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Going a few model years back when shopping for an SUV potentially saves a pretty large chunk of change. For example, the 2021 Toyota 4Runner costs between $36,765-$50,745. Buying a 2017 Toyota 4Runner can cost significantly less with prices between $30,250-$41,725. Overall, the 2017 Toyota 4Runner is among the best used models, but there’s a catch. 

a red 2017 Toyota 4Runner on display at an indoor auto show.
2017 Toyota 4-Runner | Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

When it comes to the 4Runners in the current generation, buying one from 2017 and newer gives buyers the upgraded infotainment system that we saw in the 2016 models. Plus, 2017 added the TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium trims to the Toyota 4Runner. Consumer Reports also rates the 2017 model year among the most reliable models on the road with a 5/5 predicted reliability rating. 

The 4Runner SUV is rarely favored by critics

OK, so here’s the catch. If you are looking for a reliable and capable used SUV that’s sturdy and ready for some off-road battering the 4Runner is a solid choice. That said, it’s rarely favored by critics. The Toyota 4Runner almost always sports high predicted reliability scores. However, it also (almost without fail) gets poor marks for ride quality. 

So for someone looking for a car-like ride with car-like fuel economy to boot, the Toyota 4Runner SUV is not ideal. With average fuel economy of about 19 mpg and what most critics call a “stiff ride” it’s not exactly your ideal commuter car. 

On top of all that, the Toyota 4Runner tends to get lower crash test safety scores than others in the class, according to the U.S. News and World Report. So if you want a safe, smooth, economical SUV look elsewhere. For the 4Runner, reliability is something that comes at the expense of other important features like safety. It looks cool and it can go off-roading, sure. But there are other important factors to consider.

A white 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD pro SUV climbing rocks on mountain trails
2020 Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

Consumer Reports recommends the 2017 Toyota 4Runner. In fact, Consumer Reports recommends nearly every model year for the 4Runner. The 2020 model year saw safety updates with the addition of Toyota’s standard safety suite. However, a 2020 4Runner costs about the same as new. 

So heading back a few model years to the 2017 model year saves more cash and gives drivers essentially the exact same SUV as the 2019 or 2018 4Runner, but typically for a few thousand dollars less. But how much will you sacrifice in terms of safety with the 2017 Toyota 4Runner? 


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Considering others in the class that also have high predicted reliability, like the 2017 GMC Acadia, buyers may turn away from the 4Runner to other safer used SUV options. The 2017 GMC Acadia ranked much higher in the class because it combined both a 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS. Plus, the average price is lower at around $25,081-$37,937. While you will have to sacrifice some off-road chops, the trade-off may prove worth it to many.

The 2017 Toyota 4Runner is not, by any means, a bad SUV overall. However, for those that prioritize safety, there’s a catch. It’s not loved by critics for its smooth ride. Nor is it loved by the NHTSA or IIHS for having high safety ratings.