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The Toyota 4Runner is one of the most popular SUVs in the world, but its tried-and-true formula is getting a little long in the tooth. It’s due for a redesign in the coming years, so for 2023, Toyota decided to usher this aging 4Runner generation out with a bang. The celebration is in the form of the 40th-anniversary edition, which adds a little old-school flare. Let’s take a closer look at what makes it so special.

2023 Toyota 4Runner 40th Anniversary
2023 Toyota 4Runner 40th Anniversary | Toyota

The 2023 Toyota 4Runner 40th Anniversary Edition is age appropriate

2023 Toyota 4Runner 40th Anniversary badge
2023 Toyota 4Runner 40th Anniversary | Toyota

When the Toyota 4Runner first arrived in the automotive market, “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” was the top-grossing movie in America. The year was 1984, and the 4Runner was a modified version of the Hilux pickup truck. According to MotorTrend, the 4Runner was “based on the two-door truck, a fiberglass shell went over the bed, rear seats were installed, and upholstery was added to make it more comfortable.”

It also had a retractable windshield in the tailgate. Fast-forward to today, and the 4Runner is now in its fifth generation. The retractable windshield still exists on the 2023 Toyota 4Runner, as do the rear seats and comfortable upholstery. However, on the specialized 40th Anniversary Edition, the seats are SofTex-trimmed and embroidered in bronze stitching.

There are also 40th Anniversary floor mats, a badge on the dash, and logos stitched into the seats to honor the occasion. On the exterior of the car, there are period-correct yellow/orange/red body graphics that run along the side of the car and on the front grille, which has a bronze-colored heritage “TOYOTA” badge on it. Additionally, 17-inch bronze wheels fill the fenders.

Toyota says that the tri-color scheme and throwback badges commemorate the success of the off-road racing trucks on which the 4Runner was originally based. This special edition only comes in three body colors: White, Midnight Black Metallic, and Barcelona Red Metallic.

The rest of this special-edition Toyota 4Runner is based on the existing SR5 Premium trim

2023 Toyota 4Runner 40th Anniversary wheel
2023 Toyota 4Runner 40th Anniversary | Toyota

Underneath all the fancy badges and decals, the 2023 Toyota 4Runner 40th Anniversary Edition is an SR5 Premium version of the SUV. For the unaware, the SR5 Premium is the third trim level in the 4Runner lineup and brings enough tech features and amenities to appease most commuters without too much frill.

Some of the most notable SR5 Premium features include:

  • SofTex leather upholstery
  • Blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert
  • Heated front seats
  • A power moonroof
  • Smart Key System with push-button start
  • Heated steering wheel

Under its hood is the same 4.0-liter V6 engine that it has had for over 10 years. That’s not a bad thing, though, as this engine has proved to be “bulletproof” reliable and provides plenty of power for on and off-road driving. The V6 engine produces 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque, which is enough to tow 5,000 pounds.

How does the 4Runner 40th Anniversary drive?

2023 Toyota 4Runner 40th Anniversary
2023 Toyota 4Runner 40th Anniversary | Toyota

We have had the pleasure of driving this version of the Toyota 4Runner and can say that it drives well. Our main gripes are that it’s slow to accelerate and the brakes don’t grip as well as we would like them to. However, the 4Runner is comfortable on the road and drives smoothly once you get it going.

There’s also plenty of interior space in the first and second rows, and although it lacks some fancier amenities like automatic climate control, we can forgive it for that. This SUV is a good mix of old and new-school technologies, which is refreshing in an era where retinal and fingerprint scanners on cars are becoming a thing.

Ultimately, we recommend the 40th Anniversary 4Runner if you’re smitten with the heritage badging and the bold decals. But if you’re not, save $5,000 and spend around $42,000 for the SR5 Premium trim.

Otherwise, this special-edition 4Runner is a great way for Toyota to welcome a new era. We’re sure the next generation will be just as successful.