Excited About Wife's New 4Runner

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Jul 23, 2003
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2wd 4Runner. What’s the point?

I wholeheartedly agree that mindlessly getting 4 WD is stupid unless you have a real reason to do that. I go skiing every winter weekend in a 2wd F-150 with Blizzaks. Just amazing capability.

But a 2wd 4Runner gives you the ride, handling and mpg disadvantages of a 4Runner without the advantages.

These days there are probably a dozen vehicles that can give you reliable transportation until your fetus is ready for his own driver’s license.
We had a new 2016 4Runner that was 2WD. Loved it. Did not need the 4WD. Some people just like a 4Runner.
 

Astro14

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Yakima makes great racks and great gear.

Got my first set in about 1983. Used 2x4 for crossbars, clamped onto the rain gutters of my Oldsmobile. Less wind noise than you might imagine. They held up forever.

Had Yakima crossbars on my old 4 Runner. They replace the factory crossbars and were very sturdy. Might be hard to see in the picture, but those are the old round style Yakima bars. Held Skyboxes, kayaks, skis and a remarkable amount of lumber from Lowe’s.

Had a Yakima bike rack on my Expedition many years ago. Great bit of gear.

Have a Yakima Skybox 16 on my daughter’s Volvo wagon with Volvo crossbars.

Put Yakima crossbars and a kayak stacker on my son’s Volvo wagon.

Yakima isn’t cheap, but their stuff works very well and lasts forever. Moreover, they stand behind it. I had an early Skybox, it had a problem, and they cheerfully sent me a whole new Skybox. Still have that Skybox here at the house. It’s been outside for a decade. Still looks great. Still works perfectly
 

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john_pifer

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In retrospect you did good buying the Toyota when you did.
The wife and I have remarked more than once to each other in the last few months how glad we are that we got the 4Runner when we did, for the price we paid.

I feel for anybody who’s in the market for a vehicle right now. I know how they feel, because the wife and I are actually in a little bit worse situation than that - we’re first time home buyers in the market for a house within the next several months! But that’s another topic for another thread. One I’ve been meaning to post about for a while now.

Anyway, as far as vehicle buying, the best advice I can give is to shop around, and don’t be afraid to take your search nationwide. As I said in the first post, I flew to Arlington, TX. for our 4Runner and drove it home to Nashville.
 
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Long Island, NY
The wife and I have remarked more than once to each other in the last few months how glad we are that we got the 4Runner when we did, for the price we paid.

I feel for anybody who’s in the market for a vehicle right now. I know how they feel, because the wife and I are actually in a little bit worse situation than that - we’re first time home buyers in the market for a house within the next several months! But that’s another topic for another thread. One I’ve been meaning to post about for a while now.

Anyway, as far as vehicle buying, the best advice I can give is to shop around, and don’t be afraid to take your search nationwide. As I said in the first post, I flew to Arlington, TX. for our 4Runner and drove it home to Nashville.
Wife and I loved and miss her '03 Sequoia. If it wasn't rotting out everywhere we'd still have it. '19 Pilot is OK. We both like it, not love it. Price was good when I got it.

Like your trip, I flew to Raleigh to get the Sequoia from NY and drove it home. It was cheaper than up here BUT main reason was I wanted load leveling rear end in the SR5 with no sunroof, 17" rims, 4WD, rear heat and A/C. Dealers up here kept trying to change allocations and couldn't get it. Kept getting kicked back, I think they were pushing the limited/leather etc. Fred Anderson Toyota had 3 in stock as I wanted, not my color. They ordered it new, said 12 weeks, and were right on.

Good luck with new truck, new child, new house.
 

john_pifer

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You’re gonna love it.
Thanks! We do love the 4Runner.

We really like the rugged look, especially compared with the ocean of rounded-off, egg-shaped crossovers that most people currently drive.

We also feel a pride of ownership with the 4Runner (as well as my Tacoma). It gives us a good feeling to know that we’re driving a vehicle with build quality, reliability, and durability that’s really 2nd to none, and has excellent chances of lasting 20 years or longer without the need for major repairs.

Yeah, you can go on and say it. Im a Toyota fanboy. The brand has earned my respect through 14+ years of owning my Tacoma.

The seats are comfortable, the interior is roomy, and we like the fact that we can pop up the 3rd row if we need to haul my nephews somewhere. It’ll also be handy when our kids (wifes expecting again - its a girl this time!) are older. And then there’s the ability to carry our rooftop cargo box, and hitch-mount carrier, or bike carrier, etc.

We really have no complaints about the truck! Of course, I’d love it to have more power and better economy, but the durability of this powertrain is unparalleled, and I guess that’s the compromise.

Oh, and, of course, I prefer the top-mount, spin-off oil filter on the “Gen 1” 1GR-FE V6 on my Tacoma, while this 4Runner has the cartridge-style (I’ve heard that the revised cylinder heads on this “Gen 2” 4.0 don’t allow the room for the remote oil filter boss). But it’s not a big deal.

It‘s nice knowing that Im already familiar with just about all the required regular maintenance, from doing it on the truck all these years.
 

john_pifer

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Wife and I loved and miss her '03 Sequoia. If it wasn't rotting out everywhere we'd still have it. '19 Pilot is OK. We both like it, not love it. Price was good when I got it.

Like your trip, I flew to Raleigh to get the Sequoia from NY and drove it home. It was cheaper than up here BUT main reason was I wanted load leveling rear end in the SR5 with no sunroof, 17" rims, 4WD, rear heat and A/C. Dealers up here kept trying to change allocations and couldn't get it. Kept getting kicked back, I think they were pushing the limited/leather etc. Fred Anderson Toyota had 3 in stock as I wanted, not my color. They ordered it new, said 12 weeks, and were right on.

Good luck with new truck, new child, new house.
Thanks!

Sounds like an awesome package you had.

Fred Anderson was actually one of the Toyota dealers I got a quote from.

What made you get a Pilot instead of another Sequoia?
 
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Well, since we got married earlier this year, in April, and then found out we're expecting our first child (he's due Jan. 30), we had talked about eventually getting something larger than my wife's 2018 Honda Civic Hatchback.

But we really liked the little black Civic Hatchback, with the 1.5L Turbo engine and 6-speed, and I figured we could fairly comfortably continue to use the car for at least a few more years, even if we have another kid right after this one, since the hatchback body style has so much cargo space. And, I was going to get a rooftop cargo carrier for trips. Plus, the thing was so much fun to drive, especially after I swapped on some 18" Civic Si wheels, and a KTuner ECU programmer that increased turbo boost to provide a boost of +30 WHP/60 WTQ, and still netted well over 30 MPG.

I had the trip of a lifetime to Costa Rica planned for our honeymoon, with the suggestions of some of you guys, then the thing we don't talk about hit, and our Central America honeymoon turned into a roadtrip in our little Civic through Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Ended up being epic, and we had an absolute blast driving! Lots of memories.

Then, back on Dec. 4, my wife was on her way to work one morning, stopped in traffic at a light, and a guy in a Ford Flex tried to whip around her and miscalculated. Caught the left rear of her Civic with the front right of his Flex. Wife was shaken, and sore for a few days, but OK. She and the baby got a clean bill of health after getting checked out.

Our little Civic? Not so much. As a friend put it, "these things are built like Faberge eggs these days". The way these unibodies are built, makes them expensive to repair when they get hit. The rep at Progressive, who handled my wife's case, thought for sure that the car would be economically repairable. Nope. Damage estimate exceeded 80% of the car's value, and doubt was expressed as to the structural integrity if it was repaired, especially if the car was hit again in the same area.

They deemed it a total loss.

Oh well. Thankfully my wife was in good shape on it, financially, thanks to putting some money down when she financed it, and Honda's great resale value.

As a result of my ownership experience with my Tacoma, we had naturally talked a lot about Toyota, and, the 2 main Toyotas we'd talked a lot about, were the 4Runner, and the Sequoia.

With both my wife and myself being automotive enthusiasts, and having lots of conversations about all different kinds of cars, trucks, and SUVs, especially while we're out driving around and seeing lots of vehicles on the roads, we'd talked a lot about the 4Runners and the Sequoias - the pros and the cons, etc. The pros being the good looks (well, we consider the 4Runner ruggedly attractive; I'm not so sure the Sequoia can be called good-looking, although a lift and some aggressive, off-road wheels and tires sure do a lot for the looks of them).

We also love the Land Cruiser, but they're far and away out of our price range! I'll never forget getting to ride in a mid-to-late '80s Land Cruiser 60 Series when I was a kid, in around 1989. It's my only ride in one before or since. It was so very different from the Plymouth minivan my parents drove (they weren't car people by any stretch), and just exuded not only quality, but an exotic aura of "cool". It was dark gray.

The Land Cruiser has always just had a rep for quality and indestructibility, and, with the 4Runners still being made at Toyota's Aichi, Honshu, Japan plant, they're sort of like a "Land Cruiser Jr" - every bit as capable as the Land Cruiser of lasting 20 years and beyond when you take care of them.

We talked about different kinds of sport utilities other than the Toyotas, but never for very long. She likes the look of the GM and Ford full-size SUVs, but what stopped us from even considering those trucks, and I know I'm going to irritate some of y'all with this, but it's just my experience - the lack of quality and dependability. My experience with them (no, I haven't owned one, but I've known lots of people who did) is that they just nickel and dime you to death. Fuel pumps. Water pumps. Alternators. Starters. Blower motors. Blower motor resistors. Etc. Etc. And, to us, the interiors just aren't put together very well.

To me, it's really a very clear difference. I guess it started with my dad's parents back in the 80s (the worst time for domestic vehicles). My dad's dad was a WWII and Korean War veteran, and lifelong mechanic and Chrysler service manager, and then, later on, a rep for the old Sun Electronics (some of y'all know Sun made those old, huge, automotive diagnostic machines you used to see in auto repair shops). In the 80s, he switched over to Japanese, having seen how much better they were put together they were, and how much more reliable they were. And, naturally, his switchover made an impression on me, as a kid who was interested in cars. Now, Papa never owned anything exotic, but, even as a 10-year-old kid in 1990, I could clearly discern the quality difference between our 1987 Plymouth Voyager, and Grandma and Papa's 1990 Honda Accord LX and 1990 Nissan SE-V6 pickup.

SO, anyway, if you can't tell by now, I became a fan of Japanese cars when I was a kid, and I still have an affinity for them.

And my Tacoma has been as reliable and durable and dependable of a vehicle as I've ever owned.

Now has 234,000 miles (I've owned since new), and all I've had to replace has been:

- U-Joints in driveshaft twice now - first was around 100K, then, again, recently, due to clunk that could have been just a worn-out isolator in the center carrier bearing, but I went ahead and replaced the u-joints again while I had it out

- All 4 wheel bearings and rear axle seals (hey, I like to drive fast)

- Belt tensioner and idler pulley

- Center console latch broke from me slamming it down too hard

- Sunvisor broke

- Overhead compass/temp display failed. Known issue with these. Re-soldered for free. Fixed.

All underhood components original except belt, battery, spark plugs, filters. A/C blows ice cold. Engine and transmission run like new. All original suspension components, though the shocks are pretty worn out and I'm looking at swapping some on from a 2016+ Tacoma, as I hear they're better.

Bottom line, we decided on a new 2021 4Runner, because the wife has always liked them, and the indestructible, tried-and-true nature of the powertrain (it shares an almost identical engine and transmission to the Tacoma) and the tough, body-on-frame construction made it an easy decision. Not to mention, they're very roomy inside - more so than I thought. I'm 6'2", and, when I sat in the back seat of a new 4Runner, I was surprised at how much leg room I had back there, even with the front seats all the way back.

We decided on the base SR5 model, in 2WD. We didn't feel the need to go with one of the higher trim levels, because, these 2020 and up 4Runners actually come with a LOT of standard equipment, including Apple Car Play, power driver's seat with power lumbar (that was important to me; I have to have lumbar support), LED headlights, heated side mirrors and de-icers for the windshield wipers, power sliding aft tailgate window, roof rails, 17" alloys, Bluetooth audio/phone connection, 4 USB ports, and Toyota's electronic safety suite, including Pre Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams.

We decided against 4WD because we didn't need it - we don't go off-roading, and the gnarliest gnar this thing will ever likely see will be maybe an unpaved road somewhere. Nothing a 2WD body-on-frame, truck-based SUV can't handle. Plus, 4WD adds complexity and weight (in the case of the 4Runner, 4WD adds 275 lbs), and extra maintenance. Just more to go wrong when it's something we'd never use. And, we'll enjoy the better acceleration with almost 300 lbs less weight. And then there's the $1800 savings. And better tow capacity.

And we'll likely upgrade the wheels, so, I'll keep the stock wheels and put some good winter-rated tires on those.

Also got the 3rd Row Seating, which makes this, technically, a 7-passenger truck. Although whoever's in the 3rd row, ain't gonna wanna be back there for long. We looked at it as something that can expand the usefulness of this truck for us, as we're planning to have more kids, Lord willing. So, we can put a kid or 2 back there, on short trips, and not have to take 2 cars. The seats fold flat, and there's a ton of room back there for cargo or whatever.

We decided to go new because it just doesn't make a lot of sense to buy these used, especially if it's only a few years old, because they just do not depreciate.

Getting this thing will be a little bit of an adventure, as I'm buying it out of Arlington, TX. Being 700 miles from Nashville, the thing that made the most sense was to hop a plane for a $129 one-way ticket, then drive it home. So, next Thursday, I'll do that. Just a little bit nervous about flying down and then potentially finding something wrong with it, like a scratch or dent or something. But the salesman has assured me that there are no scratches or dents, and he checked the odometer - 14 miles. I've asked him to make a note for them not to wash it - don't want to take the chance of someone scratching the paint or swirling it with a buffer.

We plan to keep this forever, and, with the proven longevity of these, there's no reason we should ever have to get rid of it. If anything, we'll pass it on to Jr. when he turns 16 :) Just hoping it won't get hit!

Review to come after we drive it for a while!

Who all here has had 4Runners?
Congrats. Bet it works well for all of you.
I just bought a used sequoia. High miles but looks great. Love the v8 and 8 seats and lots and lots of room. Mine is 4wd for trails and wisconsin snow. I put some large mud tires on her. Wow it goes great in the snow.
 

john_pifer

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Congrats. Bet it works well for all of you.
I just bought a used sequoia. High miles but looks great. Love the v8 and 8 seats and lots and lots of room. Mine is 4wd for trails and wisconsin snow. I put some large mud tires on her. Wow it goes great in the snow.
Nice!

We've got 2 kids (ages: 1 year and 2 months), and there's a good chance we'll have another on the way soon. We're going to try to make the 4Runner work, but I've thought about options if the 4Runner ends up just being too small. The Sequoia would definitely be a consideration. I also really like the new Armada.
 
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I think the sequoia is way more reliable than the armada...your choice...young kids...so fun and so much work. My daughter is 28 now. When i bought a new superduty she loved washing with tons of suds and sliding around the back.. kids love buckets of water and such
 

john_pifer

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The flat steel grid things from a trailer hitch offer a ton of room if you buy a couple huge plastic bins.. lots of kid stuff room...
Yeah, we bought a Yakima CBX-18 rooftop cargo carrier for when we go to the beach, etc. And I'd already planned to eventually get a hitch-mount cargo carrier, as well.

Here's the thread I started on the Yakima:

 
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