2023 Toyota 4Runner: Is It Time for a Redesign?

The 2023 Toyota 4Runner has arrived with very few impactful updates for the nameplate. The 4Runner remains an off-road-centric SUV, for better or worse. The question is, should consumers run toward or away from the 2023 4Runner? The answer is entirely dependent on what you’re looking for from a midsize SUV.

The Toyota 4Runner hasn’t changed much in recent years

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Japanese automaker Toyota is fascinating because some of its vehicles use cutting-edge technology and others have been accused of being antiquated. Toyota, like most automakers, isn’t one-dimensional. The automaker produces legendary off-road vehicles that last for decades and plenty of new hybrid vehicles that prioritize tech and fuel economy. There’s a clear divide between the Toyota of yesteryear and the brand’s lineup of the future.

The 4Runner may have undergone exterior changes, but as far as the design language responsible for its driving experience, it’s the same old midsize SUV. It excels off-road but isn’t a great daily driver by today’s standards when you consider comfort, fuel efficiency, and even acceleration. There’s a reason why the 4Runner can’t compete with popular midsize SUVs like the Kia Telluride. The automaker’s Highlander nameplate is much better suited to rival modern midsize models.

The main issue with the 2023 Toyota 4Runner is its fuel economy. The midsize SUV gets 16 miles per gallon in the city and 19 miles per gallon on the highway. Even for an off-road SUV, gas mileage that low just isn’t cutting it. The redesigned 2023 Toyota Sequoia gets 22 miles per gallon combined, and it’s larger than the 4Runner.

Toyota’s next redesign should be the 4Runner

A gray 2022 Toyota 4Runner full-size SUV is towing a boat.
The 2022 Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

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Toyota made a huge splash in 2022 by redesigning the Toyota Tundra. The Tundra nameplate suffered from poor fuel economy, cheap cabin materials, and old tech until its latest redesign. Now, the pickup truck is more powerful and more advanced than ever before.

Toyota redesigned the Sequoia full-size SUV for the 2023 model year. Toyota has brought the Sequoia nameplate into the future by giving it a standard hybrid powertrain. The latest Sequoia has much better fuel economy than previous model years. Toyota’s minivan, the Toyota Sienna is also a standard hybrid.

The Toyota Sienna gets an incredible 36 miles per gallon combined. Some of Toyota’s largest vehicles have stellar fuel economy, making the 4Runner seem ever more outdated.

Toyota should redesign the 4Runner next because there’s a clear difference between the current generation 4Runner and the Tundra and Sequoia. If any Toyota nameplate is in desperate need of a redesign to stay relevant, it’s the 4Runner. The 40th Anniversary Special Edition model could be a sort of last hurrah for the 4Runner before it gets a major redesign.

How does the 2023 Toyota 4Runner compare to other midsize SUVs?

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The 2023 Toyota 4Runner starts at $38,805. It’s more expensive than many of its competitors. The 4Runner comes in a whopping eight different trim levels including the 40th Anniversary Special Edition. The midsize SUV comes standard with a 4.0-liter V6 engine that makes 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque.

The popular Kia Telluride makes more horses, gets better gas mileage, and is much more affordable. Ultimately, the 4Runner is too unrefined to compete with best-selling models in its segment. Car and Driver claims the midsize SUV is too truck-like. A 2024 4Runner redesign wouldn’t be a surprise.

Read more about the redesigned Toyota Sequoia full-size SUV in the next article below.

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