Those looking for a sport utility vehicle that will actually take them down the road less traveled will turn to the strong and reliable 2012 Toyota 4Runner SUV. It is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 engine, paired up with a five-speed automatic to deliver 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It accelerates zero to 60 mph in an impressive 7.2 seconds, except the 4x4 Trail model lags a second behind.
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The 4Runner comes standard as rear-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive is available on all trims. That being said, there are actually two different 4WD systems. Limited has a full-time system that gets a lockable center differential while a part time dual range is used on the SR5. The Trail gets the same system as the SR5, only it is tweaked a little with an electronic terrain-sensitive system and locking rear differential. Regardless of trim or model, towing capacity is an impressive 5,000 pounds.
Fuel-economy is nothing to get excited over though, as it returns only 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. As far as the ride goes, it is not as comfortable as you would hope for on the paved road, but it certainly does not bounce you around like a rollercoaster either. A common complaint is that the steering feels disconnected.
The 2012 Toyota 4Runner comes with a long list of both common and innovative safety features. When tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it was given a “Good” rating for side and frontal protection. However, roof-strength only scored second best with an “Acceptable” rating. With the exception of the Trail model that has a longer braking distance, other models were able to stop from 60 mph in a respectable 122 feet. Safety features worth mentioning include:
There is just something about the 4Runner that is appealing, whether you are an outdoor and off-road enthusiast or not. To add to its rugged and practical good looks, automatic-deploying running boards are now an option.
Depending on trim, the bumpers, door handles, over-fenders, roof rails, etc., are either a combination of body colored and black or chrome. Rear privacy glass and either 17 or 20-inch handsome wheels finish the look.
People will either love or hate the interior of the 4Runner. Some will slip inside, notice the abundance of hard plastic and feel that it appears cheap. However, outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate this plastic because it can be easily wiped clean.
The standard seating arrangement is for five passengers, offering an abundance of room. There is a third row option available, but it is really only practical for children or smaller adults.
The controls are large and easy to identify and use, but the climate control knobs do feel a little wobbly.
With five-passenger seating, there is 46.3 cubic feet behind the rear seat, which is huge! If that’s not enough for you though, 4Runner gives you 88.8 cubic feet when the seat is folded flat. It really does not get much better than this.