2013 Toyota 4Runner: Rugged and refined

For 2012 the venerable Toyota 4runner continues on with its macho, chunky looks. It is largely unchanged for this model year and continues to be a popular seller. The last redesign still looks fresh and contemporary with lots of interesting details on the exterior. The 4Runner uses a 4.0-litre V6 engine with five-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. The base model is a five-passenger, but the SR5 Upgrade and Limited models add a third row for seven-passenger seating.

Standard features on the SR5 include 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, front sport fabric bucket seats with driver’s power adjustment, 40/20/40 split-folding slide and recline rear seats, keyless entry, compass, exterior temperature gauge, trip computer, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, auto up/down windows, power rear hatch window, rear privacy glass, leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic steering wheel, floor mats, cruise control, driver and passenger knee airbags, active front head restraints, downhill assist control, hill start assist, front tow hook, heated mirrors, rear step bumper, roof rails, front and rear splash guards, towing hitch with four-pin trailer wire harness, variable intermittent wipers with de-icer, intermittent rear wiper, and fog lamps.

The Upgrade Package offers three-row seating, steering wheel audio controls, Bluetooth connectivity, XM satellite radio, USB audio input, power sunroof, anti-theft alarm, auto dimming rearview mirror with integrated backup camera, and heated leather seats.

If you opt for the Trail Edition one deletes the leather seats for water repellent fabric seats, but you gain more off road goodies including the kinetic suspension system, crawl control, multiterrain select, multi-terrain ABS, skid plates, hood scoop, roof rack, unique grille and wheels, matte black bumpers and handles, sliding cargo tray, 120-volt outlets and cargo net. The top dog Limited edition adds 20-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, Smart Key with push button start, sport suspension, six-CD JBL audio system, power passenger seat, third-row seating, mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lamps, Optitron gauges, automatic headlamps, chrome accents, 120-volt outlets, underbody spoilers, navigation system, backup camera, XM Real Time Traffic and four-CD changer.

The 4Runner interior is neat and business- like with a roomy cabin front and rear. High quality materials and workmanship and comfortable seats are a feature and there are lots of nooks and crannies to stash items Flip the rear bench and its seatbacks, and 2,540 litres of cargo space opens up meanwhile the optional third row of seating is handy for kids or nimble smaller adults.Towing capacity is rated at 2,268 kgs. Ergonomics are good, with big round knobs for audio

system and HVAC that can be operated with gloves on- much needed in cold parts of our country. Visibility is good and our tester featured a small rear camera screen on the rear view mirror. A slew of goodies that make the 4Runner very competent off- road. For starters the 4Runner real part-time 4-wheel drive with high and low ranges can be activated via a selector knob on the centre console and even the base 4Runner model has off-road friendly features such as vehicle stability control, active traction control, hill-start assist, downhill assist, automatic disconnecting differential and protector plates for fuel tank and transfer case.

Opt for an extra cost Trail Edition and the Kinetic dynamic suspension system (KDSS), which allows the front and rear stabilizers to move independent of one another via interconnected hydraulic cylinders. KDSS activates when it senses that a wheel has dropped, and will not engage during normal driving conditions when hydraulic pressure is equal. This proves invaluable on seriously tough, rocky terrain.

Note; the new 4.0 litre V6 engine with 270 hp is actually more powerful than the previous V8! Transmission is a five-speed automatic with overdrive. Acceleration, should you be interested 0-100 km/h acceleration in 8.6 seconds which makes the 4Runner one of the fastest vehicles in its class. Canadian EnerGuide fuel economy ratings are as follows: 12.6 L/100km city; 9.2 L/100km hwy.

On the road, the 4Runner’s ride is well damped, but its body on frame truck origins are clear. It is high off the ground and you will not get the car- like ride of the Toyota Highlander for example. Still it’s no deal breaker as the 4Runner handles urban and suburban road with poise and confidence.

The 4Runner really shines off-road where the four-wheel drive system’s low range and increased approach and departure angles allow you to tackle terrain only a Jeep or Land Rover
may dare. The Multi-Terrain Select System allows you to adjust for different terrain settings while the amazing Crawl Control offers five throttle and brake control settings. To sum up the 4runner offers excellent off-roading ability yet can handle daily driving with aplomb. A very impressive SUV with true credentials. Autoreview by Veeno Dewan

2013 Toyota 4Runner priced from $36,820
Trail Edition priced from $44,130.