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Two highly popular midsize SUVs are from Toyota: the Highlander and the 4Runner. Both SUVs have multiple strong points, but the 2023 Toyota Highlander has one big advantage over the 2023 Toyota 4Runner: an efficient hybrid model.

Unlike the 2023 Toyota 4Runner, the 2023 Toyota Highlander has a hybrid model

Front angle view of green 2023 Toyota Higlander Hybrid midsize SUV
2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

With high gas prices, there’s been a great deal of financial pain at the pump over the past year. While the price of gas has dropped from the record highs during 2022, gasoline is still one of the leading costs of vehicle ownership. However, an efficient midsize SUV like the 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a remedy for this financial burden.

Conversely, the 2023 Toyota 4Runner doesn’t offer a hybrid model. All 4Runner models are fully gas-powered. This is an anomaly for the Toyota lineup. Along with the Highlander, other Toyota SUVs received the hybrid treatment, including the RAV4, Corolla Cross, Venza, and Sequoia. While there might be a hybrid version of the 4Runner in 2024, for the 2023 model year, your only option is fully gas-powered.

2023 Highlander has higher gas mileage than the 2023 4Runner

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

With its hybrid powertrain, the 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has considerably higher fuel economy than the 2023 Toyota 4Runner — resulting in savings at the pump. This, in turn, lowers ownership costs over the long haul for midsize SUV drivers. The hybrid powertrain channels power from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and two electric motors — delivering an estimated gas mileage of up to 36 city/35 highway mpg.

All 4Runner models come equipped with a 4.0-liter V-6 engine. It’s very inefficient and quite a gas guzzler. It gets an estimated fuel economy of up to 16 city/19 highway mpg. Compared to the 4Runner, the Highlander Hybrid gets 19 more mpg for city driving and 16 more mpg for highway driving.

Also, even if you opt for the fully gas-powered version of the Highlander, you’ll still benefit from greater efficiency. It features a turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-four engine, which gets an estimated gas mileage of up to 22 city/29 highway mpg.

Another benefit of the higher fuel economy of the Highlander is convenience. With its lower fuel consumption, it requires fewer trips to the gas station than the 4Runner.

Other strengths of the Toyota Highlander over the 4Runner

The 2023 Highlander has some other strengths over the 2023 4Runner. This includes a roomier interior with more passenger space. It has a total passenger volume of 141.3 cu-ft, compared to 93.7 cu-ft for the 4Runner two-row and 128.0 cu-ft for the three-row model. Also, the Highlander offers seating for up to eight passengers, while the 4Runner seats up to five for the two-row model and seven for the three-row version.

Additionally, the Highlander is more reliable than the 4Runner. Consumer Reports ranks it higher for reliability, with fewer mechanical issues. The Highlander is also safer. Unlike the 4Runner, it earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.

Furthermore, the Highlander is more affordable. It has a starting price of $36,420 MSRP, compared to $39,555 for the 4Runner.

With its efficient hybrid model, the 2023 Toyota Highlander has a big advantage over the 2023 Toyota 4Runner. The option for a hybrid model doesn’t mean that the Highlander is a better overall midsize SUV. However, it’s a factor to consider for SUV shoppers, especially those that prioritize high fuel economy.

Related 2023 Toyota Highlander: Features, Price, Specs, & Overview

2023 Toyota Highlander: Features, Price, Specs, & Overview