Back in 2010 when I bought my Taco, Toyota wasn't selling new 4 cyl 4x4 access cabs in Colorado. Since I was coming from an 86 4runner with the 4 cylinder 22RE, I figured I already knew what the 4 cylinder would offer, so I just went for the V6 instead.
But now that gas is pushing $4 a gallon, I've begun to wonder if I made a mistake not seeking out a 4 cylinder for a test drive to see what it would offer. Today I got that chance when I went in for a blower motor replacement. They had one 2012 4 cylinder 4x4 5-speed manual access cab on the lot.
I was very disappointed. On the flats it was great. And certainly at low altitudes, I am sure the 4 cylinder does just fine. But the dealer let me take it up a winding 50mph canyon from 6500 to 7200 feet elevation with 4-6% grades ... a canyon I drove my 4Runner up and down for 12 years, so I knew what gears I would probably be driving in.
My old 4Runner drove almost the entire canyon in 4th, albeit mostly floored, at 45-50mph, save for one section where I had to drop into 3rd to maintain speed. But that was with maybe 115hp. Surely the 159hp of the 2012 would let me stay in 4th the whole way up.
Not even close. I had to drop it into 3rd three times to keep speed. That's 3rd and floored. The sales guy I was driving with had never been in the 4 cylinder 4x4 access cab either, and he was as surprised as I was just how gutless it was in our environment. And that was totally unloaded save for the two of us.
All I could think was how dangerous that truck would be heading up I-70 to the Eisenhower tunnel, being so powerless. So now I know.
This is not to disparage those who love their 4 cylinders. I loved my 22RE! But I live at very high altitude (house is at 8650 feet). And the lack of oxygen automatically robs every engine of 15-20% of it's power. I was just so very surprised that my old 86 4Runner ran that canyon better than the new engine. So for those of you out there in high mountain land wondering ... now you know.