Kudos to Toyota for understanding the 4Runner customer and continuing to offer a vehicle that delivers what so many people crave. While Toyota understands the 4Runner customer, many automotive writers and bloggers do not.
Once I started researching my next vehicle, I quickly realized that the 4Runner was the only SUV that met my criteria – even though there are a lot of SUVs out there. It was easy to visit vehicle manufacturers’ websites, read the features of their SUVs, and conclude that the only SUV that hit the mark for me was the 4Runner (I purchased a 2020 SR5 Premium). I never visited dealerships to check out other SUVs – there was no need to.
I found the 4Runner's specifications on-line and spent a lot of time reading owner reviews (including those by people who test drove other SUVs). The automotive publications and blogs were useless at best and misleading at worst. I also approached 4Runner owners in parking lots to ask how they liked their vehicle.
• SUV (not a crossover)
• body-on-frame construction
• 4WD (not AWD)
• square body design (not the egg-shaped, pinched rear end of most SUVs)
• high ground clearance
• larger than average cargo space
• comfortable seats
• spacious first- and second-row legroom
• clean, streamlined, non-fussy interior
• retractable rear window
• uses regular gasoline
• firm, solid ride
• exceptionally reliable
I hope Toyota keeps designing the 4Runner for users, not automotive writers.
CarGurus writes that “In an era where many SUVs are going for sloping rooflines and raked rear windows, the 4Runner is very square.” 4Runner purchasers want a square body style (for its utility and looks), not the nipped rear-end body style of so many other SUVs.
U.S. News & World Report claims “It rides roughly on the street and has ponderous handling. Inside, cabin quality is lackluster.” I find that the 2020 4Runner rides very smoothly on the street and that the handling is anything but ponderous. Also, like other purchasers of 4Runners, I wanted an uncluttered, streamlined interior – not a chaotic one with busy, useless details.
Car and Driver states “Just don't try to heave anything into the cargo hold unless you have a chiropractor on call – the floor of the cargo hold is uncomfortably high off the ground.” Huh? I’m 5’7” and find the height of the cargo-hold floor perfect.
Edmunds writes that the 4Runner’s “Tall step-in height makes for ungraceful entry and exit.” This comment baffles me. Again, I’m 5’7”. The step-in height is ideal for me, suiting me better than lower step-in heights.
And from Autoblog: “Yanking that high-effort lever into L4 …” What??? Perhaps this comment was made in jest? Switching into L4 couldn’t be any easier.
These same writers appear to place little worth on the vehicle’s phenomenal reliability, which 4Runner owners value highly.
Imagine my astonishment upon initially experiencing the 4Runner first-hand to learn that much of what I’d read in the automotive press wasn’t true. I find writers of such articles ill-informed and oddly biased. They clearly don’t understand 4Runner customers, who choose the vehicle for some of the very features automotive writers and bloggers deem drawbacks.
In conclusion, I’m thrilled with my new 4Runner and glad I ignored much of what I read in the automotive media.
In the 1980s I worked for the agency that handled Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.’s public relations, being assigned to the account full-time. In that role, I had contact with the editorial staffs of Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Road & Track and the like (most of my editorial-staff contact was with various motorcycle publications) so my interest in how the automotive media reviews vehicles is professional as well as personal.