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It’s not an exaggeration to say that the new car market is currently saturated with SUVs. In the midsize segment alone, there are 22 different SUVs that you can buy for the 2023 model year.

With so many options, it’s only natural that even some good SUVs are ranked lower than the top performers in professional assessments. However, one midsize SUV scores considerably lower than all of its peers. 

White 2023 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro
2023 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro | Toyota

Every other midsize SUV is better than the Toyota 4Runner

U.S. News says that the Toyota 4Runner is the least appealing midsize SUV, several leagues behind the Nissan Murano. The Murano was also tied with Chevy Blazer and GMC Arcadia, while the Toyota Highlander ranked a little higher on the list. The top-ranked placements are more competitive, with five models tying for third place.

The Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade are reportedly the best midsize SUVs to buy this year. The Telluride consistently impresses consumers with its performance and interior accommodations, while the Palisade offers the most value. Both of these options are thousands of dollars cheaper than the 4Runner, and they get noticeably better gas mileage. 

The worst 2023 midsize SUV still has a respectable score

Even though it is ranked as the worst 2023 midsize SUV, the 4Runner still has a lot of appeal for drivers who want rugged performance. Critics say that it’s a great off-roading SUV, especially when equipped with a four-wheel-drive. Its departure and approach angles are 26 in and 33 in (respectively), plus it has approximately 9.6 in of ground clearance.

Even the rear-wheel drive model still has some off-roading potential thanks to its two-speed transfer case. The Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro can handle rock crawling and other intense adventures with its locking rear differential and low-speed crawl control. This model also features lowering springs for the suspension and Fox shocks.

Aside from those last two features, the TRD Off-Road has the same equipment at a much cheaper price. You can also get this trim with an adjustable air suspension, while the TRD Off-Road Premium has an optional terrain monitoring camera.

Critics also praise the Toyota 4Runner for the standard equipment on the starting trim. The SR5 has nearly all of the advanced driver’s safety features available, minus an extra parking camera and parking sensors. The infotainment system is reportedly basic yet functional, plus includes smartphone integration with Amazon Alexa compatibility. 

The two-row Toyota 4Runner has the most total cargo space, almost 90 cubic feet with the second row folded. Over 47 cubic feet of storage area can be utilized behind the rear seats. Edmunds also claims you can easily set up a few sleeping bags inside the 4Runner with the seats folded.

Even the Toyota 4Runner’s low points please some drivers

The Toyota 4Runner’s impressive off-road performance wouldn’t be possible without its 270-hp V6. However, critics tend to loathe the transmission for its slow response times and heavy input requirements. The engine itself also lacks adequate acceleration at times, potentially making daily driving a chore. 

Another thing that mars the 4Runner’s reputation is its poor ride quality. Its heavy curb weight causes excessive body lean around corners and most critics agree that the steering lacks feedback.

Funnily enough, the 4Runner’s fuel economy numbers are actually lower than some pickups. Regardless of the drivetrain, it only gets 17 mpg combined city/highway.  

The interior also lacks much of the soft padding and polished interior surfaces that are commonplace in so many rivals. If you’re primarily using your Toyota 4Runner off-roading trips, maybe the thirsty powertrain and basic accommodations won’t bother you. Otherwise, U.S. News has a whole list of better options.


Is the 2023 Toyota 4Runner Worth It?