Step aside RAV4; for those who want more utility and off-road toughness in their SUV, the 4Runner is a tried and true option. It stands as the middle child of Toyota's SUV lineup, above the C-HR, RAV4, Venza, and Highlander, but below the Sequoia and Land Cruiser. The 4Runner shares a platform with the more luxurious Lexus GX for those who want an off-road capable midsize SUV that can coddle them a bit more than a top-trim Toyota.
2021 marks the current-generation 4Runner's 12th year on the market. Its age is made obvious by poor fuel economy and underwhelming performance from its standard V-6 engine and clumsy shifts at the hand of its aging five-speed automatic.
That said, the standard 8.0-inch infotainment display and active safety features, which were added for last year, help modernize the 4Runner experience. The TSS-P safety suite is the least advanced of Toyota's offerings, but we're grateful it was added to the midsize SUV.
Where the 4Runner really comes alive is off the road. Especially in the TRD Pro we reviewed last year, the Multi-Terrain Select system, Fox suspension, and Crawl Control make this truck-based Toyota seriously capable away from pavement. Its off-road attitude is furthered in Trail Edition guise, which adds a Yakima roof rack, nubby off-road tires, and a 40-quart insulated cooler to keep refreshments chilled on a long camping trip.
The 4Runner is a little old, sips a bit more gas than we'd like, and trades refinement for off-road capability. If that off-road character appeals to you more than a crossover-based midsize SUV like the Honda Passport, the 4Runner could be a good fit.
Although it offered a 2.7-liter four-cylinder at launch, the 4Runner is only available with one engine and transmission pairing for 2021. All models feature an old-school non-turbo 4.0-liter V-6 and a five-speed automatic. RWD is standard, and 4WD is optional. The V-6 develops 270 hp and 278 lb-ft that, in our test of a 4WD 4Runner SR5, was good for 0-60 in 7.5 seconds. With the dated engine and a transmission down a few cogs on its competitors, the 4Runner is rated at just 16/19 mpg city/highway with either drive type.
The 4Runner shares its capable off-road platform with the Lexus GX. At the higher price point afforded by its luxury badge, the GX provides a smooth-riding air suspension not available on the 4Runner, and the Toyota's V-6 is swapped out for a 301-hp 4.6-liter V-8. As for the looks of the GX's gaping maw and angular styling, you'll have to decide for yourself.
Read about the 2021 Lexus GX here.
In the 4Runner's incomplete IIHS safety testing, it earns four Good crashworthiness scores but a Marginal rating in the small overlap front: driver's side test. It also receives the lowest possible Poor rating for its structure and safety cage. The 2020 model earns a Poor headlight rating, too, though Toyota is adding standard LED headlights and fog lights for 2021. The SUV also earns a four-star (out of five) overall safety rating from the NHTSA with a three-star rollover rating and four-star frontal crash score.
Toyota also includes its basic TSS-P suite of active safety features as standard on every 4Runner. That means automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, and automatic high beams are included on all models.
The 4Runner comes standard with seating for five, although certain trims offer the option of third-row seating that expands capacity to seven. Legroom measures 41.7 inches up front, a tight 32.9 inches in the second row, and just 29.3 inches in the available way-back seating. Cargo volume behind the optional third row is rated at just 9.0 cubic feet. That number expands to 46.3 and 88.8 cubic feet behind the second and first rows, respectively.
Regardless of trim, every 4Runner features an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and satellite radio capabilities. Integrated navigation is optional on all models and included on top trims. Eight-speaker audio is standard and higher trims benefit from a 15-speaker JBL premium audio system.
|$500||Toyota announces a College Graduate Rebate on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.]||07-06-2021|
|$500||Toyota announces a Military Rebate on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.]||07-06-2021|
|$500||Toyota announces Bonus Cash on select models for eligible current owners. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.]||07-06-2021|
|$500||Toyota announces a Bonus Cash offer on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.]||07-06-2021|