Why Aren't 4Runners More Popular as Expo Rigs?


The two most popular Toyota expo rigs by far seem to be 80-series Land Cruisers and Tacomas (a fairly distant second). What blows my mind is why 4Runners (I'm thinking specifically 3rd Gens due to their available factory options up to '00) aren't more popular?

Land Cruiser Upsides:
• World platform
• Lots of secure space (though somewhat limited by the confines of the vehicle)
•*Extremely capable
• Luxurious

Land Cruiser Downsides:
• Poor (dismal if we're honest) fuel economy
• Head gaskets, heater hoses, and knuckle wipers
• Big

Tacoma Upsides:
•*Lots of available space (not so secure)
• Bulletproof V6
•*Decent fuel economy
• Smaller
• Capable

Tacoma Downsides:
•*North American-only platform
• Doesn't have the Land Cruiser's dictator-toting swagger
• Open frame

The 4Runner has the best of both worlds! It's a world platform, lots of secure space, just as capable as the Tacoma (if not a little more so), luxurious (in the right trim), smaller than the Land Cruiser, has the bulletproof V6, fully boxed frame, etc. etc. The only negative things compared to the other two do is the lack of swagger from the Land Cruiser, and the IFS of the Tacoma. Assuming the Land Cruiser IS the best there is, why is the Tacoma #2 and not the 4Runner? You could even argue that the 4Runner is better because it doesn't have the mechanical flaws of the Land Cruiser, gets much better fuel economy, has parts available everywhere, and has the fully boxed frame... The only downside between the two is the IFS, which really isn't that much of a downside with proper preparation and care....

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Wandering Explorer
I've often wondered the same and speculate that it has something to do with size/cargo capacity (or perceived lack there of)

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Approved Vendor
Because the 4Runner has the worlds most awkward seating position, ever. You sit in it like you're driving a car, and unless it has a sunroof, I can't fit without leaning.

ClarkWhite on the forum has one and uses it frequently, you might want to check his out. It's named "the cockroach."


They're expensive?

Seriously though, would've loved to have a new one, but instead went for a fully loaded Rubicon Unlimited while saving tons of money.

My best friend wanted one and again, prices seemed high for what you get relative to other offerings. He ended up in a Grand Cherokee.

Land Cruisers and the new FJ have the kind of name recognition to justify their premiums from their world wide exploits (even if the FJ is in name only)

Tacomas are justified in that they're trucks, so there's a sort of multiple use thing going on their.

4Runners though are cool but not as cool as 'cruiser. Their versatile, but not as quite as versatile as a truck. But they command the sort of price premium of both, at least in SoCal anyway


Tacomas are justified in that they're trucks, so there's a sort of multiple use thing going on their.
What he said.

Their versatility pushes them up in popularity. Great for one vehicle owners. That's why I bought one.
There's nasty stuff I can put in the back of my Tacoma that I wouldn't want to put (inside with me) in the back of an SUV.


Expedition Leader
Land Cruiser Downsides:
• Poor (dismal if we're honest) fuel economy
• Head gaskets, heater hoses, and knuckle wipers
• Big
You're painting with an awfully broad brush here - there are at least 34 years worth of Land Cruiser models that are (still) stone reliable and never had head gasket or heater hose problems. And there are knuckle wipers made of modern materials that don't leak and last a loooong time.

Besides, I thought 4Runners were very popular expo rigs; I see tons of them out camping, wheeling, driving.
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Expedition Leader
Kind of in line with Matt's comment, for me it was crossed off the list due to a serious lack of headroom. I'm tall, but not freak giant tall.


SE Expedition Society
A guy I wheel with has 1. Lifted, 35's, ARB lockers, skids, custom rock sliders, front bumper and winch. It does great on the trails but it's the only 4runner I have ever seen out there.

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Kind of in line with Matt's comment, for me it was crossed off the list due to a serious lack of headroom. I'm tall, but not freak giant tall.
I've put 100k on my 98 Limited and the seating is no better than my 1 gen Xterra which isn't that comfortable. I sit pretty straight up due to a neck injury and being 6'1" my head rubs the sunroof rail. I got use to it the funny tennis ball hair style after any road trip.

We love the 4Runner but I would love some more room with more comfy seats. But honestly, my wife likes to stop a lot on road trips so I get out and stretch pretty often and it's just two of us so room shouldn't be an issue if I was smarter about packing the chaise lounge chairs and umbrella.

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Wiffleball Batter
Actually, I would disagree with the basic thesis here. 4runners might not be as popular as Tacomas, but they're pretty darn common in the ExPo world, and there are a lot of accessories for them.

I think the Taco beats the 4runner for the simple reason that it's a more "modifiable" design. You basically have an open bed that is sort of like a blank sheet of paper that you can do anything you want to with. With the 4runner, OTOH, you're stuck with the basic body configuration.

I may be one of the few people on ExPo who's gone from a Taco (04) to a 4runner (99.) I did it because I felt that the passenger capacity of the 4runner was more beneficial to me and I liked the idea of having a "one box" rather than a "two box" setup (that is, with the 4runner or any other wagon-type SUV, everything is in one enclosure, whereas the pickup requires one enclosure for the passengers and a separate one for the cargo.)

I also found that a comparably priced 4runner typically had more "bang for the buck" than a Taco. Things like power windows and doors, bucket seats (as opposed to the idiotic "split bench" of my Taco), a 4 link rear suspension (vs the Taco's leaf springs), a locking rear differential (my Taco was not a TRD so I didn't have the locker), a roll-down rear window with a defroster and a wiper, 4 real windows I could roll up and down at will, and of course the ability to carry passengers and also to sleep in the back of my vehicle (with the 01-04 Tacos you can get one or the other but you can't get both.) The 4runner was also about a foot shorter which made it more maneuverable both in the parking lots and on the trail.

Another point in favor of the 4runner vs the Taco is that if you find an older Taco, typically it's been thrashed, dented, banged around and generally well used. OTOH, a 4runner with comparable mileage has often only seen duty as a "Mall Terrain Vehicle" and if it still has the running boards on, you can figure it's probably never gone off road.

I never found the seating position or headroom in the 4runner to be objectionable, and I'm 6'1". Of course, I detest sunroofs and won't own a 4x4 that has one, so that's one reason I don't have headroom issues. As for seating comfort, my seat-of-the-pants comparison between my 04 SR5 (non-TRD) Taco and my 99 SR5 4runner was no contest: The 4runner was SO much more comfortable it was hard to believe they were the same platform.

Basically, a side-by-side comparison really shows the 4runner to be the more refined and feature-laden version of the same vehicle. Of course, the pluses for the Taco are the "build it your way" capability that the 4runner doesn't have, or at least it's not as easy.

The one achilles heel I found in the 3rd gen is one that it shares with the 1st gen taco: The lackluster performance of the 3.4/auto combination combined with so-so MPG and worst of all, the absolutely inadequately sized gas tank (18.5 gallons for both the Taco and the 4runner AFAIK.)

One point in favor of the Taco is that it's easier to find with a manual tranny (except for the 1st gen double-cabs, which are all slushboxes.)

The manual tranny is a good match for the 3.4 and will let you get decent (though not spectacular) power and MPG. With the slushbox, performance and MPG are marginal, at best. I was able to eke out 21 - 22 MPG under absolutely ideal conditions (flat road, cruise control set at 65) but 18 was more common on the highway and in the city I was lucky to get 16. Pulling our 1200lb trailer, MPG absolutely plummeted to around 11-13 and combined with the tiny gas tank, caused real concern about range (IMO a 4x4 should have a minimum range of 300 miles and 400+ is better.)

The lack of power and small gas tank were the main reasons I went from a 3rd gen to a 4th. The 4.0l V6 is not only significantly more powerful than the 3.4, it also returns better MPG. Best of all, Toyota finally got their collective heads on straight with regards to gas tank size so the 4th gen has a decent sized (23 gallon) tank. Combined with the noticeable increase in MPG thanks to the 4.0 and the 5 speed slushbox (vs the 3rd gens 4 speed unit), ranges of 350+ are possible even when pulling a trailer, and without the trailer the range exceeds 400 miles.

I don't know the stats on the 2nd gen Taco as far as gas tank size, but it does share the 4.0 V6 with the 4th and 5th gen 4runners.

One neat little "plus" with the 2001-2009 4runners (last two years of the 3rd gen and all of the 4th gen) is the standard multi-mode transfer case that gives you AWD capability when driving on the road, which is nice. The Taco has never been offered with multi-mode or full-time 4wd.


I found mine to be very capable out of the box. As others have mentioned, the interior seating area is cozy (at least on gen 3 and earlier)... As long as you don't mind rubbing elbows with passengers, it makes a great expo rig in my opinion.