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Citron

Getting back into it.

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As the title says, I will be selling my Titan soon and getting another midsize SUV. This time it will be a daily and an off road rig. Well, not actually a daily because I have a company rig for work. 

 

I would like your opinion. I am looking at 4th gen 4runners (2003-2009) or 2nd gen Xterra (2005-2015). The 4runner has tons of aftermarket, but the Xterra cost a few thousand less for comparable years, so I could get a newer vehicle for the same price. I am really not interested in lots of custom work, I don't have the time to do things like build a winch bumper like I did with the wd21. 

 

I am looking for input from you guys that have transitioned to Xterras and 4runners. To be honest, I am leaning towards the 4runner, but I really like the idea of a manual transmission and and manual shift tcase of the X. 

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After I retired the R50, I got a 1.5 Gen X. Price was right and I was familiar with all the mechanics. Aftermarket is ok and lots of good forum support (XterraNation.org). It’s been a winner.  2nd Gen is bigger, but may have more electrical gremlins. I’ll be looking at one eventually. Or maybe a frontier.

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I've gotta be honest, I love my 4th gen.  Never been in a 2nd gen Xterra though so I can't say anything about that.  4th gen 4Runners do have some annoying flaws, like invasive traction control and such that you have to do some custom work to disable anytime you want, but on the flip side the ATRAC makes lockers pretty much unnecessary unless you plan on really extreme stuff.  Both the V6 and V8 have plenty of power and last a long time of course, but the early V6 has head gasket issues, the V8 has manifold cracking issues (just an excuse to get headers!!!), and the later V8's, while more powerful, have issues at higher mileage (250k+ usually) with part of the system which gives them more power, although if caught in time can be bypassed cheaply enough.  I can answer pretty much any question you've got about the 4th gens if you have any, I'd say more now but gotta hurry off to class!

 

Oh, and V8 is timing belt (not too bad to do), and V6 is timing chain.

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Bushnut - in a quick search, I found a handful of places that had stuff for the X, mostly reselling from 2-4 manufacturers. Bumpers, sliders, lockers, etc.  More than the Pathfinder, but less than the 4runner. Also noticed that the X aftermarket was a little higher cost than the 4runner, probably due to less competition. Have you found this to be true? 

 

Mjo - how have you found the aftermarket for the 4runner compared to the R50? I thought I read that the sport edition had selectable traction control. 

 

Both - how are both V6 for towing? Would the have any problems with a small boat or a small travel trailer? I know they have similar tow ratings, but real world is usually different. Especially in the mountains. 

 

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The aftermarket for the T4R is worlds bigger.  You have probably 6 or so UCA choices, at least as many front bumpers, several skidplates manufacturer options (including aluminum or steel, and different thicknesses), etc.  There's even at least 2 different companies that make MOLLE panels for the rear windows.  Basically, anything you could want you have options.  Some of the accessory stuff can be a bit pricey, but the regular stuff like lift components and bumpers are fairly standard pricing compared to other vehicles.  Most of the wide parts availability is due to the chassis being darn near identical to the FJ cruiser, and front end being extremely similar to the 2nd/3rd gen Tacoma, and overall strong similarity to the 5th gen 4Runner.

 

As far as selectable traction control (and some other options like outlet in center console), many things aren't tied to a trim level (other than the JBL sound system which is tied to the Limited model), but rather are an option which is usually rare on the base SR5 trim, although technically available.  Also, there was a facelift in 2006, and at the same time lots of options were added/became more common.  It has a lot of traction control systems, including VSC (is disabled if you lock the center diff, cuts engine power when it detects lateral slipping.  This one is my least favorite, since if slip in snow going from a side street to a main road you can be left vulnerable, and often the center diff doesn't lock quick enough to be useful, hence a custom mod or finding one with the button), ATRAC (brakes individual wheels when center diff is locked to help offroad, more aggressive in 4LO), and of course good ol' ABS.  I think there's one more system for if your wheels are slipping but there's no lateral sliding, but I'm not sure.  Worth mentioning, the V6 is part time 4wd and the V8 is full time 4wd, and most people seem to notice a 1-2 mpg difference between the two at best.  For towing, I haven't towed anything especially heavy with mine and it's a V8, but from what I've read people are pleased with what they can tow with their V6, it can just feel kinda doggish in hilly terrain (the engines have similar HP, but the V8 has considerably more torque as you'd imagine).  I don't have personal experience though, so take that with a grain of salt.

 

As with pretty much any Toyota ever (and any vehicle with a boxed in frame really), beware of frame rot.  The crossmember under the radiator by the tie down loops and the area around where the rear lower links connect to the frame are good places to look for rot.

 

If you go to look at one, they do have some funny quirks.  See if the rear window has been replaced; there was some kind of design flaw with them which caused them to (rare) shatter when using the rear defroster.  The extended warranty for that component expired this last year, but if it was done the new window shouldn't have that issue.  If there's a drivetrain clunk, good chance it's the driveshafts; the slip joints and u-joints are supposed to be greased and they often aren't.  Add grease and they'll be fine; I have yet to read of one that got damaged from lack of greasing from a careless owner, only an annoying clunk.  Also make sure you test all the transfer case modes (4HI/LO and center diff lock, plus of course 2WD if it's a V6), as the actuator tends to gum up from lack of use and can be expensive and/or time consuming to replace/rebuild (beware, the dealership will insist on replacing the whole t-case) - this one would definitely be a major haggling point if it's not working right (although many folks have gotten theirs working by just giving it a try at every opportunity; if it works/once it works, use monthly).

 

I'm stopping myself now before I go rambling on about more details that probably aren't too important haha.  Feel free to ask any further questions.

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Also worth mentioning, the Lexus GX470 is the same vehicle underneath.  If you can get over the looks and sideways opening trunk, you'll get a manual transfer case lever and a vehicle that was probably cared for much more.  The cost of a luxury brand pretty much balances the Toyota tax, and may even come out cheaper.  Wish I'd known that before I went shopping!

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One more thing (not going to be foolish enough to say "one last thing", I know myself), I'm 6'4" and find the T4R4 far roomier than my R50 was.  If mine didn't have a sunroof I'd actually have a bit of room to spare, same as with my R50, but leg room is definitely better.

 

Also another thing, yeah, the dash cracks and falls apart.  And yeah, there was an extended warranty for it, but it's expired.  I know I'm pointing out a lot of bad things and making it sound like a bad vehicle, but it really isn't.  If you find one that was cared for and continue to care for it, most of these won't ever be an issue.

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If you decide to go down the GX470 road let me know. I dug into them heavily the summer of ‘17. There is an excellent buyer’s guide on I8MUD. Personally, the side swing hatch was a deal breaker for me for several reasons. Plus it was for my Mom, who sleeps in her rig, & the tumble forward seats are terrible for that purpose. Much more but I’ll save it until you’re interested. Frankly, I admire them but it just didn’t work for us.

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Just now, RainGoat said:

If you decide to go down the GX470 road let me know. I dug into them heavily the summer of ‘17. There is an excellent buyer’s guide on I8MUD. Personally, the side swing hatch was a deal breaker for me for several reasons. Plus it was for my Mom, who sleeps in her rig, & the tumble forward seats are terrible for that purpose. Much more but I’ll save it until you’re interested. Frankly, I admire them but it just didn’t work for us.

 

I didn't know about the seats thing.  I love how the 4Runner's front seats can be scooted forward and then laid flat.  Personally I'd prefer a split hatch like an 80 series, but that's a different topic.

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 I haven’t towed with the X. The wheelbase is a little short for anything heavy. I think it tops out at 5000lb.  As far as the cost of aftermarket goodies, well I believe you have to pay to play. My mods have been mostly overland oriented. Rear AAL, with shackles and timbren SES. Front was due for new ball joints so in went AC UCAs as well. Rancho 9000s all round.  Unloaded its about 3” of lift. I’ve done about 10,000 km with this set up. I really like the simplicity of the truck. I do find the seating position in the 2nd Gen better. Though the 4x4 control is a dial vs a lever and is complicated by traction control systems. My X is smaller internally than the R50.  Mine Being a 2002 it is old. A 2nd Gen could be as new as 2016. And you could get one with a factory rear locker. Hope this helps

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5 hours ago, bushnut said:

 I haven’t towed with the X. The wheelbase is a little short for anything heavy. I think it tops out at 5000lb.  As far as the cost of aftermarket goodies, well I believe you have to pay to play. My mods have been mostly overland oriented. Rear AAL, with shackles and timbren SES. Front was due for new ball joints so in went AC UCAs as well. Rancho 9000s all round.  Unloaded its about 3” of lift. I’ve done about 10,000 km with this set up. I really like the simplicity of the truck. I do find the seating position in the 2nd Gen better. Though the 4x4 control is a dial vs a lever and is complicated by traction control systems. My X is smaller internally than the R50.  Mine Being a 2002 it is old. A 2nd Gen could be as new as 2016. And you could get one with a factory rear locker. Hope this helps

 

That's something that I really like about the 2nd gen Xterra over the 4Runner for sure.  Depending on market, a really nice condition 4th gen could be just as expensive as an almost brand new Xterra due to stupid "Toyota tax".  Technically you can get a 4th gen with a factory rear locker too, but it was only on rare Trail Edition models only available in 2009, so you're talking about $20k for a 10 year old truck (still puzzled that Nissan was on their game so much more, heck, even Jeep had a factory locker in the LIBERTY back then!)...on that topic though, if the ATRAC doesn't do well enough a locker from another Toyota can be retrofitted pretty easily.  Not sure how far you intend to go with this vehicle @Citron, is it gonna be more along the lines of a hunting road rig or do you intend to wheel in SAS territory?

 

Honestly I'd say they're both really solid choices; for me, it would come down to whichever one I could find in better shape with the desired options in the required price range, rather than setting my heart on a particular model.  Make sure to test drive one of each too, sounds obvious I know, but just don't forget!  15 minutes behind the wheel could show you that you can't stand a vehicle that sounds awesome on paper (er, screen?).

 

Is there a place to check out your Xterra somewhere @bushnut?  It sounds pretty sweet!

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Somewhere between FS road rig and SAS rig. Medium lift, larger tires, winch bumper, some armoring.

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I didn't know about the seats thing.  I love how the 4Runner's front seats can be scooted forward and then laid flat. 

-GX tumbles forward but takes up so much space my 5’ Mom couldn’t sleep there. Also makes a wall that’s almost impossible to crawl over into front seat. Only If you completely remove the 60% side might you fit. The 40% side is too narrow & leaves the wall.

 

Personally I'd prefer a split hatch like an 80 series, but that's a different topic.

-True, but you’re right, it’s the best. All the benefits of a swing up hatch but with a clean seat or work area. My hatch is always protecting me from rain, snow or even the sun, plus it’s easy to load. Ultimately, I realized the side swing was a deal breaker (plus it swings toward the CURB - yeah, that’s easy to unload, assuming other cars & gravity let you open it at all). Sorry, couldn’t help myself. [Now I am cognizant that I’m about to put a swingate which will present the same problem- the very same swingate that[mention=32880]ferrariowner123[/mention] removed for this very reason.] The ability to retract the rear glass on 4Runners is awesome though!

 

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@Citron the Xterra’s stadium seating really works & provides an excellent view from the rear for your kids. Also you can fold the front passenger seat back flat to make a work area or open up the view. It’s a nice touch. The rear rubber cargo area is brilliant as well.

 

I love the 2nd Gen Xterra’s looks - more so than the R50 but if I had bought my Pathy a couple months later I would own a 4th Gen T4R instead.

 

Before I could commit to my engine rebuild, I went out & drove this in Marysville. It was an off-road with the locker - VERY tempting.

d0b89f8b9f55c36d42b8b4bf1ca61585.jpg

 

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10 hours ago, mjotrainbrain said:

 

 

Is there a place to check out your Xterra somewhere @bushnut?  It sounds pretty sweet!

Sorry but I gave up on doing build threads after documenting my R50 here. The only things I could add to the above mods are: DIY roof rack,  rear cargo shelf and divider, custom dog bed behind driver seat, manual hubs, Falken AT3w 265-75-16 LT. Love it.

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Looks like I do have a pic on my build thread here “bushnut’s R50”. Its an old pick the only difference now is it sits a little taller. You only really notice when I’m parked next to a stock wd22.

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23 hours ago, mjotrainbrain said:

(still puzzled that Nissan was on their game so much more, heck, even Jeep had a factory locker in the LIBERTY back then!)...on that topic though, if the ATRAC doesn't do well enough a locker from another Toyota can be retrofitted pretty easily. 

 

E-locker was/is part of the Pro4x (formerly OffRoad) package which was available on earlier R51's (and on 2nd gen Xterra, still available on Titan & Frontier). Only downside to that is (in factory form) it only works in 4 low, but can be modded to be available on demand.

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I have done more research, and I found a few more manufacturers of off road stuff for the X. I actually found a place that sells diy cnc cut front and rear bumpers with a tire swing! Before I was really leaning towards the 4runner, but after finding more of an aftermarket, I am seriously considering the X. I will have to drive both and see which one I like.

 

Was it the 3.3 or the 4.0 that had the disappearing oil issue? Also looks like 2009+ had a lot less issues than previous ones. Timing chain tensioner, coolant in transmission, etc. 

 

Thanks for getting me to look further into the X. 

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My wife’s GX470 is a beast in fine clothes. My poor little 3.3 is far outdone by her V8, however I did tow 4700lbs the other day, buuuuuut it dealt the final blow to my suspension. Anyway I can vouch for the V8 4Runner/GX470, they’re awesome.

But, if you’re going to buy a new rig and you’re looking at all option, you may consider a 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s the last year they put solid front axels in them and they last a long time, granted you should look for one that’s already had it’s mid life head gasket job done. Or better yet look for one with a blown head gasket and slap some MLS gaskets on there.

Good luck man

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Up here in kanuckistan a 97 land cruiser is still in the $20,000 range. Crazy eh?

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Yeah, it’s true here also.. an immaculate 90’s model LC is $12-25K. You can find them that have been poorly taken care of for muuuuch less. I see them for $5000 often here in Georgia advertised as needing TLC and having 300K+ miles. I bet you can get a fair engine with the transmission attached for under $10K.

I guess any way you look at it, it’s going to be a large investment of time and money..

It’s just a dream of mine and I admire those who are walking in that dream.

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@Citron not sure if this is what you're thinking of as far as the disappearing oil, but that's definitely an issue with the VQ 3.5 engines in the later R50's.  Don't think anybody's figured out where it goes yet haha

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I actually found a place that sells diy cnc cut front and rear bumpers with a tire swing! Before I was really leaning towards the 4runner, but after finding more of an aftermarket, I am seriously considering the X. I will have to drive both and see which one I like.

I actually appreciate their plastic bumpers. They can take a lot of grinding against underbrush without looking bad & the rear bumper step insert was genius as well-wish more trucks did that. They’re a tough looking truck!

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Neither the 3.3L or the VQ40 are known to be oil burners. The VG33 is just a bigger version of what was in your wd21. Personally if you go first gen X I’d go with a supercharged model. Yeah it requires premium but it has 40 more hp and 46 ft lbs more torque. Mine seems to get the same mileage as the modded 2nd guys. Both fairly simple to work on, the 2nd gen has the ability to Titan swap the front end which is cool. I’ve worked on a few and they seem well built. I love my first gen but that’s because I prefer the simplicity of it and it pretty much is just a revised wd21 with leaf springs. I drove it to work every day till I bought new winters for my VW.

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I love the VQ40 engine. If I had the time and money, I would be swapping one into my old Pathy.

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