The 2003 4Runner
also sees the introduction the all-new 4.0L V6 aluminum engine
with variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i). The V6 puts
out 245hp at 5,200rpm and 282 lb-ft of torque at 3,800rpm. The
new low-emission motor is Toyota's first aluminum truck engine
in a light truck and uses an electronic throttle instead of the
traditional, and oh so old-school, throttle cable tied to the
accelerator pedal. The 4WD 4Runners weigh in at 5,380 pounds and
the V6 is estimated to get 17/20 mpg. The engine is mated to a
4-speed ECT-i automatic transmission. Toyota no longer offers
a manual tranny in the 4Runner.
If your goal
is speedy throttle response and zipping around town, then believe
it or not, the less-expensive, lighter-weight V6 should be your
engine of choice. If you plan on towing 5,000 pounds then the
4.7L V8 is the way to go. The familiar iron block and aluminum
head i-Force V8 is the same motor currently offered in Sequoias,
Tundras, and Land Cruisers. V8 models weigh in at 130 pounds more
than their V6 counterparts and get an estimated 15/19 mpg in the
4WD models. The i-Force puts out 235hp at 4,800 rpm and 320 lb-ft
of torque at 3,400 rpm. Though the V8 puts out less horsepower
than the V6, where the V8 really shines, is its incredibly flat
torque curve. Click
here to view curve comparisons.
Mated to the V8 is Toyota's first use of an ECT-i
five-speed automatic with overdrive in a light truck. This tranny
is equipped with an artificial intelligence shift control, which
changes gear-shifting patterns according to the driver's input
and driving conditions. It also uses an aluminum front planetary
gear, which reduces its weight by nearly 50%.
feature an integrated tow hitch which is actually part of the
frame. The towing capacity is rated at 5,000 but unofficially,
the V8 should be able to pull more than that. A draw bar and a
high-capacity seven-pin electrical connector are also included
to the transfer case, both V6 and V8 models use a two-speed transfer
case. V6 models include a Torsen® limited
slip center differential with locking capability to provide a
full-time 4WD system with the ability to select 2WD. The new torque-sensing
feature allows the torque split mid-point to be biased toward
the rear in most driving conditions with a static 40/60 front-to-rear-split.
When the front wheels lose traction, the Torsen can send up to
71% of the power to the rear and when rear wheels slip, up to
53% can go to the front. All 4WD 4Runners equipped with the V8
are full-time 4WD and also come with the Torsen limited slip.
If the Torsen isn't enough to keep you moving
forward, the 4Runner also includes Electronic Brake Force Distribution
(EBD) which can apply varying amounts of brake force to any of
the 4Runner's four disk brakes. For even more control on wet roads,
Variable Skid Control (VSC) is also added to the braking system.
More on this later.
New to the 4Runner this year is also Hill-Start
Assist Control (HAC) which will hold the truck in place while
pointed uphill on slopes. Instead of taking your foot off the
brake and having to race to the accelerator (or two-foot like
us), HAC lets you move your foot without rolling backward. Nice
the alphabet soup on the 4WD models is Downhill Assist Control
(DAC). DAC is similar to Land Rover's Hill Descent Control. When
the 4Runner is in low range, keeping your foot off the brake allows
the system to keep the truck at a 2-4mph pace when going down
hills. What was interesting during our off-road test drive was
feeling the system work as a single wheel dropped off into a rut
while the other three stayed level. You could feel the system
working to slow that dropping wheel to keep pace with the other
three. In other words, there's a lot more going on here than just
is being offered in three trim levels; SR5 (base), Sport Edition,
and Limited. The new look of the truck visually ties it in with
the rest of the Toyota SUV line. At a glance you are now likely
to notice styling cues from the Highlander and Sequoia. Personal
taste will dictate whether you like the 4Runner's new body cladding.
Much more plastic exists on this new version, with huge fender
flares, big plastic bumpers, and lots of lower cladding. The Limited
models get color-keyed cladding while the Sports and SR5s get
dark gray. Our preference is actually the gray.
4Runner Sport Edition |
models are instantly recognizable not only by the cladding, but
by their hood scoops. We have yet to confirm whether the scoop
is at all functional since it does not exist on the Limited model,
even with the V8.
All 4WD models
allow 9.1 inches of minimum ground clearance, while 2WD models
are slightly less at 8.9 inches. If you're keeping track, the
Jeep Liberty has a minimum of 6.4 inches and the Jeep Wrangler,
has a minimum clearance of 8.2 inches. Both Jeeps do beat the
4Runner in approach and departure angles, where the 4Runner comes
in at 32 degrees and 24 degrees respectively.
As for rolling
stock, the SR5s come standard with P265/70R16s (30.6" x 10.43")
on steel wheels, while the Sports and Limiteds run on P265/65R17s
(30.56" x 10.43") and alloy wheels.