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View Full Version : Any 4Runner Experts Out There?


Telly
02-26-2013, 08:47 AM
So I'm changing jobs and will be loosing my Tacoma. I might get the Tacoma in the departure deal but will probably sell it and buy a less expensive 4Runner (I need cash for home improvement projects). Of course I'm a big 80 and 100 fan but I need a rig that gets around 20mpg or better. Been looking on c-list for late 90's and early 2000's 4Runners. My budget is around $5,000 - $7,000. What is considered the "best" year of 4Runner in those years? Is the 3.4 have a noticable difference in power than the 3.0? I will be pulling a pop-up with the rig. Opinions on the 5-speed or auto? Any opinions would be appreiciated. Doug

AxleIke
02-26-2013, 08:55 AM
Yes, the 3.4 is a very large improvement over the 3.0. Both in power and reliability. I've rebuilt both motors and the 3.4 is a MUCH easier beast to work on. However, the 3.4 isn't a powerhouse by any means. The 4.0L in the later trucks is a much better engine, IMO.

In stockish form, both are going to get in the high teens, maybe 20 if you've got a 5 speed. The 3.4 will usually do better than the 3.0 for the same transmission/gearing/etc...

I have a 5 speed in my 99. I like it for driving, not so much in traffic. Also, the auto is easier to wheel (though I'm spoiled, as I came from a very modified truck with 4 speeds in the tranfercase).

The 99s came with slightly higher springs than the other years, but its only a little bit. If you plan to lift it, its a wash.

One of the biggest bonuses of the 3.4 over the 3.0 is the abillity to supercharge it. Mine is supercharged, and I love it. Makes the thing really responsive, and I can drive most mountain passes in 5th gear (where 55 is the limit). It can get up out of its own way as well.

with either truck, realize that 20 is about the top of what you can expect. 17-19 is more realistic.

Telly
02-26-2013, 09:34 AM
Thanks Isaac! Here are a couple examples.

http://denver.craigslist.org/cto/3642281416.html
A little out of my price range but low miles.

http://denver.craigslist.org/cto/3603431478.html
Looks to be in good mechanical order and clean.

I can find lots of mid-90's rigs for cheap but I'm going to stick to the 3.4 engine years.

nakman
02-26-2013, 10:09 AM
I think you're dreaming if you think you'll get 20+ mpg in a 4Runner. 15 is more realistic. Particularly once you start lifting it, adding bigger tires, bolting stuff to it... then you're right down in the 12-14 range with the rest of the 80's and 100's.

If you want a guaranteed 20+ from a truck, then get a 2wd Tacoma. Just not happening otherwise, IMO.

JadeRunner
02-26-2013, 10:26 AM
I just logged a few 16.5 mpg tanks driving easy on I70 and 285 over the mountains. Even a 18.0 mpg tank on the front range on I-25. So that's the high end mileage with a 5spd. armored and lifted on 33's. So 18-20mpg stock on the hwy should be attainable.

Go for it Doug. Note. They stopped the e-locker in 2000-01 in favor of traction control which was nothing special at the time they made them IMO.

Fishy
02-26-2013, 10:37 AM
I know its a little newer than what you're looking for but if you can swing it.....I always got 20+ on my 2006 V6 around here. Very little mods though.

Dirt Claude
02-26-2013, 10:44 AM
My 98' 4Runner with an automatic seems to suck down the gas pretty fast, probably around 14-15mpg. In stock form 18mpg was average, but it dropped noticeably with the lift, tires and extra weight. The winter blend gas doesn't help either.

I love my 4Runner and wouldn't hesitate to buy another one, it's been one of the best rigs I've owned by far.

corsair23
02-26-2013, 10:47 AM
Only experience I have is with the in-law's 2004 4Runner with the 4.7L V8

If I were looking for a 4Runner that is what I would be looking for. I loved it. I got close to 20mpg on the Denver to Moab run and I wasn't babying or hypermiling the truck. I used it to tow the popup to Grand Lake and it was really nice having the power going up the hills. This was in complete stock form.

Not sure what a V8 powered 4Runner goes for though so price wise it might be out of your budget.

nakman
02-26-2013, 11:07 AM
Yeah but we're talking 3rd gen runners here for $5-$7k.. my experience with a '96 was 17mpg tops, and worse once I went bigger on tires (265 75 r16, not even that big). That was an automatic though.

corsair23
02-26-2013, 11:15 AM
^^ Agreed...The in-laws also have '99 with the V6 and 5 speed. My FIL's comment on letting me borrow the 2004 over the '99 was that the '04 got better gas mileage.

I'm a believer that a bigger engine doesn't mean worse gas mileage. If the engine isn't having to work as hard to move the brick through the air then you can get better mpg. I once borrowed their V10 Dodge Ram to pull the popup to Moab. We averaged 18+ mpg as I recall because the truck was barely having to work to pull the popup :)

AxleIke
02-26-2013, 11:51 AM
I think you're dreaming if you think you'll get 20+ mpg in a 4Runner. 15 is more realistic. Particularly once you start lifting it, adding bigger tires, bolting stuff to it... then you're right down in the 12-14 range with the rest of the 80's and 100's.

If you want a guaranteed 20+ from a truck, then get a 2wd Tacoma. Just not happening otherwise, IMO.


Negatory, not on a 5 speed. Mine is lifted, with 265/75's, and a supercharger and I can get 19 on the highway in the summer (with camping gear).

My old mans 97 gets 18-19 with the same, but 4.30 gears swapped in. His has an ARB and a winch with steel cable.

If a 4runner is getting 12-14, there is something wrong, even with an auto. My brothers Auto (also on 265/75's supercharged and lifted, he gets 17. 15 is on a very bad day.

However, a 4cyl tacoma single cab, even 4wd, will get mid 20's stock.

AxleIke
02-26-2013, 11:56 AM
^^ Agreed...The in-laws also have '99 with the V6 and 5 speed. My FIL's comment on letting me borrow the 2004 over the '99 was that the '04 got better gas mileage.

I'm a believer that a bigger engine doesn't mean worse gas mileage. If the engine isn't having to work as hard to move the brick through the air then you can get better mpg. I once borrowed their V10 Dodge Ram to pull the popup to Moab. We averaged 18+ mpg as I recall because the truck was barely having to work to pull the popup :)

This is very true. The newer V8's and V6's are more efficient designs than the older models.

Also, newer auto's will do better than sticks on mileage, due to more advanced computer control of the transmission, fuel delivery, and better design.

That said, and certainly no offense intended to anyone, as this is just my personal preference, but after 2002, the bodies are just ugly. I went with a 3rd gen for that reason alone.

spectre6000
02-26-2013, 12:45 PM
I don't know what you guys are talking about... I had a '99 5-speed, locked, etc. and only got UNDER 20 mpg on one tank driving 85 mph down to Dallas. I routinely got 23 mpg... It was an OK rig, but had about the same amount of soul as my refrigerator and I always saw myself coming and going. My wife totalled it (she was unhurt), and it's one of the best things that's happened to me in a long time. Don't miss it for a second.

Be sure to count the price of a timing belt into your budget if you don't have a receipt indicating it's status.

SteveH
02-26-2013, 01:07 PM
I have a '98 5 speed 4Runner and check fuel mileage on every tank. 17.5 is very typical in mostly city driving. 19 if I include some highway. 23 is the best I ever saw in all-highway, driving 60-65ish. I used to get 19 in town, but at 190K, I now get more like 17.5. 4WD, v6, well-maintained.

I have pulled a popup cross-country in it, but it's a bit tiring every time a semi-tractor goes by and it starts swaying. If you do shorter trips in state, it's fine. This is not a cross-country vacation vehicle.

thefatkid
02-26-2013, 01:51 PM
I have a 1996 4runner with a 3.4 and 5 speed. I added an ARB with winch, OME lift, 285s, supercharger and a Snorkel. I've ranged in fuel economy from 16 up to 22 (corrected for speedo difference). It is very peppy and will out run the 1gr and 2uz (non vvti) 4th gen 4runners.

From my personal calculations of fuel milage on my dad's 4th gen 4runner 2004 v8, they were constantly 2 mpg less then the computer display. The best economy to date is 18mpg.

Squishy!
02-26-2013, 01:51 PM
I had a '99 supercharged 2.1" URD pulley auto locked lifted 285/65/18's drawer system and I got 19 city as long as I swapped out my lead foot. I drove all the way to Moab and passed everything in my way no problem. Drove to Sante Fe/Albuquerque never had any problems. I WILL be buying another one this year.

I like 99-2000 best due to a smarter tranny and uses an AFR sensor instead of O2 which will contribute to better economy. 2001-2002 have bleh traction control and no lockers. Older than 99 look funny to me and seem to be in worse condition overall.

Telly
02-26-2013, 02:50 PM
I have no plans to modify whatever rig I find...except maybe a S/C! I'm looking for a pop-up camper pulling, dog hauling, daily driver type of rig. I've got my eye out for a fully maintained 99 with a 5-speed with under 150,000 miles.

AxleIke
02-26-2013, 08:05 PM
I don't know what you guys are talking about... I had a '99 5-speed, locked, etc. and only got UNDER 20 mpg on one tank driving 85 mph down to Dallas. I routinely got 23 mpg... It was an OK rig, but had about the same amount of soul as my refrigerator and I always saw myself coming and going. My wife totalled it (she was unhurt), and it's one of the best things that's happened to me in a long time. Don't miss it for a second.

Be sure to count the price of a timing belt into your budget if you don't have a receipt indicating it's status.

Real classy dude. :rolleyes:

Keith
02-27-2013, 01:42 PM
I'm no expert, but here's my anecdotal knowledge:

My girlfriend bought a 99 Runner about 5 years ago and loves it. Gets 18-20 MPG. Was (poorly) lifted by the previous owner. Is great at moderate offroad travel. And still runs like a tank after almost 200k miles.

She bought a 99 because that was the latest model year that didn't look like a suppository in her opinion.

Squishy!
02-28-2013, 11:06 AM
I forgot to mention my mother-in-law drives a '00 with 298,000 miles on it :eek: and has the original no rebuild engine tranny everything. A little wheezy, but doesn't loose oil ANYWHERE. Great trucks

Telly
03-25-2013, 12:28 PM
Need a opinion....I found a 2000 4Runner "Highlander" addition with a 5-speed, with 298,000 miles! Maybe this is Squishy's mother in laws! :eek: The highlander package has options between the SR5 and the Limited but no leather seats. I drove it today and was very impressed with the power and overall condition. My wife is freaking out over the miles but I did some quick research and found a couple used 3.4L out of wrecked rigs for around $1000. I'm thinking I can pick it up for around $3,800 - $4,000. Would you go for it? Even though it doesn't need it, I thought about replacing the engine this summer strickly for peace of mind.

Thanks. Doug

DaveInDenver
03-25-2013, 12:52 PM
300,000 is a lot of miles even on a Toyota. I'd also be worried about whatever else waiting to fail. You gotta be thinking wheel bearings (they are assembled units, not pieces like old truck), driveline, etc., not to mention accessories like A/C compressor and other stuff.

Depends on what the use it, but I'm not sure I'd buy a primary vehicle of any type (other than a FJ40 or something simple and truly bulletproof) with that many miles not expecting to do a lot of R&R.

Point being that there are a lot of first gen Tacos and 3rd gen 4runners approaching this age and no way to really know the true service life of them. We do know the 1995 through at least 2000 and probably through 2004 Tacoma have frame rust issues that started showing up a few years ago. As in completely rotted and failing. Who's to say the 1996-2002 4Runners won't have a similar gotcha?

Telly
03-25-2013, 01:29 PM
Yeah...I'm smoking crack. There are a lot of 4runners out there with much fewer miles for about the same $.

subzali
03-25-2013, 01:32 PM
I'd look for something with under 150,000 miles if you can, for a DD/primary vehicle. Do you really want to replace the engine right off the bat? And Dave's right, other things wear out too. With that many miles I'd almost be worried about other stuff rather than the engine anyway. Steering, wheel bearings, transmission/transfer, etc.

Telly
03-25-2013, 02:05 PM
I'd look for something with under 150,000 miles if you can, for a DD/primary vehicle. Do you really want to replace the engine right off the bat? And Dave's right, other things wear out too. With that many miles I'd almost be worried about other stuff rather than the engine anyway. Steering, wheel bearings, transmission/transfer, etc.

Yeah, I broke the crack pipe over my knee already.