Home » I Sent Toyota A Love-Letter About My 4Runner And The Company Actually Responded. Here’s What They Sent Me

I Sent Toyota A Love-Letter About My 4Runner And The Company Actually Responded. Here’s What They Sent Me

Rob Toyotaswag Top
ADVERTISEMENT

Applying to college in 2020 was a dreadful, tedious, and painful process. The pandemic was in full swing, I was doing my senior year of high school on Zoom, and everyone was going crazy waiting for the Rivian R1T to roll out. I had no idea what to write about for my general admission essay. In helping me decide on a topic, my guidance counselor asked me, “So what do you like to do in your free time?” I shrugged my shoulders and responded, “I don’t know, drive around aimlessly?” And then my topic was born.

4dcad730 00a4 49ae Ab67 243773bd1741

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

If you’ve been following along my exploits as The Autopian’s weekend contributor [Editor’s Note: And youngest writer! -DT], you know that I recently sold the Land Rover that I had for a year, leaving me with my Toyota 4Runner — my first car. It’s a fantastic vehicle; I managed to put about 10,000 miles on it from February 2020 to December 2020. That’s a decent chunk of distance, especially for a 17-year-old in high school. Naturally, with that many miles came a boatload of experiences. Thus I figured, why not write about myself and my car for my college admissions essay?

The Essay

I got a little deep into Freud-like levels of crazy emotional attachment and compared the 4Runner to my various interests and personality traits. Here’s an example:

With years of dedication to the knowledge of cars, I knew my car had to possess the same level of loyalty. Therefore, my Toyota 4Runner’s most prominent character trait is that it’s my reliable sidekick. My partner in crime that I know I can always count on. Even with nearly two hundred thousand miles on the odometer, it starts right up with zero hesitation, as it did the day I bought it. 

So 17 year old me decided that because I’ve liked cars since I was a toddler, I needed a 4Runner. Interesting philosophy. Here’s another good quote:

ADVERTISEMENT

Being someone who typically sticks to making the right decisions and never placing myself in intentional dangerous situations, my car had to prioritize safety over everything. Weighing a colossal five thousand pounds, I know that if the unfortunate were to ever occur, my life would be very well protected inside my tank of a 4Runner

I like my word choice of “colossal.” That 4Runner is a tank for sure, as the 16MPG certainly reflects that.

Even though it may seem silly to me now nearly four years later, I remember being proud about the outcome of my essay. I thought it was a unique topic and reflected me in a seemingly decent manner. I mean, here I am writing about cars for The Autopian…

Toyota’s Response

Rob Letter Fixed

So I sent my essay away to all of the colleges I applied to. I don’t know if they liked it or not. Maybe the admissions counselor at Brown University read it and was like, “I have a Lexus GX you plebian” and threw my application out.

Anyway, my guidance counselor really liked my essay. She really, really liked it. She told me to email it to Toyota corporate. I think she was hoping they’d send me a new 4Runner. I was hoping for a Land Cruiser. Instead, I got some interesting Toyota merch that included a 4Runner hat, a 4Runner bowl/mug, a weird football, a Toyota clock, and the letter you see above.

ADVERTISEMENT

C3ceecc1 6590 4476 8da3 E28d790a4b35

Here I am wearing my 4Runner hat in my 4Runner while wearing a Subaru Crosstrek t-shirt:

De07f404 Eb7b 4908 8021 7e6924359706

I’ve also been using the 4Runner mug/bowl/dish thing as a holder for Sharpies, pens, some gum, and a bunch of singles:

Image

ADVERTISEMENT

The Toyota football just sits on my desk. I tried giving it to my dog to play with but he showed no interest. He must be a Honda pup then.

592418d2 Ddb4 4daa A8f4 03ca5e75986c

The final item was a Toyota-branded desk clock with three different clocks on it. Neat, except the batteries ran out and I haven’t changed them in two years.

0d730e73 6ff7 4938 B106 C003317439be

The letter was also very nice consisting of a lot of “thanks for being a Toyota customer,” “we love you so much,” and “plz don’t leave the Toyota trucks cult.” OK, not exactly; here are the main quotes from Toyota’s letter:

ADVERTISEMENT

“We are glad to hear that your 2010 4Runner has traeted you well and hope it continues providing you with many more happy memories to come. We receive many emails and letters from our guests who want to let us know how much they love our vehicles, how many miles they’ve driven, or share with us the many adventures they’ve been on with their Toyota vehicles. It makes us proud to work for a company who manufacturers such great cars, trucks and SUVs.

Mr. Spiteri, we are humbled by your feedback and are appreciative of you sharing your college admissions essay. We wish you the best of luck in your application process. Keep working towards that dream of getting the 200 Series Land Cruiser.

Also, allow me to make a shoutout to Andrew Gilleland, Group Vice President and General Manager of Lexus North America for responding to my email (also thank you to Eboney Blanks for the aforementioned letter). Here’s Gilleland’s response:

Screen Shot 2023 07 10 At 9.32.40 Am

That’s just cool coming from former VP of Scion (the now-dead, but still very cool brand). Although Toyota didn’t send me a 200-series Land Cruiser, I was and still am so grateful for all the cool merch. Come on over if anyone wants to figure out how to play with that football thing!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
64 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scott
Scott
1 year ago

That clock is cool, assuming you want to know the time in three different zones w/o doing any math. If you ever build a kit car, you can put it in the dash… the white-on-black and font look pretty retro.

My old Volvo XC90 also gets only about 16MPG around town (which is where I drive it, mostly) so I can empathize. But, like you Rob, I feel pretty safe when I’m in it, which is some consolation, especially after watching a few hours of automotive fails on Youtube the night before for educational purposes. 😉

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago

And they printed their reply on the good paper!

Ricardo
Ricardo
1 year ago

free stuff!

….cool

STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
1 year ago

Nice work, Rob!

Re: the top photo: You paddleboard?!

That One Guy
That One Guy
1 year ago

I love the “Football” – it was clearly designed by someone who’s never thrown a football.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  That One Guy

Maybe its not a football.

JTilla
JTilla
1 year ago

What are those ugly stickers on the front bumper?

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 year ago

That’s super cool of Toyota to respond to your letter like that! I’ve thought of sending Ford a letter about my 1966 Thunderbird, but at this point it’s such an old car that I don’t know if they’d care. They don’t even make T-birds or use any of the components in it anymore…

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
1 year ago

I feel the same way about my Tacoma. What a wonderful article. Thank you.

Gordon Mitchell
Gordon Mitchell
1 year ago

If you haven’t already – you should be applying for jobs there. Also are those Toyota vans or just regular ol vans? Both are great.

Gordon Mitchell
Gordon Mitchell
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Spiteri

Well played sir

EXL500
EXL500
1 year ago

Now I have an inkling of what to do when I approach Honda to donate my 2015 Fit to one of their collections when I hang up my keys in 20 years.

Elhigh
Elhigh
1 year ago

I had A Moment today.

I had a doctor’s appointment so I didn’t go to work on time; when I got done I piled into my ’87 Truck and motored on, stopping for gas station coffee and a fill on the way.

BTW, first fill in over a year. The Truck has been sidelined due to tank issues, exacerbated by tank mounting bolt issues. Long story short, I had to remove the bed to get the tank off. Since the bed is in desperate need of some rust repair (and now I have to procure (and learn to use) a MIG welder), it’s on sawhorses while I motor around with a homebrew wooden flatbed.

Anyway. Sitting on the flatbed, filling out the log entry. Kid comes up.

“Hey. Nice ol’ Truck.”

“Thanks.”

“You do the flatbed yourself?”

“Yeah.” I described the circumstance.

“Cool. We had to do some patches in my Nissan over there,” and I looked in the right direction. His Nissan is about 20 years younger than my truck, meaning it’s merely a teenager – maybe almost as old as the kid himself – but clearly loved and enjoyed with a surfboard sticking out the back.

“Drive it ’til it dies, man.”

“Oh yeah. You had this one long?”

“Bought it in November of 1987.” I flipped back to the first page of the logbook, to show the first entry when it had six miles on the odometer. “At this point I can’t really imagine not having it.”

“Drive it ’til it dies.”

Anyway. A young person recognized my grizzled old truck for the hardy survivor that it is, and spoke complimentarily about it. Made my day.

Last edited 1 year ago by Elhigh
Holly Birge
Holly Birge
1 year ago
Reply to  Elhigh

The kids are alright.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
1 year ago
Reply to  Holly Birge

My exact thought when I saw the gang of teenagers spotting all the cars coming out of the Euro other week.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
1 year ago

When I was a kid, I sent letters — and drawings — to GM because I thought I wanted to be a car designer. Some poor dude at the Tech Center was really nice and patient and always responded in an encouraging way, and my family still talks about those replies.

Rippstik
Rippstik
1 year ago

Count me in on the Toyota Cult…er…fan club. I’ve owned several Tacomas over the years (I think I’m at 3.5 now) and I often tell people that Toyotas run like crap longer than most cars will run. If you keep them out of the salt and keep the engines cool, they will run forever.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
1 year ago
Reply to  Rippstik

Agreed… had a nice V8 4runner with only ~120,000 miles that had to be sent to the scrap yard because winters in the Northeast (near the coast) destroyed the frame faster than anything I’d seen before. I still miss the way it drove with the torsen center differential full-time T-case. It was awesome (and fun) to romp around NYC in too.

Whatawookiee
Whatawookiee
1 year ago

Yeah. My dad had to get rid of his ’88 after around 20 years in NW Ohio winters. The rust had eaten the body and started to wreck the brake lines. He got a used ’98 to replace it, and that thing is still going. My niece still uses it, and other than the paint looking a bit rough, it still looks pretty good, too.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
1 year ago

This is the most 4runner owner thing I have ever read, confirmed by the fog lights being on for absolutely no reason in the first pic.

Cameron Showers
Cameron Showers
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Spiteri

Also me, absolutely always having my fog lights on when my headlights are on. Especially since i live around a lot of deer despite basically living in a suburb which i find cool.

Ben
Ben
1 year ago

If your fog lights are shining deer they are horribly mis-aimed and likely blinding oncoming traffic. Fog lights are supposed to shine low enough that they don’t light up the fog in your vision but do light up the road so you can see where you’re going. If they show you any part of the deer above the knees they’re not doing their job.

That said, they most likely fool you into thinking you have better vision because they brightly light the road directly in front of you. It’s the same trick aftermarket LED manufacturers have been using forever. You don’t actually want that super-bright pool of light right in front of you because if something is there it’s likely too late to do anything about it and it messes up your night vision for things further away.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Spiteri

Would you drive around with your rear fogs on if you had them?

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
1 year ago

Just trying to imagine if I tried this today:

Dear GM,

I just wanted to write to express my love for my 1968 Oldsmobile, a faithful companion to me for the last 23 years. With every turn of the key, the roar of it’s big block V8 makes me happier than you can imagine. I look forward to many more miles and many more years with my 4-4-2.

-Sid

Dear Sid,

My name is Frank. It’s my job to read all of these letters and send replies. This is the first Oldsmobile letter I’ve gotten since I took this job. I’m sure my predecessor had a few, but I can’t ask him because he fell asleep with a cigar in his mouth and now we don’t have a break room or Marshall anymore. I’m going to miss Marshall. He always had Starlight mints.

Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh yes. Your Oldsmobile. I shared your letter with my immediate supervisor and received a reprimand for mentioning a dead brand in front of him. My bonus just went down by 15%, so I’m a little salty right now, but I can’t blame that on you, in spite of your inability to let go of the past and see any of the great new offerings from General Motors. Seriously, man. We have a Chevy Equinox that makes more factory horsepower than those Oldsmobiles did.

But I’m assuming you really wrote hoping for some free Oldsmobile swag. We don’t have any. The brand’s been dead for almost two decades. The best I can do is enclosed in this envelope. I’m sending you a cute little business card that turns into a sponge. It says “Safelite” on it because that’s who I got it from. I’m also including my most treasured possession, the charred remains of Marshall’s cigar. He sure picked the best cigars to smoke while immolating himself in our break room.

I do hope you continue to enjoy your Oldsmobile. I’m still driving a Chevy Trax with 180,000 miles on it and a rattle in the dashboard that not one genius in this office can figure out. It just keeps rattling and rattling way, even as my ex-wife drives around in the Toyota Highlander that I’m still paying for while giving road head to the f**king contractor who remodeled our bathroom.

Good day, sir.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 year ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

Poor ol’ Frank has had a rough go of it. At least he has the advantage of being fictional.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 year ago

“plz don’t leave the Toyota trucks cult” is a little too close to the truth. Toyota folks will talk about the legendary reliability of their Toyotas seemingly without understanding that other cars don’t just break all the time.

Also, your line about “safety is #1 so I bought an obese 4runner” is…… interesting. But you’re right that 5000lbs for a “midsize 4×4” is obscenely humongous. Cuz that’s heavier than a Bronco, which is fullsize.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Wait, wait, wait.
<pulls up datasheets>
Holy shit. This thing with the 4 cylinder is heavier than a Grand Cherokee with the 5.7/545RFE/QD2. It’s even heavier than the 3.0CRD! HOW?!

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

The curb weight of this 4runner is more like the GVWR of most actually midsize 4x4s.

The Grand Cherokee is extra impressive because a grand Cherokee is a pretty big and fat vehicle too.

Mike B
Mike B
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Spiteri

With the power of a 4 cylinder, economy of an 8! I’m an owner too, 2013 OG Trail Edition with 156k. I know it’s reliable, but the 4.0 is my least favorite thing about it.

Mike B
Mike B
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Spiteri

Mine actually isn’t too bad on fuel for what it is, I consistently get 20-21 this time of year. I drive mostly highway commuting to work though, and I usually stick to speed limits. My average on the dash over the last 10k miles since replacing the battery is 19.4. Prior to that it was 20.1 over about 60k miles.

As far as it being slow, yeah it can be pretty frustrating at times. My GF drives an Elantra, and she’s like “I don’t know how you can drive this thing every day”. I highly recommend one of those throttle controller devices, I have one from Hike-it that was around 150 and definitely makes a difference. It does not add any HP, however it helps to mitigate the laggy throttle response.

I also recently inadvertently turned of “ECO mode” while trying to rest my maintenance reminder light, and that seems to have made a difference as well, while not hurting economy one bit. I was sure the ECO light was just to let you know when you were driving conservatively, but I swear there’s a difference with it “off”.

NewBalanceExtraWide
NewBalanceExtraWide
1 year ago

Remember in the movie Summer School where the horror movie kid sent a letter to a sunglass manufacturer and got sunglasses for the entire class? That’s what this reminds me of.

Bomber
Bomber
1 year ago

Tension breaker! Had to be done!

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago

In 1992, I had a new pair of Ray Ban sunglasses with the Olympic logo etched on the lenses. Had them in my shirt pocket, bent over and out they flew. One lens shattered. On a whim, I sent them to Bausch & Lomb with an explanation. Three weeks later, a new pair arrived in the mail along with a B&L sunglasses strap. This was back before Luxottica bought out the Ray Ban trademark, so not sure what would happen today. I thought about mailing my RX-7 back to Mazda when it developed problems just to see what they might do, but I didn’t have enough stamps.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 year ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

The building I used to work in had astonishingly powerful toilets. I had only worked for the company about 2 months, and one day, I leaned over to flush the toilet. As I hit the lever, my Ray Ban sunglasses fell out of my shirt pocket, and right into the bowl.

They INSTANTLY disappeared.

I thought “I hope that doesn’t come back to haunt me.”

It’s been 18 years, and I’m still with that company. We’re in a different building now, but we still use the old building, mostly for storage. I think I’m in the clear, though.

Think Ray Ban will send me some free shades, or is it too late,

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

They should just for hearing your story. Hate to risk a courtesy flush on one of those toilets.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

That story is not as rare as you may think. Mine were the $1 cheater magnifiers but yes returned to the ocean by way of white water turd rafting.

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago

It is deeply weird to me that Toyota calls its customers “guests” as if my minivan is a hotel room (if so, it needs better housecleaning to keep with with 3 little kids).

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

Guests are temporary. A 4 Runner is forever.

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
1 year ago

Back in my day that “weird looking football” would have had a shaft with the tail fins on it, it was called a Vortex, and John Elway could have thrown it clear over the mountains.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
1 year ago

Uncle Rico doesn’t need “a shaft with tail fins” to make it clear over the mountains.

Erik Hancock
Erik Hancock
1 year ago

Sweet reference. If only you could go back in time, you’d take state. No doubt in my mind.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 year ago

Haha. I remember those commercials!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

Elway? Bah Bradshaw and Roethlisberger both threw harder, further, and faster.

V270
V270
1 year ago

Cool. I sent them a nastygram for denying warranty claims and running out the clock on the warranty on my 2020 RAV4 and they didn’t send me anything.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 year ago

I once called the 800 number on a bottle of Coke and asked where the name Mr Pibb came from. This was 1990, so there was no Google.

The rep who answered said she didn’t know, but she took my home number (I was on a payphone at my community college) and promised to research the answer and call back.

Sure enough, a week or so later, there was a message on the family answering machine detailing how the Coca-Cola company was releasing a new drink targeting younger people, so they needed a name that children could pronounce easily. Pibb was determined to be a syllable that children could easily say. Pibb didn’t mean anything so they added a Mr in front. Since it was also intended to be a competitor for Dr Pepper, the Mr and Dr titles were complimentary.

This isn’t about cars, but marketing departments can make customers for life. There’s a 2 liter of Mr Pibb in my fridge right now. There’s a Wal-Mart I don’t shop at because they don’t carry Mr Pibb.

Also, I’m a cheap old man, and Mr Pibb 2 liters are fifty cents cheaper than Coke Classic.

David Tracy
David Tracy
1 year ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

This is a great story!

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 year ago
Reply to  David Tracy

I will admit I was a bit disappointed there wasn’t an actual Mr Pibb…

Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour
1 year ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

My favorite Mr. Pibb-related anecdote is when I took German in high school and learned about the eszett that looks like a capital B but is pronounced “ss”. And at the time, Mr Pibb containers had capital Bs for some reason…

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 year ago
Reply to  Pisco Sour

In German class, we used to write funny things like Kiß my Aß.

EXL500
EXL500
1 year ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

A friend and I sent a letter to Jolly Rancher in 1970 and asked for them to consider red currant flavor candies. They said they’d consider it and sent us a giant box of their other flavors. Score!

Mike B
Mike B
1 year ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

That’s great that they responded to you, but pretty cringe that they were marketing soda to kids so young that they are unable to form words correctly.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

“Also, I’m a cheap old man, and Mr Pibb 2 liters are fifty cents cheaper than Coke Classic”

Store brands are even cheaper, especially on sale. A few months ago I loaded up when Safeway Select 2 liters went on sale for $0.50 apiece.

Cpt. Slow
Cpt. Slow
1 year ago

Every reader: Great story, and you got free swag! Every automaker’s PR dept: Why do we have a 5000% increase in people sending us begging emails?

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
1 year ago
Reply to  Cpt. Slow

Haha I think you overestimate the readership of this site, but that would be a good problem to have for them!

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
1 year ago

Press departments live for these letters. It’s very cheap and easy press and turns loyal fans into die hards.

David Tracy
David Tracy
1 year ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

Yeah, and who knows, maybe the person they’re responding to will have a platform!

Good on Toyota for this.

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
1 year ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Totally. Its an easy win and you should for sure take the time.

64
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x