Yes, the 4Runner has been around for three and a half decades now.
The year was 1984 when Toyota launched the original 4Runner SUV, and over the past 35 years the rough and tough off-roader has proven itself time and again. Thirty-five consecutive model years is a long time for any vehicle, but given the fact that the 4Runner appeals to a more specific group of buyers speaks volumes. To celebrate its three and a half decades, Toyota unveiled the new 4Runner Nightshade Special Edition last month, available exclusively on the Limited trim.
This special edition package tacks on 20-inch black wheels, black bumpers and grille accents, and black interior trim throughout, such as on the steering wheel, center cluster, console panels, and shifter. And that's about it, really. A black theme throughout, hence the name 'Nightshade.'
Regardless of whether or not one buys this special edition or any other trim, all 2019 Toyota 4Runners come powered by a 4.0-liter V6 with 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque paired to a five-speed automatic gearbox with sequential shift mode. If this powertrain setup sounds kind of ancient, well, that's because it is. A naturally aspirated V6 linked to a five-speed slushbox is old school, and that's why we love the body-on-frame 4Runner. It's a true SUV.
All 4Runner trims also have a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. If you opt for the standard 2WD 4Runner, you'll also benefit from the standard automatic limited slip differential, a system that allows some wheel slippage to help the vehicle escape from deep snow or sand. The optional part-time 4WD system features a two-speed transfer case with a selectable range.
But if you want full-time 4WD, you'll have to upgrade to the 4Runner Limited. This 4WD system utilizes a Torsen center differential with locking feature and a three-mode, center-console-mounted switch. There's a 40:60 torque split most of the time, but this alters when the system detects and responds to slippage, switching to a 30:70 split.
For now, it doesn't appear that Toyota has plans to drop the 4Runner and we really hope that doesn't change. If anything, a complete redesign may soon be in order considering the current fifth-generation has been roaming the trails and conquering rocks since 2009.