If you’ve been looking at buying a new Toyota SUV or were at some point last year, there are plenty of great models to choose from. So many, in fact, that Consumer Reports recommended six of Toyota’s seven 2021 SUV models: the RAV4, RAV4 Prime, Venza, Highlander, Sequoia, and Land Cruiser.
The reliable 4Runner was the only Toyota SUV left off the list. But these other auditions are all solid vehicles in their own right and are praiseworthy recommendations to Consumer Reports’ list.
Inside the Toyota RAV4, RAV4 Prime, and Venza
A solid compact SUV, the RAV4 is Toyota’s best-selling model. It’s got a lot of off-road capability for an SUV and is affordable at a starting price of $26,150.
A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed automatic gets you 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque and takes you from 0 to 60 mph in 8 seconds.
You’ll also get 28/35 city/highway mpg on the standard FWD version, though the mpg drops by three city/highway when you choose AWD. There’s a 7-inch touchscreen display panel and plenty of cargo space. You can also seat five comfortably.
The RAV4 Prime also got the nod. This is Toyota’s hybrid version of the RAV4, which produces 302 hp but only 42 MPGe independently. But paired with a 2.5-liter inline-four engine, you can get a driving range of up to 600 miles. Technology options are the same in the hybrid.
However, there’s slightly less cargo space. Whereas the RAV4 has 37.6 cubic feet (69.8) with the rear bench down, RAV4 owners only get 33.4 cubic feet (and 63.1 cubic feet with the bench down).
Consumer Reports also liked the 2021 Toyota Venza, a midsize SUV hybrid notable for its similar wheelbase to the RAV4. It’s got a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that, when paired with electric motors, provides a 40/37 mpg city/highway fuel economy.
It also produces 219 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque and can hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. An 8-inch touch screen comes standard, though a 12.3-inch is available on higher-level trims. The Venza comes with a little less cargo space than the RAV4 Prime, but the legroom is spacious, and the interior feels upscale.
The Toyota Highlander, Sequoia, and Land Cruiser are also great SUVs
Rounding out the list were the Highlander, Sequoia, and Land Cruiser. The Highlander is a popular seller, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a well-designed crossover perfect for families, with an eight-passenger capacity and a bevy of safety features.
The Highlander is powered by a 3.5 liter V6, from which you’ll get 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission and FWD though AWD is optional.
The Highlander will get you 21/29 mpg city/highway (less on the AWD models). And passengers have plenty of entertainment options starting with an 8-inch touchscreen, multiple USB ports, and Bluetooth streaming, among other tech features.
The Sequoia is another welcome addition to the three-row SUV category segment, albeit a full-size one. It’s pretty large and can seat adults comfortably in each row, as well as cargo. It’s got a 5.7-liter V-8 engine that produces 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque.
Its fuel economy isn’t good at 13/17 mpg city/highway, but it’s expected for a vehicle this size. Technology features are similar to those on the Highlander, with upgrades available on the higher-level trims.
And the Land Cruiser was also recommended, though it shares the Sequoia’s poor fuel economy. But the Land Cruiser is an iconic vehicle with solid off-roading capabilities that still make this a prized purchase for many consumers.
It has the same standard engine and similar technology features, though the base model’s touchscreen starts at 9-inches. It also has seating for eight, and, unlike many competitors, eight adults can fit in the Land Cruiser comfortably.
Does this mean the 2021 Toyota 4Runner is not a good SUV?
Another popular entry on the Toyota showroom floor, the 4Runner, surprisingly was not listed as a Recommended vehicle. Though Toyota was overrepresented in the SUV category, it is surprising, though perhaps not entirely unexpected, that the 4Runner would not receive this distinction.
While most of the SUVs above have genuine off-roading bonafides, the 4Runner doubles down on those features more so than its capabilities as an everyday vehicle. The 4Runner’s newest models include new features meant for adventure rather than new features that address its flaws.
It, too, has a poor fuel economy, comparable to that of the Land Cruiser. It doesn’t handle in an especially refined manner on the road. And it still sports a five-speed automatic that shifts clumsily.
The CH-R also did not receive this recognition. But Consumer Reports notes this vehicle is a bit too much of a hybrid hatchback and subcompact SUV to truly be judged as an SUV, which may have interfered with them recommending it as an SUV.
No matter the exclusion of the 4Runner or the C-HR. Toyota’s SUVs acquitted themselves well last year in the eyes of critics and the buying public.