Why Did One of the Best Toyota Models Get Roasted by Consumer Reports?

The Toyota 4Runner is one of the most legendary SUVs ever made. Hell, it’s one of the models that brought the segment into the mainstream. The Toyota 4Runner has been living up to its name for nearly four decades. So why would such a legacy nameplate not get recommended by Consumer Reports? This is one of the best Toyota models, and Consumer Reports flunked it hard. 

A lime green 2022 Toyota 4Runner SUV off-roading
2022 Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

Why does Consumer Reports hate the Toyota 4Runner so much? 

Looking at the 4Runner review on Consumer Reports looks an awful lot like the Jeep Wrangler CR review. In CR’s quick notes, there are only two pros to seven cons. 

They are as follows: 

Pros – The 4Runner is very capable off-road and has a long history of being reliable

Cons – The 4Runner has clumsy handling, is hard to get into, low ceiling hurts visibility, tight interior space, noisy engine, only the top trim offers automatic 4WD, and it is very expensive. 

Usually, CR can find a way to prioritize reliability over anything else. However, the reviewers made it clear here that the 4Runner is one of the most reliable nameplates on the market, but the poor road test scores were too much. 

The real problem is that Consumer Reports doesn’t like trucks

Toyota 4Runner pulling a boat
Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

I know the Toyota 4Runner isn’t a truck, per se. However, it is built like one. Once upon a time, SUVs were built just like pickup trucks, using the body-on-frame construction method. This allowed for more rigid and tougher frames, making trucks and SUVs better at doing truck and SUV things. However, these days, most SUVs have moved to a more car-like construction style which is known as a unibody. This makes for a softer, more supple ride.

The 4Runner is one of the few SUVs left that still uses the body-on-frame construction, and it shows. This makes the 4Runner an incredible off-roader that is tough and dependable. However, it also makes the ride feel less refined and graceful. CR hates this. 

You can feel the disdain for this style of truck in CR’s review. The positives are scattered like a rogue curly fry in a thing of straights. 

We love the 4Runner, but we also get it

I might be quick to defend the Toyota 4Runner. It was my first car. Also, they have earned their reputation of being an old-school, tough SUV. However, like the Jeep Wrangler, its quirks and uncomfortable moments were fun and cute when these trucks were cheap. Now that a 4Runner will cost a starting MSRP of $38,805 and run up to a hard-to-swallow $53,270 (before any really fun bits), the magic is harder to feel. That is a lot of money for an old body-on-frame truck, even if it was made in 2023. The prices are running the fun of these once great knock-around SUVs. I’m not sure that’s what Consumer Reports meant by their review, but it’s true nonetheless.