From Past to Present: Unveiling the Toyota 4Runner's Evolution and Enhancements

by Masashi S. JDM Enthusiast

The Toyota 4Runner was made by the Japanese automaker Toyota from 1983 up to its fifth generation in 2009. The 4Runner, also called Toyota Hilux Surf in Japan, had its mechanicals based on a Toyota Hilux pickup truck and later developed into a cross between a compact and mid-size SUV. The 4Runner is a big, comfy, and excellent car built for both on and offroad. Let us look at how far it has come since its unveiling in 1983.

First Generation

The first-generation 4Runner was manufactured between 1983 and 1988 as a two-door vehicle equipped with a detachable hardtop crafted from fiberglass, which covered the bed. Its exterior boasted rectangular headlights, 3-segment style grille, and turn signals set beside the headlights and on the bumper. The rear, sported a tailgate-style rear door, while some models offer a rear tailgate with a retractable windshield. This 4Runner model was available in two trims: a two-seater that looked like a pickup and the second was a five-seater that could accommodate three passengers with foldadable rear seats. It came equipped with 2.4-liter (22R) inline-4 carbureted petrol engine with 105 hp and 136 lb-ft of torque, linked with a five-speed manual transmission. 

Second Generation

The second generation 4Runner was unveiled in 1989 with a closed bodywork that replaces the removable rear roof section and the rear fiberglass shell. This change offered a four-door option that made the 4Runner an appropriate family car. The exterior included a flat front fascia and short overhangs. The tailgate was opened by flipping downwards, while the rear window slid inside the tailgate. The 4Runner comes with a 2.4-liter inline-4 and an optional 3.0-liter V6, paired with a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission.

Third Generation

The third-generation 4Runner was revealed in 1996 with new changes while still maintaining its rugged off-road ability. The exterior offers enlarged halogen headlights, larger side mirrors, anti-chip rocker panel protectors, a one-piece lift-up tailgate configuration with a slide-down power window, and a stoplight integrated into the roofline. The interior is more spacious, with lowered floor and wider doors while the seats are comfortable and supportive, with enough legroom and cargo space. It comes with 2.7-liter inline-4 petrol with 150 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque, and 3.4-liter V6 petrol with 183 hp and 217 lb-ft of torque, with either 2WD or 4WD.

Fourth Generation

The fourth-generation was revealed in 2002 with a chromed/body-color grille, new headlights, a power lift-up tailgate, and 16-inch (17-inch on the Sport Edition and 18-inch on the Limited Edition) light-alloy wheels. The 4Runner offers more interior space as a 5-seat or a 7-seat option with head, shoulder, foot, and knee room. It came with a 4.0-liter (1GR-FE) V6 petrol engine with 245 hp and 282 lb-ft of torque, and a 4.7-liter (2UZ-FE) V8 petrol engine with 235 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. The V8 engine was adjusted with VVT-i which boosted its output to 268 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque.

Fifth Generation

The fifth generation in 2009, continues where it left off with new exterior including a blacked-out mesh grille with a chrome strip and angular headlights. The interior has a nice and neatly designed dashboard, comfortable and supportive seats, and 1,217 up to 2,548 liters of luggage space. The 4Runner came with a 4.0-liter Dual VVT-i V6 petrol with 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque and an optional 2.7-liter inline-4 petrol with 157 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque equipped on 2WD models. The engines were paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission and a 4-speed automatic transmission.


The 2022 4Runner lineup offers a wide range of trims for various driving preferences and terrains. Among them are the SR5, SR5 Premium, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, Limited, and TRD Pro models. Designed for urban adventurers seeking style and flair, the TRD Sport trim stands out with its unique features including color-keyed accents on the grille, black roof rails, a TRD-style hood scoop, a front spoiler, body molds, rocker panels, and Dark Gray 20-inch alloy wheels. Under the hood, it offers a 4.0-liter VVT-i V-6 petrol engine with 270 hp, coupled with a five-speed ECT-i automatic transmission. 


The Toyota 4Runner has solidified its position as a cornerstone of the Toyota lineup for over nearly four decades. It is known for its ruggedness, durability, and versatility, whether navigating city streets or venturing off-road, the 4Runner embodies a reputation for being robust, reliable, and always prepared for any challenge. You can now visit the Toyota 4Runner stocklist for more available and latest models to your liking.

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About Masashi S. Junior   JDM Enthusiast

1 connections, 0 recommendations, 16 honor points.
Joined APSense since, April 15th, 2021, From Yamanashi, Japan.

Created on Apr 9th 2024 03:52. Viewed 77 times.


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