Toyota 4Runner 2021 – Review, Specs, Photos

The 2021 Toyota 4Runner is a decade old, its pickup-based, body-on-frame architecture a relic of past SUVs. And yet, its rugged, off-road-ready persona has more appeal than ever, standing in contrast to the car-like crossovers flooding today’s market. Granted, those newer vehicles—including Toyota’s own Highlander as well as the Honda Passport and Chevrolet Blazer—ride and handle better and get far better gas mileage. In comparison, the 4Runner is slow and thirsty. Its off-road capability, though, far exceeds the norm, and rivals that of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The 4Runner’s versatile interior can squeeze in a third-row seat but it’s better utilized in two-row form with an expansive cargo hold. The liftgate power window is unique in the field and allows long objects (like surfboards) to stick out the back, and the optional sliding cargo floor is handy for tailgating or loading heavy objects. Full review and all information about the car – 2021 Toyota 4Runner.

New Toyota 4Runner 2021

The 4Runner Trail has 17-inch dark gray TRD wheels, a Yakima LoadWarrior rooftop cargo basket, and a custom 40-quart cooler with a sliding trunk tray. The Tacoma Trail has 18-inch dark gray TRD off-road wheels wrapped with Kevlar all-terrain tires, a Tacoma Limited grille, and a 115-volt power outlet in the bed along a lockable storage bin on the driver’s side that can be used as a cooler. The Tundra Trail has the Tundra 1794 Edition grille with special edition wheels and the same lockable storage bin as the Tacoma Trail. A few of Toyota’s amazing exterior colors are available on the Trail Editions: Army Green, Cement, Midnight Black, and Super White. The 4Runner Trail’s cooler can come color matched in Cement or Army Green, but on Midnight Black and Super White trucks, the cooler choice is Cement. Toyota 4Runner 2021 – photos colors and price in this article!

Interior

The interior of the 2021 4Runner is not what you’d call state-of-the-art, with switchgear that could have come from the latter years of the last millennium. Lackluster materials and styling aside, the 4Runner manages to comfortably fit humans front and rear in spite of its back-of-the-class interior measurements. We haven’t tested the optional third row, but we suspect that, as with nearly every other third row on the market, it’s best for children. A flexible cargo hold and several large, deep cubbies in the front row mean that the 4Runner is as versatile a hauler as it is a rock-crawler. Just don’t try to heave anything into the cargo hold unless you have a chiropractor on call—the floor of the cargo hold is uncomfortably high off the ground. The two-row 4Runner we tested had an optional pull-out cargo deck designed to make loading and unloading heavy items—up to 440 pounds—a little easier. It can also double as a tailgate for seating. This provides a flat load floor when the second-row seats are folded, but also robs the cargo hold of several inches of height. Even so, we fit an impressive 14 carry-ons behind the second row. Toyota 4Runner 2021 – see the photo in the gallery on our website.

Exterior

Off-road enthusiasts will appreciate the 4Runner’s aggressive exterior looks and available goodies like a locking center differential, a two-speed transfer case, a locking rear differential, crawl control and a selectable terrain management system. Standard convenience features include a power-sliding liftgate window, while upscale options include leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone automatic air conditioning and push-button start. Both mid-size SUVs are built to tackle challenging off-road terrain, but of the two, the Grand Cherokee is the more civilized with better on-road driving manners. The Jeep’s refinement carries over to the cabin, which has a more premium feel on high-end trim levels — and the pricing to go with it. Whereas special versions of the 4Runner increase its off-road prowess, certain variants of the Grand Cherokee significantly enhance the SUV’s on-road performance. The 4Runner’s available third row gives it more seating capacity than the two-row-only Grand Cherokee.

Colors

There’s not much else on the road quite like the 2021 Toyota 4Runner. This SUV can seat seven people and serve as a daily family hauler. Yet it also has strong off-road capability and a healthy towing capacity. It’s not the most refined SUV around, especially compared to more modern car-based crossovers. But given the vehicle’s popularity with consumers, this doesn’t seem to be much of a drawback. As a truck-based SUV, the 4Runner is a good option for those who want something with a little more attitude and presence than the standard crop of car-like crossovers, including Toyota’s own RAV4 and Highlander. Toyota has also made the 2021 4Runner a little more up-to-date. The big news is that the Toyota Safety Sense P package, which adds a variety of advanced driver aids, is now standard on all models. Until this year, it wasn’t even available on the 4Runner. There’s also a new infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The 4Runner isn’t the most polished SUV around, and its V6 is thirsty compared to the engines in a lot of similarly priced crossovers. Still, it’s hard to find a vehicle that offers this much capability with this much utility and seating for up to seven people. The 4Runner isn’t the SUV for everyone, but it might be perfect for some.

Fuel economy

The 4Runner’s powertrain combinations show their age at the pump. Other competitors have similar city ratings but do much better on the highway, and the 4Runner failed to meet its meager 20-mpg EPA ratings during our highway test, notching instead an even poorer 19 mpg. That places the Toyota at the back of the mid-size SUV class alongside the similarly off-road-focused Jeep Wrangler.

Horsepower

Underhood, the 4Runner has a 4.0-liter V-6 rated at 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. A 5-speed automatic transmission sends power to the wheels. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but the 4Runner makes more sense with the optional four-wheel-drive system. The 4Runner is heavy and rides on big tires that give it unstoppable performance off-road but can leave it with ponderous handling on pavement. Opt for the 4Runner TRD Off Road and the truck can be equipped with trick, hydraulically actuated sway bars that reduce lean in curves while aiding suspension droop off-road to keep the wheels on terra firma. The 4Runner TRD Pro discards that setup for Fox dual-reservoir shocks and a 2.5-inch suspension lift that gives it a plush ride and serious capability. On the highway, the 4Runner’s steering is nervous, though this year’s newly standard adaptive cruise control should make it a more relaxing road-tripper.

Technical specifications

Shop carefully as the 2021 Toyota 4Runner has a different personality depending on what’s underneath. We rate the entire lineup at 5 out of 10, dialing a point back for sloppy handling that we add back for its serious off-road chops in most trims. All 4Runners use a 4.0-liter V-6 rated at 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired to a 5-speed automatic transmission that’s down three gears to most competitors. 4Runner SR5 and Limited trims come standard with rear-wheel drive and a part-time four-wheel-drive system is optional on SR5 and standard with either TRD trim. Only the 4Runner Limited offers a four-wheel-drive system that can be used on dry pavement. These SUVs ride on big tires and have a lot of ground clearance, so it’s not surprising that they can be a handful on pavement. Most versions bounce softy over big bumps and have light steering that requires extra corrections at speed. Their brakes are plenty strong, but suffer from numb pedal feel.

Price

SR5 $37,140; SR5 Premium $40,335; TRD Off Road $40,860; Limited $46,005; TRD Pro $50,885. If you’re not buying a 4Runner for its off-road strengths, then you should probably be buying something else that’s better suited to domestic duty. Our pick is the mid-level TRD Off Road 4×4, which delivers the fundamental off-road hardware without the unnecessary addition of luxury features. Here you’ll get a spartan truck with a real locking rear differential, crawl control, and multi-terrain select, an adjustable terrain-specific traction control system.

Safety

The 4Runner performed tolerably well in its crash tests, with a perfectly respectable four-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) handed out some demerits, including a Poor rating for the 4Runner’s headlights and Marginal scores for the small overlap test and child-seat LATCH system. IIHS also noted that the 4Runner’s LATCH anchors were mounted too deep in the seat for easy installation. Unlike newer competitors, the Toyota offers almost no driver-assistance technology such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, or blind-spot monitoring. Key safety features—what few there are—include: Available front parking sensors; Available rear parking sensors; Warranty and Maintenance Coverage.

Motors

The 4Runner’s 4.0-liter V-6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission can team with either rear-, four-, or all-wheel drive. Entry-level SR5 models are rear-wheel drive, while all other trims except the tippity-top Limited model come with selectable, part-time four-wheel drive. Those models have a manually selectable two-speed transfer case with a low-range setting. Limited models have full-time all-wheel drive with a Torsen center differential that can apportion torque to the front or rear wheels as necessary, depending on road conditions and which wheels have traction. In our testing, the mid-level 4Runner TRD Off-Road model accelerated to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, its old-school V-6 groaning along with a gruff exhaust note. Aged though the Toyota feels in action, its performance is right in the mix with its more modern competitors, including the V-6 Dodge Durango and turbocharged Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. And the Toyota’s rugged frame and torque-rich engine give it a leg up in towing; its 5000-pound capacity beats the aforementioned Santa Fe Sport, as well as the Ford Edge and Jeep Wrangler, while falling short of the more powerful Dodge Durango’s 7400-pound limit.

Configurations

Four trim levels and a handful of packages mean there’s a 2021 Toyota 4Runner for just about every need. For us, the off-road versions capture the 2021 4Runner’s spirit best. Overall, we rate the lineup at 7 out of 10 thanks to its upgraded infotainment and its decent standard feature set. The base 4Runner SR5 costs around $36,000 with rear-wheel drive, $38,000 with four-wheel drive, and gets the basics down with standard active safety tech, an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment that now comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and power features. The SR5 Premium adds a power moonroof, synthetic leather seats that are heated up front, and a few other features for about $1,800 We think the 4Runner TRD Off Road is worth the $3,000 bump over the SR5. It builds on the SR5 with a locking rear differential, off-road cruise control, driving modes for four-wheeling. As on the SR5, the optional Premium package drapes the seats in synthetic leather and adds a power moonroof. A better bet is the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which Toyota bundles with navigation for about $1,600.

Review

For 2021, there’s a new 4Runner Venture Edition that’s based on the TRD Pro and includes a Yakima Megawarrior roof rack, dark-gray wheels and black trim. The 2021 4Runner finally ditches its dinky, outdated infotainment system for a new 8-inch unit with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. And all trim levels now come with the Toyota Safety Sense package of active-safety features, which includes forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic high-beams. Consistent with the 2021 4Runner’s mechanical simplicity, all models have a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter V6 that still pairs with a five-speed automatic. Its 270 horses and 278 lb-ft of torque trail most competitors and, unsurprisingly perhaps, this body-on-frame SUV slurps fuel like a full-size rig. EPA estimates are 17 mpg city, 20 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined for the 4×4 (the 4×2 manages 21 mpg on the highway). Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds. Trim levels include multiple TRD variants: SR5, SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, TRD Pro (with the Venture Edition) and Limited (the latter also offering a blackout-look Nightshade special edition). The TRDs are 4WD only. You can use the rest of this page to find more in-depth information about the 2021 Toyota 4Runner, including features, specs and where to find a good deal near you.

Release date

Toyota has not officially announced the 2021 4Runner’s on-sale date in the U.S., but based on previous years’ releases, we expect a late-summer arrival. Pricing is also unconfirmed, but with no big changes coming, we anticipate the 2021 4Runner’s MRSP to remain close to the current model’s $36,740 to $50,980 MSRP range (destination fees included). This Off-road-ready SUV will compete with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, and Chevy Blazer. The 2021 Toyota 4Runner is an SUV that may owe its continued existence to the way the “Jurassic Park” franchise reignited an interest in dinosaurs. The 4Runner’s basic, off-road design makes it a relic compared to car-like crossover SUVs. Beneath its bulky exterior, the 4Runner has a separate frame and a solid rear axle, heavy-metal bits typically associated with pickup trucks. Those rugged parts give the 4Runner serious off-roading capability, especially in TRD Off Road and TRD Pro configurations. The 4Runner SR5 gets the basics right, while the decked-out 4Runner Limited seems to miss the point, at least to us. Overall, we rate the 2021 4Runner at 5.0 out of 10.

Video

Toyota Safety Sense P is now standard. The suite of active safety features includes forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights and adaptive cruise control. The 4Runner also gets a new instrument panel design, and all trim levels have an 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. There are two new USB ports in the backseat, too. The off-road-focused TRD Pro model features a new TRD exhaust system and dual-zone automatic air conditioning. Army Green is a new color choice for the TRD Pro, as well. A new Venture Edition is also available. Features include a Yakima roof rack, 17-inch TRD wheels, black badges, black mirror caps, black door handles, a black spoiler, all-weather floormats and a cargo mat.

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