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The midsize 4Runner and compact RAV4 are highly popular models in the Toyota SUV lineup. Both vehicles have some strong points. However, the 2023 Toyota 4Runner has one giant benefit over the 2023 Toyota RAV4: off-road capabilities.

2023 Toyota 4Runner has better off-road capabilities than the 2023 Toyota RAV4

Front angle view of orange 2023 Toyota 4Runner midsize SUV
2023 Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

Many drivers long to experience some rugged adventures and head out into nature with their vehicles. Consequently, automakers are offering more models that have off-road capabilities. However, the 4Runner has been a highly capable off-roader since its debut in the mid-1980s. 

And despite the current-generation model showing its age, the 2023 Toyota 4Runner is still one of the best off-road SUVs available. It’s much better for driving off the beaten path than the 2023 Toyota RAV4. 

Why is the 2023 4Runner a superior off-roading SUV compared to the 2023 RAV4?

Rear angle view of blue 2023 Toyota RAV4 compact crossover SUV
2023 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

There are multiple factors that give the 4Runner superior off-road capabilities. Unlike the RAV4, it has a sturdy body-on-frame construction, which enables the midsize SUV to handle the rigors of off-road use. Also, the 4Runner has a more advanced four-wheel drive system with an available transfer case for enhanced traction over challenging terrain. In comparison, the RAV4 offers a more basic all-wheel drive setup. 

Additionally, the 2023 Toyota 4Runner has ground clearance of up to 9.6 inches, compared to 8.6 inches for the 2023 Toyota RAV4. With its higher ground clearance, the 4Runner can more effectively drive over obstacles without damaging the underbody of the vehicle. 

Furthermore, while the RAV4 offers some rugged trims, none of them come close to reaching the capabilities of the off-road trims for the 4Runner. This includes the 4Runner TRD Pro, TRD Off-Road, and TRD Off-Road Premium. The most capable of these models is the TRD Pro, with its off-road drive modes, an off-road-tuned suspension, beefy all-terrain tires, a locking rear differential, and a crawl control feature. 

Plus, these off-road attributes are beneficial for aspects of on-road driving. This includes driving in adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow, and ice. It’s also helpful for traveling over poor-quality roads with broken concrete, cracks, and potholes.

Other ways the Toyota 4Runner tops the RAV4

There are other ways the 2023 4Runner tops the 2023 RAV4. This includes a more powerful standard engine. The 4Runner comes equipped with a 4.0-liter V-6, which delivers 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. In comparison, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine in the RAV4 generates 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque.

Also, the 4Runner has a higher towing capacity. It can tow up to 5,000 pounds, compared to 3,500 pounds for the RAV4

Additionally, as the larger SUV, the 4Runner provides more interior space. While both vehicles offer two-row layouts with seating for five passengers, only the 4Runner can be equipped with a third row with seating for seven. Also, the 4Runner features more space for cargo. It has a total storage capacity of 89.7 cu-ft, while the RAV4 maxes out at 69.8 cu-ft.

The 2023 Toyota 4Runner is highly-capable for off-road use, which is a giant benefit it has over the 2023 Toyota RAV4. For SUV shoppers deciding between the two models, the off-road prowess is something to consider, particularly for those seeking rugged excursions out in nature.

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