The Toyota 4Runner is not for the average SUV buyer, but for those with a more adventurous spirit. 4Runner is built on a rugged on-body frame that is designed for serious off-road adventures. It’s built for tough and rough use in the most demanding terrain. This week, we’re testing a 2013 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4X4 with a V6 engine. This tester may be too nice for serious off-roading as it comes equipped with a cushy interior and extra luxury features.
The 2013 Toyota 4Runner returns with no significant changes for the 2013 model year. This Limited 4WD 4Runner includes a full-time multi-mode four-wheel-drive system where the Trail Edition and SR5 4WD use a part-time four-wheel-drive system more suited to off-road pursuits. Limited comes loaded with all the goodies to make trail-running very comfortable.
4Runner Limited 4WD ($41,030) is the top model in the 4Runner lineup and upgrades from cloth seats to leather upholstery in the first and second rows. It also comes with dual-zone automatic air conditioning, chrome exterior trim, push-button start, heated front seats, leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio and telephone controls, X-REAS Sport Enhancement Suspension, and 245/60R20 Mud and Snow tires on 20-inch alloy wheels.
Limited’s standard touch-screen navigation/audio system includes all the features of the standard SR5/Trail Edition audio setup, plus WMA playback, HD Radio with iTunes Tagging, auxiliary audio jack, Toyota Entune, and integrated rear-view camera display. This Limited tester came with the optional Voice-activated touch-screen DVD Navigation system ($1,155).
Why choose the Toyota 4Runner?
It’s really very simple, 4Runner offers something that other SUVs don’t have. It has the ability to take its owner and occupants off-road where the competitors would get stuck. 4Runner has always been built on a truck-like frame and it stays true to its rugged roots. This Limited model is a bit milder with its full-time multi-mode four-wheel-drive system that is well-suited for most adventures. But for those serious trail-blazers, 4Runner Trail Edition is available.
Inside the 4Runner Limited, its more about comfort than bare bones utility. The flawless heated leather seats have eight-way power adjustability. The leather seating on our Limited tester were extremely comfortable and looked like it came from a more expensive luxury sedan. In the back, second row seats fold flat o maximize interior cargo area for extra utility.
One cool feature that the Toyota 4Runner has that other SUVs don’t, is the rear hatch comes with a power window that can be controlled from an interior switch. The driver can lower the window to let air flow through which is great for hauling dogs in the rear cargo area. It works as a great ventilation system when hauling smelling soccer gear or wet clothes after a weekend camping trip.
4Runner will handle extreme conditions
Out on the road, Limited’s full-time 4WD system is ideal for dad weather. We tested it out in the Colorado mountains in fresh snow. The system shifts torque between wheels as the vehicle hits snow or icy spots in the road. This Limited tester tracked through snow and ice cleanly without slipping even through the icy corners. This system is designed for those who don’t want to worry about shifting in and out of 4WD. Limited models get a dial-actuated full-time system that is always on, ready for changing road conditions or inclement weather. The system automatically apportions power to the tires with the best grip. Its perfect for families who live in the mountains or cold climates where conditions may vary.
On the highway, the 4.0-liter V6 engine had plenty of power for high speed passes and entering the onramp. Hit the accelerator and the 4Runner five-speed automatic kicks down two gears making it easy to pass slower traffic and pull steep grades. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city and 21 mpg highway with 4WD. We were able to average up to 20.1 after a day on the highway.
The 4Runner Limited comes with 20-inch wheels and lower-profile tires giving it a more sophisticated look. It also benefits from what Toyota calls a X-REAS suspension setup. The suspension helps damp out pitch and roll, and it works to limit body roll in the corners. But it can create a choppy ride for those in the rear. But It shines on twisty and winding mountain roads. If you are looking for a cushy ride, you need to look elsewhere, 4Runner is designed for more rugged use.
This tester came with a tow hitch receiver and is designed with a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, which is ideal for recreational use and pulling small boats, ATVs, snowmobiles and motorcycles to the mountains on the weekends.
For those wanting a multi-purpose rugged SUV, 4Runner is an ideal vehicle for commuting during the week, transporting the kids to sports activities and recreational use on the weekends. It will handle off-road activities that would destroy a car-based crossover SUV. For those wanting more luxury, Limited is the ticket. If you don’t want leather with all the extra’s, SR5 and Trail Edition are good options for more rugged recreational off-road use.