2005 4Runner New Car Test Drive
The Toyota 4Runner is a thoroughly modern but traditional sport utility. It excels at off-road capability. If your weekend involves driving over rugged terrain, this is an excellent choice. Yet it's smooth and quiet and highly sophisticated in terms of technology and features.
The 2005 Toyota 4Runner models offer more responsive performance than last year's models, whether you get the standard V6 or optional V8. The V8 benefits from a more sophisticated variable-valve setup with drive-by-wire, boosting its output to 270 horsepower, substantially more than last year's 235. Last year, the only good reason to opt for the V8 was to pull a trailer, but this year's V8 is a much more compelling upgrade, delivering strong, responsive acceleration performance out on the highway. With its 330 pound-feet of torque 4Runner 4x4 V8 is rated to tow up to 7,000 pounds.
The V6 gets enhanced response from a five-speed automatic transmission that replaces last year's four-speed automatic. (The V8 continues to come with the five-speed automatic as well.) More gears means better response for any given situation. Last year's model performed very well with the V6 and four-speed automatic, and it was our preference, but the new five-speed is a better match and offers smooth shifting and sophisticated features, including Artificial Intelligence.
The 4Runner is the real deal, ready to tackle truly rugged terrain. This is no car-based crossover station wagon deal. It's built on a rugged ladder frame with a solid rear axle. While some consider this design dated when compared to the latest SUVs with unibody construction and independent rear suspensions, Toyota believes the traditional package offers better recreational capability and long-term durability in working-truck conditions. Still, it doesn't ride like a buckboard wagon. Toyota engineers went to great pains to prove that this durable, adventurous configuration need not compromise everyday comfort and convenience. The 4Runner is quite comfortable around town and on the highway with a nice ride quality. But hit the dirt, and it's loaded with the latest off-road electronic technology, including Hill Start Assist and Downhill Assist Control. An optional linked shock-absorber system improves handling on the highway. Completely redesigned for 2003, the 4Runner represents Toyota's best effort at delivering outstanding off-road capability with high levels of comfort and convenience for everyday use.
Inside it's roomy and comfortable. An optional third-row seat expands the passenger capacity to seven, but the seat can be folded over or removed for cargo space. The 4Runner comes standard with running boards and more upscale body-colored bumpers and lower body cladding. The optional GPS navigation system includes a rear-mounted video camera, useful for checking behind the vehicle before backing up.
While the 4Runner may seem old school to people who want an all-weather sport touring vehicle, it's the hot ticket for outdoor enthusiasts for its ability to deal with primitive roads, beat-up two-tracks or serious mud or sand. Yet it won't punish its owner in everyday use.
The 2005 Toyota 4Runner comes in three trim levels: SR5, Sport Edition, and Limited. Toyota offers buyers maximum flexibility by offering all three with either the V6 or V8 ($1,250) and two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
The 4Runner SR5 V6 4x2 ($27,495) and SR5 V6 4x4 ($29,770) come standard with automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, skid plates to protect the underbody, 16-inch alloy wheels, black running boards, chrome grille, and body-colored bumpers, fender flares and lower cladding. The SR5 V8 4x4 ($31,220) replaces selectable 2WD/4WD with full-time all-wheel-drive. A Class III receiver hitch with seven-pin electric connection is standard on all models and mounted to the rear frame crossmember.
The Sport Edition comes with X-REAS shock damping, a clever yet simple hydraulic system that improves stability and handling in sweeping turns. The 4Runner Sport Edition V6 4x2 ($28,765) and 4X4 ($31,040) are distinguished by a hood scoop, fog lamps, a color-keyed grille, black running boards and silver-painted roof rails and crossbars, color-keyed outside mirrors, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Sport models get slightly larger brake rotors, and weigh slightly more than the SR5. They come with a special cloth interior.
The Limited V6 4X2 ($33,770) and 4x4 ($36,045) are upgraded with leather trim and heated power front seats. For 2005, the Limited grade is differentiated with color-keyed front and rear bumpers, black illuminated running boards and black roof rails and crossbars. It comes with a premium JBL stereo with 10 speakers, rear seat audio controls, remote control and headphones. The top of the line is the Limited V8 4x4 ($37,495).
Options include the third-row seat ($735), a power moonroof ($900). A slick GPS navigation system, packaged with the new rear-view video camera ($2,695), is available only on the 4Runner Limited.
Safety features include ABS and Vehicle Skid Control (VSC) to help the driver maintain control in adverse conditions. 2WD models come with traction control, which reduces tire slippage for enhanced stability under acceleration. 4WD models are equipped with active traction control (A-TRAC), which uses sensors and software to deliver smoother power application in all conditions.
Passive safety features include dual-stage front airbags, which have been upgraded for 2005, and three-point seat belts at all positions, with pretensioners and force limiters to reduce the chance of belt-related injuries. Front side-impact airbags and curtain-style head protection airbags for front and rear passengers are optional and are equipped with a rollover-sensing system and a cutoff switch. All models come with a tire pressure monitor.