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2009 Toyota 4Runner Review

The seven-seat 2009 Toyota 4Runner is an ideal vehicle for shoppers who need a rugged SUV for towing or off-roading. However, if you don’t need the 4Runner’s muscle, a crossover will likely offer more interior space and a more-comfortable ride.

Pros & Cons

  • Superb build quality
  • Tons of rugged capabilities
  • Cramped available third row
  • Poor safety scores




Critics' Rating: 8.4
Performance: 8.3
Interior: 7.7
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.7
Safety: 8.5
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2009 Toyota 4Runner Overview

The Toyota 4Runner is available with either a V6 or a V8 engine, both of which are paired with an automatic transmission. Rear- and four-wheel drive models are available with either engine. The 4Runner’s available V8 is particularly strong, and gives this SUV the ability to tow up to 7,300 pounds. Starting at 16/21 mpg city/highway in two-wheel drive V6 models, the 4Runner’s fuel economy ratings are average for a truck-based SUV, but lag behind that of car-based crossovers. Test drivers warned that the 4Runner’s truck-based construction, which gives it so much towing and off-road capability, also makes it less refined on paved roads. The 4Runner's safety scores are among the lowest in the class.

Inside, reviewers liked the solid build quality of the 4Runner. Seating for five is standard, though an available third row brings capacity up to seven. Reviewers noted that the third row is cramped for all but kids. Standard interior features include automatic climate control, cruise control, a power driver’s seat and a basic stereo, though numerous available features, like heated leather front seats and a navigation system, can enhance the 4Runner’s interior. 

Overall, drivers who need an off-road SUV should make sure the 4Runner is at the top of their shopping list. Anyone who plans to stick to paved roads and doesn’t tow often will likely be happier with a crossover.

See the full 2009 Toyota 4Runner specs »

Other Cars to Consider

If you like the Toyota 4Runner, you should also make sure the 2009 Ford Explorer is on your list. Reviewers maintained that the Explorer is one of the best traditional SUVs available. Shoppers who need to tow, haul or conquer backwoods trails will appreciate the Explorer’s higher safety ratings and more-upscale interior.

If you prioritize off-road abilities but want a more refined interior than the Explorer or the 4Runner can offer, consider the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It gets better safety scores than both the Explorer and 4Runner. The Grand Cherokee’s combination of an up-market interior and legendary Jeep off-road performance makes it a great compromise between rugged utility and everyday usability.

Compare the 4Runner to the Explorer and Grand Cherokee »

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