COAL: #34: 2016 Toyota 4Runner – Risen From The Ashes

In late 2017 after the FB (for those that have been reading, you know what FB is) met its fate with a semi truck, I was in need of something that I could use a replacement. I was in my last leg of college, and had my 2017 Outback as my only daily driver. I had to have something that had at least a 5,000 pound towing capacity, and because I always had a second car alongside the Outback, I did not worry. Now that the Outback was my only primary car, I decided to do some rethinking. I thought that it might be time to do some growing up, and go down to one car besides my older Volvos. It sounded like a good idea at the time, after all I was graduating college soon, and had a job lined up, so I did not really need another car.

I was not sure what exactly to get, because I knew I needed something that I could tow a car with, and still be reliable. I just happened to stop into the Toyota dealer near me to check out their used car selection. A silver 4Runner caught my eye, and I began to wonder if this might be my next car. My girlfriend’s mom had a white 4Runner that was the same year, so I knew a little about how it drove, and was it was like driving one. At the time this was about the best choice for me. Subaru had not released their Ascent, and the Tacoma or any other midsize truck had a high price tag without a full power driver seat (you got power adjustment back and forth, but not the back of the seat). This was also about the only thing that I could afford, given what I wanted.

My Outback was almost a year old, and had about 6,000 miles on it. I had plenty of equity in it, but I still would lose a good amount of money if I traded it in. I decided to bite the bullet, and trade the Outback in for this 2016 4Runner. Unfortunately I do not have any remaining pictures of my actual car, so all of these came from Google.

My 4Runner was exactly like the pictures, silver limited 4×4, with the redwood interior. The interior actually sold me on the car, because that was about the only exciting thing on the car. My car was a certified pre-owned, which basically only meant I got a 100,000 mile power-train warranty, which was the last thing I am worried about on a 4Runner. I did lose a few options that I would have liked when I traded in, like power trunk, HID headlights, all the driver safety features. I learned to get used to not having blind spot, and having to manually shut my trunk (first world problems).

I really liked this 4Runner; it was very smooth, and the interior quality was about the best I have seen in any car that I have yet to own. The way the interior plastics are made fit well, and are solid, and don’t rattle at all. I have issues with things rattling in cars; it drives me insane. I really liked the legendary rear power window like my old ones had. Also like my older 4Runners, it had the simple plug-n-play wiring harness for my brake controller so I could tow my car hauler, and Casita. I did gain front ventilated seats, which are nice to have here in Arkansas. I am not sure they are worth the money, but I enjoyed cooling down the leather faster on a hot day.

I do feel however that Toyota has really forgotten about the 4Runner. They have really pumped a bunch of money into their Highlander, and not touched the 4Runner in recent years. They only recently added driver assistant features this last year, and I am sure that is only because they felt pressured by IIHS and other organizations. Truth is, they have not really changed the look of the 4Runner in a decade, leaving me to think that it might be going away like the Land Cruiser here in America. For the price I paid, it was lacking a lot of things that I just always thought about. The touch screen is old, and small, no power trunk still, no HID headlight options, no 360° camera option, no power folding mirrors, and the list continues. I know it might seem like all that is high maintenance wants, but when I pay up for a car like this, I could have bought the Highlander for about the same price, and got twice as many options. I don’t know: maybe it is just me, but I like to have the creature comforts at least as an option when I am buying a car.

I hauled a lot of things with this car. I was able to pull my 164 parts car up a wet and muddy driveway without any issue; this thing really was a good car to pull anything with. No, it did not have a high towing capacity, but it honestly never struggled. Whether I was towing the Casita or a car it never revved high, it just cruised down the highway. I never once felt that I was not in control of the car and trailer; I really didn’t mind towing with this car looking back.

I kept the 4Runner for about a year, and got bored with it. It was a well built car, but just not exciting, not to mention they sold tons of them so it never stood out in a crowd. I like to drive something different, and here in Arkansas it was far from that. This would not be my last Toyota, but it definitely made me think about getting the biggest bang for my buck. If Toyota decides to pump some money into updating the ancient 4Runner, I will be the first person back at the dealer to check them out.