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2003 Model 4Runner

Late in 2002 Toyota released the 4th Generation of the 4Runner. Based on the same platform as the Land Cruiser Prado 120, which is sold in the overseas market. It was the first 4Runner to be released with a V8. The 4.7 liter V8(2UZ-FE ) was the same as the one in the Land Cruiser 100, Sequoia and Tundra models with a slightly different level of tuning, 235hp and 320lb/ft. It was also coupled to a brand new 5 spd auto box (, which was also release in the 2003 L:and Cruiser. (A750E-I for the 2WD and A750F-I for the 4WD). Fortunately Toyota made use of body on frame construction and kept the solid axle in the rear, resisting the temptation to go “soft” on the 4Runner. No manual transmission was available.

The 4Runner was bigger than the previous generations and also weighed on average 400lbs more. It featured a more spacious interior and also a more luxurious ride with plenty of extra oomph under the hood.

Early in 2003 the V6(1GR-FE) go launched. It was the first all aluminum engine in a Toyota truck. It featured VVTi ( Variable Valve timing) and a very respectable 245HP from the 4.0liter engine, and 282 lb/ft. Only auto was available for this model and Toyota used the trusted 4 spd (A340E for the 2WD and A340F for the 4WD).

The 4WD V8 had full time 4WD with a center limited Torsen diff, and could only use 4Hi and 4LO. The 4WD V6 also had full time 4WD with center diff, but could be run in 2WD mode as well. The new 4Runner featured a newly improved ATRACII, which worked significantly better than previous generations offroad. It also featured a center diff lock, which disables the VSC to prevent throttle back in offroad situations. The ground clearance was however educed from previous generations, which was frowned upon by offroaders. However ride and handling did improve significantly.

There were 3 trim levels available:

  • SR5
  • Sport Edition (SE)
  • Limited (LTD)
  • This link has all the details on the models and trim levels.

    Until early 2003 the SR5 and SE had unpainted bumpers and trimming for a rugged look, the LTD came with color coded bumpers and trim. Later in 2003 all models came with color coded paint on the trim and bumpers.

    The SE came with the hydraulic XREAS suspension, which was an option for the LTD. It helped prevent body lean during cornering and braking, improving the sporty feel of this midsize SUV. The LTD also had the option of a rear air suspension, which automatically included the XREAS. For on road use this system is highly recommended, however serious offroaders will find that they will have to replace this suspension over time.

    There was a whole bag of electronic tricks also included with the new 4Runner, see above link.

    Some of the initial problems with the 4Runner included:

  • Moonroof rattles and not closing properly
  • Manual seat feeling loose and shaking
  • Front seat squeaks (normally fixed by lubing the rails)
  • Driveline clunk when stopping on 4WDs (normally fixed by lubing slip joints)
  • Early V6 fuel rail issues (fixed by Toyota)
  • Vibration at 65MPH (normally fixed by replacing factory rubber)
  • None were serious, but when buying secondhand you might want to check for the seats and moonroof issues. The majority of owners who bought these early vehicles are still very happy with them.





    2004 Model

    Toyota made very few changes from the 2003 model to the 2004. Not much changed since the late 2003 changes. One thing to watch for is that Toyota changed the auto to a sealed unit, you will not find a dipstick on it. This included changing the transmission fluid from Type IV to WS, which is supposed to be lifetime fluid. Guess we will see about that.

    3rd Row seats were now offered on the SR5 and LTD models. These seats are only good for small children though.

    LTD models with the Navigation system also featured a backup camera now.

    V8 models also receive a weight distribution hitch to increase towing capacity to 7000lbs, from 5000lbs.

    Fewer of the initial problems were also reported by owners.









    2005 Model

    For 2005 Toyota did make a few cosmetic changes. The trim on the SR5, SE and LTD were slightly revised. The rear spoiler also changed to improve airflow. Mechanically both the V6 and V8 models received a very nice upgrade.

    The V6 model got the 5spd auto, with all the same ratios as the V8. The V8 got a nice power boost by receiving VVTi as well. Power of the V8 went up to 270HP and 330lb/ft. It was rumored that the new V8 would be more fuel efficient, but consumer feedback does not validate that. It does however add a little extra power on the road, especially on the top end of the RPM range.

    The Navigation system received a nice upgrade to improve usefulness.

    This is probably the best model year yet of the 4Runner. Very few of the initial problems have been reported on these models.

    2005 4Runner Brochure

    2005 4Runner Technical Specifications


    2006 Model

    The 2006 models received a number of styling changes and also additional trim. Seems like the 4Rs keeps getting better and better.

    Mechanically there has been no changes to the V6 or V8 models, the power rating has been changed however due to SAE regulations. The power rating for the V8 is less than the GX470 and there seems to be no clear explanation for it. New power ratings are:

    • V6   236HP @ 5200 RPM and 266lb-ft @ 4000 RPM
    • V8   260HP @ 5400 RPM and 306lb-ft @ 3400 RPM

    On the styling side there has been a number of changes, mostly exterior. The front and rear bumpers are more square and aggressive. The grill and headlamp are changed, including projector lamps. The rear taillights are now led based. The grill and door handles are also chromed on some models. See brochure for full list. On the interior the only notable change seems to be an updated instrument cluster, which now looks very similar to the Tacoma.

    The trim has also been improved with power seats on all models for the driver and power seats for the passenger side on SR5 and SE V8 models as well. The LTD gets memory seats. Various other trim options have been improved as well, please see brochure. The LTD also comes with 18 wheels. Also notable is the fact that the SE model now has tubular roof racks and sidesteps.

    2006 4Runner Brochure

    2007 Model

    No noticeable changes were done for the 2007 model year to the 4Runner. Pretty much as expected after a large number of changes for 2006.

    2007 4Runner Brochure





    2008 Model

    A couple of small changes were made for the 2008 model.

    • All models have side airbags standard
    • A VSC off switch is included
    • The tire pressure warning system has been updated to react quicker
    • The safety belt warning system has been changed to add beeping pending on different conditions
    • The grille in the front bumper has been changed slightly to now sit flush with the rest of the bumper
    • The LTD model came with 18” wheels

    Mechanically no changes from the 2007 model year.

    2008 4Runner Brochure


    2009 Model

    This potentially the last model year for the 4th Gen 4Runners. SUV sales in 2008 have been soft due to high gas prices and weakening economy, so potentially the current generation might still be offered as a 2010 model year as well.

    Two new additions were made to the line up:

    • The Urban Runner
    • The Trail Edition

    The Urban Runner was introduced as a late 08 model year. It is based of the V6 Sport Edition, but include a number of additional items in the Urban Runner package. 18” Alloy wheels, color keyed grill, unique rear spoiler, chrome exhaust tip, Urban Runner badging. It also comes with leather steering wheel, leatherette patches on the seats and leather shift knob. It also includes a stereo system that has all the features including bluetooth capability and removable Tom-Tom navigation. The Navigation system has been the subject of much criticism.

    In short the Urban Runner is a Sport model chromed up with a couple of different features aiming it more at the bling market.

    The more exiting addition is the Trail Edition introduced for 09. It is based of a SR5 V6 model and borrows a number of features from the FJC. This includes a locking rear diff and a switch activated ATRAC system (which is believed to be more aggressive than the standard 4Runner system, thus similar to the FJC). It also has a Bilstein suspension setup, tuned more for offroad conditions as well as water proof seats. In addition it includes the Sport model’s tube steps and roofrack and the same sterea/nav system as the Urban Runner. It also has 16” 5 spoke tires.

    In short the Trail Edition is aimed as the family friendly FJC with many of the same features for offroad and the 4Runner packaging.

    Additional new features on 09 4Runner models include:

    • Rear power window switch has been relocated to the center console by the shift lever
    • The ashtray has been replaced by 2 power outlets
    • Sliding moon roof switch and overhead console has been modified


    2009 4Runner Brochure

    2009 4Runner Trail Edition traction aids in detail