The fourth generation 4Runner is the largest to date. This most recent design exhibits a rugged image that draws upon an industrial theme. It's a theme that incorporates a mild adaptation of what I refer to as the "Mad Max" syndrome, in reference to the industrial-like beaters that Mel Gibson and company drove in the movie by the same name. This is exemplified in the angular shape of the wheel openings and large, bulging fender appliques, not to mention the bold front grille and formidable front bumper. Although somewhat aggressive in its overall design, I find the exterior of the 4Runner very appealing and distinctive, which is a benefit in these days of over-the-counter SUV
|The fourth generation Toyota 4Runner is the largest to date. (Photo: Rob Rothwell, Canadian Auto Press)|
Climbing into the driver's position I found myself feeling slightly constricted. Sure, there was plenty of leg room and elbow space, but something felt confining. That something, I eventually realized, related to a greenhouse featuring windows that seem slightly narrower than what I would anticipate is average in a midsize SUV. I have no empirical stats to back it up, but I'm of the view that the aggressive exterior design of the 4Runner relies somewhat on slim window openings.
|The 4Runner's body-on-frame design translates into greater ruggedness and off-road competence, but at the cost of a supple ride. (Photo: Rob Rothwell, Canadian Auto Press)|
Once I was over my "what's different about this" stage, I was quite at home and very comfortable in the 4Runner. After making the necessary driver adjustments, I placed it into gear and headed for the open road with the V6 quietly and effortlessly moving man and machine deeper into the basin of the many craggy peaks that surrounded us. Once under way it was immediately evident that the 4Runner is a truck-based SUV. That means it is built upon a foundation mirroring that of a pickup truck. It is a body-on-frame design, which translates into greater ruggedness and off-road competence, but at the cost of a supple ride. Body-on-frame engineering is the stuff of serious off-roading and a "must have" to the off-road purists.