Venturing into adventure

Toyota 4Runner. Metro Creative Services photo.

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Toyota 4Runner. Metro Creative Services photo.

Special edition Toyota 4Runner can venture off the road

The word venture has several definitions and is actually both a noun and a verb. One of the most common uses of the word venture is in the phrase: nothing ventured nothing gained. That basically manes if you don’t try something you’ll never achieve it.

What’s with the grammar lesson here? Well this week’s tester is a special edition of the 2021 Toyota 4Runner called the Venture. Special editions like the 4Runner Venture are a common way for automakers to update a vehicle from year to year, without having to do too much else. So as most of the 4Runner remained unchanged from last year model year, the 2021 Toyota 4Runner receives two new special editions – the Venture and Trail.

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Other than these special editions, not much else has changed, although Toyota does make LED headlights standard.

Aesthetically the 4Runner Venture has a roof rack and sits on Yakima MegaWarrioar tires and 17-inch TRD alloy wheels. The Venture is basically a SR5 Premium trim with a few additional modifications including black exterior body accents, skid plates, running boards and a full-size spare tire.

The 4Runner has a rugged heritage and the Venture shows that indeed it can uphold that strong off-road tradition.

The 4Runner’s performance is the epitome of consistency, but also shows why some of the SUV’s competitors have surpassed it as the powertrain is quite dated, despite its steady output. The RAV4 is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 engine that’s good for 270 horsepower and 278 lb./ft. of torque. It’s good, adequate power from one of Toyota’s most solid engines. But if you’re looking for exhilaration, you will be disappointed. It does its job but offers neither thrills nor refinement. All in all, the 4Runner’s engine is wholly utilitarian. Additionally, the five-speed automatic transmission feels outmatched and outdated. Four-wheel drive is available and expected for a vehicle designed to go off the road.

The 4Runner has a tall posture so it offers a great vantage point for the driver, but it also drives more like a pickup truck than your typical SUV or crossover. With the Yakima tires, it’s an even bumpier performance. The 4Runner is comfortable off the road, and on the road, those rugged mannerisms show themselves.

Inside, once again the 4Runner shows its age, but also offers just enough newness with the Venture special edition touches. With black TRD lettering on the headrests and all-season floormats, the 4Runner feels refreshed.

Other niceties inside include a power tilt/slide moonroof with sunshade, SoftTex trimmed seats and heated front seats.

Toyota’s infotainment and technology proves to be good in its simplicity. It has all the amenities you could want integrates with smart phones through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 8-inch touchscreen looks good in the center stack, while other SUVs seem to be dominated by larger screens. This one serves its purpose without dominating the entire interior.

The three-row 4Runner has only 9 cubic feet behind the third row. However, fold the third row down and it expands to 46.3 cubic feet. And with the second row folded, the overall cargo room becomes 88.8 cubic feet. There is a power liftgate.

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The boxy styling of the 4Runner is conducive to ample headrest and more useful cargo area too.

The 2021 Toyota 4Runner Venture Special Edition has a starting price of $44,620. With add ons, the final MSRP of my tester was $48,199.

The fuel economy shows how behind the times the 4Runner is as most of its competition has better fuel ratings. As such the EPA gives the 4Runner a rating of 16 mpg/city and 19 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of on-the-road, suburban driving, I averaged only 17 mpg. That seemed disappointing, especially considering how expensive fuel is right now.

Whether a noun, as in going on a mountain-climbing venture or as a verb as in venture off the road, this special edition 4Runner lives up to its name. It brings enough of an update to the off-road 4Runner and keeps it relevant. It also has enough of a rugged, playful side to prove that old saying of nothing ventured, nothing gained is true.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at jimmydinsmore73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2021 Toyota 4Runner

  • Price/As tested price................................................ $44,620/$48,199
  • Mileage.......................................... 16 mpg/city; 19 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 4.0-liter V6
  • Horsepower................................. 270 hp/278 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. Five-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels................ Four-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Tahara, Aichi, Japan

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