Performance » 7
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
rubbery on-road dynamics
Off-road is where the 4Runner is a stunner.
Up a steep climb to an 8000-foot peak in the California highlands, the 4Runner was unstoppable, scrambling confidently over loose gravel and large roots and even pausing to tow a pinned Toyota pickup out of a tight spot.
Car and Driver
too softly sprung and has shock absorbers too gentle to ensure confidence when driven around town
Handling...proved to be decidedly less accomplished than the competition
With respect to off-roading, the 2013 Toyota 4Runner can be taken at face value; it has every bit of off-road ability that you might expect in sizing up the rugged exterior. What's a complete surprise, given that, is how it feels relatively athletic on the road and easy to drive on the highway.
No matter which model you choose, the 4Runner has no singular purpose. Steering feel and maneuverability are unexpected delights in the 4Runner; at low speeds especially, the 4Runner handles with better precision and control than you might expect from such a big, heavy model, and visibility isn't bad. But you'll be reminded you're in a tall vehicle with soft sidewalls and a safe suspension calibration if you attack corners too quickly.
Under the hood of all 2013 4Runner models is a 4.0-liter V-6 engine, making 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. Whether taking off from a stoplight, climbing a steep trail or driveway, or passing at highway speeds, it feels plenty quick, with the quick-shifting five-speed automatic transmission always on its game.
In Trail grade (the off-road model), the 4Runner includes a host of electronics and systems meant to complement the sturdy off-road hardware. Crawl Control uses electronics to maintain a slow, steady speed when in low range, while a Multi-Terrain Select system allows driver-selectable levels of electronically allowed wheel slip for terrains ranging from soft sand or snow to solid rock. The Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) that's optional in the Trail model uses hydraulics to reduce motions on-road or increase off-road traction and riding comfort, with more wheel travel in that situation.
Limited models get yet a different setup: a so-called X-REAS system with electronically adjusting dampers, geared for flatter cornering and pavement surfaces.
There also are some differences, across models, in how the 4Runner delivers its power to the pavement--or lack thereof. V-6 SR5 models are offered either with rear-wheel drive or a part-time four-wheel-drive system, while Trail models are only offered with that 4WD system. Limited models get a separate full-time four-wheel-drive system that's more road-oriented.
The 2013 4Runner performs remarkably well on the road, even though follows through on every bit of its off-road promise.