Popular and rugged SUV in need of major redesign?
Roseville, Calif.- The venerable Toyota 4Runner hasn’t changed much over the past decade – it’s a midsize sport utility vehicle workhorse that remains old school in many ways.
However, the 4Runner is still popular among SUV buyers. Last year sales increased to 121,023 and it hasn’t dipped below 111,000 in the past seven years.
If owning a rugged SUV is the desire, the 2023 Toyota 4Runner is worthy of consideration. However, if smooth-running crossover SUVs are more your style, then a 4Runner should be crossed off the list.
“Mired in the past”
Despite its popularity, there’s little argument the 4Runner could use a major redesign – it’s long overdue. Toyota last redesigned the 4Runner in 2010. There are minimal changes for 2023. We tested a TRD version of the 4Runner that gives off-road enthusiasts one more option to mull over.
Give Toyota credit, there’s always been some diversity when choosing that just-right model. Purchasing a 4Runner requires some decision making. It comes in eight trim models (SR5, TRD Sport, SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, 40th Anniversary Special Edition, Limited).
The 4Runner is a truck-based SUV that’s mired in the past. It remains a boxy-shaped SUV in a world where many of its most popular competitors are generally sleeker and deliver a more sophisticated ride and refined interior. Its strengths are off-road capability, good towing capacity and lots of cargo space.
Although it remains dated, the 4Runner will perform just fine when running local errands or doing the every-day commute, thanks to its ability to provide a smooth ride and solid cornering. But where the 4Runner stands out is off the beaten path pursuing exciting adventures for up to seven passengers.
It possesses a multimode four-wheel-drive system, high ground clearance and special TRD features that make it capable of tackling rugged and rocky terrain. The highly regarded TRD is equipped with Fox shock absorbers that improve off-road performance.
The TRD models offer additional drive settings for off-roading and a locking rear differential that helps amplify traction. Standard driver safety aids on every version of the 4Runner include lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation, traffic-adaptive cruise control, LED low beams and fog lights, blind-spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, and rear occupancy alert.
A lone engine – 4.0-liter, V6 that generates 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque – powers the 4Runner. It travels 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds and gets substandard fuel economy (16-19 mpg). Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds, so it can haul most small camping trailers and boats.
AT A GLANCE – 2023 TOYOTA 4RUNNER
- Performance: 4.0-liter, V6, 270 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 16-19 mpg
- Price estimate: $39,600 to $54,100
- Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; Drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; Roadside assistance: 2 years/unlimited; Corrosion: 5 years/unlimited
If a complex interior touchscreen leads to frustration, no worries, that won’t happen in a 4Runner. It has easy-to-understand controls on its standard 8-inch touchscreen that makes it simple to master menus and won’t require staring at the screen for long periods. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity come standard.
Seating is spacious in the 4Runner for front and second row passengers. The 4Runner. Like most third rows, the 4Runner isn’t a place adults want to reside The SUV has a sizable cargo area that measures 47.2 cubic feet and expands to 89.7 cubes when the second row is folded to the floor.
The 2023 Toyota 4Runner will likely continue the long trend of being a popular selling SUV. It is rugged in nature and perfect for going off road. With eight trim models, be careful in picking the one that most suits your needs.