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FEATURES | 9 out of 10
offers a three-row option with room for seven
The Trail’s subsequent lofty price—it starts at $36,500—might put it out of reach for buyers who pine for the more serious dirt lovers such as the Jeep Wrangler and Nissan Xterra.
Car and Driver
Cupholders feature a grippy rubber insert that keeps large beverages firmly anchored.
What this Party Mode button does to the function of the vehicle is completely irrelevant (increases bass, and transfers output to the speakers mounted in the rear hatch), but what it adds to the character of the car is monumental.
a sliding cargo deck that doubles as a tailgate tray
Over the years, this true off-roader has learned a thing or two about convenience and luxury, although it's still aimed at utilitarian tasks more than coddling its passengers. And you'll pay for the capability, with prices starting north of $32,000.
In most ways, the 4Runner is equipped like Toyota's Tacoma and Tundra pickup trucks, down to the trim levels: SR5, Trail, TRD Pro Series, and Limited. Even base SR5 4Runners get a comprehensive package of standard features including power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; a rearview camera; and air conditioning.
Those off-road purists who also sometimes need to haul the family will want the pricier Trail model, while the Limited model appeals to those who want a level of conveniences--if not outright luxury--on par with a Land Rover. And the new TRD Pro Series model is aimed at the extreme off-road crowd; it's the only way to get all-terrain tires on a 4Runner, which are a must when doing anything but light off-roading.
Limited models are priced in Lexus territory, very near to the Lexus GX 460 that shares its chassis with the 4Runner, and add 15-speaker JBL premium sound, HD Radio with iTunes tagging, and navigation; last year's "Party Mode" that biased output to the rear tailgate speakers has been deleted since the new audio system has a better balance feature.
The Trail comes in five-passenger trim; both the SR5 and Limited can be ordered with two small rear seats, for a total of seven passenger spots.
All versions now get a basic audio system with Entune Audio Plus, a sound/connectivity package that includes satellite radio, a USB port, iPod connectivity, and Bluetooth audio streaming, as well as smartphone-driven connections to Pandora, Bing, and other mobile apps.
Other desirable options include sonar-based rear parking sensors and a subscription-based Safety Connect telematics system.
The 4Runner puts luxury features in the background, and elevates off-road gear--as it should.