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There’s no denying that the Toyota 4Runner is a popular SUV. It’s practically legendary among its segment. That doesn’t mean that this SUV isn’t without any flaws, however. In fact, according to Car and Driver, the 2021 Toyota 4Runner is actually pretty disappointing. 

2021 Toyota 4Runner in the wilderness
2021 Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

What Car and Driver had to say about the 2021 Toyota 4Runner

While the Toyota 4Runner might be known for its off-road capabilities, Car and Driver reports that it’s also well-known for its lack of refinement on the road. That’s not the 4Runner’s only flaw either. According to Car and Driver, it actually has plenty of notable shortcomings. Among them? Its inefficient V6 engine and its plasticky interior.

First, let’s address the 4Runner’s inefficient V6. According to the EPA, the 2021 Toyota 4Runner is rated at 16 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. Compare that to the Jeep Wrangler, which is rated at 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, and this year’s 4Runner is powered by a pretty inefficient engine, much like Car and Driver reported.

Car and Driver reports that the “interior of the 4Runner is not what you’d call state-of-the-art” either. While it’s certainly comfortable to sit in, and it does offer plenty of cargo space, it’s pretty lackluster otherwise. 

Are there any upsides to this year’s 4Runner?

It’s not all bad news. If you’re after a capable off-roader, then the Toyota 4Runner does make for a decent enough pick among its segment. Consider the TRD Off-Road Pro model, and Car and Driver says that you’ll be pleased to find that it’s more than capable of conquering the trails. 

Unlike other vehicles in its segment, the 2021 Toyota 4Runner also comes standard with ToyotaCare. ToyotaCare covers normal factory scheduled service for 2-years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. It also includes 24-hour roadside assistance for 2-years and unlimited mileage. This maintenance plan doesn’t cost anything, either.

The 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Makes Getting Into Off-Roading Easy

Car and Driver recommends considering these options instead

If Car and Driver has you convinced that the 2021 Toyota 4Runner isn’t a good fit for you, not to fear. There are plenty of other options available. We’ve already talked about the Jeep Wrangler, which has long served as a formidable foe to the 4Runner. That should come as no surprise, though, seeing as the Wrangler was also made to hit the trails.

If you’re less interested in hitting the trails and more interested in the space and versatility of an SUV, consider the Jeep Grand Cherokee. According to U.S. News & World Report, the Jeep Grand Cherokee provides “better on-road handling, a comfier ride, nicer cabin materials, and better V6 gas mileage.” It boasts a lower base price too.

And if neither of those SUVs tickles your fancy? Take a gander at the Ford Explorer. While it’s definitely not as rugged as the 4Runner, U.S. News & World Report says that it “has a smoother ride, stronger and more efficient engine options, a slightly higher 5,600-pound towing capacity, and a lower base price.”

Is the 2021 Toyota 4Runner really that bad?

While Car and Driver wasn’t exactly impressed with the 2021 Toyota 4Runner, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid it altogether. If low fuel economy ratings and a less than impressive interior don’t bother you, then this SUV might be the perfect fit for you. But if you are interested in an eye-catching SUV that won’t have you stopping at the pump on the regular? Maybe look for something else.