Here's Why The Toyota 4Runner Is One Of The Most Reliable SUVs Ever Made

Following the success of the Hilux, Toyota created the 4Runner as a modified version of the legendary pick-up in 1984. Over the years, the 4Runner has made a name for itself as one of the most reliable SUVs around, with some owners reporting that they're still going strong after 300,000 miles.

While, as Four Wheel Trends reports, the first generation of 4Runner had a reputation for being slow with truck-like ride quality — it inherited the Hilux's body-on-frame design and 2.4-liter four-banger engine, after all — it quickly earned a reputation for reliability. Toyota wasted no time and started making improvements to the ride quality and power departments in 1985, just one year after the initial release of the vehicle.

Almost 40 years on, much has changed in terms of ride comfort and features, but the 4Runner's notorious reliability remains one of its key benefits. The 4Runner's excellent reliability is partly due to the body-on-frame design and overall simplicity of the mechanical design, but that's not the whole story.

What makes the Toyota 4Runner so bulletproof?

As Klipnik reports, apart from some issues with rust, the most reliable 4Runners come from the third generation, which was produced from 1996 to 2002. Ironically, the third generation is when Toyota started to make bigger moves away from the Hilux, opting to develop a wholly unique platform for the 4Runner for the first time. Although the Hilux roots were stripped out of the third-generation 4Runner, the redesign was spearheaded by Toyota's chief engineer Masaaki Ishiki, who was also responsible for the fifth-generation Hilux.

According to Tuning Pro, the 2.7-liter inline-four 3RZ-FE engine made the 4Runner particularly reliable because the engine produced very little power compared to the robustness of the components — in short, the engine and drivetrain were overbuilt, and Toyota didn't try to eke out every last drop of power. 

Engine design is only one piece of the puzzle, though. A key factor in the reliability of the 4Runner was simplicity and maintenance. Because the vehicle wasn't particularly complicated, there was less to break, and when it broke, it was easy to fix. According to RepairPal, the average annual cost of repairs and maintenance for 4Runners is $514, and a vehicle that's cheap to maintain is bound to be on the road and running longer. Despite a long list of competition and a somewhat rocky start in the comfort department, the Toyota 4Runner earned its place in the list of most reliable SUVs.