Built to tackle the toughest terrain found anywhere on Earth, the 2012 Toyota 4Runner is a traditional body-on-frame, midsize SUV. That means the 4Runner is old-school, a truck designed for serious hauling, towing, and off-roading.
Because it shares its underlying platform with the Lexus GX 460, the 4Runner is more refined than you might expect, but don’t take that to mean that this Toyota suv is intended primarily for suburban family duty. Where the 4Runner excels is in places where concrete and blacktop are missing from the landscape, where deep snow is common, and where rocks threaten undercarriages.
Still, many people love the 4Runner for other reasons, myself included. The 4Runner is appealing for many of the same reasons a Jeep Wrangler is, equipped with a rugged, outdoorsy, masculine image and a reputation for bulletproof dependability. Plus, it’s a solution to the “what if?” question. For example, Southern Californians frequently ask themselves, “What if the Big One hits?” A BMW 3 Series won’t get your family out of L.A. if a massive quake strikes. But a 4Runner, which can forge its own path out of the destruction, could.
Besides, I just like to drive this Toyota along the beach with all the windows down and the sunroof open. It’s like a convertible or a Jeep Wrangler in that way, but without the pesky fabric roof.