Trucks & SUVs

The Forgotten Toyota Trekker Gave Birth to the 4Runner

Toyota is known for manufacturing some of the most popular SUVs and pickup trucks on the market. One Toyota SUV that people may not remember is the Toyota Trekker. The Trekker was made in the early ’80s, and only a limited number of these models were created. This is why you don’t see many of these on the road today and why many people have never even heard of this vehicle.

Although this vehicle has long been forgotten, it is important to learn about Toyota’s history so that you can better understand its present vehicles. And when it comes to the Trekker, many people believe that it actually served as the inspiration for one of Toyota’s most popular SUVs. Here is how the Toyota Trekker gave birth to the 4Runner.

The history of the Toyota Trekker

The Toyota Trekker was the result of a collaboration between Toyota and the iconic RV manufacturer, Winnebago. Toyota had classified the Trekker as a pickup truck (SR5); however, most people thought of it as a hybrid of an SUV and a truck. The historic truck came with the power and endurance of a truck and the spaciousness of an SUV. 

The interior featured front buckets seats and a bench seat in the back. Winnebago eventually made accessory kits for the Trekker which included a bench seat that could fold down into a bed, a fiberglass tub, bedsides, and a canopy. Under the hood, it was equipped with the seemingly indestructible 22R, four-cylinder engine that was paired with a five-speed manual transmission and was available in both 4×2 and 4×4 models.

The truck/SUV hybrid first landed at dealerships across the country in 1981. Despite being popular, Toyota decided to stop production of the Trekker in 1983 after only manufacturing between 1,000 and 1,500 models.

Why did Toyota stop making the Toyota Trekker?

In the Toyota Trekker’s short life, it had gained quite a fan base. Once Toyota saw the demand for a versatile SUV, its designers and engineers came up with a more modernized version called the Toyota 4Runner.

The first-generation Toyota 4Runner was very similar to the Trekker in the sense that it, too, was basically a pickup truck with a fiberglass shell on the back. It had the same 22R engine that the Trekker had, and the body was almost an exact replica of the Hilux Surf that came out in 1983.

The 4Runner was an instant hit. Because there was no need for Toyota to have three vehicles that were so similar, they decided to stop manufacturing the Trekker and replace it with the 4Runner.

Toyota is still manufacturing the 4Runner, and it’s even more popular today than it was when it first hit the market. However, if it wasn’t for the innovative design of the Trekker, the 4Runner may have never been thought of. It’s for this reason that many people consider the Trekker to be the “forerunner of the 4Runner.”

Are there any Trekkers around today?

Because there were not many Trekkers made, it is hard to find one around today. Sadly, most of the Trekkers that were sold back in the ’80s are no longer running and were probably left at the junkyard by their owners. However, if you look hard enough, you may be able to find a couple of Trekkers for sale online.

This three-decade-old truck usually sells for around $10,000 to $15,000 online. But be aware that some of the models for sale online are not running anymore, so you may need to have your mechanic on speed-dial before deciding to purchase one of the iconic pieces of history.