3 Reasons You Don’t Want a 2021 Toyota 4Runner

The 2021 Toyota 4Runner looks great. It’s rugged, comes in a variety of trim levels, and it’s a beloved bearer of Toyota’s historic reputation for reliability. However, there are some things about the new 4Runner that could change your mind. While this is a great SUV in many ways, we have three reasons you don’t want a 2021 Toyota 4Runner.

a close up of the 2021 Toyota 4Runner grille with the silver Toyota logo
Toyota logo on a Toyota 4Runner | Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The new 4Runner debuted with TRD Pro updates, a new Trail Edition trim, and an awesome new TRD Pro color. But this is definitely not the SUV for everyone. Here are a few reasons why.

Does the 2021 Toyota 4Runner get good gas mileage?

Despite Toyota’s growing presence in the electrified market, the 2021 Toyota 4Runner has one engine option. Under the hood of every new model is a 4.0-liter V6 good for 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. The new 4Runner delivers power to either two or four wheels with a 5-speed automatic transmission.

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But one reason you might not want a 2021 Toyota 4Runner is that the fuel economy is lower than other midsize SUVs. According to Toyota USA, the latest Toyota 4Runner model get 16 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. The range-topping TRD Pro version gets 17 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway.

Compare that to another popular midsize SUV like the Telluride. According to Kia, the 2021 Kia Telluride’s V6 engine gets 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway (FWD) or 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway (AWD). These numbers alone make a pretty clear argument against buying a new Toyota 4Runner.

This midsize SUV is not really optimized for on-road handling

While its capability off-road is part of the draw, there’s an unfortunate trade-off. When fellow MotorBiscuit writer, Joe Santos, reviewed the 2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD pro he noted that “it feels like a truck”. Other auto critics, like the folks at Cars.com, report that the Toyota 4Runner “feels clunky on the road.”

The 2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro SUV in the Lunar Rock color in a press photo desert scene
2021 Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

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While this is a versatile vehicle with admirable off-road ability, it’s said to be a little ungainly in terms of on-road handling. A desire for an SUV that feels more like an athletic road car is one reason someone might avoid this off-road option. While it’s a billy goat on rocks, the driving dynamics may be perceived as lackluster by certain drivers.

The new Toyota 4Runner has its limits

The rugged and reliable SUV is a great family car for the right households. However, not every trim can add the third row of seating that boosts the passenger capacity up from five to seven. In fact, the more adventurous trims like the TRD Pro and Trail Special Edition are the versions that exclude the option for seven seats.

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The 2021 Toyota 4Runner is marketed toward adventurous families and individuals. That said, for households that want the best off-road 4Runner and seven seats, there is no such option. This is one more reason you don’t want a new Toyota 4Runner.

Toyota offers other three-row SUVs with off-road ability. However, both the 2021 Toyota Sequoia and the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser are quite a bit more expensive. In fact, about $30 grand more. If you want an off-road ready SUV with a third row, this limitation could be a dealbreaker for some buyers.