The Toyota 4Runner could become extinct.

Legislation approved recently by the House calls for imported utilityvehicles and mini-vans to be taxed as trucks at a 25 percent duty, rather thanas cars at 2.5 percent, as they are now.

Should the Senate and President Bush approve similar legislation, theprice tag on a 4Runner utility vehicle would rise by an estimated $3,800 to$5,000 overnight, and Toyota said it probably would stop shipping the vehicle here.

Bush reportedly has said he`d veto such legislation, which has importersresting easy for now-as easy as they can rest in an election year.

The four-door 4Runner is a rival of the Chevy Blazer and Ford Explorer.We drove a 1992 model equipped with four-wheel drive. 4Runner has some nicetouches, such as all-season tires; a large and easy-to-use shift lever toengage the four-wheel drive that doesn`t get in the way of the gearshiftlever; a rear window that automatically retracts into the tailgate, whichhelps empty the interior of hot air quickly and makes for easier loading andunloading when you don`t want to fiddle with a tailgate or hatch lid; andseparate controls so rear-seat passengers can cool off or heat up withoutwaiting for those up front to do so first.

However, there are some annoyances, mostly for those wanting to use theback seat. Headroom is cramped, and the rear doors don`t open wide enough for passengers to avoid brushing against the hardware.

Also, the 3-liter, 150-horsepower V-6 engine is fairly peppy, but you pay the price in fuel economy with a 14 m.p.g. city/16 highway rating.

Base price was $20,978.

Standard equipment included power brakes with rear-wheel anti-lockbrakes; power steering; power rear window with wiper; four-speed automatictransmission; AM-FM stereo; and rear-window defogger.

Options included a rear-seat heater at $150; power glass sunroof at $770; cloth sport seats at $440; compact-disc player at $446; chrome running boards at $419; cargo mat at $64; and a $2,149 package that included airconditioning; cruise control; power windows, locks and mirrors; and carpetedfloor mats. The sticker topped $25,000.

The 4Runner comes with a booklet in the glove box that makes a plea to“accept no substitutes“ when it comes to repairs and not to let insurancecompanies dictate the use of so-called like-kind or like-quality parts whenyour car is repaired.

Most new-car buyers fail to open the owner`s manual. If they did, many of their problems would be solved. The same is true of Toyota`s message aboutreplacement parts. It should be mandatory reading.

Like-kind or like-quality parts often are of questionable quality, tohelp keep costs down. Sometimes bolt holes don`t line up with those on thecar, or corrosion resistance doesn`t meet factory specifications.

Toyota says that to keep replacement parts` prices down, some insurancecompanies may insist on the use of like- kind or like-quality parts rather thanthose built by the factory.

Consumers who want original-equipment parts then must pay the differencebetween the like-kind and original equipment and could spend as much on therepair as on insurance premiums.

“You paid for quality when you bought your vehicle; tell your insurancecompany you want to keep it that way,“ Toyota says. “Your insurance company may tell you that the parts they want to use to repair your vehicle are likekind and quality. Ask for a copy of the standards used to make these parts.Industry tests have revealed serious fit, finish and corrosion-protectionproblems with these parts. Be certain your car is as good after it has beenrepaired as it was before your accident.“