- 2021 Toyota 4Runner ($36,765 – $50,745)
- “2019 Best Resale Value Brand – Toyota” – Kelley Blue Book
- Pro: The Toyota 4Runner is a staple in the SUV world as it provides good off-road prowess and comfortable, spacious cabin.
- Con: While the Toyota 4Runner is built to last, it could use an updated interior and powertrain
The Toyota 4Runner is one of the last body-on-frame SUVs in a sea of large unibody crossovers. And while it is in serious need of an updated powertrain and interior, the 4Runner still provides some of the best off-road capability that you can find in an SUV today. Despite its old-school style and mechanics, the 4Runner offers a good amount of everyday comfort with its spacious cabin and it has plenty of power thanks to its tried-and-true V6 engine.
Which 2021 Toyota 4Runner is right for you?
For the 2021 model year, the Toyota 4Runner is offered in nine different trim levels. Those levels include the base SR5, the Trail Edition, SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, Venture Special Edition, Limited, Nightshade, and the TRD Pro.
My tester was the new-for-2021 Trail Edition, which is only going to be limited to 4,000 units according to Toyota. It’s essentially a dressed-up SR5 model with 17-inch dark gray wheels, a Yakima roof rack, and a 40-quart cooler. The one that I tested was dressed in Cement gray, however, Army Green, white, and black are also available.
The Toyota 4Runner has aged well over the years
The Toyota 4Runner has been in the automotive market since 1984. Now in its fifth generation, the 4Runner retains its two-box styling with bold fenders and short front and rear overhangs. Its front end has an aggressive approach that unmistakably Toyota, however, the rear end could use a little update despite the fact that the car was refreshed just a couple of years ago.
If you want a more aggressive-looking 4Runner, then you can climb up the trim levels and opt for the Nightshade edition for a blacked-out look or even the TRD Pro for the most rugged appeal. Whichever trim you choose, your 4Runner will still stand out amongst the crowd in the local grocery store parking lot thanks to its strong features and tall ride height.
How comfortable is the Toyota 4Runner?
You can never judge a book by its cover, but you can also never judge a 4Runner by its outer appearances either. Underneath all of that rugged sheet metal lies a comfortable interior with plenty of room for five passengers. The higher Premium and Limited trim levels are available with a third row, however, it’s pretty small. Every seat in the car is more than adequate for a long car ride and although the base trims, like my tester, come with a cloth interior, it’s plusher than you would expect. If you would rather have a Softex interior, then you’ll need to get one of the higher trim levels.
In terms of overall usability, the 4Runner’s interior is well laid out. There’s an eight-inch touch screen that sits in the center of the dash and there are large knobs to control the radio volume and tuning as well as the HVAC. My tester didn’t come with automatic climate control, push-button start, or heated seats. But all of those conveniences can be made available by going with the Premium trim and above.
What kind of tech does the 4Runner offer?
The Toyota 4Runner comes well-equipped, even in its base SR5 form. Some of the most notable standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, full LED headlights, LED fog lights, skid plates, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. As stated before, an eight-inch infotainment screen is standard and provides infotainment features like navigation, Android Auto and Apple Carplay, Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth, and three USB ports.
Stepping up to the higher trim levels reveals more tech-savvy and comfort options. The 4Runner Limited comes with 20-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, and an adaptive suspension. The TRD Pro model comes with a JBL premium sound system with 15 speakers in addition to a Fox suspension. A Kinetic Dynamic Suspension system is an option on the TRD models in addition to a multi-terrain selection with crawl control.
The 4Runner handles well on the road and off the beaten path
You might never guess that a 4,600-pound SUV could handle well, but the Toyota 4Runner will surely surprise you. No, it’s not a sports car by any means, but the 4Runner showed a lot of composure when taking turns in a hurry. There’s a decent amount of body roll when taking turns at speed, but even in its base form, the 4Runner soaks up road bumps and other imperfections well. Overall, it provides a comfortable experience when driven on regular roads and freeways.
The same can be said when driving the 4Runner off-road. I have tested both the base and the TRD Off-Road model and can report that the base suspension feels more compliant. The TRD Off Road’s Fox suspension is comfortable, however, the stiffened shocks absorbers transmit more vibration into the cabin in addition to a more solid ride quality overall. No matter which 4Runner you choose, however, you will have 9.6 inches of ground clearance in addition to a 33-degree approach angle and 26-degree departure angle.
The 4Runner has plenty of power to get the job done
Whether you plan on using the Toyota 4Runner for work, play, or everyday errands, it has enough power to get the job done. Under the hood of every 4Runner is a 4.0-liter V6 engine that produces 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque and is connected to a five-speed automatic transmission. While most enthusiasts would likely wish for more power, I’m happy to report that the 4Runner’s V6 still offers plenty of power for passing, merging, and going uphill.
Rear-wheel drive is standard on the SR5 and Limited models, however, a part-time four-wheel-drive configuration is available across all trims except for the Limited trim. Opting for that trim opens up the availability of a full-time all-wheel drive system with a limited-slip locking differential. Additionally, the 4Runner is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
As far as fuel efficiency goes, the EPA estimates that the Toyota 4Runner can achieve up to 16 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. During my week of testing, which including a mix of highway and city driving, I was able to average 14 mpg.
Every 4Runner comes loaded with safety features
The Toyota 4Runner keeps its occupants safe via a host of standard safety features. For starters, every 4Runner comes equipped with the Toyota’s Safety Sense P system, which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert, auto high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Other notable safety features include eight airbags, vehicle stability control, traction control, brake assist, and smart stop technology.
As a testament to the 4Runner’s safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rated it with four out of five stars for overall safety. However, it did miss out on a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS.
Is the 4Runner expensive to maintain?
Toyotas are known for being reliable and easy to maintain and the 4Runner is no exception. According to Car Edge, it should cost an average of $1,650 in maintenance over the first five years of ownership. That cost includes scheduled maintenance, normal wear and tear as well any expected repairs. Additionally, JD Power gave the 2021 4Runner an overall rating of 79 out of 100 when it comes to overall reliability and quality.
To back up the 4Runner’s reliability, Toyota includes a basic warranty that lasts for 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. Additionally, the 4Runner’s powertrain is backed by a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty.
The 2021 Toyota 4Runner offers the bulletproof reliability and capability that it always has
The Toyota 4Runner has been in the market for nearly 40 years and the 2021 model shows us why. Its undeniably solid build quality and surprising comfort make it a great SUV for transporting people and their stuff on and off the road. And while competitors like the Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder are formidable rivals, the 4Runner shines above all with its tried-and-true reliability and off-road capability.
MotorBiscuit gives the 2021 Toyota 4Runner an expert rating of 6.5 out of 10
The editors at MotorBiscuit gave the 2021 Toyota 4Runner an overall rating of 6.5 out of 10. The 4Runner is a staple in the SUV segment and continues to provide the amount of capability that any off-road enthusiast can get excited about. But for the other 90 percent of the population that doesn’t take to the trails on the weekends, the 4Runner still provides a sensible and comfortable means of transportation every day.