What Changed for 2008:
- First- and second-row seats get standard side curtain air bags
- Active front headrest
- Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) cut-off switch added
The 4Runner has been part of Toyota's U.S. model lineup since 1984. The original 4Runner was little more than a short-bed pickup with a fiberglass top, similar to the full-size Ford Broncos and Chevy Blazers of the 1970s. It wasn't until 1990 that the 4Runner became a proper SUV, with an all-steel body and available 4-door configuration. The current 4Runner is the fourth-generation model, which made its debut in 2003. Rather than switch the 4Runner to a car-based platform, Toyota introduced another midsize SUV-the Camry-based Highlander-and retained the 4Runner's rugged body-on-frame construction. The 4Runner is positioned between the Highlander and the full-size Sequoia in Toyota's SUV lineup. The 4Runner is covered by a 5-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain warranty in addition to its 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage.
Three versions of the 2008 Toyota 4Runner are offered: SR5, Sport Edition and Limited. The SR5 gets a chrome grille and door handles; fog lamps; black running boards; and 16-inch alloy wheels. Cruise control; power windows including the rear one; two 12-volt outlets; and remote keyless entry are standard fare. The Sport Edition adds a stylish touch with a hood scoop; a smoked chrome grille; a tubular roof rack and side steps; and 17-inch alloy wheels with tires with raised white letters. That model also gets a tilt-and-telescoping and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The top-line Limited version features a matching-color grille; heated power mirrors; a black roof rack; illuminated running board; and 18-inch alloy wheels. It includes black wood interior trim; leather and heated front seats; and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass.
While the SR5 and Sport Edition models get an AM/FM/CD 6-speaker stereo, the Limited adds a 6-disc CD changer. A 360-watt JBL Synthesis system with 10 speakers is an option on all versions.
An optional third-row seat expands the 4Runner's seating capacity to 7. Three-row models get second-row seats that tumble forward to allow better entry and exit. The Limited version gets dual-zone climate control; all versions have automatic climate control.
Each trim level of the 2008 Toyota 4Runner offers a choice of a 236-hp, 4.0-liter, dual-overhead-cam (DOHC) V-6 engine or 260-hp, 4.7-liter i-Force V-8 engine, both equipped with variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) technology and a 5-speed automatic transmission. The torque rating on the V-8 engine is 306 lb.-ft. EPA fuel economy ratings range from 18 mpg city/21 mpg highway on V-6 engine 2WD models to 15 mpg city/19 mpg highway on V-8 engine 4WD versions.
Rear-wheel drive is standard; it includes an automatic limited-slip differential for better grip. V-6 engine models offer a part-time 4WD system while V-8 engine models get full-time 4WD. Both 4WD systems get a Torsen differential that adjusts the power ratio based on steering feel and wheel slip. Each also has a 2-speed low-range transfer case along with Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Assist Control (DAC). This serious off-road hardware makes the 4Runner a good choice for those who actually do venture off the beaten path, says Toyota.
The 2008 Toyota 4Runner is equipped with what the maker calls the Star Safety System, which includes anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), traction control, emergency braking assistance, and electronic vehicle stability control (VSC). The new VSC-off switch allows a driver to disengage the system for driving conditions when slip is preferred. Front-seat-mounted side air bags and two-row side curtain air bags are now standard. Mirrors strategically located in the rear-corner window pillars aid visibility when backing, as does a rearview camera included with the optional DVD navigation system and its 7-inch LCD screen.
The 2008 Toyota 4Runner Limited V-8 4WD model can be had with a rear auto-leveling air suspension for a smooth ride while off-roading or towing a load. It adds Toyota's X-REAS Sport Enhancement Suspension that diagonally links the compression chambers of the shock absorbers to improve on-road ride and lessen roll and pitch. X-REAS is standard on the 4Runner Sport Edition. According to Toyota, a sensor allows the 4Runner to produce a proper fuel-gauge reading even when the vehicle is positioned on an incline.