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Old 02-02-2016, 11:25 PM #1
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Which drives better, an early 3rd gen or a late 3rd gen?

All things being equal among two similarly equipped 3rd gens such as a 1996 Limited 3.4 4wd and a 2002 Limited 3.4 4wd both without any modifications — which has a more refined ride?

Now I know this is completely subjective as well as limiting in scope, since everyone uses their trucks differently. But I'm curious for those who own or at least have driven both said versions of 4runners — what did Toyota learn from 1996 until 2002? What if anything did they implement that improved ride quality or performance. I know that all 3rd gens are virtually identical, but they did make changes here & there.

Since I have only driven one 4Runner (my 1997 ltd) I have nothing to compare it to. Yet I often wonder if I should put my resources into a later year truck....because honestly, after a year or two of working on and driving a 3rd gen, I kinda feel like the 3rd gen is my "forever truck" .

I just like these trucks! Even mine despite having nearly 400k miles on it and none of the fancy bells & whistles of new trucks. Even though I'm always working on it — I still love the damn thing and am not tempted in the least by other trucks or even other generation 4runners.

There's a pretty good chance I'll be that old guy with a cherried-out classic 3rd gen in 20 years who refuses to let go of his baby. Kinda like Clint Eastwood in that movie Gran Torino — only younger and fatter...

I do eyeball later year 3rd gens though, and think wistfully that maybe I should find a good one and put all my effort into it instead of mine.

So, is the grass really greener over in the late year 3rd gen camp? Or am I just imagining it?

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Old 02-02-2016, 11:41 PM #2
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Better headlights, interior improvements, better taillights, MultiMode on everything in 01-02, TRAC and VSC. Suspension ride wise I think they're the same, all around they're better. They should be, because they're newer. Only thing they should have kept was the e-locker.
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Old 02-02-2016, 11:49 PM #3
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They drive exactly the same but the newer 01-02 are better since they have electronic limited slip and all wheel drive. Its a nice peace of mind clicking that all wheel drive when i'm in the snow or even just the rain. Also it comforting knowing when my rear end slips out it will brake one tire a straighten me out without much effort on my part.

I also added the switch to disable all that smart limit slip when offroad so its only there when I want it.
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Old 02-02-2016, 11:51 PM #4
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I'll bite;

Off the top of my head, the big and obvious 'performance' difference would be the traction control at the loss of the rear locker. I don't think there were really any other 'performance' upgrades. Just more refinement of interior pieces, and technologies I guess. Oh! And heated seats after 01!

I do really like the 4-spoke steering wheel over the 2, just feels more solid, and cupholders! But even the screen for odometer instead of the rotary dials... But then you run into problems with the radio and Climate Controls malfunctioning.

In the end it's all different strokes for different folks.
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Old 02-03-2016, 01:17 AM #5
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Funny thing that I just saw this thread here's why....

Ok so for my job I get to drive some cars and today guess what came up, a 2002 limited with 115k miles. I myself have a 98 sr5 with 156k, the weird thing is that I've had mine for only a week and some change, so to me the unlimited felt way heavier and sluggish. Maybe the lady didn't take care of it or got it running different but my sr5 felt lighter when I would accelerate. I do have the ect on all the time and maybe that had something to do with it but after a while I added things up

She had the limited, so of course she had more perks, leather, and more electronics and the center locks, I just had the plain sr5. Fewer options, maybe less weight and everything was probably different. My seats felt smaller then hers and even while turning, my wheel felt a little more free then hers. but I think maintenance has something big to do with it. My truck had a great car fax and the maintenance was on point, maybe she didn't keep up with hers and that might explain the sluggishness from hers. I was planning on buying a 02 sport but it was too hard to find a decent one and the one I got, well I got for a real good deal but after driving it for this short time. I kinda want to make it my daily driver and I'm leaning on selling my 04 rsx and use that to find a 02 sport, as long as I can find one that's been taken care of. Lol
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Old 02-03-2016, 01:17 AM #6
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Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unner View Post
Only thing they should have kept was the e-locker.
And the 5 Speed, and the taller springs....
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Old 02-03-2016, 01:34 AM #7
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I drive a 2000 SR5, i love it, it maybe lacks gadgets, but i love knowing im fully in control, my SR5 came loaded with all options, and the diff in the back will auto-lock when put in 4x4, (other had to turn it on with a button)

Only thing i hate about my version is the fact i have a none regular bumper, meaning i got a 2 inch hole for fog lights vs the standard one at 2.5 inch

Mine is the 3.4L 5 speed manual. its a breeze to drive.
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:30 AM #8
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I think the interior improvements make a big difference, but I think they went backwards a little bit (from a reliability perspective) with the additional complexity of the multi-mode, climate control on the Limiteds, and dropping the E-locker. Those seemed like efforts to make the truck a little more civilized for the soccer mom demographic. Not that they're bad at all, but over the long term I prefer simplicity over bells and whistles. The full time AWD capability doesn't appeal to me at all.

I think the sweet spot was the '99-'00 models with the updated interior (without climate control) that still had the J-shift transfer case. But maybe I'm a little biased.
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Old 02-03-2016, 11:37 AM #9
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If I were in the market for another 3rd gen I would just get the cleanest one I could find regardless of year. I would skip the 1996 model year as they aren't as supercharger-friendly and the 96s are not CARB approved with the supercharger if you live in California. (Obviously not important if you don't plan to supercharge.) The headlights, center console, etc can all be upgraded easily. Two small things that cannot be easily upgraded are the LCD odometers in the 99+ models and the climate control in the newer Limiteds.

I prefer the 99-00 model years due to the availability of a manual transmission and the locking rear diff, both of which ceased production in 2001. 01 models did at least gain ATRAC and multi-mode.

If you compare my e-locked '00 to an A-Trac equipped 01 and you handed it to the average person that knew nothing about 4WD systems, I think someone would get further offroad in the 01 due to the automatic ATrac system. However if you know about the e-locker and what it does, the 00 would get you further.
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Old 02-03-2016, 12:09 PM #10
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I'll go about this from experience. I own a 97 ltd (192k) whiles my dad owns a 00 SR5. (178k) TBH, I love my 97.. feels more "truck" like for some reason.. but I LOVE driving the sr5. Cloth seats just feel so much better to me, the steering wheel and interior upgrades are a plus. CUP HOLDERS make a huge difference trust me. It just feels a lot more comfy for a REALLY long road trip. In the end, they both are super reliable and we both plan to purchase another set of 3rd gen's in the future.
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Old 02-03-2016, 12:14 PM #11
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They should all drive similar in 2WD. The 96-00 give you the manual transmission and rear diff lock option. The 99-00 Limited can give you the rear diff lock with the Multimode transfer case. The 01-02 gives you Multimode with a less efficient(IMO, a lever and a button all the way on the other side) method of engagement and a crappy stability control system.
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Old 02-03-2016, 12:17 PM #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scramble View Post
And the 5 Speed, and the taller springs....
Agree there. Hell, they didn't keep the 5-speed in the 4th or 5th gens either.

IMO, the interior /etc upgrades of the 2001/2002 and multi-mode/etc being standard with the ability to disable the ATRAC/VSC ("Andymod" I think) and retrofit an E-Locker or ARB air locker makes it the best of all 3rd gen worlds, like @4-Ripcord had on his first epic 2002 build.

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Old 02-03-2016, 01:59 PM #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paddlenbike View Post
If I were in the market for another 3rd gen I would just get the cleanest one I could find regardless of year. I would skip the 1996 model year as they aren't as supercharger-friendly and the 96s are not CARB approved with the supercharger if you live in California. (Obviously not important if you don't plan to supercharge.) The headlights, center console, etc can all be upgraded easily. Two small things that cannot be easily upgraded are the LCD odometers in the 99+ models and the climate control in the newer Limiteds.

I prefer the 99-00 model years due to the availability of a manual transmission and the locking rear diff, both of which ceased production in 2001. 01 models did at least gain ATRAC and multi-mode.

If you compare my e-locked '00 to an A-Trac equipped 01 and you handed it to the average person that knew nothing about 4WD systems, I think someone would get further offroad in the 01 due to the automatic ATrac system. However if you know about the e-locker and what it does, the 00 would get you further.
Just so I have this clear...

You have a 2000 5speed, Supercharged with a rear e-locker and multi-mode AWD?
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Old 02-03-2016, 02:06 PM #14
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Quote:
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Just so I have this clear...

You have a 2000 5speed, Supercharged with a rear e-locker and multi-mode AWD?
I do not have multi-mode as it was only available on automatic transmission models.
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Old 02-03-2016, 02:15 PM #15
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Quote:
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I do not have multi-mode as it was only available on automatic transmission models.
Oh, makes sense.

But still.. 5spd SC and rear locked is still pretty sick!!!!!!!

I am guessing you will keep her forever like me and my 97.
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