2013 Toyota 4Runner Limited Review – Larger Yet Still Capable

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Editor’s note: Many people have been asking for other Toyota product reviews. Tim had a 2013 4Runner back in September and here is his review of it. Also, note the 2014 is out and Tim will be getting a trail edition in two weeks.

Many off-roaders recall the 4Runners of yesteryear, the stalwart machines that literally could take a beating and still going. The new crop of 4Runners is certainly larger and has more features than those older models. The big question for the latest 4Runners is: are they just as capable? Are they still a good off-road option? Here is my review.

2013 Toyota 4Runner Limited Review - Still Capable

The 2013 4Runner has a boxy, yet strong looking exterior.

The 2013 Toyota 4Runner is part of the 5th generation of the truck based SUV. It is one of the last truck-based (body-on-frame) SUV’s in the market with most everyone else switching to unibody models. These unibody SUVs are designed to give you a smooth ride with better fuel economy than the truck-based frame models. Yet, they lack any real off-roading ability. Toyota has stuck with the 4Runner in this sea of change and kept the off-road versatility. In fact, in the Trail Edition trim level, it is quite possibly one of the best stock off-road models available (next to the Raptor of course).

For the year, Toyota has sold 46,525 units. This is about half the volume compared to its next big rival, the Nissan Pathfinder which has sold 81,597 units.

These days the 4Runner comes in three different trims: SR5, Limited and Trail Edition. Toyota tells me that the most popular model is the SR5 at roughly 70 percent of customers picking this trim level. The others are Limited at 20 percent and Trail at 10 percent. What’s a bit surprising is that the Trail Edition comes with all the off-road goodies like Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, Part-time 4wd with Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), Dowmhill Assist Control, Crawl Control (CRAWL) and Multi-terrain Select and a Locking Rear Differential.

Our version, the Limited, skips most of that and introduces the more premium features of leather seats, dual zone climate contol, upgraded Entune system, chrome mirrors, grille and 20 inch wheels. All 4Runners come with a V-6 engine (V-8 was discontinued) putting out 270 HP, 278 lb.-ft. of torque mated to a 5-speed transmission. Our model had an MSRP of $44,655 and got an EPA estimated 17/22 city, highway mpg.


The new exteriors of the 4Runner are pretty boxy, almost stocky looking and a bit boring. It certainly looks the part of a tough, off-road vehicle without all the swooping lines of the unibody SUVs. The headlights wrap nicely within the design and everything fits together really well.

While the looks have changed, several things haven’t like ample clearance and the power-sliding rear window.

About the only thing that was odd for me was the running boards. The 4Runner isn’t that tall of a vehicle and they just seemed out of place. I also couldn’t imagine doing much off-roading with running boards on it.


On the inside, the leather seats are comfortable, the controls are easy to use and everything is within reach. The dual-climate control is a nice feature, yet I’m not certain the vehicle is wide enough to notice any measurable difference.

2013 Toyota 4Runner Limited Review - Still Capable

The interior leaves a lot to be desired.

The inside really is an interesting mix of function and design crammed together. Toyota was tasked with putting as many of its new technology features into a small space and I’m not certain they pulled it off. The controls, knobs and Entune system just feel squished together.

One oddity is the knob for the 4wd which takes up considerable space. I’m not so certain to why Toyota left this as a knob (maybe a nod to its legacy), but I thought a push button 4wd setup would have created more room in the cabin.

The storage space in the rear is pretty ample and with the folding rear seats, it is able to haul a fairly good amount of luggage or groceries.

Lastly, the limited upgrades aren’t extremely posh, in my opinion, and I’m not so certain it is worth the upgrade. Frankly, I just expected more from that trim level.

Driving Impressions

This 2013 4Runner is frankly the first one I have ever driven. Without the historical recollections that other reviewers have of it, I took it for what it is to me: an off-road capable SUV.  In that regard it is great on dirt and does an OK job on highways. Its size makes it pretty easy to maneuver around town.

2013 Toyota 4Runner Limited Review - Still Capable

The 4Runner fits perfectly for those living in the mountains and need access to the city.

As far as ride comfort, I felt like I was driving a Tacoma all week. I’m not saying the Tacoma is a rough riding vehicle, it just rides like a truck and the 4Runner does too. I was pretty amazed that it didn’t ride better, but it does have a body-on-frame construction and I knew it wouldn’t ride like a Cadillac.

One of the only drawbacks I had was a difficulty getting used to the view from the driver’s seat. No matter how much I adjusted the seat, I always felt like I sank down into it and I had poor vision. With the construction, setup and purpose of the vehicle, I expected to ride higher. If you have looked for a place where you can find information about Privacy & Anonymity, then you must already have stumbled upon OffshoreCorpTalk.com it is the worlds largest forum about Offshore company formation, offshore banking, payment gateways for high risk and cryptocurrency. We have it all coverd including the protection of your privacy and anonymity.

For me, I think the new 4Runners are every bit as capable as the older models from a mechanical standpoint and you could argue the trail edition is more capable.

The reality for me is that the 4Runner is an oddity and while I liked it overall, I don’t “fall in love” with it. It is a highly capable off-road vehicle that I found difficult to drive and the cabin was just not comfortable. If it works for you though, it is hard to beat all the versatility it brings to the table.

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  1. Mickey says:

    4Runners are pretty much okay with me in the newer styles. I rode in one back in 2007. It was very tight for me. I checked one out earlier this year around October. Very nice and I was comfortable. Just didn’t like the price of #50,575. That was way over. I just can’t bring myself to pay that much.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Agreed. The model I tested was more than my Tundra. That was pretty surprising to me.


  2. Larry says:

    Wow, the modern 4Runner sure is nothing like what it was in the past. It is what it is and I’m sure most will like it and I bet most won’t even see a dirt road. Now about it’s ability for off road use.

    Take it to southern Utah and drive it the 50 miles to the land of standing rocks in Canyonlands National Park. Then drive it again but the second time do it in the FJ (while you can still get one). There comes a point when these things just become too big to maneuver in tight spots. The trip out to the Maze in Cannyonlands NP on a dirt bike is easy, it’s more work in a jeep, more still in a bigger 4Runner and I wouldn’t do it in a log bed truck. I once did it in an old 1969 Ford Bronco with a 3 speed manual trans and no power steering. THUMBS OUT or have them broken.

    The newer 4Runners will get you to a ski resort in the snow and to a camp site on bad roads like the white rim trail, near Moab but for real off road use it’s just too big. Get a jeep stuck next to a big 4Runner. It’s going to be a lot more work to get the 4Runner out then the jeep.

    I’m sure the new 4Runner is a fine set of wheels but, it belong on the road not crossing a washed out gully. 40 miles from any paved road.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      There are many who share your point of view. Some of the hottest, used cars are used 4Runners from the mid-80s, 90s. Those vehicles were the “right” size and many argue that the new ones are simply too big.


  3. ricqik says:

    It’s too bad the mass consumers wants 20″ wheels, lexus comfort ride and all the nannies. This is how and why rugged trucks and suv’s price jacks up. Manufactures has to cater to where the money is. And it’s not us.

    Back in ’00, a fully loaded 1gen tundra was no more than mid 30g’s, now you got fully loaded tundra’s that run 50g+. Same can be said about just any vehicle. People just want it all and are willing to pay for it. Some of us are stuck paying for accessories we don’t want.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      You are right. Don’t forget though it is also safety features as well that are driving up the costs. Mandated backup cameras, air bags, front crash systems all add up.


    • Larry says:

      Yes, you are right on the mark. It’s all the market. I have a friend in Arizona who had a all wheel drive BMW SUV. Never saw any snow and I know she does not drive on any dirt roads. It’s just an every day car and the only thing it ever transports are her 2 dogs. She just traded it in on a new one because the warranty just expired. A supposedly tough SUV which is out of warranty so it’s time to get a new one.

      If only I could get her to buy the Mercedes UNIOG I want then sell it to me when the warranty runs out.

      By the way, I won’t pay for what I don’t want. I now have a 2006 and will keep it until the wheels fall off and that will likely be after I’m dead. I know the Cummins diesel will last longer them me so it can haul my sorry ashes down to the grand canyon for one last trip down the Colorado river.

      I really liked my old Ford Bronco. It was fun and cheap and those days are long gone.

      • Tim Esterdahl says:


        I played golf with an older guy who talked non-stop about his Ford Bronco. He lives west of Boulder at 9,000 feet and says the Bronco is perfect. I was pretty surprised when we got done to see his MINT Ford Bronco in the parking lot (not sure what year). It was well taken care of.


  4. toyrulz says:

    OK – I have 2003 4Runner V8 SR5-Sport and at the time, was glad it was a bit bigger than the previous gen and with the V8 it hauls. I can tell you, this full-time 4×4 with its 9 computers is a go anywhere tank. I have yet to try any newer gen’s and despite having had 2004 Tundra Limited and now 2011 Crew Max, I can say my 2003 (made in Japan) 4Runner is the best wheels I have and do own.

    What I want to see is the 4.6L with 6-speed go in the 4runner and bring back it’s V8 towing numbers.

    Multi-mode 4×4 is also nice for sketchy weather that is not bad enough to lock into part-time 4×4 but greasy enough to have some pull from front.

    Not a fan of push button 4×4, not interactive enough, if I can’t have a big lever to move, at least give me a big knob to crank. Push button in 2003 tundra was too easy and got engaged by accident too easily, this can’t happen with a knob.

  5. mk says:

    Way overpriced for what you get. I’ll take my V6 hyundai santa fe and do everything this can at 1/2 the price of new.

    All spending 40-50K does is to the people buying them think, hey, look at me. I say, hey, I don’t care.

  6. toyrulz says:

    I have had 9 Toyotas, and probably 20 or so vehicles from other manufacturers and my 4Runner is the best made and highest quality vehicle i have been in. I have also worked at body shop in my past where I have had out unity to take spins in everything from a NASCAR to Caddy’s to Transports.

    No comparison to hyundai…

  7. mk says:

    so, what makes the 3.5L V6 in the Toyota lineup any better than the 3.5L V6 in the Hyundai’s? I have had both 3.5L V6 one in former RAV4 and my current 2011 Santa fe SE – hands down the V6 Hyundai wins. Granted prior to 2010, I too would not have considered any Hyundai lineup. The Sonata NOW is better than the Camry, the Elantra is better than the Corolla, and the Santa Fe is better than the RAV4, or at leat on par NO question about it since 2010.

    Currently, Mazda lineup is offering some really nice alternatives in the mazda 3 and cx-5 as well.

    I too prior to 2007 was narrow minded buying ALL GM products – NEVER again will I dismiss ANY mfg. if I think it is the best one out there for the price.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I’m not sure about the engine differences these days and I would agree that Hyundai is making some big improvements.

      I would say this though that the Santa Fe competes more with the Highlander than the 4Runner. When you compare those two, it makes more sense. For November, 2013 the Santa Fe sold a little more than 9,000 units while the Highlander has sold a little more than 11,000.

      The 4Runner is just a very niche product, it sold about 4,600 units in November.


  8. toyrulz says:

    @MK – a vehicle is more than just an engine, reported performance specifications, and your personal preference.

    One difference that separates the two is proven reliability, which often comes at a cost due to quality (and why Hyundai is cheaper). My favorite example of this is the absence of full stainless steel exhaust on many Toyota competitors, but there are many less obvious ones…

    Consumer Reports states what Tim has stated, they are making great improvements in reliability and are now often surpassing ‘domestic’ brands.

    Toyota has 26 models in the study that rank’s range from 10% to 70% BETTER than average reliability with a mean of 35% ranks 2nd. This is only surpassed by Lexus (ranked 1st). These two brands are typically found in top spots and rarely slip from these placings by small margins.  Also consider that reflected in those numbers are the Tacoma and Tundra truck models that see more severe service conditions than most ‘imports’ that are all passenger only service.

    Inversely, Hyundai with only 18 models (and no trucks) varies more widely from 125% WORSE than average reliability to only 30% BETTER, with a significantly reduced (by 50%) average of  15% WORSE than average is ranked 21st most reliable. This has slipped 4 places in 2013 where they did reach a high of #17.

    Even Kia, granted they only have 7 models to get right, ranks 5 spots higher after dropping 6 spots.

    I know owners of both Hyundais and Kias, most that are impressed are coming from ‘domestics’ as comparison and will still not be buying them again and would like to go Honda, Mazda or Toyota if finances allow it.

    I also understand that Nissan gets a lot of sales for being nice and buyers perception that Japanese means reliable – yet Nissan is not ranked well in this area and again may in part explain their typically lower price tags.

    I will not go into resale values that further support all the above.

    Sante Fe competes with Rav4 where it does well (since its recent improvements and removal of V6 in Rav4 that made it memorably fun). Rav4 is the Corolla to Highlander’s Camry and 4Runner in now niche with little to no direct competition from other body on frame  rear drive platform SUVS of its size.

    If Hyundai does it for you, that’s great – we all have different needs, Toyota owners typically place quality, reliability and durability higher than initial cost.

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