The 1970s and ’80s were a time of reckoning for the American auto market; namely, the Japanese were playing “anything you can do I can do better” with Detroit. As the Mustang got fat, Toyota gave us the Celica. Midsize American sedans had become ponderous and unreliable, so people began buying Honda Civics and Accords in droves. And while The Motor City’s full-size pickups were — and still are — king, Japanese compact and midsize trucks began to attract a strong following for their manageable footprints, mechanical simplicity, and impressive ruggedness.
So it would only make sense that someone like Toyota would release something like the 4Runner back then. After all, its basic idea is as American as apple pie, and since the The Big Three were beginning to lose the plot, why not try to swoop in and corner the market?