The Toyota 4Runner is a mid-sized SUV that debuted in 1984 and has been on the market ever since. Also known as Toyota Hilux Surf in Japan and other markets, the Toyota 4Runner has maintained its position as a durable and capable 4×4 vehicle since then.
For the 1999 model year, the 4Runner was part of the third generation which added an all-new body and a brand-new chassis to the vehicle. The 1999 Toyota 4Runner was launched with 3 trims; the 4Runner Limited, the 4Runner SR5 V6, and the 4Runner SR5.
In this 1999 Toyota 4Runner guide, we will see how well the 1999 Toyota 4Runner performed, what did it lack, and what other alternatives were available back then in 1999.
Bottom Line Up Front
The 1999 Toyota 4Runner packed a punch with its quality, reliability, and dependability. Back then, in 1999, it was one of the best mid-sized SUVs on the market, which offered both comfort and part-time 4×4 capability.
If you closely look at the 1999 Toyota 4Runner, you will cherish its looks, and back in 1999, it was surely top-of-the-segment stylish. 20+ years later, it still looks like an imposing figure. The soft curves at the exterior complement the smooth slopes in the cabin. The seat and dash arrangement creates a soothing and comfortable environment.
It was not just looks or comfort that the 4Runner brought to the table. Under the beautiful carving of the 4Runner was mechanical elegance, powered steering, performance, 4×4 capability, fuel economy, and cargo space. These features may sound too boring in 2022, but they were spectacular back then.
Because the model year is 1999, you will find the features too dry in comparison to what is offered today, but worry not, my dear gearhead, enjoy this guide!
Form and Function
The 1999 Toyota 4Runner was designed with a purpose in mind, without compromising on comfort, style, or reliability. For instance, the body-colored fender flares added looks and beauty to the overall vehicle, the side cladding and running boards offered greater utility, the roof rack allowed more cargo capacity, and the 16″ alloy rims added aesthetics.
The 1999 Toyota 4Runner was offered in two engine configurations; a 2.7-liter inline-four and a 3.4-liter V6.
The SR5, as the base model, was available with the 2.7-liter inline-four with a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard and a 4-speed automatic gearbox as optional. This engine produced sufficient performance figures; 177 pound-feet of torque, 150 horsepower, a towing capacity of 3500 pounds, and a fuel economy of 21/27 mpg with the manual transmission and 22/29 mpg with the automatic transmission. This came with an axle ratio of 4.556.
The SR5 V6 and the Limited trim were offered with the 3.4-liter V6. This engine pumped out 217 pound-feet of torque and 183 horsepower. Just like the 2.7-liter inline-four, this engine was also available with a 5-speed manual and a 4-speed automatic gearbox. The SR5 V6 had the manual transmission as standard and the 4-speed automatic as optional, whereas the Limited was only available with the 4-speed automatic.
This engine with the manual gearbox provided a plentiful fuel economy of 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, with similar numbers with an automatic gearbox as well, at 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. With the 5-speed manual, the axle ratio was designed at 4.1, whereas the automatic transmission had it at 4.3. Towing capacity, however, was much greater than the 2.7-liter inline-four, rated at 5000 pounds.
Even today, the 2022 Toyota 4Runner offers a towing capacity of 5000 pounds, which is more than enough for medium-sized trailers. So you can see how well the 1999 Toyota 4Runner was designed. Moving on, the 1999 4Runner came with a fuel tank capacity of 15.4 gallons, which provided a driving range of almost 310 to 440 miles depending on city/highway.
Antilock Braking System was available on the SR5 trim while it was standard on the SR5 V6 and Limited. Varying powered steering helped maneuver the 4Runner in tight spots while providing comfort and control at high speeds. The grip was also maintained by the mud and snow radials that came with the SR5, yet the SR5 V6 and Limited trims were equipped with all-season radials.
While the current Toyota 4Runner can seat up to 7 persons (the extra 2 are cramped and will only seat minors), the 1999 model was made to handle only 5. At the front row, the headroom was set at 37.8 inches with the optional moonroof and 38.7 inches at the rear row.
Similarly, the front legroom measured a generous 42.5 inches, whereas the second row had 35 inches, which may seem a little tight. Even so, the cabin was roomy enough to hold a family of 5 with all their stuff stored behind the second row.
The cargo capacity, too, was pretty decent, with 44.6 cubic feet of space behind the second-row seats and 79.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
The 1999 Toyota 4Runner measured a total of 178.7 inches in length, with a width ranging from 66.5 to 70.9 inches and a height ranging from 67.5 to 69.3 inches, depending on trim and tires. The wheelbase measured 105.3 inches, and the ground clearance varied from 9.8 inches to 11 inches.
If you look at what most mid-sized SUVs offer today, you will find that 1999 4Runner provides value for money to date. The 1999 Toyota 4Runner still runs healthy and can be seen working in different countries around the world; such is the durability of this vehicle.
Common Trim Features
The 1999 Toyota 4Runner came with several features:
- Three power outlets
- A cigarette lighter
- A rear ashtray
- Front and rear cup holders
- A digital clock
- Tie-down rings
- A tachometer
- A trip odometer
- 4WD indicator
a water temperature gauge.
Again, these features may seem boring, but honey, it’s the model year 1999.
Mechanically, the 1999 Toyota 4Runner offered a part-time 4×4 system. This means you can lock the differential to power all the wheels when going off-road. However, unlike the full-time 4×4 system, you cannot drive it continuously. Otherwise, it will damage the transfer case. The 1999 4Runner offered a 2-speed transfer case, transfer case and fuel tank protection, and an automatically disconnecting differential.
Safety features were limited to front passenger and driver airbags and seatbelts, and this was pretty much it. There was no pedestrian detection, LED headlamps, or lane warning system available at that time.
As the base trim, the SR5 came with a 2.7-liter inline-four with a 5-speed manual gearbox and an optional 4-speed manual. Besides the common features, the SR5 added an
- AM/FM cassette player connected to 4 speakers
- A chrome-finished grill
- Rear and front bumpers
- Rear and front splash guards
- Mud and snow tires
The SR5 offered basic functionality, as you had to pay extra for things like the air-conditioner. But for people looking for basic 4×4 functionality with decent comfort, the SR5 trim was perfect.
The SR5 V6 replaced the 2.7-liter inline-four with the more aggressive 3.4-liter V6 coupled to a standard 5-speed manual with overdrive or optional 4-speed automatic. It also added:
• A premium 6-speaker AM/FM CD system for a truly unique audio experience.
• Antilock braking system for greater control at emergency braking.
• Cruise control for a relaxing highway drive.
• Colored door handles.
• Powered door locks.
• Illuminated passenger side vanity mirror.
• Sport seats.
• Air conditioning.
• All-season radials.
• Heated and powered side mirrors.
The SR5 offered a balance of comfort and value with added features. It was neither too basic nor too expensive.
The Limited was the top-of-the-line 4Runner trim. It was designed to please customers with a range of creature comforts and features. The Limited trim was integrated with:
- A premium 6-speaker CD and AM/FM cassette player with graphic tone control.
- Power and diversity antenna.
- Antilock braking system.
- Automatic air conditioning and heating.
- Cruise control.
- Auxiliary power outlet.
- Front seatback pockets.
- Powered driver seat controls with lumbar support.
- A 3.4-liter V6 geared to a 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and lock-up torque converter.
- Running boards.
- Colored key handles and rear and front bumpers.
- A roof rack.
- Integrated fog lamps.
- Body side cladding.
- Fender flares.
- Powered and heated side mirrors.
- Powered front passenger seat.
- Leather upholstery.
- Engine immobilizer.
- Keyless entry.
- Anti-theft system.
- Powered locks.
- A Moon roof.
- One-touch 4WD rear differential locking.
- A leather wrapped-steering wheel.
- Aluminum alloy rims.
- Powered windows.
At that time, the Limited offered too much for the wealthy customer to say no; it had it all. Though it was a little expensive, it was worth the extra cash.
Rock Crawling Performance
When you are crossing rivers and crawling rocks, the most important thing you need is torque, and that, too, is plenty. With a core focus on torque, the engineers at Toyota designed the 2.7-liter inline-four and the 3.4-liter V6 to pump out maximum torque at low rpm, perfect for off-road excursions, especially on difficult terrains.
Moreover, the 30.6-inch tires added to the 4Runner’s traction and ground clearance, pushing it to 11 inches. They also pushed the water fording ability, approach, departure, and break-over angles for greater 4×4 capability. And while you crawled over sharp rocks, your vehicle stayed safe with the thick metal skid plates which protected the transfer case, fuel tank, and front suspension.
While the large 4-wheel disc brakes provided quick and crisp stops, the solid rear axle and 4-link rear suspension, and rugged coil-spring double-wishbone suspension at the rear allowed the 4Runner to achieve greater wheel travel which is crucial when going trailblazing. Furthermore, the 2-speed transfer case powered all four wheels to keep you moving where ever adventure takes you, and the rear locking differential made sure your rear wheels never lost traction. And overall, its rugged ladder-frame chassis was made to survive and withstand the most punishing terrains.
And today, it proves to have done it that way. With years of use and countless adventures, the 1999 Toyota 4Runner still runs like it was made yesterday. Still standing, still climbing mountains, the 4Runner has been successful with its durable 4×4 capability.
The 1999 Toyota 4Runner was available in 6 different colors; natural White, desert dune metallic, millennium silver metallic, black, imperial jade mice, and horizon blue metallic. However, horizon blue metallic was not available with the Limited trim.
Thanks to the build quality of Toyota, most 4Runners can still be found with their original paint.
A Perfect Family SUV
Although the Land Cruiser offered better features than 4Runner, it was also much more heavily priced. But as for a family of 5, the 1999 Toyota 4Runner was a perfect SUV. The cargo space was more than enough for 5 persons, the interior was relaxing, the seats were comfortable with ample headroom and legroom, the towing capacity was substantial, the performance figures were great for the highway as well as off-roading, the fuel efficiency was class-leading, and the vehicle itself was made to last. Which was the reason why it was so successful; it served a purpose.
But the steering was, however, vague, but that is what you can expect from 1999. Similarly, while cornering at high speeds, there was no extra technology to control the body roll, and passengers would feel the body rolling to the other side.
The acceleration or top speed was decent, but in comparison to today’s SUV, you can say it was slow. But again, as I said, it served a purpose. The 1999 Toyota 4Runner was a vehicle you could take on any adventure with full confidence that it will not break down because even now, in 2022, it does not.
Today, the 1999 Toyota 4Runner can be seen running as wild as it was back in 1999. Plus, it still holds value because of its durability. It’s like looking at a zombie; the design, the technology, and the looks are dead, but it’s still running. It’s the Japanese design intent; a very long service life.
As a mechanical engineer, we are taught that things are designed based on design factor, which defines at what point the thing break will, or in other words, we can control exactly how long something will last. When I see the Toyota 4Runner or Toyota vehicles in general, I see that Japan has done a good job.
There are very few manufacturers who offer a long service life for their vehicles; on the other hand, some manufacturers design their vehicles with a low design factor to make sure it starts to fail at a set age to fill their pockets with aftermarket sales and newer models.
1999 Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler back in 1999 was a true off-road champion. It was designed for only two things; adventure and fun. The HVAC sliding controls were replaced with turn knobs, the chassis was redesigned to save weight, and a new suspension upgrade increased the vehicle articulation by 7 inches. Overall, it was now more capable of dealing with rock crawling and trailblazing journeys.
But unlike the 1999 Toyota 4runner, the 1999 Jeep Wrangler lacked comfort. If the 4Runner was a man in a suit, the Wrangler was a guy in shorts at the beach. The Wrangler was not for everyone; it was for people who wanted open-air freedom along with class-leading off-roading hardware.
The Wrangler offered greater flexibility while off-roading due to its greater approach, departure, and break-over angles due to its short wheelbase and increased vehicle articulation. On the other hand, comfort and road manners were compromised due to road noise, stiff suspension, and sluggish steering.
Overall, the 1999 Jeep Wrangler was better at off-roading than the 1999 Toyota 4Runner, but it lacked the creature comforts and utility offered by the 4Runner.
Continue reading our complete 4Runner vs Wrangler comparison.
1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee was a mid-sized SUV that came with a 4.7-liter V8 which produced 295 pound-feet of torque and 235 horsepower, and a 4.0-liter straight-6 which made 230 pound-feet of torque and 195 horsepower. The Grand Cherokee included many creature comforts such as a 10 CD-changer, heated seats, large cargo space, and climate control.
The Grand Cherokee also featured a full-time 4×4 system with a locking center differential, which was not available on the 4Runner. This gave an edge to Grand Cherokee in the market to please customers who were looking for full-time 4×4 functionality without compromising on comfort. The Grand Cherokee also featured a standard antilock braking system on all trims, with a 3-link rear suspension which reduced body lean and made the ride much more comfortable.
Although a little less reliable than the Toyota 4Runner, the Grand Cherokee boasts have much better 4×4 capability with its full-time 4×4 system without compromising on-road comfort.
1999 Toyota Land Cruiser
King of the jungle; the Toyota Land Cruiser. Made to last, and last, and last, the Toyota Land Cruiser beats every other SUV in terms of reliability and function. The 1999 Land Cruiser was powered by a 4.7-liter V8, which was the first model to use a V8. This engine pumped out 320 pound-feet of torque and 230 horsepower. The 1999 Land Cruiser model was much heavier, stronger, and larger than the previous model; it also offered better performance figures and fuel economy.
For the model year 1999, the Land Cruiser’s suspension and chassis had been completely redesigned, which significantly increased its structural rigidity and durability, and made it less noisy and more comfortable.
The 1999 Land Cruiser was designed with ultimate luxury; besides a spacious interior, the Land Cruiser had large door openings, multiple storage bins, several cup holders, leather upholstery, a roof rack, a powered sunroof, and a locking differential. With religious maintenance, the 1999 Land Cruiser could just live forever.
There are countless user reviews on the 1999 Land Cruiser, and they all say the same thing; it’s incredible. After all these years, the Land Cruiser still exists and holds its value, no matter which year you pick. In comparison to the 4Runner, the Land Cruiser is a full-size SUV, but also more capable and comfortable, hence, more expensive.
Here’s our complete Land Cruiser vs 4Runner Comparison.
Question: What was the best year for the Toyota 4Runner?
Answer: Toyota sold 144,696 units of the 4Runner in 2021, which proved to be the best year for the 4runner, followed by 2018, in which Toyota sold 139,694 units.
Question: How many miles do 4Runners last?
Answer: Although this question is hard to answer due to limited statistics, the average 4Runner can easily last more than 300,000 miles with proper maintenance. A 2007 Toyota Tundra did 1 million miles on the odometer with timely oil and oil filter changes, and when Toyota checked its engine condition, it was as good as new. A user reported that his 1999 Toyota 4Runner was running 368,000 miles and was working great.
The answer to this question really depends on car care and driving habits. This is because the 4Runner is built on a body-on-frame design with sturdy, solid, and long-lasting materials and parts.
The 1999 Toyota 4Runner was designed to be a durable, long-lasting, and reliable SUV, but timely maintenance is required from the owner as well for it to live its life to the maximum (which till now is undefined due to the 4Runner’s robust quality). The 4Runners, which were kept with care with all their respective maintenance done at due time, can still be seen running today thanks to Toyota’s quality build.
Question: How much is a 1999 4Runner?
Answer: You can get a used 1999 4Runner for as low as $1000, but if you are looking for one that has been kept with love, you can expect to pay up to $6500. On the other hand, you can get the 2023 Toyota 4Runner for as low as $38,805.
Question: What kind of engine does a 1999 Toyota 4Runner have?
Answer: The 1999 Toyota 4Runner was launched with a 2.7-liter in-four cylinder engine which was available on the SR5 trim with a standard 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 4-speed automatic. This engine produced 177 pound-feet of torque and 155 horsepower.
The SR5 V6 and Limited trims were launched with a 3.4-liter V6 which pumped out 217 pound-feet of torque and 183 horsepower. This engine was only available with a 4-speed automatic in the Limited trim. However, the SR5 V6 featured a 5-speed manual as standard and a 4-speed automatic as optional. Both engines were gas-powered.
Question: What size gas tank does a 1999 4Runner have?
Answer: The 1999 Toyota 4Runner was launched with a fuel tank capacity of 15.4 gallons or 70 liters, which can cover distances from 310 miles to 440 miles depending on the city/highway.
The 1999 Toyota 4Runner was a successful mid-sized family SUV considering its solid build quality and practical utility. Everything the 4Runner had, was made to last, which is proved by its existence today. Every owner has a great story to tell. Only the downside is the 2.7-liter engine, which people say is slow when you load up the vehicle. But that can be omitted if we consider the more powerful 3.4-liter V6. But the starting torque is good enough for a quick start.
The 1999 Toyota 4Runner to date drives like a dream. Users who have been religious with timely maintenance have found it to be very loyal. And that is what is expected from a Toyota; as long as you take care of the vehicle (like timely oil, oil filter, brake shoe, wheel bearings, timings belt replacement), the 4Runner will live. And this is very easy considering that everything is given in the manual; it tells at what mileage you need to change what part.
Overall, the 1999 Toyota 4Runner is a great but now old SUV. It offered value for money back then, and for people still using it today, it’s still very loyal.