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2012 Toyota 4Runner (Limited, SR5, Trail) Review


The Toyota 4Runner, the fifth generation of this rugged, full-capability SUV, enters the 2012 model year with major audio and connectivity upgrades and available new automatic running boards.
2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo
A keystone in the Toyota SUV lineup for 27 years, the 4Runner was named “Most Dependable Midsize Crossover/SUV” by J.D. Power & Associates in 2011.
2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 photo -2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5 photo -
For 2012, the 4Runner SR5 and Limited grades offer the convenience of newly available automatic running boards. The 4Runner SR5 and Trail models come with standard SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio capability with a 90-day trial subscription included, USB port with iPod® connectivity and hands-free phone capability and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology.
2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo
Standard for the Limited grade, and optional for all other 4Runner models, a new display-type audio system incorporates today’s most in-demand connectivity features. Those offered are navigation, Toyota Entune™ services, XM Satellite Radio (with 90-day trial subscription), HD Radio with iTunes® tagging and text/e-mail-to-speech. The Toyota Entune system is a collection of popular mobile applications and data services, with three years of complimentary access. Once the smart phone is connected to the vehicle using Bluetooth wireless technology or a USB cable, Entune’s features are operated using the vehicle’s controls or, for some services, by voice recognition. Entune offers mobile apps for Bing™, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable®, and Pandora®. Entune data services include a fuel price guide, sports scores, stocks, traffic and weather.
2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo
The 4Runner combines rugged body-on-frame construction with suspension technology that yields ride comfort more often associated with car-based platforms. The 2012 4Runner is available in a variety of configurations and in three models: a well-equipped SR5, top-of-the-line Limited, plus a Trail grade for maximum off-road capability. Optional third-row seats allow for up to seven-person capacity.
Drivetrain configurations include rear wheel 4x2, part-time 4x4 and full-time multi-mode 4x4 with a locking center differential. All models are equipped with a 4.0-liter 270-horsepower V6 teamed to a five-speed ECT-i automatic transmission.
2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo
Performance and Efficiency
The 4Runner 4.0-liter V6 generates 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. of torque. Dual independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) optimizes torque across the engine’s operating range. Fuel economy ratings rival some car-based SUV-type vehicles at 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway for 4x2 models (22 mpg highway for 4x4). Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds, with 4Runner’s standard integrated tow hitch receiver and wiring harness.
Handling and Ride
A double-wishbone independent front suspension, combined with a variable-flow rack and pinion steering, help give the 4Runner precise control on demanding roads. Coil springs over gas shocks are used at all four wheels for a comfortable ride and controlled handling. The four-link rear suspension minimizes axle hop and assures a smooth ride for rear seat passengers.
The Limited grade comes standard with an X-REAS suspension system that further improves performance, comfort and control. X-REAS automatically adjusts the damping force of shocks when driving over bumpy surfaces, or when cornering. The system uses a center control absorber to cross-link shocks on opposite corners of the vehicle, substantially reducing pitch and yaw by offsetting opposing inputs. With X-REAS the 4Runner corners flatter, smoother, and handles choppy pavement more easily.
2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo
4x4 Capability Designed-In
The 4Runner SR5 and Trail 4x4 models have a two-speed part-time four-wheel-drive system with neutral position. The 4Runner Limited is equipped with a full-time, four-wheel-drive system with a locking center differential and a three-mode, center console-mounted switch. The A-TRAC traction control system is standard equipment on all 4x4 models. The system can distribute driving force to any one wheel in contact with the ground, making terrain irregularities and slippery patches transparent to the driver. An electronic-locking rear differential is standard on the Trail grade.
The Trail grade offers Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) as an option. KDSS significantly improves terrain-following ability by dynamically disconnecting stabilizer bars to allow for more axle travel, and better suspension articulation in slow, difficult terrain.
Toyota’s Crawl Control (CRAWL) feature is standard on the Trail grade. The system helps maintain an appropriate speed to keep the vehicle under control and minimizes the load on drivetrain and suspension components. With the transfer case shifted into low range, CRAWL regulates engine speed and output (along with braking force), to propel the vehicle forward or in reverse at one of the five driver-selectable low-speed settings. This allows the driver to maintain focus while steering over rough level ground or steep grades, without having to also modulate the throttle or brake pedals.
2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited photo2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited photo
The Trail grade also features a Multi-Terrain Select system that dials in wheel slip control to match the terrain. In loose terrain such as mud and sand, more-than-normal wheel slip is permitted, allowing wheel-spin to work in the vehicle’s favor. On bumpy moguls, or solid rock, wheel slip is minimized and the system acts more like a limited slip differential. The Mogul setting is for any extremely uneven terrain, such as V-ditches, slopes, and ridges, uphill or down.
All 4Runner 4x4 models feature standard Downhill Assist Control (DAC). This feature augments the low-speed ascending ability of low-range by helping to hold the vehicle to a target speed with no driver intervention. All models also come standard with Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), which provides additional control for off-road driving by helping to hold the vehicle stationary before starting on a steep incline or slippery surface.
2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo
Exterior Styling
All 4Runner grades feature rugged bumpers and wide fender flares. Aluminum alloy wheels are 17-inches in diameter on SR5 and Trail grades and 20 inches on the Limited, and include a full size spare. The front end’s square fender flares meld with a muscular profile that links with a beefy rear bumper and back door. In addition to its distinctive grille, the SR5 grade also features overfenders to help tackle inclement weather and off-road conditions. A roof rack comes standard.
The Trail grade is designed to maximize off-road performance with superior approach and departure angles, high ground clearance, and an array of functional upgrades for the most demanding active outdoor enthusiast. The Trail model is distinguished by a unique hood scoop, unique 17-inch wheels, black side mirrors, front and rear bumper guards and dark smoke treatment on the head lamps and tail lamps.
The Limited and SR5 grades feature a chrome-plated grille insert, fog lamp bezel and front bumper molding. Front and rear overfenders and side skirts are color-keyed. The side molding, roof rack and rear bumper are also chrome trimmed. The SR5 and Limited grades have supplementary turn signals in the side mirrors, along with puddle lamps.
2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited photo2012 Toyota 4Runner Limited photo
Safety
The standard Toyota Star Safety System™ includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with traction control (TRAC), an Anti-Lock Brake System with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. VSC helps the driver to ensure control by compensating for front and rear wheel slip. The system uses selective braking and modulated engine output to help keep the vehicle in line with the driver’s steering inputs. On 4x2 vehicles, the Auto LSD (Limited Slip Differential) system allows for better traction on slippery sections of roadway. The four-wheel ABS with EBD provides the 4Runner with optimal brake proportioning, regardless of vehicle load.
A system of eight standard airbags includes front, side-mounted and knee airbags for the driver and front passenger, and side curtain airbags for the second and third row. All 2012 4Runners have active headrests for driver and passenger, and three-point seat belts for all seats.
The 2012 4Runner Limited offers the new Safety Connect™ telematics system. Available by subscription, with or without the optional navigation system, Safety Connect offers four safety and security features: Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location, Emergency Assistance Button (SOS), and Roadside Assistance. When Safety Connect is ordered, it includes a one-year trial subscription.
In case of either airbag deployment or severe rear-end collision, an Automatic Collision Notification system is designed to automatically call a response center. If a response agent cannot communicate with the occupants, the agent can contact the nearest emergency-services provider to dispatch assistance. Pushing the in-vehicle “SOS” button allows drivers to reach the response center to request help in an emergency as well as for a wide range of roadside assistance needs. If a 4Runner equipped with Safety Connect is stolen, agents can work with local authorities to help locate and recover the vehicle.
A rear clearance sonar system is standard on SR5 models, and a rear-view monitor system is standard on Limited and Trail grades and optional on the SR5. The system displays in the rear-view mirror or navigation screen (if equipped), helping to keep track of hard-to-see objects to the rear of the vehicle.
Comfort and Convenience
A bright, highly visible instrument panel houses speedometer, tachometer, voltage, fuel and coolant temperature gauges, plus a combination meter that offers multiple functions. An Eco-Driving feedback system allows the driver to monitor fuel consumption in real time. On 4Runner Trail, an overhead console within easy reach organizes the off-road control switches into one location. A compass indicator and outside temperature display add functionality. A manual air conditioning system is standard on SR5 and Trail grades; the Limited features an automatic dual zone climate control system.
For second-row passengers, a sculpted front seat-back shape provides additional knee space. The second-row seats, which include a center armrest, individually recline up to 16 degrees in four steps. Third-row seating features a roomy, supportive seating area. A 40/20/40 second-row seat configuration with a one-touch walk-in function makes access to the third row easier.
A rich leather-trimmed interior comes standard on 4Runner Limited and is optional on SR5. Graphite and Sand Beige fabric is standard on SR5. The Trail models are equipped with graphite color water-resistant fabric seats.
Versatility and Convenience
Fold-flat second-row rear seats provide a level load floor in the 4Runner, and it is not necessary to remove the headrests to fold the seats flat. The available third-row seat is split 50/50 and folds flat, as well. The seats can be folded from the side, or at the rear, using separate one-touch levers. With this new arrangement, more cargo space is available without removing seats, and longer items can be conveniently carried.
A Smart Key system featuring keyless entry with push-button start is standard on the Limited grade. The system allows the driver to unlock or start the vehicle by carrying the keyless remote. The cargo door window has jam control, like the moonroof and power side windows. An available pull-out cargo deck is capable of carrying up to 440 pounds, to make loading heavy items easier and to provide seating for tailgating and campsite relaxation. For models with the sliding deck, a 6.4-liter capacity storage box behind the rear seat provides additional storage.
The Limited grade offers an available JBL® premium system with navigation, featuring a six-disk in-dash CD changer and 15 speakers. The navigation system includes a large seven-inch monitor.
Standard on all audio systems is a unique “party mode” audio setting that is ideal for tailgating, raises bass response and shifts sound balance to the rear of the vehicle. Party mode is in addition bolstered by rear liftgate-mounted speakers, which function with or without party mode selected.
2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail photo
Limited Warranty
Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover powertrain for 60,000 miles and corrosion with no mileage limitation. Toyota dealers have complete details on the limited warranty. The 4Runner will also come standard with Toyota Care, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

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