Editor’s Note: Car Pro contributor Michael Garfield is a radio host, TV personality, and columnist based in Houston.
I love the outdoors – primarily because we have to be outdoors to drive cars and trucks. But when you want to get around the real outdoors for off-roading, climbing big hills, and crossing ranches, you need a real outdoor vehicle. Preferably a truck or an SUV and quite possibly one like the 2018 Toyota 4Runner.
The 4Runner is built for adventures. If you have an active lifestyle you will like its durable, spacious interior. This is also one of the few SUVs in this price range that can take on a rough trail with seven people onboard.
Even though the 4Runner can hold that many passengers when the third row is in use there is very little cargo space. The back row seats are a bit tricky to fold down but when it is flat you have almost 90 cubic feet of cargo space.
Not much has changed on the outside for the 2018 version. Toyota gave the fascia some large, boomerang-shaped indentions below the slanted headlights. The signature boxy shape is still here along with a roof rack. Active owners will enjoy a power-retractable rear window built into the rear liftgate. Lowering the window allows for gear to more easily be loaded into the cargo bay.
Most people will be driving their 4Runner on city streets and highways. To me, this drives more like a pickup truck than a car.
It leans a bit when cornering but the 270 hp, V6 is a great engine with strong power for merging, passing and towing. Fuel economy is not the best in this class of midsize SUVs (17 in the city, 21 on the highway), mostly because it is a 5-speed automatic and weighs a hefty 4500 lbs or so.
But the 4Runner is a superior off-road vehicle thanks to its body-on-frame construction – one of the last SUVs to still be built this way.
It has standard Hill Start Assist Control that keeps it from rolling backward when switching from brake to accelerator on a steep incline. The available Downhill Assist Control selectively applies the brake to help keep a controlled speed on steep descents.
Skid plates underneath the vehicle help protect the engine front suspension and fuel tank in case some of those boulders or terrain gets in the way. And a full-size spare tire is standard on all trim levels.
Though the interior is rather simple, the 4Runner’s cabin is roomy and versatile. The large center console has a power outlet and USB with 4 other power outlets throughout. The rear area is equipped with a household-style power outlet – perfect for plugging in a blender for those margarita tailgate parties.
Every Toyota 4Runner comes with navigation, voice recognition, and Toyota’s Entune infotainment system.
The screen high-resolution screen is 6.1” – I wish it were a bit larger for being in such a big vehicle. But I like the large knobs and buttons and all the apps it works with. 8 speakers are the norm but you can get 15 of them if you upgrade to the Entune JBL Audio package.
Toyota’s 2018 4Runner SUV starts just under $35,000 for a base 2WD SR5 model. TRD models begin closer to $38,000 and Limited models start around $43.
If you care about where your vehicle can take you a little bit more than how comfy it is along the way, this is definitely worth getting into.
Now go hit the great outdoors.
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