Toyota 4Runner: The best and worst years

Midsize SUV fans love the Toyota 4Runner, which is a highly-rated SUV. As with all vehicles, some years are stronger than others. That makes the Toyota 4Runner a more desirable option for those looking to buy a used SUV. How can you avoid issues by knowing which years are best for your Toyota 4Runner?

The Toyota 4Runner 2017 is often rated the most desirable model. Close behind are the Toyota 4Runner 2000 and 2009. On the other hand, it’s best to avoid the 2015 Toyota 4Runner, as well as the 2003-2005 and 2001-2002 Toyota 4Runner. 

Let's take a closer look at these cars to see what makes them great or bad. The top 4Runner complaints from all years are also examined. 

Índice de Contenido
  1. Toyota 4Runner: Best Year Ever
    1. 1. 2017 Toyota 4Runner
    2. 2. 2009 Toyota 4Runner
    3. 3. 2000 Toyota 4Runner
  2. Worst Year for the Toyota 4Runner
    1. 1. 2015 Toyota 4Runner
    2. 2. 2003-2005 Toyota 4Runner
    3. 3. 2001-2002 Toyota 4Runner
  3. Most Common Toyota 4Runner Problems
    1. 1. Failure of the Automatic Transmission
    2. 2. Problematic Airbags
    3. 3. Corrosion/body rust
    4. 4. Cracked Dashboard
  4. Here are some things to look for in a used Toyota 4Runner

Toyota 4Runner: Best Year Ever

1. 2017 Toyota 4Runner

While the 5th-generation 4Runner has been in production for many years, it is the most exceptional model of its kind. The 370-horsepower, 4.0-liter V6 engine makes this model even more thrilling. 

On top of that, the NHTSA safety ratings show it’s a reliable vehicle worth taking your family in. You will be protected in an accident thanks to the crash ratings. 

2. 2009 Toyota 4Runner

With the introduction of the 4Runner's fourth generation, it became even more functional than its predecessors. The 4Runner also has a more sporty package, which is ideal for driving off-road. The functionality will be perfect for those who want to keep their feet on the ground.

You have two options for engine choices, and both of them are outstanding. There’s a 245-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 or a mightier 265-horsepower 4.7-liter V8 engine available. Either motor can be used to tow easily, making camping trips or to lakes and campgrounds a joy for the whole family. 

3. 2000 Toyota 4Runner

The 2000 model year 4Runner is the best choice if you're looking for an affordable 4Runner. Considering that 750,000 models were sold from this generation, you shouldn’t have trouble finding them near you. 

While these don’t have the same powerful engines as the model above, there are still some options. There are two options: the 150-horsepower V4 or the 183horsepower V6 3.4-liter. Any of these options will provide a pleasant ride, and more fun for less. 

Worst Year for the Toyota 4Runner

1. 2015 Toyota 4Runner

The 2015 Toyota 4Runner has been rated the worst vehicle overall. A faulty infotainment system is the biggest problem. It doesn’t always work the way it should, with a lot of freezing and restarting. Bluetooth problems can make it hard to connect devices to each other. This may seem minor, but it can be annoying. 

It might not be difficult to ignore these complaints if they were all. However, there’s more being complained about on the Website of NHTSA. Brake rotors can also warp in unusual ways and steering problems have occurred. The ABS may also fail and put people at risk. 

2. 2003-2005 Toyota 4Runner

You should avoid everything between these years. These fourth-generation 4Runners didn’t fare well in safety ratings. The seats and head restraints weren’t optimal, leading to a higher chance of injury during an accident.

Customers aren’t happy with their NHTSA experience, which has seen more than 400 complaints. Customers complain that the body has rusted prematurely, that the dashboard cracked and that the head gasket failed. All of this can make your SUV more expensive than you expected. 

3. 2001-2002 Toyota 4Runner

The 2001 and 2002 4Runners also had poor crash ratings. While you can find these cheap on the used market, they aren’t worth the low cost. They are unreliable and can crease easily during a crash.

Plus, these models earned about 250 complaints each, showing that customers aren’t pleased. They also have body rust. Also, during this time, the manual transmission was removed and the locking rear diff was replaced, making it much less fun to go off-road. 

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Most Common Toyota 4Runner Problems

1. Failure of the Automatic Transmission

It’s possible to deal with automatic transmission issues with any model between 1990 and 2016, although some are more reliable than others. Sometimes, an SUV will switch to manual shifting by itself. It could also fail to shift at all, especially when it’s first put in Drive.

Owners have reported that their powertrain does not respond to driving. This can cause an accident. A new throttle position sensor may be needed in some instances. It was possible to drive 150,000 miles without having to replace the sensor. Some owners needed to have it replaced as soon as they reached 25,000 miles. 

2. Problematic Airbags

Airbags are your protection as you travel down the highway. As a Toyota SUV, it’s easy to assume that this protection exists. No one would expect that such a well-known brand as Toyota would experience a major airbag failure. But it does.

Toyota alone recalls over 900,000. This can be found among many model years. It will require a total replacement. You may also find models that have an inflator problem, which renders airbags inoperable. The inflator could be to blame. If that happens, the airbag may explode randomly. 

3. Corrosion/body rust

Most commonly, it’s the fourth-generation 4Runners that suffer from premature body rust and corrosion issues. The corrosion was noticed by owners within a few days of purchasing their vehicle. Toyota has not responded to the issue. 

The suspension and frame have also suffered from corrosion, something that is more than cosmetic. If these parts have to be replaced, you are looking at an extensive repair bill, one that you don’t want to deal with on a used 4Runner. If you have to replace the suspension components on a 2005 4Runner, it could run you around $1,500. 

4. Cracked Dashboard

While the 2004 Toyota 4Runner is known for having a cracked dashboard, it’s not the only one that suffers from this defect. The dashboard can also melt and become sticky. This isn’t something that’s normal and it has no place in today’s modern lineups.

It all boils down to the sun’s UV rays and heat. Bad design causes the sun to melt the dashboard. Whether it melts and cracks or simply becomes sticky, this shouldn’t be happening. Toyota clearly used inferior materials in the construction of these 4Runner models. 

But this is not a minor issue. The dashboard can melt and cause the airbags to fail during collisions, which could put you at serious risk.

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Here are some things to look for in a used Toyota 4Runner

You can make smarter decisions when you shop for used 4Runners near you. When you're looking for a Toyota SUV, make sure to use this checklist.

  • Rust: Look at your body for signs of rust. Also, check the undercarriage for signs of corroding.
  • Transmission: Take the 4Runner on a test drive to check the 4Runner's response to the throttle. The transmission should move smoothly without hesitation and with minimal effort.
  • Braking: It is important to check that the brakes work correctly. To test how quickly the brakes respond, you should drive in an empty area. You also don’t want to hear any strange sounds or feel any weird vibrations.
  • You want the best off-road gear for your 4Runner.

You can save money by taking the time to research your model before you buy. You should do extensive research on the specific model that you are interested in and follow your intuitions. It is best to walk away from any deal that seems incontinent.

READ MORE: Are Toyotas Good Cars? Do They Have Reliable Cars?

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