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Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

  1. #1
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner


    After sending my Outback 3.0R VDC out to my daughter in Colorado, needed a vehicle to drive this winter to our place at Sunapee and points north. For a number of reasons, needed a modest purchase price: upgrade budget is a different bucket.

    Wanted something reliable, durable, good in snow, seat four 6’ adults but not too big for the city: thought our 2016 Tahoe was too big. My preference was also for six cylinders and a conventional automatic (not CVT). We’re talking 2000’s Crossover/SUV technology, and that comes along with mechanical AWD systems hydraulic power steering, but also dumb radios and hokey navigation systems.

    After looking for three weeks, couldn’t find a single 3rd Gen H6 Outback. Even 4th Gen 3.6’s were rare. Grand Cherokees we’re common and have very sophisticated AWD but also very checkered reliability. Every V6 Equinox, Ford Edge, or similar car I inquired about was sold, sometimes sight unseen minutes after listing. Crazy.

    Fast forward and I started looking at third generation (1998-2002) 4Runners, eventually just 2001 and 2002’s. Basic specs:


    • 184” long, 71” wide (narrow for an SUV) 69” high.
    • 3.4L engine with 183hp, 217 lb ft torque. Legendary durability.
    • 4 speed automatic with overdrive. Also famously durable.
    • Sucker is heavy. Body on frame, steel hood and tailgate. 3,975 lbs.
    • Payload is 1,275 (that’s a lot) and tow rating is 5,000 lbs. How you tow 5K with 183hp I dunno.
    • Ground clearance is way more than most crossovers at 11”.
    • 2WD with shift-on-the-fly 4WD available up to 62mph.
    • Locking center differential and manual 4WD low range (from a stop).



    The simple styling, modest size, and remarkable durability impressed me. Real off-road capability was interesting. Most reviews were enthusiastic; there were some excellent Buyer’s Guides on what to look for, and an enthusiastic owner group.

    To be continued.

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    Last edited by Garandman; 11-03-21 at 06:55 PM.
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  2. #2
    BMW track whore e30addict's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Those things are beasts. Surprised you went that route considering you seem to hate the ride of body on frame stuff and they suck fuel for the power they produce.

    Keep timing belts in them and that thing will never quit. There was one in the family for a few years and it took some abuse.

    My only bitch about them was feeling like you sit on the floor

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    2012 Tiger 800 XC

  3. #3

    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Freaking awesome vehicle. Classic Toyota equal blend of build quality, performance, and reliability

    You will grow to love it and not want to spend the money on anything newer

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  4. #4
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Quote Originally Posted by e30addict View Post
    Surprised you went that route considering you seem to hate the ride of body on frame stuff and they suck fuel for the power they produce.
    Throw an 18yo boy into the equation and ponderously slow becomes an advantage….My statement that “Toyota is where driving fun goes to die” is a little unfair.

    Looked at some rough puppies. Prices started at around $5,000 for running vehicles, up to $16,500 locally. For comparison, on Denver CL the range was $5,000 to $18,500.

    This 2001 Limited was in Boston. Owner was a middle-aged car enthusiast who ran out of time and money to keep this along with his two Mustang Cobra convertibles. It was missing the roof crossbars and rear seat headrests but had relatively low mileage (113K), very little corrosion, and runs like new.

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    Last edited by Garandman; 11-03-21 at 07:15 PM.
    “When it comes to the kitchen, I have a narrow band of competency.”
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  5. #5
    BMW track whore e30addict's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    Throw an 18yo boy into the equation and ponderously slow becomes an advantage….
    That also means the accelerator stays nailed to the floor

    My favorite 4Runner is the bext generation with the 4.7L. That thing was goldilocks in my eyes. Wouldn't have helped your teenager or price issues though.

    Edit: I also found that generation can be tippy if you hit bumps loaded up in a turn. Tall/narrow and very reminiscent of the Jeep CJ7 I put up on two wheels more then I cared to when I was that a teenager. The 44unner has a longer wheelbase of course, but the height to width ratio seems similar and they're more top heavy.

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    Last edited by e30addict; 11-03-21 at 07:18 PM.
    2012 Tiger 800 XC

  6. #6
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Limited trim comes with a long list of extras, notably leather seats and sunroof.





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    Last edited by Garandman; 11-03-21 at 07:18 PM.
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  7. #7
    Lifer
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    What are your thoughts about the Subaru Tribeca? Mostly the H6 essentials in a less desirable package than the 4 runner SK should be much less expensive. It was never a looker but the proportions are good

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    Ducati Scrambler Icon, Monster 1100evo, VFR/Interceptor, CRF250L/M, CRF230L

  8. #8
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Quote Originally Posted by dankatz View Post
    What are your thoughts about the Subaru Tribeca? Mostly the H6 essentials in a less desirable package than the 4 runner SK should be much less expensive. It was never a looker but the proportions are good
    Great drivetrain but sales were minuscule because of styling missteps (notably the “Mangina” grill) and barely usable 3rd row.

    If you can find a Limited trim 3.6 it would drive well, and it got a much needed facelift in 2008.

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  9. #9
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    The paint was almost completely gone on the center caps. New ones are $42 each! The parts store had Ford Argent Silver which (at least under store lighting) appears to be a really good match. Sanded the old ones with 320 grit and put on two thin coats and one wet coat, per instructions.



    Ordered a new Odyssey AGM battery. In my experience they are the toughest, longest-lasting batteries around: and priced accordingly. You can order them at AutoZone. OEM battery was 540 CCA, this one is 840.Three or four year 100% replacement warranty so save the receipt!

    https://www.odysseybattery.com/extre...ies-batteries/

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    Last edited by Garandman; 11-04-21 at 08:38 PM.
    “When it comes to the kitchen, I have a narrow band of competency.”
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  10. #10
    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    I love the 3rd gen 4Runners in the same way I love the Tacoma’s of that generation. They’re cut from the same cloth. Dead reliable, timeless styling, highly functional. Great buy dad!

    I didn’t understand your Tahoe/Yukon hate until recently. The Silverado/Sierras of the same gen are fantastic and I thought the SUV’s would be similarly cut from the same cloth. Had a 2020 Yukon SLT as a rental last week and it was absolutely terrible. Gross body roll, extremely poor suspension damping, interior falling apart at 60k miles. No thanks.

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    I went to MMI I know what Im doing here chief

  11. #11
    Lifer OneCheekRider's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    The paint was almost completely gone on the center caps. New ones are $42 each! The parts store had Ford Argent Silver which (at least under store lighting) appears to be a really good match. Sanded the old ones with 320 grit and put on two thin coats and one wet coat, per instructions.
    I need to do this to my Mustang. I hadn't thought to take a cap into the parts store to get a close 'nuff match.

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  12. #12
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Well, did a thing.

    Took the fuel tank skid plate off to neutralize the rust and repaint it. Took all three bolts off at the front - and didn't replace them. So the front of the fuel tank was unsecured.

    Drove a few miles, all the dash lights came on and engine wouldn't start. Found tank hanging down, and broke the strap in back.

    Resecured the tank and - no start. Check engine light was on and gas gauge was at bottom. That was my clue electrical contact was lost.

    Watched a video and found the panel under the driver side passenger seat.




    Hmm, which wires go in which holes? Fortunately other knuckleheads have done the same thing, and posted the correct locations. There are videos as well.

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    “When it comes to the kitchen, I have a narrow band of competency.”
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  13. #13
    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Sheesh.

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    I went to MMI I know what Im doing here chief

  14. #14
    Lifer joeswamp's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    I've done dumber stuff, glad it worked out OK. This one could have gotten exciting.

    Really curious as to how this vehicle works out. I've never owned a 4runner but I've long admired Toyota for continuing to make a traditional hardcore SUV -- they're supposed to be unstoppable as long as you can keep the rust at bay. Mileage ain't great but you can't have everything.

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  15. #15
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Quote Originally Posted by joeswamp View Post
    I've done dumber stuff, glad it worked out OK. This one could have gotten exciting.

    Really curious as to how this vehicle works out. I've never owned a 4runner but I've long admired Toyota for continuing to make a traditional hardcore SUV -- they're supposed to be unstoppable as long as you can keep the rust at bay. Mileage ain't great but you can't have everything.
    They ain’t sporty, road anyway.

    Today undercoated the fuel tank skid plate after wire-brushing the rust, spraying it with neutralizer and a couple coats.




    Replaced the worn out tailgate struts with OEM. They work slick, slow close the last inch or so. One seemed original and the other was aftermarket (Smaller diameter).


    WeatherTech front to back.


    New Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV tomorrow, and hopefully a new Odyssey AGM battery.

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    “When it comes to the kitchen, I have a narrow band of competency.”
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  16. #16
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Center caps came out pretty well. The color is just about a perfect match, the Toyota paint seems to have more metal flake. Put them in the oven for 30 minutes at 170°.


    And got new tires: Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV.

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    “When it comes to the kitchen, I have a narrow band of competency.”
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  17. #17
    Lifer Gixxer's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    Great drivetrain but sales were minuscule because of styling missteps (notably the “Mangina” grill) and barely usable 3rd row.

    If you can find a Limited trim 3.6 it would drive well, and it got a much needed facelift in 2008.
    I was considering this as a bridge until my next Bronco comes in, but I think I’ll be stuck with it and not in a great place to sell if it has closer to 170k

    https://www.cartechplus.com/vdp/1778...istow-NH-03865

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    Your park avenue leads to..

  18. #18
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Better off with an Outback 3.6R. If you can find one. 2014 and earlier have the 5EAT with the exceptional VTD drive system, a true full-time AWD system.

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    “When it comes to the kitchen, I have a narrow band of competency.”
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  19. #19
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Still cleaning things up and updating. The battery was an undersized piece of junk, and failing.


    Replaced with an Odyssey Performance Series AGM. These are the best auto batteries we’ve used. This size (24F) s 52 lbs.



    LED backup lights.


    And map lights (L).

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    Last edited by Garandman; 11-18-21 at 06:42 PM.
    “When it comes to the kitchen, I have a narrow band of competency.”
    Master Mechanic Roger Barr in “Chasing Classic Cars.”

  20. #20
    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    “Pimp My Ride Boomer Edition”

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    I went to MMI I know what Im doing here chief

  21. #21
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Quote Originally Posted by loudbeard View Post
    “Pimp My Ride Boomer Edition”
    And a BlueTooth -> FM transmitter for hands-free operation! Welcome to 2001…

    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Scosche-B...tter/552055767

    It has two ashtrays and a cigarette lighter! No evidence of smoking, though.

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    Last edited by Garandman; 11-19-21 at 10:56 PM.
    “When it comes to the kitchen, I have a narrow band of competency.”
    Master Mechanic Roger Barr in “Chasing Classic Cars.”

  22. #22
    Lifer gixxer72's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post

    It has two ashtrays and a cigarette lighter! No evidence of smoking, though.
    Coin storage and a self defense / survival tool.

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  23. #23
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    You are all probably wondering what I did with the old battery, but are too polite to ask….

    • Ordered a new LED-friendly turn signal flasher so we can use LED turn bulbs.
    • Added Bosch Icon wiper blades.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner-a5abb681-97a1-4cf5-b854-e78dca839cea  

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    “When it comes to the kitchen, I have a narrow band of competency.”
    Master Mechanic Roger Barr in “Chasing Classic Cars.”

  24. #24
    suburban ghetto living... black's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    Quote Originally Posted by gixxer72 View Post
    Coin storage and a self defense / survival tool.
    mace holder for me....

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    hmmmm......

  25. #25
    suburban ghetto living... black's Avatar
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    Re: Body On Frame SUV - 4Runner

    some PM for you and the truck..... I'd clean out the sunroof drains. older truck... clogged drains water can leak into innards. Typical scenario for my GX
    I was looking at the 4runner but 2 years ago, I could get a a v8 nicer ride, leather etc for 4k less. Nowadays they have 5k$ premium on them

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    hmmmm......

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