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2020 Toyota 4Runner

$36,120 - $49,765
Price Range (MSRP)
Toyota 4Runner

2020 Toyota 4Runner Test Drive Review: Still Remarkably Relevant

by Ian Wright

It's been a decade now since the Toyota 4Runner was on the receiving end of a redesign. Under the cons category below, we're going to mention how the exterior design is looking dated, but the caveat here is that it still looks good, and there's something we love about a company letting their vehicles age gracefully. There is something else special about the 4Runner, and that's the rarity of being a five-door body-on-frame mid-size SUV with some serious off-roading skills.

It's the 4Runner's capacity as an off-roader we're going to mainly concentrate on here as we got to spend some serious time with the 2020 model in its TRD forms at an off-road park in Texas. As an extra bonus, this was just before this incarnation's tenth birthday at the Texas State Fair, where the current generation 4Runner was first unveiled.

For 2020, the old dog has gained some new tricks to keep it relevant. The cabin remains the same, but the infotainment has had a firm nudge into the next decade.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Changes: What’s the difference vs 2019 4Runner?

2019 saw the introduction of a bigger touchscreen, and for 2020, Toyota ups the ante by improving on it even more: now boasting an eight-inch touchscreen, the infotainment system is also Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa compatible. The Toyota Safety Sense P suite is also now standard across the range, comprised of advanced driver aids such as collision-avoidance, automatic braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. The new Venture Edition model is also welcomed, and although based on the TRD Off-Road Premium trim, it boasts a MegaWarrior roof rack, standard all-weather floor mats, a rear sliding cargo deck for more storage space, and a variety of exterior styling enhancements. The TRD Pro gets a new grille design, as well as Smart Key with push-button start and two extra rear-seat USB ports.

Pros and Cons

  • Unrivaled off-roading capability
  • Cavernous cargo space
  • Comprehensive standard safety features
  • New Venture Edition and added tech onboard
  • Cumbersome handling
  • Tight third row
  • Dated interior and exterior design
  • Less than exemplary handling

4Runner Exterior

Not much has changed from the 2019 variants, and the 4Runner retains its somewhat dated, blocky, ponderous shape. 17-inch alloy wheels are equipped across all models, barring the Limited and Nightshade trims that are shod in 20-inch six-spoke designs. Both the TRD Pro and the new Venture Special Edition, are fitted with roof racks, the latter boasting a MegaWarrior cargo unit. Additionally, the Venture and Nightshade trims have blacked-out exterior accents, with a black rear spoiler and bumper accents on the Venture. The Limited and Nightshade trims also have a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, with chrome exterior designs identifying the Limited and TRD Pro models. With almost imperceptible tweaks to the grille design, the 2020 model year looks pretty much the same as the previous year's model… and the year before it… and the year before that.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Toyota
2020 Toyota 4Runner Toyota
2020 Toyota 4Runner Toyota
See All 2020 Toyota 4Runner Exterior Photos

Dimensions

A fully-fledged SUV, the 4Runner's off-roading prowess comes from its muscular, hulking body and body-on-frame design. Across the range, the wheelbase of 109.8 inches remains constant, while the overall length varies between 190.2 inches and 191.3, depending on the model. 75.8 inches in width, the 4Runner stands 71.5 inches in height for all but the top-end TRD Pro, which has 0.5 inches extra. With its brawny nature, the 4Runner weights in at 4,400 pounds in the entry-level trims, and tops out at 4,750 lbs in its heaviest guise. 4x2 models carry nine inches of ground clearance, while 4x4 derivatives bump this up to 9.6 inches. The extra clearance gives a greater approach angle of 33 degrees compared to the 30 degrees of two-wheel-drive models, while departure angles across the range are claimed at 26 degrees.

Exterior Colors

Five basic colors are available on the entry-level trim, including Nautical Blue Metallic, Super White, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Midnight Black Metallic, and Barcelona Red Metallic. The TRD Off-Road opens up an additional metallic color option in Classic Silver for the upper trims, while the Limited trim can option on Blizzard Pearl. The TRD Pro is limited to only four of the base-line colors, with exclusive rights to Army Green. For the Nightshade special edition, only three of the available colors can be had - Blizzard Pearl, Magnetic Gray, and Midnight Black. Depending on trim level, chrome highlights or blacked-out accents will be added to the exterior styling.

  • Super White
  • Barcelona Red Metallic
  • Classic Silver Metallic
  • Magnetic Gray Metallic
  • Midnight Black Metallic
  • Nautical Blue Metallic
  • Blizzard Pearl

4Runner Performance

The 4Runner lineup is powered by a 4.0-liter six-cylinder V6 engine and is mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox. The base models have a standard rear-wheel-drive setup with an auto limited-slip differential, while part-time four-wheel-drive (4WD) is available optionally, but is standard on upper-level trims. The Nightshade edition adds a locking center differential. Built for power and not speed, the mid-level trims are said to get to sixty in 7.5 seconds, accompanied by a large amount of audible proof of the engine's strain. Still, the 4Runner's groaning at higher revs doesn't detract from its impressive 5,000-pound towing capacity, which beats the likes of the Santa Fe as well as the Ford Edge. The hardy build and generous torque clearly focus performance on power and pull, not on off-the-line racing.

Where the 4Runner truly excels is in its off-road ability. A hardy body-on-frame construction and up to 9.6 inches of ground clearance, combined with the locking differential and dual-range transfer case result in the 4Runner having best-in-class off-road ability.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Toyota
2020 Toyota 4Runner Toyota
2020 Toyota 4Runner CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

One engine option is available for the entire range, namely the staple 4.0-liter V6 that develops 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. The engine finds itself paired to a five-speed automatic gearbox by default with no manual option, although buyers have a choice between 4x2 and 4x4 drivetrains, with the latter standard on higher, more off-road focused trims.

On the tarmac, the 4Runner's drivetrain shows its age. The engine isn't full of grunt, and it's noisy when joining fast traffic. Not helping that is a five-speed transmission that feels lazy, and can occasionally be clumsy, as it hauls the 4,500-lb SUV around. That's not why you buy a 4Runner though; at least, it shouldn't be as there are sharper and more disciplined family haulers out there. The reason you should buy a 4Runner is as a workhorse or for getting off the beaten track and going on adventures. That's where the lazy power from the engine pays off along with the old, but strong, transmission built with ability and longevity in mind.

Going with a 4x2 drivetrain lightens things up, and for crunching along farm tracks with a load in the back, it's a great tool. But for when things start getting slippery and challenging, the 4x4 is the only way to go.

  • Engine
    4.0-liter V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    5-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    4X4, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

On the road and handling wise, there's as little to complain about, relatively speaking, as there is to praise for the 4Runner TRD Pro. The ride is as you expect for a truck-based SUV geared to get off of the smooth stuff, although freeways certainly aren't its best friend. We didn't spend much time on the tarmac, though, and quickly looked for the more challenging routes around the off-road park. We found rocky paths with steep ascents and descents, tight trails with big cambers, and as it had been raining recently, some thick muddy puddles.

It's not just how easily that the 4Runner in TRD Pro and Off-Road forms handle the rocky ground; it's how it takes the shock out of things for the driver and passengers. The TRD Pro's lifted FOX suspension does an excellent job of cushioning jolts when getting into the rocks, and aids traction with generous wheel articulation when things get rough.

The only extra preparation done to the SUV was decreasing the tire pressure to aid traction. We did try and get the 4Runner TRD Pro stuck in one of the long muddy puddles, and we really had to try but, with the Multi Terrain system engaged in mud mode and the rear differential locked, it didn't matter how slow we trawled through. We could have stopped, but it's one thing having to be pulled out because the vehicle can't handle it, and another because you made a wilful error.

Crawl Control offers five speed settings and, frankly, takes some of the fun out of descending down a steep incline, although it can save embarrassment or potentially dangerous situations out of a controlled environment.

What we didn't find ourselves needing was extra power. The torque mixed with the ever-present grip and ability of the suspension and its articulation to keep that grip on terra-firma is more than adequate for what the 4Runner in this spec is designed to deal with.

4Runner Gas Mileage

According to the EPA, all 4Runners, regardless of 4x2 or 4x2 drivetrain selection, consume identical amounts of gas. The agency claims estimates of 16/19/17 mpg city/highway/combined, which on a full 23-gallon tank of regular gasoline will see the 4Runner achieve a range of 391 miles in mixed on-road conditions.

The EPA doesn't estimate off-roading economy, but don't expect to get many miles per gallon when tooling around off-road. Ultimately though, with the 4Runner's 23-gallon tank and a thirst 4.0-liter V6, the range off-road is going to depend wildly on the terrain and conditions.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    23.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 16/19 mpg
* 2020 Toyota 4Runner SR5 2WD

4Runner Interior

Much like many rivals in this segment, the 4Runner is a standard five-seater, with the option of adding a third row. However, a common curse of this decision follows in the limited space available, which leaves the third row mainly suited to two children. This also cuts down on available cargo space, which happens to be one of the 4Runner's highlights. The remainder of the cabin is a mixed bag, to be honest, with the familiar, dull cabin in desperate need of a stylish upgrade. This doesn't imply the interior is bad though, and in general, seating is comfortable and spacious - cloth-upholstered on entry-level models, and upgrading to leather towards the top of the range. The abundance of bland hard-touch materials and plastics don't lend the 4Runner a luxurious feel but will be durable for those traipsing through the desert or crunching over rocky roads. Lots of adjustability for the driver, a commanding view of the road and ample headroom make for an ideal driver's position, with similar blessings bestowed on other passengers (including reclining second-row seats).

2020 Toyota 4Runner Toyota
2020 Toyota 4Runner Toyota
2020 Toyota 4Runner Toyota

Seating and Interior Space

If there's one thing the 4Runner doesn't lack in two-row guise, it's interior space both upfront and in the back. The squared-off shape is partly to do with that, and a lot to do with just how good visibility is, particularly when there's so much adjustment in the driver's seat to set everything just right. The seats are perfectly comfortable all round, and with 47.2 square feet of cargo space, nobody is going to have to share their seat or legroom with baggage.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

This is where the 4Runner is let down at lower trim levels; upgrade to the leather seats and the interior gets a lot more welcoming. It doesn't hide the blandness of the plastic, although patterned trim does help break it up. The hard plastic is not out of place though, and it adds to a feeling that the 4Runner is going to outlast everything else; plus nobody should be expecting luxury here. Functionality rules in materials, and black Softex is your only seat material option for the TRD Pro and black fabric for the TRD Off-Road models.

4Runner Trunk and Cargo Space

Scoring highly in this regard, the 4Runner makes 47.2 cubic feet available behind the second row, expanding to almost 90 cubes with the second row stowed away. Fortunately, 2020 models have an optional sliding cargo tray in the trunk to boost available space that can hold up to 440 lbs, because with a third row equipped, the 4Runner has only nine cubic feet to offer. Barely enough for the week's groceries, opting to seat more than five really detracts from the purpose of the vehicle. Additionally, It's not the easiest vehicle to load due to a high liftover height, and the omission of a power liftgate seems strange.

Small-item storage is excellent though, with numerous big, deep bins in the front cabin, a spacious glove box, and various slots for wallets, phones, or keys. An overhead console with space for your sunglasses is standard, and ten cup and bottle holders are available throughout the cabin, which increases to twelve when equipped with the third-row bench.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Toyota
2020 Toyota 4Runner Toyota
2020 Toyota 4Runner CarBuzz

4Runner Infotainment and Features

Features

The lower end of the 4Runner range has a standard air-conditioning unit with second-row vents; this gets upgraded to dual-zone automatic climate control in the upper trims. While the entry-spec models are upholstered in fabric, eight-way power adjustment with lumbar support is standard, upgrading to SofTex synthetic leather in the middle of the range, and switching to the full perforated leather treatment on the Limited and Nightshade editions, as well as a power tilt-and-slide sunroof. All models boast a leather-trimmed steering wheel with tilt and telescoping function. Keyless entry is standard, and push-button start is added to the top-end of the range. Power windows - including a rear liftgate window - are standard fare. Cruise control, a rearview camera, and auto-dimming mirrors are equipped for all models, as well as the new-for-2020 Safety Sense-P suite. A thoughtful addition is the standard 120-volt power outlet in the cargo area which all models are equipped with.

Infotainment

This is where the 4Runner, in general, has gotten its biggest and most essential upgrade to keep it relevant. Frankly, the 2019 model's infotainment sucked, but the 2020 model welcomes a larger and clearer touchscreen with better graphics and shortcut buttons that are useful and work well to help you drill down the menus without studying the screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity have also finally been added to round things out. Again, don't expect the lap of luxury, or all the features that can be packed in, but do expect the essentials done well.

4Runner Problems and Reliability

Although still new - and with no recalls issued for the 2020 model year - the 2019 4Runner was subject to three recalls, two pertaining to warning labels with either non-permanent ink used or incorrect gross vehicle weight ratings specified, with a third recently announced for improperly tightened steering and suspension fasteners. Mechanically, no issues have been reported; while J.D. Power has not yet scored the 2020 range for predicted reliability, the above-average four out of five rating for the 2019 model is sure to carry over.

The Toyota 4Runner is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

4Runner Safety

For the 2020 model year, the NHTSA scored the 4Runner an average of four stars out of five for its overall evaluation. Frontal crash tests yielded four stars for all but the front-passenger area, that scored only three stars. The IIHS has not yet released ratings for the 2020 variant, but the 2019 model scored Good in most tests, with Marginal for the small front overlap test and Poor for the headlights. It's no wonder that Toyota stepped up to the plate for its latest version, adding increased safety tech to bolster these sub-par scores. Better ratings can thus be expected for the 2020 models.

Key Safety Features

Now standard across the range, the Toyota Safety Sense-P suite equips four active safety systems to the 4Runner including pre-collision warning systems with vehicle and pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control, and automatic high beams. Also fitted is the Star Safety bundle, which adds stability control, traction control, brake assist, smart stop technology, as well as ABS and EBD. Eight airbags are installed throughout the cabin, side-impact door beams are built into the structure, and a full set of LATCH child-seat tethers are equipped in the back seat. A tire pressure monitoring system is also a staple in the range.

Verdict: Is the 2020 Toyota 4Runner a good SUV?

As reliable as ever, the 4Runner fills a gap in the market as one of the few truck-based mid-size SUVs around. It still looks good, and it still has the kind of off-road chops people will pay a lot of money for in other vehicles for showing off. The 4Runner isn't luxurious and doesn't show off though. Instead, it gets on with the job and does it relentlessly well. Upgrading to TRD Off-Road or TRD Pro opens up that off-roading ability while still retaining its capacity as a workhorse. You could cross-shop with a Lexus GX if you wanted that more refined interior, but if you want that extra dose of ability in the rough stuff, a TRD badge is still the way forward.

What's the Price of the 2020 Toyota 4Runner?

Entry to the range is through the SR5 and SR5 Premium trims, priced at $36,020 and $39,215 respectively. The TRD trims, available in Off-Road or Off-Road Premium, hike up the price to $39,740 for the former, and $42,470 for the latter. The TRD Pro comes in just under the $50k mark, while the Limited Trim is slightly less pricey, at $44,885. The special Nightshade edition will set you back $48,660, while the new Venture Special Edition has a starting MSRP of $44,285. These prices exclude delivery, processing and handling fees of $1,120, as well as costs associated with taxes and licensing.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Models

The 4Runner range comprises six basic trims, with the two models having sub-trims allocated. A total of eight variations are available: SR5, SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, Venture Special Edition, Limited, Nightshade Edition, and TRD Pro. All are fitted with the same 4.0-liter V6 engine and five-speed automatic gearbox, although drivetrain configurations vary.

The basic SR5 features 17-inch wheels, eight-speaker audio setup, eight-inch high-resolution touchscreen, a rearview camera, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay integration.

The SR5 Premium swaps out the standard cloth-upholstery for SofTex-trimmed, heated seats, and adds a Premium sound system.

Next, the TRD Off-Road model is equipped with part-time 4WD, hill start assist, multi-terrain select, and crawl control. It adds some exclusive badging and color-keyed front and rear bumpers.

The Off-Road Premium builds on this and adds SofTex-trimmed heated seats and red-lettered badging.

An all-new Venture Special Edition trim features the same basics as the TRD Off-Road Premium, but slips on dark gray metallic alloy wheels, a black rear spoiler, blacked-out door handles and bumper accents, and throws a Yakima MegaWarrior cargo basket onto the roof.

Nearing the top of the range is the Limited trim, riding in on 20-inch wheels and featuring leather-trimmed seats that are heated and power-adjustable, a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, front and rear parking assist, and push-button start.

The Nightshade Edition also boasts black 20-inch wheels, unique black exterior and interior accents, and all the elements of the Limited edition with only cosmetic differences.

The TRD Pro is the most hardcore off-road racer, equipped with Fox internal bypass shocks, a locking rear diff, high-performance LED fog lights and a black roof rack. It also received the 'TOYOTA' heritage front grille, and 17-inch TRD alloy wheels among the exterior enhancements.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
SR5
4.0-liter V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$36,120
SR5 Premium
4.0-liter V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$39,315
TRD Off Road
4.0-liter V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
$39,840
TRD Off Road Premium
4.0-liter V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
$42,570
Venture Special Edition
4.0-liter V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
$44,285
See All 2020 Toyota 4Runner Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Standalone options for the 4Runner include equipping running boards, fitting a sunroof, adding the sliding rear cargo deck tray, and equipping the third-row bench. For those trims with only the basic sound system, the Premium Audio with dynamic navigation can be optioned on at $1,085.

On the TRD and Venture Special Edition trims, Kinetic Dynamic Suspension systems can be added for $1,000, or in combination with options such as upgraded Audio systems and navigation ($2,835), equips a sunroof ($1,630), or with audio/nav upgrades as well as running boards ($3,180).

What Toyota 4Runner Model Should I Buy?

The TRD Off-Road is the cheaper option to the TRD Pro, but it should not be under-estimated in the name of badge-envy. For adventurous and fun exploring, the TRD Off-Road is more than up to the task. It's only if you're in the hardcore camp where an attitude that getting stuck is part of the fun is present, that the TRD Pro truly comes into its own with its exceptional suspension and locking rear diff.

Hold a gun to our heads and tell us you can afford it, though, and we would go for the TRD Pro on the basis that nobody ever regretted more ability than they needed. It could also encourage you to go play more, and have even more fun.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Comparisons

2020 Toyota 4Runner Ford
2020 Toyota 4Runner CarBuzz

2020 Toyota 4Runner vs Ford Explorer

Ford has jumped ahead by giving the Explorer a full redesign for the 2020 model year, basing it on a new platform that offers improved handling, boosts towing capacity and offers a spacious and comfortable cabin. The highly-acclaimed infotainment system in all new-generation Ford vehicles sees a huge improvement over the 4Runner's system and offers seating for six or seven passengers as standard. Cutting down from a forced seven- or eight-passenger load to six allows for roomier seating, and slightly more comfort, which is certainly one-up on the 4Runner's capabilities. Very similar cargo volumes and even a similar under-floor storage bin in the Explorer puts these competitors neck-and-neck in this segment. A new 3.0-liter V6 EcoBoost turbocharged engine is also available from mid-range models and produces 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Intelligent four-wheel-drive systems make this a capable off-roader, but in this regard, the 4Runner has all comers beaten. With a starting price only a few hundred dollars more than the 4Runner, opting for the newer, more modern Explorer is a no-brainer for all but the heaviest off-road trail-rats.

See Ford Explorer Review

2020 Toyota 4Runner vs Toyota Highlander

Comparing Toyota's of this caliber is a risky business, as both are exceptional off-road vehicles. They share many elements, as well, but the Highlander does come out near the top in most regards. Equipped as standard with a third row of seats, the Highlander doesn't require an additional purchase to seat more occupants, although when equipped like this, both vehicles suffer the same restricted legroom at the back. With various powertrain options, however, the Highlander allows for a bit of play in terms of fuel economy, offering much better EPA estimates of 20/24/22 mpg in its base guise. This is at the detriment of the powerful 4.0-liter V6 on the 4Runner, however, with the entry-level Highlander only producing 185 hp and 184 lb-ft comparatively from its 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine. Cargo space is top-notch in the 4Runner unless you equip the third row of seats. With both vehicles desperate for a good redesign and modernization, this is a hard choice. We choose the 4Runner simply due to its much-needed upgrades for the 2020 model year, and for its superior off-road ability that it makes no bones about.

See Toyota Highlander Review

Toyota 4Runner Popular Comparisons

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