4 Toyota 4Runner Alternatives for Less Than $40,000

Toyota is very proud of the 4Runner, and the company should be. It’s sold more than 4 million of the five- or seven-seat off-road adventure SUV over the last 40 years. But, the 4Runner hasn’t been significantly updated since 2010, making it one of the oldest new vehicles still on sale. While we’re expecting a new 4Runner for 2024, there are several other SUVs that can be nearly (or more) capable from Ford and Jeep, and for about the same price, that are great Toyota 4Runner alternatives.

The Toyota 4Runner is likely entering its last production year in its current form

a white Toyota 4Runner at an auto show
A 4Runner TRD Pro | Scott Olson, Getty Images

The 4Runner starts at $38,805, and for that, you get a basic version of that still offers a powerful V6 and plenty of creature comforts. Four-wheel drive, however, is $1,875 extra, and a third row is $805 extra. Because the 2023 version may be the last on this platform, Toyota is offering some incentives ($500 in some markets) to move them off lots. It’s showing its age, though, with its thrashy thirsty V6, and in base trim its interior is looking dated. Newer SUVs get giant screens and digital dashes.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the obvious 4Runner alternative

The Jeep Grand Cherokee just slides in under our $40,000 limit. It’s probably the most obvious competitor for the 4Runner, in that it has a capable four-wheel drive system, a nameplate that many of us know, and classic SUV proportions. However, the Grand Cherokee is all new and that means it as a much more modern interior, more technology like Uconnect 5 with an 8.4-inch screen, and a powerful V6 engine. The uprated trim levels can be outfitted to extreme luxury, but in base 4×2 trim, it comes with a slick gloss-black interior and a long list of standard features that make it a great 4Runner alternative.

The Grand Cherokee’s 2022 makeover has helped it top the sales charts this summer.

The Ford Bronco is the modern off-road 4Runner alternative

The Bronco is a great Toyota 4Runner Alternative, especially if you like goiinf off-road.
Two and Four-door Ford Bronco models | Ford

The Ford Bronco, even in mid-level Black Diamond trim slides in at just $37,950. That’s also for the 2-door version, the four-door will set you back $41,355. But even if you opt for the base Bronco, for about $30,000, it’s still an off-road animal that will acquit itself well in the dirt with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, or the available V6. We rather like the retro-styled 16-inch steel wheels on the base version, as well as its off-road-ready cloth seats and 8.0-inch touchscreen. But, there’s no denying that the Bronco looks good, and is a way newer design than the aging 4Runner.

If you opt for the Black Diamond version, you do get skid plates, 17-inch wheels, and a bank of switches that you can hook up to extras like a winch or lights. Ford designed the Black Diamind for off-roading, so the Black Diamond gets tougher, and washable, vinyl seats and rubber flooring. Sure, the Bronco Raptor is the bad boy of the Bronco line, but that top-of-the-line Bronco starts at $68,500.  

The Jeep Wrangler is a classic SUV

2022 Jeep Wrangler Sahara on a road
2022 Jeep Wrangler Sahara

Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, the Jeep Wrangler is awesome, but it’s also loud, drives like a WWII truck around town, and gets horrible gas mileage. But, for almost everything else it’s a blast. The Wranglers starts at about $32,000 and for that, you get a super-capable off-road vehicle that seats five, and you can take the doors off. For those of us who thrive in the wild, the Wrangler is one of the best companions, and it can be optioned with a manual transmission to amplify the fun.

The Ford Explorer is an unlikely, but worthy, 4Runner alternative

Front angle view of Star White 2023 Ford Explorer midsize SUV
Star White 2023 Ford Explorer | Ford

Now hear us out on this one. Most 4Runner owners will say  “But the Ford Explorer isn’t off-road ready,” and you’re right, but then most 4Runners never actually see the dirt. If you’re looking for a seven-passenger SUV that ticks many of the same boxes as the 4Runner but was designed in this decade, look at he Explorer. It’s a great choice and you can get a well-optioned XLT version for $38,570. All wheel drive is a $2,000 option. It comes standard with a more powerful 300-horsepower EcoBoost engine, and Co-Pilot360 with several driver’s aids standard.

All of that has helped it, too, to the top of 2022 SUV sales charts. The Explorer may not have the off-road looks of the 4Runner, but it’s a classic SUV.

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