Complaint: Some Toyota dealers will demand premiums. Beware.
Praise: The 4Runner is excellent. But the mid-size SUV market is crowded with worthy competitors. This is a good buy -- without added premiums.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Very smooth ride. Great stability in panic maneuvers.
Head-turning quotient: People who equate SUVs with evil saw evil. People who love them gave enthusiastic thumbs up.
Vehicle layout and lineup: The 4Runner is a front-engine sport-utility vehicle available with either two-wheel or four-wheel drive. There are three trim levels -- the luxury Limited; the off-road-equipped Sport Edition; and the standard-equipment SR-5.
Engines: The 4Runner Sport Edition can be equipped with a 4-liter, 24-valve V-6 or a 4.7-liter, 32-valve V-8. Attention! The V-6 has more horsepower -- 245 hp at 5,200 revolutions per minute, compared with 235 hp at 4,800 rpm for the V-8. But the V-8 has more torque -- 320 pound-feet at 3,400 rpm, compared with 282 pound-feet at 3,800 rpm for the V-6.
Capacities: The 4Runner seats five people. Cargo capacity is 42.2 cubic feet with rear seats up and 75.1 cubic feet with rear seats folded. It can be equipped to tow a trailer weighing 5,000 pounds. Fuel capacity is 23 gallons. Premium unleaded gasoline is required.
Mileage: I averaged 18 miles per gallon in mostly highway driving carrying mixed loads. Pretty good for a body-on-frame SUV.
Safety: In addition to items mentioned, there are front air bags designed to deploy at speeds appropriate to the speed of the crash, optional side bags up front and optional rear curtain bags.
Price: Base price of the tested 4Runner Sport Edition V-8 is $32,075. Dealer invoice price on base model is $28,546. Price as tested is $34.585, including $2,000 in options and a $510 destination charge.
Purse-strings note: Compare with Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Xterra SE S/C V-6 4WD.