Toyota 4Runner is a real SUV while Subarau Impreza sedan impresses
The rugged and capable 2017 Toyota 4Runner offers plenty of features to make it a competitor in the market, especially the 4x4 TRD Off-Road Premium model we tested.
Perhaps not as sporty or graciously adorned on the interior as some midsize SUVs, the 2017 the 4Runner, which now offers a PRO model, features a body-on-frame construction that allows for that capable off-roading experience. The new TRD and PRO models are ready-made for serious off-road driving, especially when equipped with some of Toyota’s optional systems.
Our tester had the 270 HP 4.0-L DOHC V-6 engine that
the 4Runner has had for some time. Paired to a five-speed automatic transmission, the fuel ratings are just 18 MPG overall (17/city and 20 highway) and we logged slightly over 18 with mostly highway and a bit of off-road driving.
While we value crossovers, our tastes have always favored real truck-based SUVs for both driving to and from our mountain home in all sorts of road conditions, as well as competent off-road driving experiences. Assisting the latter are a multi-terrain select locking rear differential; Crawl Control that maintains steady speeds and enhances overall vehicle control when off-roading, especially in challenging conditions; and Hill Start
Assist for more controlled acceleration on steep inclines.
Our TRD model was equipped with the optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) that provides extended wheel travel at low speeds for more vehicle stability. It limits body lean by using hydraulics to automatically adjust stabilizer bars on the SUV. When driving on-road, KDSS reduces body lean by up to 50 percent as it allows anti-sway bars to work in normal modes.
The TRD Off-Road is a superb hauler with a 5,000-pound towing capacity and almost 90 cubic feet of cargo space with second and third row seats down. Our tester also had a $350 sliding rear cargo deck that we used effectively to haul a damaged recliner to the furniture restoration shop.
While loaded with standard safety features, including Toyota’s Star Safety System (vehicle stability control, traction control, Smart Stop Technology brake override system, and more), our TRD also had skid plates, projection headlamps, rear view camera, and a touch screen with navigation system and latest Entune App Suite.
Overall, the 4Runner is just right for those who want a real SUV. It is high, so entry and egress can be difficult, but it offers easy-to-use controls, lots of passenger and cargo space, and has great visibility. Our tested TRD Off-Road Premium had a MSRP of $39,295, and with options was just under $42,495.
Impreza impressed us beyond expectations
As longtime fans of Subaru crossovers, we were not particularly wowed by the automakers sedan offerings, but the recent test of an Impreza changed our attitude.
The all-new 2017 2.0i Sport sedan model (there is also a 5-door model) we tested has won accolades ranging from the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (with EyeSight Driver Assist system) to KKB’s Best Value award. And it should get one for being a well-priced, comfortable, and fun car to drive.
Equipped with Subaru’s perfected Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system that provides exceptional road traction, the 2017 Impreza also has a sport-tuned suspension with Stablex dampers. Now add to that the latest Subaru STARLINK Safety and Security system that includes Blind-Spot Detection, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Reverse Automatic Braking, and more.
With our optional Eye-Sight system on the tester, added were adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, Lane Keep Assist, and more. Combine all those with a standard rear view camera, a 40-percent improved crash energy absorption, a new platform that increases rigidity of the unitized body by 70 percent, Vehicle Dynamics Control, Active Torque Vectoring, plus advanced airbags, and it leaves no doubt about the IIHS safety award.
Beyond the safety issues, the Impreza is well-styled in and out, is genuinely comfortable, and has likeable fuel economy at 30 MPG overall (27/city and 36/highway) with the optional Lineartronic seven-speed CVT transmission with paddle shifters. It was mated with Subaru’s delightful four-cylinder 2.0-L Boxer engine and the combination offered not only great economy but 152 HP and 6,000 RPM and 145 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 RPM.
From its STARLINK eight-inch Multimedia Plus system (including an optional Harmom Kardon audio system) to its 18-inch all-season tires, we found nothing to dislike on this re-designed sedan. We also liked the standard all-weather package with two-stage heated front seats and heated exterior mirrors.
And much of our love for this model was its price. Our 2.0i Sport had a MSRP of $21,995, and with options (the EyeSight system, manual transmission, power moonroof, and upgraded audio), the final price was just $25,740. Big bang for the buck!