Flash Drive: 2008 Toyota 4Runner
Staffers at MSN Autos take a quick spin in the spirited Toyota 4Runner.
The Toyota 4Runner is a solid off-road machine with enough refinement to use as a daily driver. The sport ute we tested was the Urban Runner, which is outfitted with a removable navigation device, stylish Alcantara seats, cool side steps and matching roof rails. The engine is smooth and docile during city driving, but strong enough to tow 7000 pounds with the V8 power plant. The hill-start and downhill assist functions allow a driver to reach any destination with confidence. And while a small third-row seat would have been a plus, the 4Runner has plenty of room for five adults and their luggage. If you are looking for an SUV that can do it all with panache, the 4Runner is for you. -Joe Chulick
One of the original sport-utility vehicles, the Toyota 4Runner continues to offer true off-road ability with a traditional body-on-frame design, 2-speed transfer case and high ground clearance. But Toyota has added luxury and refinement over the years, and something has been lost in translation. The 4Runner once was one of the tightest and most responsive SUVs, but its suspension is now soft and the steering is numb, with no direct connection between the steering wheel and what the vehicle is doing. The 4Runner is narrow, which is a good attribute for off-road but makes the interior tight compared with the many competitors now in the market. The window switches are located low on the driver's door, below the armrest, making them difficult to reach. The 4.0-liter V6 delivers adequate power, but mileage is not great at 16 city/20 highway with 4-wheel drive. The removable TomTom navigation system is a fun option. -Mike Meredith
One of the first sport-utility vehicles on the market when the term was coined, the 4Runner is now in its fourth generation and is a far cry from that original truck-based model. While it still features a truck's chassis, Toyota has turned the 4Runner into a vehicle that can be driven every day without the jarring experience of a truck. It's true that most drivers will never utilize its capabilities, but the 4Runner has all the equipment to handle some of the world's toughest terrain. However, most will like it for the comfortable seats, roomy cargo space, impressive towing ability and surprising fuel economy — I averaged 18.5 mpg, not bad for a large, truck-based SUV. It's worth noting that the trip computer registered 19.7 mpg, but after fill-up the calculation showed the lower number. An interesting feature: Rather than a typical factory navigation system, the 4Runner had a TomTom portable navigation system that integrated into the sound system. -Perry Stern