2006 4Runner New Car Test Drive
The Toyota 4Runner has been face lifted for 2006, and now comes with more luxury and convenience equipment than ever before. But it's still the real deal, a traditional sport utility built on a truck chassis, thoroughly capable on truly rugged terrain.
The 4Runner is no car-based crossover station wagon. 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 or CUVs, which use unit body construction and independent rear suspensions, the 4Runner's more traditional design offers better recreational capability and long-term durability.
Yet the 4Runner does not 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, almost luxurious. An optional linked shock-absorber system called X-REAS further improves handling in sweeping, high-speed turns. Active safety features include ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, traction control, and electronic stability control, all standard.
Though the basic design may be relatively traditional, the 4Runner features the latest in off-road electronic technology, including Hill Start Assist and Downhill Assist Control. Having the 4Runner walk you down a steep, muddy incline with both feet off the pedals is an impressive display of technology and engineering. Both full and part-time four-wheel drive is available, but even the full-time system comes with a locking function for when the going gets sloppy. Add that stuff to its highly capable suspension, and the 4Runner will go just about anywhere any other production vehicle will go.
Whether you choose the standard V6 or the newly revised V8, the 4Runner offers responsive performance. The V8 boosts the 4Runner's tow rating to 7,300 pounds. Both engines benefit from a sophisticated variable-valve setup and drive-by-wire throttle, delivering strong, responsive acceleration out on the highway; the V8 was revised for 2005 for vastly improved performance. Both engines also benefit from a five-speed automatic transmission.
The 4Runner is noted for its quality construction, durability and reliability. Look up QDR in the automotive dictionary and you might see a picture of a Toyota 4Runner.
Inside, the 4Runner is roomy and comfortable. An optional third-row seat expands the passenger capacity to seven, but the seat can be folded or removed for cargo space. The optional GPS navigation system includes a rear-mounted video camera that lets the driver back to within an inch of the vehicle behind when parallel parking and can help the driver spot a small child before backing up. The navigation system on 2006 models features voice activation. Bluetooth technology has been added for 2006 as well, and a factory-installed rear-seat DVD entertainment system is now available.
For 2006, the appearance of the 4Runner has been revised. Grille, bumpers, and light clusters are re-styled for '06, as are the overfenders and lower body cladding. New trim provides more visual distinction among the SR5, Sport Edition, and Limited grades. For 2006, the 4Runner benefits from upgraded upholstery and more features.
While it may seem old-school to people who want an all-weather sport touring vehicle, the 4Runner is the hot setup for outdoor enthusiasts for its ability to carry them and their gear down primitive roads, rough two-tracks, serious mud or sand, and rugged terrain. Yet it won't punish its owner in everyday use. It's smooth and quiet and highly sophisticated in terms of technology and features. If your weekend involves driving over rugged terrain, the 4Runner is an excellent choice.
The 2006 Toyota 4Runner comes in three trim levels: SR5, Sport Edition, and Limited. Each is available with the V6 or V8, and with two-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD). A Class III receiver hitch with seven-pin electric connection is standard on V8 models and optional on V6s; it mounts directly to the rear frame crossmember.
The SR5 V6 2WD ($27,635) and 4WD ($29,910) come standard with automatic climate control; cruise control; six-speaker AM/FM/casette/CD/MP3 stereo; remote keyless entry; skid plates to protect the underbody; integrated fog lamps; 16-inch alloy wheels; black running boards; chrome grille; and body-colored bumpers, fender flares and lower cladding. The SR5 V8 2WD ($29,650) is similarly equipped, and the 4WD V8 ($31,925) adds power adjustable front seats.
The Sport Edition V6 2WD ($29,975) and 4WD ($32,250) add unique cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-telescope steering wheel with integrated cruise and audio controls, a leather-wrapped shift knob, power heated outside mirrors, X-REAS Sport Enhancement Suspension, bigger brake rotors, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Externally, the Sport Editions are distinguished by a hood scoop, smoked-chrome grille and headlight bezels, graphite-painted roof rails with black crossrails, and tubular side steps. The Sport Edition V8 2WD ($31,355) and 4WD $33,630) are similarly equipped.
The Limited V6 2WD ($34,350) and 4WD ($36,625) come with leather upholstery, heat and memory functions for the front seats, black wood-grain-style interior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, premium stereo with six-CD changer, HomeLink, auto-dimming inside mirror, engine immobilizer, automatic headlamps, a cargo-handling system, and 18-inch aluminum wheels. The grille is color-keyed and the running boards are illuminated. Limited V8 2WD ($36,110) and 4WD ($38,385) list the same standard equipment. Limited models ride on the standard suspension, but can be ordered with the X-REAS suspension ($450); V8 models can add pneumatic self-leveling ($950).
A third-row seat is available for the 4Runner in a limited number of package combinations.
A GPS navigation system with a rearview video camera is optional on all 2006 models ($2,420-$2,840). A power moonroof ($900) and a new rear-seat DVD player ($1,580) with wireless headphones is available for all models. Some Limited-level luxuries are offered as stand-alone options for SR5 and Sport Edition.
All 4Runners come with Toyota's Star Safety System, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), traction control, anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. All models also feature a Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) while 4WD units add Downhill Assist Control (DAC).
Passive safety features include dual-stage front airbags; 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 ($650-$680) on all 4Runners and are equipped with a rollover-sensing system and a cutoff switch. All models come with a tire pressure monitor.