My husband and I lease a 2000 V-6 4 runner and are pleased enough to consider buying it at the end of the lease. We are loyal Honda owners and considered the Passport as well as the X-terra. Nissan had a sporty looking SUV but for the price and low re-sale value, we passed. We seriously considered the Passport but weren't sure it would have "true" Honda quality because of its relation to the Isuzu Trooper. Considering the similar pricing between Honda and Toyota, we went with Toyota.
The 4-runner is based on the Tacoma model and you should expect a more "truck-like" ride. You feel the bigger bumps on the road (like when you go over railroad tracks). But it handles well, has a relatively quiet engine, and is comfortable. Our 4-runner was decked out with running boards, CD-player, wood trim, roof-rack, privacy glass in the back, tinted windows, and the rear window can slide down by remote or key. Of all these extras, the wood trim is not really worth it. But the tinted windows and privacy glass help in the summer (we live in FL). The running boards help for short people like me (I'm 5').
Overall, it's a well-built SUV and the quality shows. There have been NO problems with the mechanics of the car or otherwise. We loaded a 6 foot TV armoire in the SUV with the seats folded down, and the 4-runner managed fine. We haven't taken the 4-runner on off-road trips, so I couldn't give a valid opinion in that area.
If you're looking for a SUV with more of a car-ride feel, consider the Highlander. If you want something bigger but can't afford a Land Cruiser, look at the 4-Runner or Sequoia.
As with all SUV's, expect only 14-17 mpg. Two average adults can comfortably sit in the back. Three is kind of tight. At the end of the lease in 2003, it's still worth $18,000. Not bad. The 4-runner should be a top contender if you're shopping around.
Amount Paid (US$):
2000Model and Options:
SR5 Auto V-6 engine