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24999 SE Stark Street Troutdale, Oregon 97060 (888) 479-8942
Base Price (MSRP):$28,015.00 / As Tested (MSRP): $44,605.00
2008 Toyota 4Runner
View The 2008 Toyota 4Runner Specifications
Review by: New Car Test Drive
Genuine off-road capability. 

Model Lineup
The 2008 Toyota 4Runner comes in three trim levels: SR5, Sport Edition, and Limited. Each is available with the V6 or V8, with two-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD). A Class III receiver hitch with a seven-pin connector is standard on V8 models and optional on V6s; it mounts directly to the rear frame crossmember.

The SR5 V6 2WD ($28,015) and 4WD ($30,290) come standard with cloth upholstery, automatic climate control; cruise control; power door locks and windows; six-speaker AM/FM//CD stereo with auxiliary input and MP3/WMA capability; remote keyless entry; skid plates to protect the underbody; integrated fog lamps; and 16-inch alloy wheels. The SR5 V8 2WD ($30,030) and V8 4WD ($32,305) models are similarly equipped but add power-adjustable front seats.

The Sport Edition V6 2WD ($30,325) and 4WD ($32,600) are upgraded with high-contrast cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-telescope steering wheel with integrated audio and cruise controls, a leather-wrapped shift knob, power heated outside mirrors, cargo cover, X-REAS Sport Enhancement Suspension, bigger brake rotors, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The Sport Edition V8 2WD ($31,705) and 4WD $33,980) are similarly equipped.

The Limited V6 2WD ($34,700) and 4WD ($36,975) are upgraded with leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats with memory functions, black woodgrain interior trim, premium stereo with 6CD changer, HomeLink universal garage door opener, auto-dimming inside mirror, engine immobilizer, automatic headlamps, a cargo management system, and 18-inch aluminum wheels. Limited V8 2WD ($36,460) and 4WD ($38,735) list the same standard equipment. Limited models ride on the standard suspension, but can be ordered with the X-REAS suspension ($450). Additionally, V8 4WD models can be ordered with X-REAS plus rear auto-leveling air suspension ($950).

The incongruously named Urban Runner package ($1760) became available in February for Sport Edition V6 4WD only; it combines 18-inch wheels with unique colors, trim and badging. Inside, Urban Runners feature two-tone-gray Alcantara seats with power adjustment, black woodgrain trim, Bluetooth, and an integrated Tom Tom personal navigation device. The package will be released for Sport Edition V6 2WD in April.

A third-row seat is available on SR5 ($805) and Limited ($1175), but not Sport Edition. Options available for all models include DVD navigation with Bluetooth and a rearview video camera ($2420-2840, depending on model), power moonroof ($900), and a rear-seat DVD player ($1580) with wireless headphones. Several satellite-ready stereo upgrades are also available, and many Limited-level luxuries are offered as stand-alone options for SR5 and Sport Edition.

Safety features that come standard on all models include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), traction control, anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. All models come with Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), while 4WD units add Downhill Assist Control (DAC).

Front seat-mounted side-impact airbags and curtain-style head protection airbags for front and rear passengers are now standard on all 4Runners, and are equipped with a rollover sensor and a cutoff switch. Other standard passive safety features include dual-stage front airbags; and three-point seat belts at all positions, with pretensioners and force limiters to reduce the chance of belt-related injuries. Seat belts are your first line of defense in a crash so be sure to wear them. All models come with a tire pressure monitor.


Walkaround
The Toyota 4Runner is big and burly. Launched for the 2003 model year and last freshened for 2006, the current 4Runner looks small only in relation to the even bigger Toyota Sequoia. With its massive front bumper, prominent overfenders, and body cladding, the 4Runner looks off-road rugged and ready to hit the dusty trail.

Backing up that contention are skid plates for the engine, transfer case and fuel tank, which come standard on 4WD models. (Even 2WD models get the engine and fuel tank skid plates.) A molded-in step adds a functional look to the broad rear bumper.

Visual cues distinguish the three trim 2008 Toyota 4Runner levels. Bumpers are body-color on all three models. On the SR5, however, the grille, door handles, and license-plate trim are chrome, and running boards are painted black. The Sport is distinguished by its hood scoop and a smoked-chrome effect for the grille and headlamp trim, and by a graphite-and-black roof rack. Tubular side steps replace the SR5's running boards. The Limited has a body-color grille, black roof rack and black running boards, which are illuminated. The standard aluminum-alloy wheels have six spokes on all models, but they grow from 16 inches to 17 to 18 as you move up the line.

4Runner's windshield, side windows, and side mirrors are made of hydrophilic glass and repel water like a waxed car or a window that has been treated with Rain-X. The glass causes water to form large drops, which are quickly shed by gravity or wind. The side mirrors are angled out to increase the driver's field of view. The available moonroof includes a two-stage wind deflector designed to reduce wind noise when traveling above 55 mph.

The high floor and low roof are side effects of a practical SUV design to pull the ground clearance up as high as possible while keeping the overall profile low for stability and clearance.


Interior Features
The Toyota 4Runner cabin is a good place to be in rugged terrain or nasty weather. For starters, it's roomy and comfortable, and it's highly functional. The quality of materials and they way they fit together is good, and loaded models are quite luxurious. Overall, the cabin looks traditional SUV.

The cloth upholstery that comes standard is nice. And the cloth seats in the SR5 and Sport Edition are comfortable, with side bolsters to keep the driver in place when cornering or driving off road. All seats offer adjustable headrests and the driver's seat adjusts eight ways, manually on the SR5 V6 and powered on all others. The driver and front passenger sit up high, as one expects in an SUV, yet flatter to the floor, as in some low cars like a Ford Mustang. The driver's legs stretch out, rather than down, toward the pedals. It's a feeling we've noticed in some Jeeps, going back quite some years, and is a result of the high floor, low roofline design for off-road use.

A two-tone dashboard houses the instruments. Gauges illuminate in orange, set in three deep binnacles that prevent the front-seat passenger from reading them, and aiding legibility for the driver in bright sunlight. The fuel gauge uses an inclinometer for accurate readouts when the 4Runner is tilted in 2008 Toyota 4Runner the rough.

Automatic climate control is standard on all models, while the Limited comes with his-and-hers dual-zone temperature controls. The fan, airflow and temperature controls, are big and easy to locate; they are long on style and a little awkward at first, but become easy to use with familiarity.

The stereo buttons are easy operate. The auto-down button for the power windows is illuminated, but the central lock button is not and can be difficult and awkward to find in the dark, leaving impatient, would-be passengers tapping on your window as you fumble around for the switch, an annoyance. A display located just above the climate controls reveals time, ambient temperature, and trip data. A 115-volt AC power outlet is available, a real bonus in the backcountry.

An unusual feature is a pair of small convex mirrors at the rear corners of the interior, designed to help the driver see approaching vehicles when backing out of a parking space. The mirrors work on the same principal as those big convex mirrors mounted at the corners of large parking garages. In the 4Runner, they help the driver detect motion in a busy parking lot. Using them effectively, however, takes some practice, as it's hard to distinguish details. We're guessing most owners don't use them and may not even know they're there.

The rearview video camera works incredibly well and we highly recommend this option. Hidden in the rear bumper, it projects its image onto the seven-inch navigation screen on the center dash whenever the 4Runner is in reverse. The pictures are sharp, even in complete darkness (with the backup lights on), and cover the area directly behind and a couple of feet on either side of the vehicle. The extreme fish-eye view of the lens makes distances difficult to judge, but skilled drivers quickly learn how to use it to their advantage. When parallel parking the camera allows the driver to back up to within an inch of the car behind. The camera adds safety by giving the driver an opportunity to see what's immediately behind the 4Runner, whether it's a short metal pole or a child on a tricycle or someone pushing a grocery cart.

The navigation system is among the best, intuitive and relatively easy to use. It features a touch-screen monitor, voice guidance and Bluetooth capability. Map data for the contiguous United States and major cities in Canada is stored on one DVD. The integrated Bluetooth feature provides a hands-free communication system using a cellular phone. The system is integrated into an eight-speaker JBL AM/FM/CD stereo, which is automatically muted when a call is received. The stereo speakers then act as t


Driving Impressions
The Toyota 4Runner is available with a V8, but we found the standard 4.0-liter V6 engine impressively responsive. It never leaves us feeling short changed. The V6 features variable valve timing, an electronically controlled throttle, and lightweight all-aluminum construction. It's rated at 236 horsepower, but more noticeable is its 266 pound-feet of torque. Torque is that force you feel when you accelerate from an intersection or power up a steep hill. Torque is crucial when driving over rugged terrain, when the engine is running at low rpm yet under a heavy load because you're geared way down and lugging up a steep slope.

A 4WD V6 4Runner gets an EPA-rated 17/21 mpg City/Highway, while the 2WD V6 is rated 18/21 mpg. And Toyota no longer recommends premium fuel. The V6 is the engine we for anyone who doesn't plan to do a lot of towing.

The 4.7-liter V8 is smooth and tractable and never struggles when thrust is needed. The V8 features variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) and electronic throttle control with intelligence (ETCS-i), turning it into a real performer. It's rated 260 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque, and adds about 200 pounds to the overall weight. The torque figure is the key number here. In the case of the V8, torque 2008 Toyota 4Runner is important for pulling a trailer. The V8 is EPA-rated at 16/20 mpg with 2WD, 15/19 with 4WD, but Toyota has dropped its recommendation for premium fuel.

Both engines feature a cranking system that keeps the starter engaged until complete combustion is achieved, freeing the driver from holding the key until the engine turns over. This is a nice feature, and one usually associated with expensive luxury sedans.

Both engines come with a sophisticated five-speed automatic transmission. More gears means better response for any given situation along with better efficiency and this five-speed is more flexible than a four-speed and better able to keep the engine running in its optimum rpm range, whether you're after power or fuel economy at any particular moment. The transmission is equipped with Artificial Intelligence Shift control, which changes gear-shifting patterns according to driving conditions and driver intent. It works well and seems to understand when you want to cruise and when you want to get with the program, and it shifts smoothly around town.

The 4Runner handles very well for a truck with a live rear axle. We drove V6-powered models over twisting back roads along the Oregon coast and found them easy to drive at a quick clip. We've also spent a lot of time in V8 versions around Los Angeles.

The suspension damping is excellent. When the road got bumpy, we could tell our truck had a solid rear axle rather than an independent rear suspension, but the 4Runner still handles more confidently than other live-axle SUVs. Rack-and-pinion steering gives the 4Runner quick response and good steering feel.

Still, the 4Runner is a truck, not a car. Rather than using unit-body construction like the Toyota Highlander and RAV4, the 4Runner is built on a separate ladder frame that features full-length box-section frame rails. Toyota also steered away from using an independent rear suspension like the one on the ladder-frame Ford Explorer. An independent rear suspension would have offered a cushier ride around town and allowed for a roomier interior, but off-road capability was a high priority for the 4Runner, and its live rear axle provides more suspension travel. In other words, if your driving consists almost entirely of commuting to work, hauling kids around and running errands, you might be more comfortable in a Toyota Highlander.

The 4Runner starts making a lot of sense when pull off the pavement. The ride quality on unpaved roads is smooth and well-controlled, important on long gravel treks over washboard surfaces on the way to a remote fishing spot. Well-tuned damping and progressive-rate spring bumpers are to thank here.

Rugged terrain


Final Word
The Toyota 4Runner is a highly capable trail vehicle. It will get you over the rocks and through the muck, but it won't make you regret its durable construction when you're cruising the Interstate. It's smooth and quiet 2008 Toyota 4Runner on the road and there's plenty of room for family and friends. The V6 is our first choice for its combination of power and efficiency, but the V8 delivers excellent response and is the better choice for towing. If you want serious recreational capability with quality, durability and reliability, the 4Runner is an excellent choice. On the other hand, if you rarely venture onto unimproved trails, then you may find the Toyota Highlander and other car-based SUVs smoother and more comfortable.
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