dials are large and easy to use, even when selecting the low-range gearing. The center console has the option of a 120-volt outlet. The power-adjustable front seats are comfortable and supportive, fine for longer trips, while the reclining 2nd-row seats split and fold in a 40/20/40 configuration for some passenger/cargo versatility. Folding them flat opens up a load area of almost 90 cubic feet. The SR5 and Limited trim levels offer a 3rd-row seat, but that’s more kid-friendly than adult-sized.

Exterior Features

Of all the trim levels available with the 2019 4Runner, the all-wheel-drive TRD Pro looks the most rugged, with a hood scoop, skidplates, chunky tires and raised suspension. Every version has a roof rack as standard. The overall design is essentially a “2-box” approach enlivened somewhat by flared fenders. The front overhang is relatively short, which is good news for off-roaders.

Driving Impressions

A relatively unsophisticated ride quality brings bearable manners on smooth roads and some cushioning over rougher surfaces, but the 2019 4Runner will lean noticeably if a corner is taken with anything like gusto. In general, this body-on-frame setup results in truck-like rather than car-like ride and handling. However, the 270-horsepower V6 is a superb engine, with plenty of muscle for passing, towing and getting up to freeway speeds. Fuel economy, on the other hand, is not its best feature. The 4Runner’s weight and only having five forward gears in its automatic transmission have their impact on this situation. And we’ve found the brake pedal can be tricky to modulate. On challenging terrain, the 4Runner excels, thanks to a fairly narrow body and potential 9.6 inches of ground clearance (with the dedicated off-road suspension).

Pricing Notes

The 2019 Toyota 4Runner range begins with the rear-drive SR5, at a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $34,910 plus a $1,045 destination charge, making $35,955 in total. The TRD Off-Road starts at $39,090, going up to $47,460 for the Pro, and the rear-drive Limited is $44,270. This puts the 4Runner above the Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder, and well above the Kia Sorento. But those candidates are not meant for serious off-roading. Something along more similar lines would be the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, but that starts out less expensive as well.

Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new 4Runner. On a brighter note, the 4Runner is among the top 10 vehicles for resale value according to the KBB 2019 Best Resale Value Awards, falling just behind the Jeep Wrangler, which is a top performer in this respect.

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Then again, maybe I should be thinking about a used car.

Notable Equipment

The 2019 4Runner comes in SR5/SR5 Premium, Limited, and TRD Off-Road/Off-Road Premium/Pro trim levels. The basic SR5 has Entune Audio Plus with the Connected Navigation app and Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth music streaming, and an 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat. The TRD models deploy all-wheel drive (the default is rear-wheel drive), add water-resistant seat fabric, locking rear differential, and multi-terrain selection with crawl control. TRD Pro receives a 15-speaker JBL sound system, navigation, and the Fox suspension. Limited models have 20-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, leather-trimmed seats (heated/ventilated in front), moonroof, and an X-REAS (cross-linked relative absorber system) suspension for better body control.

Notable Options

All-wheel drive is optional in the SR5 and Limited versions, standard in the TRD models. Other extras include the 3rd-row seat and a handy sliding cargo deck, while the off-road specialist TRD versions are also available with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) that can disconnect the stabilizer bars to allow more axle travel and therefore help conquer tougher terrain. The 2019 model year brings a Voodoo Blue paint choice for TRD versions.

Favorite Features

REAR LIFTGATE POWER WINDOW
This feature has a two-fold benefit. It allows stuff to be loaded into the cargo area without opening the entire tailgate. And if rearward vision is hampered by caked-on dust or mud, simply lower the window for a short-term fix.

TRD PRO
This is the serious off-roading version, with shocks from Fox (a well-respected third-party manufacturer), Nitto Terra Grappler all-terrain tires, and extra under-body protection -- the front skidplate is 0.25 of an inch thick.

Under the Hood

Toyota’s midsize SUV is motivated by a strong 4.0-liter V6 generating 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) is standard in the SR5 and Limited versions. A part-time all-wheel drive (AWD) system is fitted to the TRD models, while a full-time AWD setup with a limited-slip locking center differential is offered in the Limited. In all cases, the transmission is a 5-speed automatic; AWD versions have low-range gearing. The 2019 4Runner is rated to tow 5,000 pounds. It’s okay to use regular gasoline, but fuel consumption is relatively poor, with all versions achieving an average of 18 mpg.

4.0-liter V6 engine
270 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
278 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/21 mpg (RWD), 17/20 mpg (AWD)

Editors' Notes

As crossover SUVs become ever more popular, the 2019 Toyota 4Runner SUV looks increasingly like a different breed. It isn’t based on a car platform but uses a body-on-frame construction, putting it in that category known as “old school.” But hey, Harvard is an old school. These places have their advantages. The 4Runner midsize SUV is tough and remarkably capable when tarmac gives way to tougher terrain. Ford Explorer? Nissan Pathfinder? These are just nice names compared with the 4Runner’s affinity for the wild. It also enjoys Toyota’s virtually bombproof reliability. Despite a perfectly acceptable ride quality on paved roads, the 4Runner’s age doesn’t allow it to offer driver-assistance aids like forward-collision mitigation or blind-spot monitoring. Then again, who wants self-braking and audible alerts when negotiating a large boulder?

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