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More and more trucks and SUVs are getting special editions for overlanding. However, the Toyota 4Runner says it’s been there and has done that. The history of the Toyota 4Runner proves that it was an original rugged beast for camping and adventuring. 

When did the first Toyota 4Runner come out? 

The first Toyota 4Runner came from Japan in 1984. It started as an idea to provide families with a rugged, camping-friendly off-roader once the Land Cruiser FJ40 was no longer imported to America. 

Then in 1981, Winnebago partnered with Toyota to build the Toyota Trekker, which pretty much involved placing a camper shell on the Toyota Hilux truck. Then Toyota realized that it needed to be more affordable. 

The 4Runner name came with a new vehicle style with the go-anywhere versatility of 4×4 without compromising convenience or comfort. 

With the first generation, you got two doors, a fiberglass roof over the rear seat/cargo area, and a retractable windshield over the tailgate area. 

Though 1989, the 4runner gained more capability and refinement with an independent front suspension, suspension lift, and a 2.7-liter turbocharged engine. 

The 1990 Toyota 4Ruuner off-roading
1990 Toyota 4Ruuner | Toyota

The second generation 4Runner lasted from 1990 to 1995 with more of an SUV-like appearance, the addition of third-row seats, an integrated frame instead of a revocable roof, and rear doors. 

Families found the 4Runner to be capable, reliable, and easy to work on. Plus, it was avoidable with a four-cylinder or a V6 engine. 

The third generation 4Runner existed from 1996 until 2002. This is when it found its modern niche and the body was redesigned to improve functionality. Most of the upgrades provided a more comfortable experience on the road. 

For example, the Toyota 4Runner gained a longer wheelbase to provide a smoother ride, more passenger space, and more cargo room. The front seats and interior were redesigned to be more inviting. 

The fourth generation 4Runner took place from 2003 to 2009 and many of these models are still on the road today.

These models gained more refinement and comfort. This is when the high-end luxury trim levels were introduced. Also, the four-cylinder engine was dropped as the 4Runner gained a beefy V8 option. 

The current or fight generation launched in 2010 and we’re waiting to see the sixth generation debut in 2025. It gained modern amenities such as Apple CarPlay, blind spot warning, ventilated seats, and a 360-degree camera view.