In 1984, for the 1985 model year, Toyota decided to revamp their pickup truck line to meet the demands of car owners who were looking for mid-size SUVs. Named the 4Runner, this vehicle was the first SUV to be manufactured by Toyota for utility and comfort. Through its fair share of troubles and accomplishments, the Toyota 4Runner managed to make a name for itself and pave its way to the top.
1984-1989: First generation
The first generation of 4Runners had very basic parts and features until they had a major revamp in 1986. During this year, Toyota decided to change the suspensions of the 4Runners to independent front suspensions. However, many of the 4Runners that were imported in the same year did not come with rear seats therefore making them trucks instead of SUVs. Nonetheless, some of these 4Runners had automatic transmissions and were powered by turbocharged 22R-TE engines that could produce up to 135 hp.
1989-1995: Second generation
Toyota surprised the public by releasing the crisply designed, second generation 4Runners in 1990. With its more muscular design, the new breed of 4Runners was considered by Consumers Digest as one of the Best Buys in 1990. Engine-wise, the second-gen 4Runners were still powered by 2.4 L four-cylinder engines. For the 1992 model year, some of the features of this vehicle were updated to boost sales. One of the notable cosmetic updates was the replacement of the rectangular sealed beam headlights to modular ones.
1995-2002: Third generation
Though they still looked very similar to the second-gens, the third generation 4Runners were equipped with new chassis, body shells, and 2.7L 3RZ-FE I4 or 3.4L 5VZ-FE V6 engines that could produce 150 hp and 190 hp respectively. As a response to the safety issues faced by the previous generations, Toyota decided to equip the third-gen 4Runners with anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and dual airbags. In its last year, this generation was given another facelift through the installation of a new grille, rim design, and transparent tail lights.
2002-2009: Fourth generation
The fourth generation 4Runners were still classified as mid-size SUVs even though Toyota made some changes to their bodies and chassis. Because of some changes, the 4Runner was manufactured and sold in three trims: Sport Edition, Limited, and SR5. For the Sport Edition, the suspension system X-Relative Absorber System (X-REAS) was made standard to improve overall handling. This generation also saw the introduction of the ULEV certified 4.7 L 2UZ-FE engine which produced as much as 235 horsepower and 320 pound-feet.
2009-present: Fifth generation
The current generation of 4Runners was introduced in 2009 at the Texas State Fair. A new edition, called the Trail Edition, is also unveiled and comes with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) that greatly improves handling and articulation. Also, current 4Runners are powered by 4.0-liter V6 adds Dual VVT-i engines for better fuel economy, horsepower, and torque.