2023 Toyota 4Runner Review: The Swan Song of an Aging Platform
2023 Toyota 4Runner Review:
- 2023 Toyota 4Runner ($39,455 – $54,020)
- Pros: The Toyota 4Runner is still one of the greatest off-road rigs in the market. It also has a great resale value.
- Cons: The 4Runner’s on-road driving dynamics are so-so, and the car itself needs a refresh.
The Toyota 4Runner is a staple in the SUV segment. Its truck-based chassis has proven its worth for over 40 years, and the latest 2023 model showed us just how good it is… again. We have tested many trucks and SUVs over the past couple of years, and none of them hit quite like the 4Runner does. Its off-road capability is nearly unmatched, and it’s easy to drive daily.
However, the old and faithful Toyota 4Runner is showing its age. Fortunately, it’s due for a redesign soon, which should include a new platform. But, for now, we had one last go-around in the 40th Anniversary edition, which felt like Toyota’s swan song to the 4Runner’s dying generation.
What’s new for 2023?
For the 2023 model year, Toyota introduced a 40th Anniversary edition of the 4Runner to commemorate its time in the market thus far. The new edition is based on the existing SR5 Premium trim level but adds a few 40th-anniversary badges inside and out, bronze wheels, and a tri-color exterior decal that runs along the side of the car.
The Japanese automaker is also only making 4,040 examples of this special edition, which is a fitting number. Additionally, blind spot monitoring and a rear cross-traffic alert are available on every model.
Which 2023 Toyota 4Runner trim level is right for you?
When deciding on a 2023 Toyota 4Runner, there are eight different trim levels to choose from:
- SR5: $39,355
- TRD Sport: $42,415
- SR5 Premium: $42,615
- TRD Off-Road: $43,400
- TRD Off-Road Premium: $45,980
- 40th Anniversary: $47,120
- Limited: $48,790
- TRD Pro: $54,020
Buyers looking for the best value should check out the TRD Off-Road model. It’s not as hardcore as the genuine TRD Pro model, but it comes with enough off-road chops — like a multi-terrain select, a locking rear differential, and CRAWL control – to make easy work of the muddier trails.
Our tester for the week was the all-new Toyota 4Runner 40th Anniversary Edition, which provided a good balance of on-road presence and off-road capability.
What is it like to drive the 2023 Toyota 4Runner?
Driving the 2023 Toyota 4Runner is a pleasant but not super comfortable experience. Its body-on-frame architecture makes it slightly bumpy, even at highway speeds. Also, it rides pretty high for a mid-size SUV, which makes getting in and out of it a bit of a chore. Additionally, the 4Runner’s steering feel is numb, and its lazy throttle response makes it feel slow. But then again, this isn’t a race car.
On the mild off-road trails we drove it on, those attributes were nothing to complain about. The V6 engine under the hood pulled the 4Runner up the hills easily, and its slow steering ratio made it easy to correct on uneven surfaces. The brakes, however, leave much to be desired. Although they did stop the car well, the brake pedal feel was squishy and didn’t inspire much confidence when going downhill.
Ultimately, driving the 4Runner is great when you’re trudging through a forest or plodding along a dirt path, but we wouldn’t say it’s the most practical or comfortable daily driver. However, we are sure any Toyota 4Runner enthusiasts don’t mind.
Is the 4Runner comfortable?
Yes. The Toyota 4Runner has plenty of room in the first and second rows. The seats are also comfortable, but not as supportive as we would like. An eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat is standard, as is a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The rear seat can be split in a 40/20/40 configuration, and the seat backs fold and recline for more comfort or better storage.
The visibility is great out of all our corners as well, and we were able to park the 4Runner in tight spaces just fine. One thing to note is that buyers shouldn’t expect a luxurious ride by any means. The 4Runner’s suspension definitely shines off-road.
How’s the tech in the 4Runner?
The 2023 Toyota 4Runner comes standard with a push-button start system, LED head and taillights, an 8-inch touchscreen, two USB ports, and Apple Carplay/Android Auto phone integration. A premium JBL sound system is available in the higher trim levels, as is a 15-speaker sound system. A technology package can also be added, which includes a panoramic view monitor and a Homelink system.
Admittedly, although the 4Runner has all of the technology you need, it’s in dire need of a tech update to keep up with rivals and its stablemates.
Does the 2023 4Runner have a lot of power?
Every trim level is powered by the same 4.0-liter V6 engine that produces 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. In reality, it’s nothing to sneeze at, considering it has served this truck well for well over a decade. However, we wouldn’t be surprised if Toyota updates the powertrain in future models.
Also, that V6 is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, which routes the power to the rear wheels. However, a four-wheel-drive configuration is available, and it’s easy to select with the twist of a knob.
How safe is the 2023 Toyota 4Runner?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2023 4Runner an overall safety rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Additionally, the IIHS gave it a “good” rating in all categories except for the “small front overlap” category, where it received a “marginal” rating. That being the case, the 4Runner did not qualify for a “Top Safety Pick” award.
That doesn’t mean it’s not safe, though. The Toyota 4Runner comes standard with a bevy of safety features, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, a lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.
MotorBiscuit awards the 2023 Toyota 4Runner with an official rating of 7.7 out of 10
The editors at MotorBiscuit rate the 2023 Toyota 4Runner an overall rating of 7.7 out of 10. We like the Toyota 4Runner’s tried-and-true, body-on-frame build, which is great for off-roading. However, the SUV is showing its age badly and needs an update. That said, it’s still a reliable off-road rig that can serve double as a daily driver if needed. We can’t wait for the next version, but we’ll enjoy this one while it lasts.