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Overview (Final Score: C)

The Toyota 4Runner is a traditional body-on-frame sport utility, which has its appeal and drawbacks. Among modern crossovers and SUVs, the 4Runner stacks up differently depending on its trim point and purpose. As a truck with extra seats and an all-terrain vehicle, the 4Runner shines. But as a daily driver and family hauler, not so much.

The 2017 Toyota 4Runner carries over largely unchanged from the 2016 model. A couple of trim point name changes – the Trail and Trail Premium are now the TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium, respectively – are about all that’s new this year.

There are six trim levels for the 2017 4Runner, starting with the base model SR5 and moving up to the TRD Pro and Limited models. They all use the same engine and transmission, and can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Two of the trim points are available as rear-wheel drive SUVs, while all others are four-wheel drive only. Seating for up to seven is available in some trim points.

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This year we were lucky enough to test both the 2017 Toyota 4Runner Limited model, as well as the 2017 Toyota 4Runner Off-Road Premium model. We also spent brief amounts of time in the TRD Pro and SR5 Premium models.

We learned that there are few options as astute off the road as the 4Runner, but for daily commuting, road tripping and family hauling, the 4Runner leaves a lot to be desired.

What We Love About the 2017 Toyota 4Runner:

  • Very good looking as a truck-based SUV
  • Strong off-pavement capability in most trims
  • Excellent cargo space in a highly useful package

 

What We Don’t Love About the 2017 Toyota 4Runner:

  • Very low fuel economy for the segment
  • Some trims have questionable value returns
  • Reliability and technology are subpar

 

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Performance (8/10)

Under the 2017 Toyota 4Runner’s hood is a well-done 4.0-liter V6 that outputs 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment. Some models feature four-wheel drive as either an option or as standard, while others have four-wheel drive with a low-geared transfer case for more powerful digging.

We would like to see a better transmission offered for the 4Runner, as much of what’s likely holding it back is that five-speed auto. Fuel economy can be almost directly blamed on it and most of the noise heard in the cabin, while driving comes from it as well. Acceleration is also spongy thanks to that transmission’s limited shift options.

On the road the 2017 4Runner is not very comfortable compared to most of its contemporaries. The ride is a bit spongy, the power delivery from the drivetrain is sluggish, and the road noise is relatively high. Some of these improve with some trim points, with the ride improving a bit with the Limited trim and the road noise lowering in non-offroad-centric models like the SR5s and Limited.

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Off the road the story is very different. The off-pavement ready models with the TRD designation are all very astute in the dirt and on hills. The TRD Pro model is the best of these, with its greatly upgraded rock climbing gear and prowess. The SR5 4×4 models offer good bang for the buck if occasional weekending through rough terrain are your thing, but the SR5, SR5 Premium and Limited models all suffer from a lack of grip when one wheel comes off the ground.

Most of our performance measure here is with off-pavement activity, as that’s what the 4Runner is primarily designed for. And for that we give this SUV some high props for its capability off the shelf.

Pricing and Value (8/10)

The value proposition of the 2017 4Runner will depending largely on the purpose the buyer has for it and which trim point is chosen. The 4Runner has an above average resale value in its favor, but low fuel economy and poor daily use performance hamper it.

We recommend the base model SR5 or SR5 Premium for their low cost of entry and good return as off-road-ready machines that don’t have many frills. The TRD Off-Road Premium is also a good value for the serious off-roader who wants a comfortable ride and plenty of amenities as part of the bargain. We recommend shying away from the Limited trim for its high cost and low return.

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Total Score and Competitive Comparison (61/80, 76%)

For comparative off-road credibility, the 2017 Toyota 4Runner should be compared to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia. But the 4Runner is not as family friendly or comfortable on the road as the others. That said, the 4Runner is the only truck-based sport utility and its ride height and ground clearance are superior for that.

Other competitors in the crossover realm are plentiful, including the Toyota Highlander and the Dodge Durango. Both are far better family haulers than the 4Runner, but neither can compare for off-pavement capability.

The 2017 Toyota 4Runner is a strong off-road performer with a good value proposition in the trim levels geared toward that end. It sacrifices fuel economy and ergonomics for it though, which may not be what some buyers want.

Read the FULL REVIEW Now to get expert tips on the 2017 4Runner’s safety, reliability, fuel economy, interior, exterior, technology and more.

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