My Experience With The Ultra-Reliable Toyota 4Runner

In high school and college, I constantly replaced parts and fixed my Jeep Cherokee, and shortly after graduating college, I seriously considered selling it. We’d been through a lot together. I’d accidentally hit two deer with it, been high-centered on a dead-end road after slipping into some crazy deep ruts while scouting for a hunting trip, and had dozens of other crazy adventures.

However, a clean Toyota 4Runner was for sale down the road, and since I’d heard nothing but positive reviews about them, I got rid of my Jeep and began the adventure of owning a 4Runner.

It was the best decision I’ve ever made regarding vehicles. 


The Proving Grounds 

I’ve taken it across the country multiple times now and have yet to have a major issue. The biggest problem I’ve had is the gas cap wouldn’t seal, so I was getting an engine failure code, once I popped on a new gas cap, the problem was fixed.

However, its performance on the pavement differs from its performance off-road. Luckily, I had an incredible testing ground when I first purchased it. I worked at a coal mine, where we moved a lot of dirt and shale and rarely drove on a paved road. 

After a soaking rain, the temporary shale roads turned to mush. Hills were now slides and turns required a quick prayer in most vehicles. Yet, I never got stuck or had a problem handling the terrain of the ever-changing job site.

Most days, my job was reclamation, meaning I took care of the land after it had been mined, and I didn’t drive on any roads once at work. Again, the 4Runner handled it without a hitch.

Since I’ve transitioned careers, the 4Runner doesn’t get off-road as much as it used to, but living in the country and being an avid outdoorsman, I take it camping, hunting, and fishing as much as possible.

It’s hauled my kayaks to remote rivers, helped me climb sketchy mountain roads to find the perfect hiking trail, and I’ve camped in the back of it during multiple hunting excursions with my dad.


The Verdict 

Some of my buddies who drive big trucks have joked that I drive a soccer mom car. The Toyota 4Runner would make a good soccer mom SUV, but I’ve taken it off the pavement too often for it to be just an average SUV.

It’s handled ice, snow, mud, and gravel without a hitch and no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

I plan to have many more adventures in it. In fact, just the other day, I had a guy tell me never to sell it because they were such incredible vehicles. I smiled and told him I completely agreed, as I had no plans on selling it despite it being nearly 15 years old.


Author BIO

Wes Littlefield is the lead writer at,, and owns He loves getting outdoors, no matter the activity. He’s been known to take a hike, reel in a few fish, and occasionally bring home some venison. Growing up on a small farm, his vehicles have always been off-road vehicles, ready to work. Today, his wife tells him he should wash them more often, but he’s usually too busy planning his next adventure to detail them.

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