Last post on Apr 29, 2013 at 12:02 PM
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Toyota 4Runner, SUV
#4257 of 11428 An extended test drive of the 2003 4Runner...
Dec 11, 2002 (11:06 pm)
I am a three time 4Runner owner, 1991, 1995 and currently a 2000 SR5 4WD with all the options that were avaliable.
I rented a 2003 Sport Edition 4Runner for the past two days and did a test drive from Boulder (5000ft +) up to Loveland via I-25, then to Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park (7000ft +, winding road), back south via Peak to Peak Hwy (ranges from 7500ft to 9500ft, winding road) to Nederland (8000ft+), then back east to Boulder (downhill winding road). I then drove my 2000 4Runner via the same route and repeated the route with the 2003 Sport Edition.
Negatives in no specific order --->
1) Wind Noise - I was quite shocked how much wind noise is produced by the new 2003 model. It was significantly more than my 2000 model. Might have been partially caused by the hood scoop.
2) Road noise - The 2003 Sport edition I rented has fulltime 4WD. Maybe this is the reason that it was noiser on any road surface that I drove upon.
3) Location and orientation of the driver side power window and lock controls - They are not ergonomic at all. In the 2000 my arm can remain on the arm rest to adjust the controls. In the 2003 you have to remove your arm reach down to
make any adjustments on a "control Panel" that is tilted inward. You have to slightly twist your hand inward, much like throwing a screwball in baseball.
4) The circular design of the Tac, speedometer, fuel gauge console - When driving in sunlight the center "circle" casts shadows on all three. In a
number of situations I could see the bright orange "pointer", but could not see the numbers on the gauge. I found myself doing a double take
trying to quickly determine what my speed was exactly. The odometer and Tac are also about 20% smaller than those of the 2000. The height of the
center "circle" also slightly obscures the gauges to the left and right. The silver painted design is a distraction.
5) Orange backlit gauges at night - Very irritating to me. I flat out hate orange.
6) Cladding - The model I drove was black with the ugly grey cladding. As I was driving along you start hoping that no one around you is going to notice how pathetic looking it is.
7) Ride quality - My 2000 model is equal to or better. I wasn't impressed by the 2003 on the highway at all, but I did have very high expectations.
8) Silver roof rack / door handles - one word... ugly! on black with the crappy cladding.
9) Center speaker on the dash - It seems to overwhelm the sound from the other speakers. The sound of my 6 speaker system of my 2000 is much better.
10) Flat surface of the fender flares - Jeep Cherokee / Chevy Avalanche ugly!
11) "White" Plastic strip on the door interior - ugly, cheap looking...
Positives in no specific order --->
1) Horse power - The V-8 is outstanding and the transmission is amazing. More times that I can count I was doing 20mph faster than I thought.
2) Handling - Another outstanding quality... As I was driving back to Boulder from the dealership where I rented this 2003 model I went from
I-25 northbound to Hwy 36 westbound (to Boulder). I didn't realize it going through this high speed exit ramp/turn, but I was doing 75 mph in a 55 mph zone and it felt like I was driving a sportscar. Same experience on the winding mountain roads during my test drives.
In Summary, as a long time Toyota 4Runner owner I am extremely disappointed in this new generation of 4Runner. While it has many new technical advances and a powerful V-8, the stlying changes are a major step backward. As far as styling goes the 4Runner design team thought of the Jeep Cherokee, Nissan X-Terra, etc. owners... only problem... they forgot about their most loyal
following... actual 4Runner owners. I could never imagine that I would use the words like hate, pathetic and ugly, etc. when speaking about a Toyota 4Runner... I will never buy this design for reasons 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 and 11 from above.
I am more motivated than ever to take care of my 2000 4Runner...
#4258 of 11428 Wind noise...
Dec 12, 2002 (6:59 am)
The problem is that most people take 4Runners for a short drive. My 2002 4Runner is actually pretty quiet under normal CALM conditions, EXCEPT when there is wind gushing around, then it can get noisy. I think this is because it is a big block of steel on the highway. No matter what type of insulation you have, you can't get away from it's tall, boxy shape.
When i test drove the '03 4Runner i noticed the same thing. The noise is, at best, a bit better. If you don't believe, wait for a windy day and take the '03 for a testdrive...it will surprise you...as it did me with my '02 4Runner.
Dec 12, 2002 (11:57 am)
I saw a Green Sport V8 4X4 for the first time hidden in the back of a dealer lot (for some reason) and it looks really awesome. I have had two green cars already, but if that weren't the case, I would get the green in a second. It even makes the cladding look sharp!
Also, I did see that combination of tan leather interior on a Silver Ltd V8 4X4. Very classy looking.
#4260 of 11428 Gray cladding..
Dec 12, 2002 (12:55 pm)
So Toyota did listen to the voice of the people. Arriving in February or March, SR5 4Runners will be available with an optional color keyed cladding and bumpers. This was straight out of our district rep's mouth Tuesday at a buyatoyota.com meeting.
#4261 of 11428 right on ajivoin....
Dec 12, 2002 (2:58 pm)
couldn't agree with you more ajivoin......what were the 2003 designers thinking? The new style is nothing short of "grocery getter". I thought that was what the Highlander was for! The side looks like a Cherokee and the front looks like a Rav4. Forget about the ugly rear! Yeah, that was the look we wanted! I'm shocked the rear window still goes down. Even the inside feels just like a Cherokee. They have completly cast aside their loyal 4Runner owners. I have a 2000 and I wish I could purchase a 2002 and save it in a garage for a few years! It's all about how many kids (and their Big Gulps)that you can fit into your car instead of throwing a bike on the roof or heading up to the mountains. It just doesn't have that look or feel anymore.
#4262 of 11428 cttoy and other 2003 bashers
Dec 12, 2002 (4:02 pm)
I think every 2003 basher on this board owns a 3rd gen 4Runner. Face it, the 2003 is better in ALMOST every way than the 2002.
The subjective looks I won't touch, I'm talking function here (but IMO the color matched 2003 looks great).
As far as the interior, yes, it is different. But if you look at the new one and old one side by side, you will see that the materials are about the same - the 2003 quality is just as good as the 2002.
The new engine and tranny is incredible - no one can argue with that.
The ONLY functional problem I find with the 2003 compared with the older model is the lower ground clearance. Other than that I challenge anyone to show me any significant area, NON-SUBJECTIVE, where the 3rd gen is better than the 2003.
I'll be compiling the list of 2003 advantages while I wait (and BTW, I don't own a 4Runner - yet).
Dec 12, 2002 (4:12 pm)
Do you have any numbers for the option for the color keyed cladding and bumpers?
#4265 of 11428 Non-Subjective??
Dec 12, 2002 (5:19 pm)
Let's see how the 3rd generation 4Runner stacks up against the 4th generation, in areas that were important to me:
1.) Payload, 3rd generation holds about 40% more. This is a huge difference for me.
2.) Cargo Capacity, 3rd generation holds 6% more.
3.) Ground clearance, 3rd generation holds the edge.
4.) Towing, 3rd generation tows 5,000 pounds, which is tied to the V8 4th generation.
Three wins and one tie. Back in 2001, if I wanted 4th generation specs and looks I would of bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Newer does not always mean better. I am surprised of the review of the wind and road noise of the 4th generation. But if you go strictly by numbers, 3rd generation wins.
#4266 of 11428 mrwhipple - Dealer
Dec 12, 2002 (5:39 pm)
I went to at least 5 different dealers with no luck. I logged onto Autobuytel, but the info in, and Toyota of Buena Park called back and they found me the V6 4X4. I couldn't believe how easy it was...especially since other dealers said things such as "4WD models are not coming out until mid-next year" and "V8 is the standard, you won't see V6s for awhile."