Updated: Jan 14
Think about all the things that have changed in 11 years. Pretty much everything, right? Among the few exceptions---the Toyota 4Runner. Introduced in the fall of 2009 as an all-new for 2010 model, the 4Runner, with only minor changes and refinements, soldiers on to its eleventh model year for 2021.
Like its distant cousin, the Lexus GX460, which also turns 11 this year, the secret lies in just how good the 4Runner was to begin with and how well it manages to do what it was intended to: Provide go-anywhere, in any weather, transit for up to five people and a bunch of their stuff.
Under the hood is the same 4.0-liter, dual overhead cam, 24-valve V6 that was there in the 2010 model. 270 horsepower, 278 pounds per foot of torque and mated to a five (yes, five) speed automatic transmission and a part-time four-wheel drive system with Active TRAC.
That adds up to adequate power and speed, some serious low-end grunt for off-roading and , by contemporary standards, some abysmal fuel economy---an EPA estimate of 16 miles per gallon city, 19 highway. We managed just under 17 in a mix of city streets, Sierra foothill backroads and urban freeways. But nobody in the market for a 4Runner is basing their purchase on gas mileage.
Our tester was the 2021 Toyota 4Runner 4x4 Trail. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but the Trail Special Edition adds 17-inch dark gray alloy wheels, a sliding rear cargo tray, a 40-quart removable cooler with tie-down straps, all-weather floor liners, a Yakima LoadWarrior cargo basket on the roof and black badge overlays to the standard 4Runner equipment for a starting price of $40,190.
Our tester also had extra-cost options, including $1,585 for a premium eight-speaker audio system with eight-inch touchscreen and navigation, $179 for a cargo cover, $169 for carpeted floormats, $79 for a door edge guard, $169 for high-performance LED fog lights and $80 for wheel locks.
A $500 "Keep It Wild" savings rebate was also on the sticker, so with $1,175 for delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of the 2021 Toyota 4Runner 4x4 Trail was $43,126.
The Trail Edition is a perfect complement to the 4Runner's rugged, capable character. With age comes experience, and Toyota continues to build one of the best all-road, all-weather vehicles out there 11 years on.