Large, rugged, truck-based SUVs are giving way to smaller, more fuel-efficient crossovers -- except for the 2013 Toyota 4Runner. It is good to see the 4Runner is still a traditional, midsize, heavy-duty sport utility vehicle perfect for the nonconforming consumer.
Exterior styling is straightforward and familiar. Three trim levels are available for 2013: SR5, Trail and Limited. When standing next to a compact or downsized SUV, the 4Runner easily wins the size race thanks to its larger profile and muscular fenders and quarter panels.
The straightforward flavor of the 2013 4Runner extends to the interior. Big control knobs are clearly labeled throughout the dash, while the Optitron illuminated gauges in the Trail and Limited trim levels are a huge plus. Some of the plastic interior trim pieces feel cheap, but overall there is a feeling of high quality thanks to great fit and finish.
For the driver and front passenger, the seats are mounted high for great forward viewing, while the second- and third-row seats are slightly lower. The rear bench, which is only found in the SR5 or Limited trims, is tight and really meant for kids only.
With the third-row seat up, there are only 9 cu ft of cargo space in the back. With the seat down, the 2013 4Runner has a healthy 46.3 cu ft. If more space is needed, the second row has the ability to fold flat and open up almost 90 cu ft.
The star of the 4Runner's interior isn't the space but Toyota's Entune infotainment interface and all the available apps you can program using the crystal-clear 6.1-inch touchscreen. The navigation system isn't hard-drive based -- meaning no internal storage for your music -- but you can stream music from your phone via Bluetooth. The Entune system is standard on the Limited 4Runner, but it is optional on the SR5 and Trail models.
One engine is available on the 2013 4Runner: a 4-liter V6 that produces 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. Power is adequate, but some may wish for a V8 option for greater towing capacity than the current 5,000 pounds on the previous-generation 4Runner.
Rear-wheel drive is standard on the SR5, while a part-time 4-wheel drive is optional. The Trail trim comes standard with the same part-time system, but the Limited comes standard with a full-time 4-wheel drive. All trims come with a 5-speed automatic transmission.
The mileage is mediocre but on par for a SUV at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway with the rear-wheel-drive SR5 model. Both the Trail and Limited trims have slightly lower mpg.
The base SR5 comes in at over $30,000 before options. The Trail trim runs over $37,000 for starters, but with extras it quickly tops $40,000, which is knocking on the door of what you'll pay for the 4-wheel-drive Limited without options. All 4Runners come with a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty that covers the drivetrain.
The 2013 Toyota 4Runner may be one of the last conventional SUVs that stays faithful to the original recipe: big, brawny and able to go anywhere in any weather. The price of admission is high, and the fuel economy isn't worth bragging about, but if a crossover or compact SUV can't meet your needs, the 2013 4Runner might be the best choice.