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Toyota 4Runner Information & History
The Toyota 4Runner is a Sport utility vehicle (SUV) sold primarily in North America and built from 1984 to the present as of 2005. The original 4Runner was little more than a Toyota light pickup truck with a fiberglass shell over the bed, but the model has since undergone significant independent development into a mid/large SUV.
The 4Runner is sold outside the U.S. as the Toyota Hilux Surf. All 4Runners have been built at Toyota's plant in Tahara, Japan.
First Generation (1984-1989)
The Toyota pickup (upon which the 4Runner was originally based) underwent a major redesign in 1983 for the 1984 model year. Many other automakers were introducing mid-size SUVs in the early 1980s (e.g., Ford Bronco II, Chevrolet Blazer) and the pressure mounted on Toyota to develop a competing model. Instead of developing an entirely new model, Toyota took an existing short-bed pickup body, made some simple modifications, and added a removable fiberglass top (much like the fullsize Ford Bronco and Chevrolet S10 Blazer).
Thus, the first-generation 4Runner is nearly mechanically identical to the pickup. All first-generation 4Runners have two doors and are indistinguishable from the pickups from the dashboard forward. Nearly all changes were to the latter half of the body; in fact, because the rear springs were not upgraded to cope with the additional weight of the rear seats and fiberglass top, these early models tend to suffer from sagging rear suspensions.
The first 4Runners were introduced in 1984 as 1984.5 models. For this first year, all models were equipped with black fiberglass tops. An SR5 trim package was offered that upgraded the interior: additional gauges, better fabrics, and a rear seat were standard with the package. All 1984 models were equipped with the carbureted 2.4 L 22R engine and were all available with a 4WD system that drove the front wheels through a solid front axle (although this would be changed in 1986).
1985 saw the replacement of the 22-R with the fuel-injected 2.4 L 22R-E engine. Additionally, rear seats were available in all 1985 4Runner trim levels, not just the SR5.
In 1986, all Toyota pickup trucks (and the 4Runner) underwent a major design change as the suspension was changed from a solid front axle to an independent front suspension (IFS). This change made the trucks more driveable at highway speeds and increased the space in the engine compartment (necessary to fit larger motors, such as the V6 introduced in 1988) but arguably decreased the truck's off-road capabilities.
A turbocharged version of the 22R-E engine (the 22R-TE) was also introduced in 1986, although this engine is significantly rarer than the base 22R-E. Some of these turbocharged models (designated 4Runner SR5 Turbo) came equipped with digital dashboards and reinforced rear axles.
In 1988, the 22R-E engine was finally supplanted by an optional 3.0 L V6 engine, the 3VZ-FE. This engine was significantly larger than the original 4-cylinder offering and necessitated the IFS introduced in 1986.
Small cosmetic and option changes were made in 1989, but the model was left largely untouched in lieu of the replacement model then undergoing final development.
Second Generation (1990-1995)
The 1990 model year 4Runners represented a fundamental departure from the first-generation models. Instead of an enhanced pickup truck, the new 4Runners featured a freshly designed body mounted on an existing frame. The difference is easily seen when comparing pickups and 4Runners of similar vintage: a 1984 4Runner looks remarkably similar to a 1984 Toyota pickup, whereas a 1990 4Runner shares only subtle styling details with the 1990 pickup.
Nearly all second-generation 4Runners were 4-door models, however in 1990 and 1991 a 2-door model was also produced. These vehicles are extremely rare and were discontinued in 1992. These models are similar to the 4-door models of the time in that the bodies are formed as a single unit, instead of the fiberglass caps used in the first-generation 4Runners.
Because the drivelines were still developed from the same source, however, available engines were identical. A new 2.4 L four cylinder and the same 3.0 L V6 were both available in 2WD and 4WD layouts. The new 4Runners used the IFS that had been developed on the previous generation.
Most other full-body SUVs produced at the time (e.g., the Nissan Pathfinder and the Ford Explorer) featured tailgates that opened upward with the glass closed. In constast, the second-generation 4Runner carried over the retractable-glass tailgate from the first-generation. Opening these tailgates requires first retracting the rear window into the tailgate and then lowering the tailgate much like as on a pickup truck.
In 1992, the 4Runner received minor cosmetic updates, including modular headlamps instead of the increasingly outdated rectangular sealed beams. Additional cosmetic changes occurred between 1993 and 1995, the last year of the second generation.
Third Generation (1996-2002)
1996 marked another significant redesign of the then-aging 4Runner. Whereas the transition to the second-generation 4Runner was one that kept the build quality and options roughly on par with the rest of the mid-size SUV market, the changes made in the third generation turned the 4Runner into a more luxury-oriented vehicle. This move paralleled the upgrades to the 1996 Nissan Pathfinder, but moved the 4Runner into a distinctly different class than its older competitors, the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Blazer, and Isuzu Rodeo. The third generation 4Runner did, however, look very similar to the second-generation.
Fourth Generation (2003-Present)
The fourth-generation 4Runner incorporated serious changes to the truck chassis and body of the vehicle, but was targeted at approximately the same consumer as the third generation. The updated vehicle looks very different from the older 4Runners but is still targeted as a mid-size quasiluxury SUV.
Both the first- and second-generation 4Runners became targeted as unsafe SUVs. 1980s and early-1990s US crash regulations were not very strict for light trucks, and all early model 4Runners were fitted with doors that offered little protection in the event of a side collision. In most areas, there was little more than two pieces of sheet metal and the window to keep incoming vehicles from impacting passengers. Later, more stringent crash regulations mandated doors that offered as much protection as passenger car doors.
The most common accusations, however, were that 4Runners (and other narrow-track SUVs of the time) were prone to rollovers. Many light SUVs of the time featured comparatively high centers of gravity and, given the right situations, could be flipped over. Whether or not this is a serious road hazard is dependent on many parameters including the speed of the vehicle, the tires fitted to the vehicle, the road surface, and the driver's ability predict and correct for situations that may result in a rollover. Third-generation 4Runners were designed with a wider track, but it is unclear if this was directly in response to increased pressure from safety groups of it was simply a product engineering decision.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from articles at Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia
Most Popular Parts For Toyota 4Runner
|1996 - 2002 Toyota 4-Runner Exhaust Gasket|
Part # H4000-40192
Year Range: 1996 - 2002
Model: 4-Runner (6 Cyl.)
Category: Toyota Exhaust System
|1996 - 2002 Toyota 4-Runner Oil Filter|
Part # A6000-52665
Year Range: 1996 - 2002
Model: 4-Runner (6 Cyl.)
Application: Oil Filter
Category: Toyota Filters
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