The Toyota 4Runner is a staple on off-road trails across America. You’re just as likely to find them in a school parking lot too. It’s an SUV that can do everything and anything you should need it to and a great purchase, especially on the used market. If you do happen to be looking for one, this buyer’s guide for 2014-2017 models will help you figure out which one to buy and which one to skip.
What Toyota 4Runner options to look for
Thankfully, trim levels are simple and straightforward on the 4Runner. In order of best equipped the list is as follows: SR5, SR5 Premium, Trail, then Trail Premium. Moving up the list gets you the goods, starting with the TRD Pro, and finally the Limited trim. At a bare minimum, the SR5 Premium is recommended. It nets you some off-road chops, but only if optioned, in the form of Active Traction Control. There’s also some nice comfort features in the SR5 Premium like a sunroof and premium audio. Front heated seats are also available.
However, if it’s Toyota-flavored off-roading you want, the TRD Pro is the way to go. The Pro 4Runner gets a TRD skid plate, unique exterior badging and trim, and all-terrain tires. All this in addition to the off-road goodies from the lower specced 4Runner models makes this trim level the most off-road friendly ‘Runner you can have. There’s also the luxury-leaning Limited trim, but that’s not really what the 4Runner is about. A nicely optioned Highlander is a better choice for some at that point.
Known issues for the 5th gen ‘Runner
Moving on to the mechanics of the 4Runner. The 5th generation Toyota 4Runner deserves the brand’s renowned reputation for reliability, but more on that later. There have been some small foibles over the 5th gen’s lifespan, but nothing too notable. Beware of ‘Runners from humid environments, as the frame can rust.
There is also a recall on the Takata airbags in these cars, but most sellers will have taken care of that. Finally, inspect the air conditioning system and stereo. Some owners report a moldy-smelling A/C unit, and some complain of echoes when using Bluetooth. Additionally, test the seats first, as they can be a touch uncomfortable for those with sensitive backs. With these problems in mind, a clean, well-maintained example is easy to find. Just keep an eye out for the regular consumable issues, like brakes and tires.
Toyota 4Runner reliability and pricing
Pricing for 5th generation 4Runners can be a little all over the place. People really drive these, and high mileage SR5 and Limited models will go for around $30,000-$38,000 with north of 60,000 miles on them. The TRD Pro Toyota 4Runners command a real premium because of their off-road capability. Expect to pay north of $45,000 for one with less than 50,000 miles. That said, a Toyota 4Runner really can be a forever car, and its features, capability, and reliability make it well worth the premium price it commands.