The 4Runner is a great choice, especially in Trail trim, if you really need the off-road ability front and center, while all else follows in priority.
With the available KDSS system, the 4Runner won’t rattle you as much as a Pathfinder or Grand Cherokee, while still offering as much ability for most types of off-roading.
The new Jeep Grand Cherokee might just have the 4Runner beat in many respects; the Jeep is more refined and comfortable on the road than the 4Runner, yet there's nothing quite like the completely off-road-focused Trail model in the Grand Cherokee lineup.
The 4Runner also maneuvers and rides a bit better than the Pathfinder, and it has a far better interior than the Nissan.
The Ford Explorer was all-new last year and is now built on more carlike underpinnings; it might provide adequate off-road capability for those who occasionally take to the trail, and with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine on the way, should be a much more fuel-efficient choice.
Yet another alternative is the 4Runner's cousin, the Lexus GX 460.
While sharing the same underpinnings, the GX 460 is a luxury SUV of the sort that was popular earlier last decade, with running boards and a V-8 engine.
And it doesn't cost much more than a loaded 4Runner Trail.
But with a complicated power-folding third-row seat that takes up cargo space, and a side-opening hatch (the wrong side), there's really no reason to hit the Lexus showroom.
|2012 Toyota 4RunnerBrowse Used Listings||2012 Ford ExplorerBrowse Used Listings||2012 Jeep Grand CherokeeBrowse Used Listings||2012 Lexus GX 460Browse Used Listings||2012 Nissan PathfinderBrowse Used Listings|
|17 MPG City / 23 MPG Hwy||17 MPG City / 25 MPG Hwy||12 MPG City / 23 MPG Hwy||15 MPG City / 20 MPG Hwy||13 MPG City / 22 MPG Hwy|
|Gas V6||Gas V6||Gas/Ethanol V6||Gas V8||Gas V6|
|Sport Utility Vehicle 2WD||Sport Utility Vehicle - 2WD||2WD Sport Utility Vehicle||4WD Sport Utility Vehicle||2WD Sport Utility|
|RWD 4-Door V6 SR5 (Natl)||FWD 4-Door Base||RWD 4-Door Laredo Altitude||4WD 4-Door||2WD 4-Door V6 S|
|Rear Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Rear Wheel Drive||4-Wheel Drive||Rear Wheel Drive|
|Sport Utility Vehicle||Sport Utility Vehicle||Sport Utility Vehicle||4-Door SUV||Sport Utility|
|Automatic w/Manual Shift||Automatic w/manual shift||Automatic||Automatic||Automatic|