Toyota 4Runner history The 4Runner has been defeating the competition and has little rivals left in the US market; Toyota's own FJ Cruiser has been discontinued, and the Nissan Xterra is extinct. That makes the Jeep Grand Cherokee its closest rival. A car very similar to the 4Runner is sold as the Land Cruiser Prado, in other markets abroad the US. The GX 460 is Lexus’ own version of the 4Runner. The 4Runner has been allowed to become more of a niche vehicle, as Toyota's car-based Highlander crossover serving the mid-size family utility category. The 4Runner it’s a tougher and truckier choice that stresses the "utility" side at the expense of some family amenities and comfort. The 4Runner has, mainly, been closely linked to small Toyota pickup trucks, which includes the current Tacoma. The first 4Runner wasn't much more than a truck with a camper covering some seats in the back, in what would have been the bed. The version that was introduced in 1996 changed the norm, as it offers a more cohesive design, but retained much of the underpinnings of the pickup, including the V-6 and four-cylinder engines. In 2003, the 4Runner was redesigned again, this time becoming more refined, significantly larger, and more luxurious equipped, although it retained the body-on-frame design. A barely usable and small, third-row seat was made optional, and for the first time, Toyota offered a V-8 on this vehicle. The 4.7-liter V-8 actually produced much less power than the standard V-6 early on, however, its 320 lb-ft torque estimate was considerably higher. While these 4Runners had nice interior details, the ride tended to still be rather harsh and bouncy. Several more sophisticated chassis systems offered on the 4Runner included an air suspension on the Limited model and an off-road-oriented hydraulic system. The suspension was good for towing and it also improved ride quality significantly. The 4Runner also offered an increased range of convenience options, including an upgraded JBL audio, a navigation system, and a backup camera.