In 1995 (for the 1996 US model year) marked another significant redesign of the then aging 4Runner. Whereas the transition to the second generation 4Runner was one that kept the build quality and options roughly on par with the rest of the mid-size SUV market, the changes made in the third generation turned the 4Runner into a more luxury-oriented vehicle.
This move paralleled the changes to the 1996 Nissan Pathfinder, but moved the 4Runner into a distinctly different class from its older competitors, the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Blazer, and Isuzu Rodeo. The third generation 4Runner did, however, look very similar to the second generation.
Source: Wikipedia, 2013