The 2013 Toyota 4Runner ranks among the most popular affordable midsize Sport Utility Vehicles. It was introduced by the Japanese company in 1984 as a compact SUV; based closely on the Toyota pickup truck. Now in its 5th generation, the 5-seat 4Runner (seven seats with an optional 3rd row) saw its last major redesign in 2010, including significant changes so that it no longer resembles a glorified pickup truck, but the 2013 Toyota 4Runner has remained true to its truck heritage and still provides the kind of ruggedness and off-road ability that has made it a favorite for nearly 20 years.
While many competitors’ SUV models are now built on lighter weight crossover platforms for more of the look and feel of a car, the 5th-generation 2013 Toyota 4Runner is built on the same body-on-frame platform as the FJ Cruiser, meaning that it is eminently capable of towing heavy loads and venturing over rough terrain. Arguably one of the most rugged Sport Utility Vehicles on the market today, with an integrated tow hitch receiver (with 7- and 4-pin connector) and 5,000 pound towing capacity, the 2013 4Runner still provides admirable ride comfort with an enhanced suspension technology.
The “tough truck” vibe is still evident in the 4Runner’s appearance as well. While many competitors have bowed to the current market’s trend of smoother, sleeker bodies, the latest redesign of the 4Runner created a chunkier and more rugged body, wider, flared wheel wells, and a higher beltline.
The 2013 Toyota 4Runner comes in three trim models with a good selection of options. The base model is the SR5, which comes in 4X2 and 4X4 models and comfortably seats 5. For a base model, the SR5 comes with an impressive load of standard features. The midlevel trim, the Trail, is aimed at drivers who want more off-road features, and the more luxuriously-equipped Limited is the highest level trim.
UNDER THE HOOD
All 2013 Toyota 4Runners come standard with the solid 4.0-liter V-6 engine, capable of generating 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. of torque. On- or off-road, the torque generated gives powerful thrust and a sense of muscular forward motion. The standard 5-speed ECT-I automatic transmission delivers smooth shifting as well. Drive trains available in the 3 trims include rear-wheel 4X2 and either a part-time 4X4 or full-time multi-mode 4X4.
A REFINED BUT MACHO INTERIOR
The utilitarian, rather macho dash and front center console box are straightforward and uncomplicated, with simple control knobs made to be operated by big hands in work gloves. The interior of the 2013 Toyota 4Runner does not lack refinement or amenities, though. While heavy duty plastics make up most of the cabin, softer materials cover major touch points The console is done with tasteful metallic trim, and the standard control features include dual illuminated vanity mirrors, illuminated ignition key, 2 front 12V auxiliary power outlets, trip computer, digital compass, and even an Eco Drive monitor.
Surprisingly for such a rugged vehicle, the 4Runner provides a quiet highway cruising experience with almost no wind noise and a relatively smooth ride. Seats are wide and impressively supportive to accommodate passengers in a range of sizes, and feel great with contouring that is far more comfortable than the stiff bench cushions found in some competitors’ SUV models.
With standard and optional features such as heated perforated leather seats, power lumbar adjust for the driver, tilt and telescopic steering column, and a 6.1 inch touch screen display for navigation, hands-free phone, and Toyota’s Entune infotainment system, the 4Runner’s interior appeals to more than just the macho off-road enthusiast.
Of course, no review of the 2013 Toyota 4Runner would be complete without some discussion of its impressive off-road capabilities. Off-road enthusiasts will want to check out the Trail, designed for anyone who plans to venture off the beaten path. This model boasts a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) which powers through varying terrains such as mud, sand, and rocky uneven surfaces; and the Crawl Control feature which helps to maintain speed and keep the 4Runner under control. The feel of the off road experience is brawny and powerful, and for the true outdoorsman, the durability and muscle evident in its performance will never disappoint.
Overall, the 2013 Toyota 4Runner provides a great, athletic drive. The feel of the steering and outstanding maneuverability give a confident feeling of precision and control that is unexpected in such a brawny truck-like SUV. For drivers who want an all-terrain-conquering SUV, the 2013 Toyota 4Runner is an excellent choice, and its interior functionality and features make it a good highway and city vehicle as well. It is well-suited for both everyday use with the family and weekend off-roading excitement with the guys.