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You love the Toyota brand, and you need a third-row seating SUV this year. But you’re torn between the 2020 Highlander and the 2020 4Runner. Both seem comparable, although they present significant differences, as well.

The reviews are out, and the experts are suggesting that when it comes to an apples to apples comparison, the Highlander outshines the 4Runner in more than one category. Shaking out the strengths and weaknesses of each model should help you determine whether or not you end up agreeing with the reviews.

What the 2020 Toyota Highlander does right and wrong

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is completely redesigned and offers increased cargo space this year. Another significant must-have finally added to the Highlander, is the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technology platforms.

The Highlander continues to dominate in visibility, quiet cabins, and comfortable rides. The V6 engine achieves comparable fuel efficiency, and the SUV feels powerful. Unfortunately, not much else has been updated this year. And many of the reviews point out that the third row is cramped for anyone other than children-sized passengers.

It seems the bar hasn’t been raised, at least in a meaningful way, and leaves the race open for competitors to outpace the Highlander in extras, design, and luxury options.

What the 2020 Toyota 4Runner does right and wrong

The 2020 Toyota 4Runner has a few upgrades this year, according to Edmunds. Now, the touch screens are a standard eight-inch design and feature compatibility with Amazon Alexa, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay tech.

Also standard for the 4Runner is the Toyota Safety Sense-P suite of driver aid and safety features. The 4Runner continues to be a favorite for those who prefer a more rugged SUV with plenty of cargo space and off-road capability.

Unfortunately, the 4Runner continues to lag in the segment because it lacks the refinement that others are bringing to the table. It’s also ranging higher in base MSRPs when compared to the other SUVs that tend to offer plushier extras.

One is head and shoulders above the other

When it comes to comparing the 2020 Highlander against the 2020 4Runner, most reviews say there is one clear leader. U.S. News & World Report suggests there are several others in the class that are worth considering.

The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the 2020 Toyota Highlander are both head and shoulders ahead of the 2020 Toyota 4Runner. Both midsize SUVs have nicer cabins and comfort points. The Cherokee offers more powertrain configurations, and the Highlander seats eight as a standard.

How to determine which makes sense for you

Both the Highlander and 4Runner have three rows and a roster of similar standard features. But in the end, they’re both very different SUVs. In deciding which one deserves a spot in your garage, it may come down to pricing, value, and how you plan to use your Toyota.

If you want the more rugged and gritty ride, the 4Runner may be best. But if you’re more interested in performance, married to great value, and more upscale comforts, the Highlander clearly is the winner.

To be fair, both the Toyota Highlander and Toyota 4Runner are competent SUVs. But when you compare the updates and extras of the two, it’s clear the Highlander brings more to the table.

The expert reviews share the sentiments, as well, and it’s worth considering as you weigh your purchasing decision. If you aren’t concerned about comforts and refinement and don’t mind that the 4Runner hasn’t seen significant enhancements since 2010, the 4Runner might just be your ideal SUV. But for everyone else, the Highlander overshadows the 4Runner in every way.


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