For 1996, Toyota’s most popular
SUV received a complete redesign, including all new engines, chassis,
interior and exterior styling, enhanced safety equipment and added
utility. It was the first 4Runner to not share either body panels
or a frame with Toyota’s compact pickup trucks.
Available in two- or four-wheel drive, in base, SR5 and Limited
trim, and with two engine choices, there was a 4Runner for everyone.
Engine choices were a 2.7-liter four-cylinder or a 3.4-liter V6,
both twin cam, multi-valve designs.
The new chassis was stiffer for improved steering feel and more
precise suspension travel, and was two inches longer to increase
wheelbase for a more stable ride. Front suspension was a coil spring
with double wishbone design replacing the previous Hi-Trac system,
which resulted in greater wheel travel and ride comfort.
Other features on the new 4Runner included a one-piece lift-up
tailgate with power window, larger outside mirrors, much increased
interior volume with greater head and legroom and a lowered step-in
and cargo loading height. For safety, dual airbags were included
along with four-wheel ABS, side-door impact beams and ALR/ELR seatbelts
front and rear.
For 1997, 4Runner saw only minor changes including the addition
of a 2WD Limited model, revised seat fabric in SR5 models, the ability
to order 16-inch alloy wheels on 2WD models and two new Preferred
For 1998, minor interior changes were made to 4Runner with the
addition of rotary-style HVAC controls, a new four-spoke steering
wheel and revised audio head units.
The third generation 4Runner entered its fourth year with more
standard features and options than any 4Runner to date. All 1999
4Runners received a redesigned front bumper, valence cover and grille
with multi-reflector headlamps with an auto-off function, a new
center console with dual cupholders, an overhead console with garage
door/sunglass holder, two power outlets in the center cluster and
an LCD odometer with digital dual trip meters.
The 1999 4Runner Limited model received a new multi-mode 4WD system
as standard. The new multi-mode feature is actually a full-time
all-wheel-drive system with 2WD capability and can be used in normal
driving conditions on all types of roads including dry, hard surfaces
such as pavement.
For 2001, all 4Runner models were standard equipped with the 3.4
liter V6 engine and automatic transmission, Vehicle Skid Control
with traction control, multi-mode 4WD and a 2WD/4WD selector switch
and a pre-wired trailer hitch harness. The brake booster was changed
to hydraulic assisted and the rear differential lock has been discontinued.
The 2001 4Runner also boasted new interior additions and three new