Behind the Wheel

2020 Toyota 4Runner Review: A modern throwback with so, so much to love

Toyota sells the 4Runner in an available Venture grade, which adds black accents and a handy roof basket.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Driving the freshest version of the Toyota 4Runner is like taking a step back in time. There's plenty that will make you think, "Is this really a 2020?" While the automaker has done its best to keep up with an aging platform and design shifts by the rest of the crowd, even the Jeep Wrangler has a sleeker interior at this point.

Still, it makes you yearn a bit for the days when trucks were trucks – when SUV meant body-on-frame and buyers understood what that meant. That's not to say that the newest crop of SUVs are bad or that the average SUV buyers is less informed today than they were two decades ago. They're just differently informed.

2020 Toyota 4Runner venture The 4Runner Venture is priced around $47,000 all-in. As tested, with added running boards and paint protection film, the cost went up over $48,000.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The 4Runner elicits a visceral nostalgic reaction. Moving the gated shifter reminds you that they're nearly extinct in mass production cars. Holding on to the beefy steering wheel leads one to realize how little effort it truly takes to move the Ram 1500 around a parking lot of obstacles. Using your foot to engage the parking brake, hearing the sound of the creaking movement – that's a thing of beauty.

What the 2020 4Runner does most is put the driver in a position to hope that with the redesigned model that is well on its way, Toyota doesn't go so far as to make it too modern. I don't want to change my own oil, but I'd like to know I can if I need to, without taking a masterclass.

There are, however, areas where the 4Runner could stand to be given a thorough update, starting with the powertrain. It comes standard with a 4.0-liter V6 that delivers 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It does the job. As the old man at the hardware store used to say while looking over the top of his glasses, "there's a different between doing a job and doing a job well."

2020 Toyota 4Runner venture The 4Runner hasn't lost any capability.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Its five-speed automatic transmission spends too much time search for the right gear and not allowing enough torque when needed, even when cruising on the highway.

The SUV's cabin is comfy, especially in top-tier trim levels, with the appropriate amount of ruggedness. Some finishes could stand an upgrade for the $40,000+ price tag as tested but the biggest changes should be the steering wheel and the infotainment system. While the touch screen's OS isn't bad (it's not pretty either), the center stack is simply dated. The wheel has the same affliction. Adding one-touch turn signals is a must, as is deleting the old school digital clock display at the top of the dash.

The 4Runner is still tremendously capable when it comes to traversing terrain, whether you're in the desert or a mud pit. That doesn't mean that it's great at keeping a lane or has a tight turning radius. Still, that's just about what you'd expect from an aging truck.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture The SUV rides on 17-inch gunmetal gray TRD alloy wheels.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

If you're worried about the coming changes to the 4Runner, you will want to keep an eye on dealer inventory for your new model. Don't be the person that ends up shelling out thousands over asking on BringATrailer.com just because you wish you could go back in time.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon is made to be trail-ready

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

If you want to go off-roading but you’re apprehensive behind the wheel? Jeep is introducing the Jeep Adventure Academy, a program that provides hands-on, off-road driving instruction to Jeep 4x4 owners.

"Off-roading is a rite of passage for Jeep 4x4 owners and the new Jeep Adventure Academy will provide key knowledge every off-roader can use for hitting the trails," said Jim Morrison, Head of Jeep Brand, FCA - North America. "The new Jeep Adventure Academy underscores the Jeep brand's commitment to delivering Jeep 4x4 vehicles that provide owners with a sense of capability, safety and security to handle any condition or adventure with confidence."

2021 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Jeep Trailhawk models are trail-tested ahead of their retail salePhoto courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Academy kicks off this October and will take place at select locations nationwide. Instructors from Jeep Jamboree USA will lead the program alongside off-roading experts.

Each Academy session will focus on several essential areas of off-roading instruction, including 4x4 system basics, driving techniques, trail etiquette, vehicle preparation and equipment, how to properly read terrain and challenging obstacles, safety tips and more.

The Jeep Adventure Academy will take place during the first three weeks in October at the following locations:

  • Holly Oaks Off-road Vehicle Park, Holly, Michigan: October 2-4
  • Southern Missouri Off-Road Ranch, Seymour, Missouri: October 9-11
  • Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area, Hollister, California: October 16-18

Registration is available at jeepadventureacademy.com. A one-day session starts at $99 and requires Jeep 4x4 vehicle ownership. The academy sessions will be led by professional staff from Jeep Jamboree USA, an organization that has been conducting off-road adventures since 1953.

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Famed puzzle maker Ravesburger has created a new Lamborghini-themed 3D puzzle.

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

The Lamborghini Huracán EVO is the most successful V10-powered Lamborghini ever. Now, the supercar is getting the Ravensburger 3D puzzle treatment. The 3D jigsaw puzzle faithfully replicates the Huracán EVO V10 car in a 1:18 scale.

The puzzle is mounted to a replica chassis. Lamborghini fans will be able to pick out the car's signature Y-style front bumper and Y-shaped embedded in the headlights. It also has the hexagonal details of the traditionally sized Lambo and wears a Arancio Xanto orange paint job. The low-slug profile of the puzzle gives it volume though it measures just 26 cm in length.

Ravensburger Lamborghini Huracán EVO 3D puzzle

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

Ravensburger is making the puzzle available with 32 high-quality feature accessories, such as the axles and four rotating wheels that faithfully replicate the Aesir rims found on the real car, along with front splitter and rear diffuser.

The puzzle contains 108 numbered pieces.

Ravesnburger recommends that the puzzle is best for adults and children ages 8 and older. It is sold in Europe for €34.99. In the U.S., a Lamborghini Huracán EVO goes for upwards of $208,000.

Earlier this year, Lamborghini bounced that it had pattered with Lego to create the Lego Technic Lamborghini Sián FKP 37Lamborghini Sián FKP 37. That model includes a V12 engine; a moveable rear spoiler; front and rear suspension; and steering powered by a wheel complete with the Automobili Lamborghini badge. There's also scissor doors, which open to reveal the intricately recreated cockpit, with a fully-functioning eight-speed sequential gearbox controlled by a movable paddle gearshift.

Lego also sells LEGO Technic versions of the 2020 Land Rover Defender and Nissan GT-R. Additionally, LEGO recently started selling a replica of Dom's Chargerfrom the "Fast & Furious" franchise. Additionally, a Ducati motorcycle model was recently sold by the company.

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