The classic Toyota 4runner is a great multi-purpose 4 x 4. It has a good amount of cargo space in the back and will seat 5 adults comfortably. The off-road capability and ground clearance are superior to most SUVs, while the classic styling looks good in the city and exploring on the back roads.
Toyota 4runner History / Features
In Costa Rica these vehicles are fantastic multi-purpose 4 x 4 vehicles. If you live on a farm or are building, you will appreciate the generous cargo space, and the fold down rear seats. If you commonly travel on bad roads, the true 4 x 4 and high ground clearance will get you through most situations you will encounter.
The standard 4runner engine is a 6 cylinder gasoline 3000cc motor, they come in automatic or manual transmission. For those who like the 4runner but want better economy, you can look for the gasoline 4 cylinder version or the diesel engine 4runner, both in a manual transmission and very rare in automatic. In the more recent model years a 4000cc v8 is sometimes found.
The 4runner was introduced in 1988, however this SUV isn’t up to the same standard as later models, and is commonly called a Pre-Runner. Basically Toyota took the standard pick up and removed the rear partition, as well as adding a 2nd row of seats. So you have a two door pick up that seats 4 or 5 people. Good for a crew of workers, but not up to modern standards in SUVs.
In 1990 the concept was refined, and the instant classic 4runner style would remain virtually unchanged for over a decade, through 2003. The 4 runner has 4 doors and a narrower body than larger Toyota SUVs like the Prado. But 5 adults may be seated comfortably. Some very rare 4runners have a 3rd row of seating, the 2 seats fold down to keep the cargo room in back intact. The body is still built over a truck chassis, which gives it the height and strength to handle bad road conditions.
An early 1990s 4runner will start at about $6000. If you see one advertised for less, it is most likely coming from a rural or beach area, and / or is not it good condition. There is a non 4 x 4 version and these are less expensive, and older automatics can sometimes be picked on offer. A 1996 – 2003 4runner will run from $8,000 to $15,000 and more. Depending on accessories, mileage, year model, and whether it is gasoline or diesel and automatic or standard transmission.
2003 to 2010 … The 4runner was updated and upgraded in 2004, with some transition “new look” 2003 models available. Those sold in Costa Rica were overwhelmingly turbo diesel intercooler, there are some gasoline versions that have 4000cc 8 cylinder engines. The interior and exterior styling was updated and many other improvements were made. $20,000 to $30,000 and beyond… Starting in 2007 the Toyota Fortuner replaced the 4runner in Costa Rica, you can see the article Toyota Fortuner vs. 4runner for details
The 4runner has a good amount of power, so is adaptable to many needs. If you want to lift it and put big tires on it, the loss of power won’t be very noticeable, especially off the highway. The chassis will handle up to 33×10.5 tires without modification, which improves the ground clearance and is good for those who generally travel on bad roads. If you have to haul things or tow something, there is plenty of oomph for most purposes. In bad road conditions a lack of power won’t be an obstacle to getting out of the mess.
Toyota 4Runner Parts and Repairs
These SUVs are hugely popular in Costa Rica. Purdy Motors is historically one of the best dealers, if not the best. Parts are readily available nationwide and mechanics know them very well. Parts are a good value, being more expensive than some brands, but higher quality. And being less expensive than many other brands, and also higher quality!
Pricing: Toyota is Toyota in Costa Rica. The brand has a reputation for value, reliability, performance, and quality that is unmatched here. This is reflected in the new car market, and in the used car market as well. There are comparable brands, like Mitsubishi and Honda, that are less expensive to buy and possibly even better quality. However, the Toyota will also retain the high value over time, so the premium you put in in the beginning will maintain itself upon resale.
Pros: If you are looking for absolute performance, reliability and value, the Toyota 4runner is a great choice. The 4 x 4 capability is among the best, the parts are top quality and good value. You have ample cargo and passenger room, and the vehicle is adaptable for many uses.
Cons: If you are on a tight budget, Toyota carries a premium in the Costa Rican market that may or may not be reflected in the budget. While the old saying “you get what you pay for” is generally true, there are other vehicles that when compared head to head are a better value. In the case of the 4runner the Nissan Pathfinder and Mitsubishi Montero Sport can offer better value and similar off-road capability, passenger capacity and performance over time.
If you would like to see information about other vehicle types and models, click here — Vehicle Makes and Models in Costa Rica — for a list of articles on our site.
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