Trucks & SUVs

Do You Need the Toyota 4Runner or Highlander?

If you want a midsize Toyota SUV with three-rows, then you have two great options to consider. The Toyota Highlander and the Toyota 4Runner both serve as reliable options, with a third row in the back to haul extra family members or cargo. But which Toyota is best? 

The Toyota Highlander vs. the Toyota 4Runner 

 For starters, we can look at pricing

  • The 2021 Toyota 4Runner has a base MSRP of about $36,590, and the highest trim option begins at around $50,70. 
  • The 2021 Toyota Highlander has a base MSRP of about $34,910, and the highest trim option begins at about $49,750. 

These prices are before the destination fee, and dealership markups have been included, so they may vary depending on your area. However, it looks like you can save a little with the Highlander. 

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro
2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro | Toyota

Also, the Highlander has a better fuel economy. The 4Runner gets an EPA estimated 16 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. The Highlander gets an EPA estimated 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. That’s a pretty big difference.  

How do the 4Runner and Highlander perform? 

The Toyota 4Runner has a 4.0-liter V6 engine with 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.7 seconds. When properly equipped, it can tow up to 5,000 lb. 

The Toyota Highlander has a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 295-hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. It can also tow up to 5,000 lb when properly equipped. 

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If you want to go off-roading, the Toyota 4Runner is the more capable option with its TRD Pro off-roading trim. It has a specially tuned suspension, skid plates, LED fog lights, all-terrain tires, and much more. 

But this doesn’t mean that the Highlander isn’t a capable option. It has all-wheel-drive available for each trim. So, it still handles snow and slippery situations just fine. The Highlander just won’t climb over rocks and forge streams like the 4runner. 

Highlander and 4Runner features 

The Toyota Highlander has an advantage as a family hauler because it can fit up to eight passengers while the 4Runner can only seat seven. But the 4runner has more cargo space.

The 4Runner has 47.2 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats with up to 89.7 cubic feet total. The Highlander has 16 cubic feet behind the rear seats with up to 84.3 cubic feet total. 

2020 Toyota Highlander
2020 Toyota Highlander front 3/4 | Toyota

Both options aren’t known for having the roomiest third row, but the Highlander has more passenger space. The backseat of the Highlander has 41-inches of legroom while the 4Runner only has 32.9-inches. 

While the Toyota 4Runner comes with a standard 8-inch infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, the Highlander only comes with a 4.2-inch LCD. You can upgrade these options with higher trim levels, though. 

Deciding between these two SUVs might come down to test, driving them to see which one you like more. The 4Runner has a higher ride height and an off-roading suspension that feels different than the Highlander, but they have the same nimble turning radius. Also, the 4runner favors off-roading and cargo capacity, while the Highlander favors passenger space.