2008 Toyota 4Runner Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
September 5, 2008

The 2008 Toyota 4Runner isn’t as roomy or as efficient as newer crossover designs, but if you need towing or off-road capabilities, it’s a good, safe choice.

To produce the most comprehensive review on the 2008 Toyota 4Runner, the experts at TheCarConnection.com turned to a number of well-known review sources. To help make sense of the 4Runner and how it compares to its rivals, TheCarConnection.com’s editors added their own firsthand experience with this vehicle.

The 2008 Toyota 4Runner is a truck-based mid-size sport-utility model. A perennially popular off-roader, the 2008 Toyota 4Runner is offered in both two- and four-wheel-drive layouts, and in SR5, Sport, or Limited trim levels.

The standard 2008 Toyota 4Runner engine is a 236-horsepower 4.0-liter V-6 with variable valve timing (VVTi). A 4.7-liter V-8, also equipped with VVTi and 260 horsepower, is optional. Both engines are mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox, and both deliver satisfying acceleration, though the V-6 is a bit noisier than the especially smooth, refined V-8. Beware that fuel economy is significantly lower with the V-8; it’s rated at 14 mpg city, 17 mpg highway with 4WD.

Four-wheel-drive models of the 2008 Toyota 4Runner come with a series of electronic aids that help off-road performance, including Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), for moving from a standstill on a slippery slope, and Down-hill Assist Control (DAC), for moderating speed in downhill off-road situations.

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The current 4Runner was last redesigned for 2003, and its profile—upright, with prominently flared wheel wells bearing off-road styling cues—has held up quite well. Inside, the 4Runner has a simple, clean layout compared to other mid-size SUVs, although the materials used feel skimpy when you consider that prices can go way past $40,000. A third-row seat is available throughout the 2008 Toyota 4Runner line, but as one of the smallest designs, it doesn’t leave much room for cargo or stow away neatly. Otherwise, seating in the first and second rows is adequate, but the interior feels tighter than its outside dimensions might suggest.

Although the 2008 Toyota 4Runner lacks the ride quality of modern carlike crossover designs, it has quite responsive steering and handles well for such a tall vehicle, while the interior is relatively quiet.

Base SR5 models of the 2008 Toyota 4Runner come quite well equipped, with standard keyless entry, cruise control, automatic climate control, and an overhead console. SR5 Sport models get an enhanced suspension, plus steering-wheel audio controls and various appearance upgrades. Top Limited models focus on adding interior conveniences, including leather heated seats, dual-zone climate control, a premium sound system, and a 115-volt AC power outlet. Top options include a 10-speaker JBL sound system, a navigation system, a Bluetooth hands-free interface, a power moonroof, and a variety of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) performance accessories.

Standard safety equipment on the 2008 Toyota 4Runner includes anti-lock brakes with brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, hill descent control, vehicle skid control, and traction control. An automatic limited slip differential (LSD) is standard on 2WD models for improved traction in slippery conditions.

Side and curtain airbags are newly available on all models for 2008; other standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. The 2008 Toyota 4Runner does quite well in crash tests, with four stars in the federal frontal test and a commendable five stars for side impact. The typically tougher insurance-affiliated IIHS tests award top "good" results in both frontal and side impact, though the 4Runner gets "poor" results in the IIHS rear-impact test.

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