2021 Toyota 4Runner


2021 Toyota 4Runner Review: An Off-Roading Institution

It almost feels like the Toyota 4Runner has been around forever, and that is largely because it has undergone almost no changes for the last decade. Some shoppers will argue that this is a bad thing, but considering how popular it was upon release, many of us appreciate the nostalgia. And then there's the risk that a redesign would see the 4Runner lose its prestige as one of the last remaining body-on-frame midsize off-road SUVs. Powered by a V6 engine with loads of torque on tap, it's sure-footed in any environment and can even handle a fair amount of manual labor, handily lugging around up to 5,000 pounds. Sure, there is a lot of competition in the US from more modern rivals like the Ford Edge, but classics are popular for a reason.

New 2021 Toyota 4Runner Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 4Runner?

For 2021, Toyota has expanded the 4Runner lineup with yet another special edition trim. This time, it's the Trail Edition, which is based on the entry-level SR5. It is mechanically identical to the SR5, but sports dark gray TRD wheels and black exterior badging. It also gets a Yakima LoadWarrior rooftop, as well as a 40-quart cooler and sliding cargo tray inside. Changes to the existing models include standard LED headlights across the range and the addition of new wheel designs and Lunar Rock paint to the TRD Pro trim. The shocks on this top trim have also been re-tuned to maximize comfort when off-roading.

Pros and Cons

  • Top-notch off-roading capabilities
  • Excellent cargo space in five-seater configuration
  • Various special edition customization options
  • Easy-to-use and comprehensive infotainment
  • Available third-row seating
  • Clumsy handling and indecisive transmission
  • Dated design, inside and out
  • Third-row seating is cramped
  • Limited driver aids

Best Deals on 4Runner

2021 Toyota 4Runner Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
4.0L V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
Trail Special Edition
4.0L V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
SR5 Premium
4.0L V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
TRD Off Road
4.0L V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
TRD Off Road Premium
4.0L V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive

4Runner Exterior

While some might claim that the 4Runner looks pretty dated, its chunky aesthetic is actually kind of retro-chic in comparison to many of the more streamlined designs favored by the competition. The majority of the trims ride on 17-inch alloy wheels, though the more exclusive Limited and Nightshade sport bolder 20-inch variants. Roof racks are outfitted to the TRD Pro and Venture, though the latter gets a MegaWarrior cargo unit. LED headlights are installed as standard to all trims framing the blocky grille, while LED fog lights are fitted into the lower bumper. The special editions each have unique exterior elements that create bolder images than those of the standard range. These include blacked-out wheels, wheel arches, grille surrounds, and mirror caps, and a black rear spoiler on the Venture. The top-tier Nightshade, TRD Pro, and Limited come standard with a tilt-and-slide sunroof, while the Venture, SR5 Premium, and TRD Off-road spec it on.

2021 Toyota 4Runner Front View CarBuzz
2021 Toyota 4Runner Rear View CarBuzz
2021 Toyota 4Runner Front Angle View CarBuzz
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The Toyota 4Runner has respectable dimensions for a midsize SUV, measuring between 190.2 and 191.3 inches long depending on the trim. The wheelbase is the same regardless, though, at 109.8 inches. Combined with a ground clearance of nine inches on the RWD and 9.6 inches on the 4WD, this gives it approach and departure angles of 30/26 degrees and 33/26 degrees, respectively. Even the shortest trim stands a proud 71.5 inches tall, ensuring an excellent view of the road or over any rocky terrain blocking your path. Models equipped with roof rails or the large roof rack can stand as high as 79.1 inches tall. Width is standard at 75.78 inches, while curb weight ranges between 4,400 pounds and 4,805 lbs.

  • Length 190.2 in
  • Wheelbase 109.8 in
  • Height 71.5 in
  • Max Width 75.8 in
  • Front Width 63.2 in
  • Rear Width 63.2 in

Exterior Colors

The SR5 and SR5 Premium gives buyers five colors to choose from when customizing their 4Runner: Super White, Midnight Black Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Nautical Blue Metallic, and Barcelona Red Metallic. The TRD Off-Road and Venture Special Edition trims then add Classic Silver Metallic to the palette before the Limited offers Blizzard Pearl for $425 in place of Super White. At the very top of the range, the TRD Pro refines the options by deleting Nautical Blue, Barcelona Red, and Classic Silver, but adding Lunar Rock. The special editions get very specific color choices. The Trail can be dressed in Super White, Midnight Black, Army Green, and Cement. The higher-tier Nightshade gets only three options: Super White, Magnetic Gray, and Midnight Black.

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

4Runner Performance

The powerplant in the 4Runner is not underpowered, but its performance is nothing special either. Developing 270 hp and 278 lb-ft, it offers a choice between RWD or 4WD configurations on all but the TRD models. Despite its mediocre outputs and unrefined five-speed automatic transmission, the Toyota is able to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in a fair 7.5 seconds with the 4x4 drivetrain, according to independent tests. Top speed is set at 115 mph.

The excess of torque proves that the 4Runner is designed for lugging ability rather than speed, and its 4x4 limited-slip differential and available Kinetic Dynamic Suspension mean that it has perfect control over its strength. Properly equipped, its towing capacity maxes out at 5,000 pounds, trouncing competitors like the Ford Edge or Hyundai Santa Fe.

But it's only once you take the Toyota off-road that you see its true potential. Rugged and sure-footed, it has up to 9.6 inches of ground clearance and respectable angles of approach and departure to handle just about anything mother nature can throw at it.

2021 Toyota 4Runner Frontal Aspect CarBuzz
2021 Toyota 4Runner View Out Back CarBuzz
2021 Toyota 4Runner Front Wheel CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

Though you may get the choice of nine trims, you get no choice at all when it comes to the engine. Every 4Runner is powered by the same 4.0-liter V6 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. This setup develops 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque, which is directed to the rear wheels as standard, though four-wheel-drive is available to every trim and standard on the more off-road focused variants.

Even for a ponderous vehicle, this is enough power to get it moving. But it certainly isn't enough to do so with any degree of haste. The automatic gearbox is unrefined and struggles to find the right gear at times. Despite all of this, the burly Toyota serves quite well as a workhorse or when venturing out into the wild. For the former, the 4x2 drivetrain is ideal and reduces the overall weight of the SUV. But the 4x4 setup is essential if you plan to venture off the beaten path.

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

Handling and Driving Impressions

It's really hard to find anything to comment on around town. The Toyota 4Runner is, in every way, utterly average. It is not overly quick, but its handling wouldn't be able to manage any more speed than it has. Similarly, it doesn't offer the greatest ride comfort, and highways can be a real nightmare at higher speeds. However, the seats are comfortable enough to offset much of this. This is no light-handed city slicker SUV, so if you intend to spend most of your time navigating the urban jungle, consider something better suited from the competition.

But if you want to venture out of town and into the wild, you'll see what the 4Runner is really capable of. Once it gets dirty, the SUV really gets down to business. Where the handling is clunky on the asphalt, it is communicative and surefooted on uneven terrain. Similarly, the suspension earns its keep by absorbing all the rocky bumps without complaint. This is even more true for the TRD Pro's upgraded Fox suspension.

Multiple speed settings are offered with the off-road-purposed crawl control, so that less confident drivers can face hillside descents without fear. But going uphill is a breeze thanks to the abundance of torque, while a variety of terrain modes, courtesy of the available Multi-Terrain Select, help you deal with difficult road conditions.

4Runner Gas Mileage

Each Toyota 4Runner model is powered by the same engine, and although buyers are given a choice between a 2WD or 4WD system, mileage figures remain constant. According to the EPA, the SUV returns 16/19/17 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. This is pretty abysmal when compared to all the turbocharged and hybrid competitors on the market. It does get a pretty large fuel tank, though. With 23 gallons of regular gasoline, the Toyota traverses up to 391 miles with mixed driving. The EPA does not rate vehicles for off-road fuel economy, but be sure to fill up, because your gas won't get you as far as you think.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    23.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 16/19 mpg
* 2021 Toyota 4Runner SR5 2WD

4Runner Interior

The Toyota 4Runner is a spacious five-seater or an adequate seven-seater. Of course, opting for the second route comes at a cost to comfort and cargo capacity. The interior is nothing to write home about in either of the configurations, though. Materials choices definitely lean more towards economy than luxury, and the styling feels dated. However, the seats are quite comfortable and tech updates over the years have helped to keep the SUV relevant. Most of these features are focused on convenience and safety, though. But that's not to say the infotainment is disappointing; it has most of the basics, and the touchscreen is easily accessible.

2021 Toyota 4Runner Steering Wheel CarBuzz
2021 Toyota 4Runner Infotainment System CarBuzz
2021 Toyota 4Runner Gearbox Controls CarBuzz
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Seating and Interior Space

Depending on how you spec your interior, there is either loads of head- and legroom, or just enough. The standard setup is two bucket seats up front and a bench in the back. This supplies the most room for each of the five passengers to spread out and enjoy long drives in comfort, or as much comfort as the lower-quality materials allow. If you really need to haul seven people regularly, a second bench can be installed on any non-off-road trim, increasing capacity by two. However, passengers in these seats will not be glad for the decision, as legroom is severely limited, and second-row passengers have to make sacrifices, too. Regardless of these factors, the driver has a commanding seating position and power-adjustability is factory-installed even at the base level.

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 41.7 in
  • Front Head Room 39.3 in
  • Rear Leg Room 32.9 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.6 in

Interior Colors and Materials

The base model 4Runner has a budget interior, with only middling grade cloth upholstering the seats and loads of hard plastics on display all over. Color choices are limited to just Graphite and Sand Beige, although the Trail only allows for a Black/Graphite combination and the TRD Off-Road is dressed in black fabric. Things start to change once you upgrade to the SR5 Premium. SofTex replaces the basic cloth, but the color choices remain the same, with some limitations between trim levels and exterior paint combinations. TRD Off-Road and Pro trims have Black SofTex as standard. At the top end of the range, the Limited and Nightshade are the only trims upholstered in leather. The former offers a choice of Sand Beige, Black, or Redwood, while the latter is Graphite only.

4Runner Trunk and Cargo Space

While many SUVs stray from the practicality that first inspired the body style, the 4Runner is just as old-fashioned as it is in other areas. In its standard configuration, it supplies an impressive 47.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats. This is more than enough to stow a week's worth of groceries as well as the kid's school bags and mom's yoga mat. If you want to maximize passenger space, a third row can be installed, but this severely reduces how much trunk space is available, with only nine cubes behind the third row. Naturally, this is barely enough for even a few grocery bags. But, both the second row and optional third row of seats can be folded down to increase cargo capacity. As much as 89.7 cubic feet can be made available in a pinch for models with two rows of seats. Three-row trims have a maximum of 88.8 cu. ft.

The cabin is filled with nooks and crannies in which to store loose items. The console offers a number of bins, both big and small, while the side door pockets are spacious enough for water bottles and more. The glove compartment and armrest cubby accommodate larger items with ease, and there is an overhead console for sunglasses. This is not even mentioning the ten cupholders spread throughout the cabin (with two more added on three-row models).

2021 Toyota 4Runner Front Seats CarBuzz
2021 Toyota 4Runner Back Seats CarBuzz
2021 Toyota 4Runner Trunk Space CarBuzz

4Runner Infotainment and Features


Toyota seems set on keeping things simple with the 4Runner. However, it has made some necessary updates over the years to prevent the SUV from falling into obscurity. The current generation comes standard with cruise control, air conditioning, keyless entry, a rearview camera, a multi-information display, and a leather-trimmed tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The interior is dressed in cloth and the driver's seat is power-adjustable in eight directions. Toyota Safety Sense P is also included, with features like forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning, and pedestrian detection. This bare-bones offering is expanded with leatherette or leather upholstery as you move up the trim levels. An auto-dimming rearview mirror and heated seats are added to the SR5 Premium, while the TRD trims upgrade the center armrest and add an overhead console. Dual-zone climate control, a tilt-and-slide sunroof, as well as front and rear parking sensors are added with the step up to Limited or Nightshade, along with ventilated front seats, rounding out the overall package. A 120-volt power outlet in the cargo area means you can charge devices or power appliances on camping trips.


While easy to use, the infotainment suite on the 4Runner is nothing special. You never get larger than an eight-inch touchscreen, but the features do vary a bit across trims. The base model offers AM/FM Radio, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and SiriusXM. This is all paired with an eight-speaker sound system. The lower-tier TRD trims add HD Radio, while the more premium models also include built-in navigation. If you want the 15-speaker JBL sound system, with a subwoofer and amplifier, you'll need to upgrade as far as the Limited. Four USB charging ports are provided at every trim level, as well as a single 12-volt power outlet.

4Runner Problems and Reliability

Though it may not get the best crash test ratings, the Toyota 4Runner is a remarkably reliable vehicle. This is backed up by zero recalls issued for the 2020 production cycle, although this year saw numerous consumer complaints pertaining to brakes and airbags. That's a vast improvement over the four recalls in 2019. Reasons for recall included incorrect GVWR on the certification label, non-permanent text on the load capacity label, potential fuel pump failure, and improperly tightened steering fasteners. Nevertheless, J.D. Power gives the SUV a pleasing rating of 82 out of 100 for overall reliability.

Each new 4Runner receives three years/36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage, while the powertrain warranty is valid for five years/60,000 miles.


  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    2 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 25,000 Miles

4Runner Safety

While the IIHS has yet to release the results of its safety reviews, the NHTSA has scored the SUV similarly to last year. The overall four-star rating is broken down into a five-star rating for side crash tests and three stars for rollover evaluations. Frontal crash tests resulted in four out of five stars awarded. With no mechanical changes for 2021, the previous results from the IIHS review of the Toyota 4Runner should carry over unchanged. These comprised a score of Good in four out of five tests, with small overlap front: driver-side receiving a low score of Marginal.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

Almost all the safety features available to the 4Runner are standard across the entire range. Most fall under the umbrella of the Toyota Safety Sense-P suite and include pre-collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, auto high beams, and dynamic cruise control. Apart from this, each model comes equipped with hill start assist, ABS, stability and traction control, and eight airbags - dual front, front knee, rear side, and side curtain. Front and rear parking sensors are only added at the top-most levels, starting with the Limited trim.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Toyota 4Runner a good SUV?

This feels like a bit of a trick question. If you truly think of it as a car, then the Toyota 4Runner is not a good one. It feels alien around town and handles even the most basic of tasks without any grace. It also lacks many of the safety and comfort features we expect from our commuter SUVs. It is eminently practical, though, and supplies loads of cargo space. Still, there are far more component rivals on the market in the USA.

However, if you are looking for a spirited off-road trailblazer, then the Toyota most definitely fits the bill. For a start, it definitely looks the part, but it's also extremely rugged and dependable. With several models specially designed to play in the mud, shoppers will always find what they're looking for. Sure, it's a bit dated now, but it has been so good for so long that we almost don't want it to change.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Toyota 4Runner?

With so many trims to choose from, and multiple ways to configure each, the price of the Toyota 4Runner varies quite a bit. The most affordable models are those with rear-wheel-drive. The SR5 starts things off at $36,340, while the new Trail Special Edition slots in right above it at $38,315. Still, under $40k, the SR5 Premium has a base price of $39,500. The remaining two trims that are offered with RWD are the Limited and Nightshade Special Edition, set at $45,395 and $46,810, respectively. Adding the four-wheel drivetrain to the lower three trims increases their cost by $1,875, while the upper-tier trims need an investment of $2,035 to make the change. The remaining options all come with 4WD as standard and their prices are as follows: TRD Off-Road at $40,305, TRD Off-Road Premium at $43,050, Venture Special Edition at $44,620, and the TRD Pro with the highest starting cost of $50,470. It is worth noting that these are MSRP prices, which means you will still need to factor in tax, registration, licensing, and Toyota's $1,175 handling fee.

2021 Toyota 4Runner Models

Nine trims make up the 2021 Toyota 4Runner lineup, although some are just reskinned special editions. The lineup includes the SR5, Trail Special Edition, SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, Venture Special Edition, Limited, Nightshade Edition, and TRD Pro. The same 4.0L V6 engine does duty for each, along with a five-speed automatic gearbox. Four-wheel-drive is available to every model, and comes standard on the off-road-focused ones.

The most basic trim is the SR5, which rides on 17-inch wheels and comes equipped with LED headlights, taillights, and fog lights. The cabin presents five seats upholstered in cloth, with an eight-way power driver's seat. Features comprise air conditioning, a rearview camera, keyless entry, an eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi, and an eight-speaker sound system. The Toyota Safety Sense P suite comprises collision avoidance tech, lane departure warning, and dynamic cruise control

The Trail Special Edition changes nothing in terms of mechanics or features, but 17-inch dark gray alloys replace the standard fare, and it adds a Yakima LoadWarrior cargo basket, black exterior emblems, black fabric seating, and all-weather floor mats. Buyers also receive a 40-quart premium cooler with tie-down straps for the cargo area.

On SR5 Premium trims, more noticeable changes are made with leatherette-trimmed seats, heated front seats, and an upgraded infotainment suite with navigation, HD Radio, and more premium speakers. Updated conveniences include heated power-folding side mirrors and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The first TRD trim, the Off-Road, gets purposed features like hill-start assist, crawl control, and multi-terrain select. Like the rest of the off-road models, it is restricted to the 4x4 drivetrain. A few changes to the exterior also make it stand out, such as unique bashing and color-keyed bumpers.

Premium variants of the TRD get the same SofTex upholstery and heated front seats as the SR5 Premium, but sport red lettering to set themselves apart. The Venture Special Edition builds on this with matte-black alloy wheels, blacked-out exterior accents on door handles, the rear spoiler, and external emblems, as well as a Yakima MegaWarrior cargo tray. It also gets all-weather floor liners.

The Limited upgrades to 20-inch alloy wheels, chrome exterior accents, keyless entry and push-button start, and genuine leather upholstery. It also installs a tilt-and-slide sunroof, as well and front and rear parking assist, and the premium JBL sound system. The Nightshade Edition blacks out the wheels and other aesthetic elements, both inside and out.

The most expensive trim, the TRD Pro, has the most focused off-roading specs. Fox internal bypass shocks and a locking rear differential mean that it never loses control. The front fascia is dominated by a Toyota heritage grille, while the wheel arches house 17-inch TRD alloy wheels.

See All 2021 Toyota 4Runner Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

There are a number of ways to tweak your build, including packages and standalone accessories. The Premium Audio sound system can be equipped to models that don't get it as standard for between $1,040 and $1,585, while a third-row of seating can be installed on all but the TRD, Venture, and Trail - it costs $805 on the base trim and adds the seating in fabric, but for $1,085 on the SR5 Premium, the third row is dressed in SofTex. For the Limited and Nightshade, the third-row seating adds $1,365 to the bill, but comes in leather.

A Kinetic Dynamic Suspension system is available to TRD trims as part of a $2,790 package that includes the Premium Audio package, or for $1,750 on models that already have an upgraded sound setup. It can also be combined with additional running boards for some trims at a higher cost. Buyers can add a moonroof to the Premium or Venture trims by paying $630, and a sliding rear cargo deck can be optioned on for $350.

🚗What Toyota 4Runner Model Should I Buy?

The best Toyota 4Runner for you will depend on your needs. If you don't plan on going off-road, then the first question is, why are you buying a 4Runner? But if you simply must have one, then you need to ask yourself if you need seating for five or seven, and work your way up from there. The SR5 Premium serves as a decent town commuter and offers some of the more luxury-centric upgrades, like leatherette-trimmed seats and a premium sound system.

If you are actually buying the 4Runner for the purpose it was intended, then the TRD Off-Road is an excellent starting point, or even an ending point if your budget is tight and you place a priority on value. You may want to add on the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension package, although it is a little pricey at this trim level. If you want a little more luxury for your outdoor escapades, then the Off-Road Premium is a great balance of value, capability, and comfort. If money isn't an issue, though, it is hard to pass up the TRD Pro. Of course, no decision should be made without a test drive or two to determine what feels right for you.

2021 Toyota 4Runner Comparisons

Toyota Highlander Toyota
Jeep Grand Cherokee Jeep
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Toyota 4Runner270 hp16/19 mpg$37,305
Toyota Highlander 295 hp21/29 mpg$35,085
Jeep Grand Cherokee 293 hp19/26 mpg$33,885

2021 Toyota 4Runner vs Toyota Highlander

These two siblings are both great at what they do, and what they do is dominate the unbeaten path. They are in many ways alike, but the Highlander is like a higher-quality version of the 4Runner. Slightly larger overall, the Highlander fits a third-row bench as standard, though it doesn't offer a whole lot more room for those seated there. It is more customizable in other ways though, particularly in terms of powertrains. If the V6 is a little more than you need or too thirsty, then there is a lower-displacement four-cylinder hybrid that develops 243 hp in exchange for much better fuel economy of 36/35/36 mpg. Since it seats five as standard, the 4Runner has more starting cargo capacity, but the Highlander offers better quality materials in the cabin. Neither is particularly up to date in terms of tech or style, though. But since you buy these vehicles for their off-roading expertise rather than luxury or tech, the 4Runner is our choice between the two, since it does this so well.

See Toyota Highlander Review

2021 Toyota 4Runner vs Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep prides itself on building some of the most rugged off-roaders in the world, and the Grand Cherokee is one of its oldest nameplates in production at the moment. A bit cheaper than the 4Runner, it also gets a bit more raw power from the Pentastar V6 - 295 hp and 260 lb-ft, to be exact. Despite the lower torque, it can actually tow a whole load more than the Toyota, with a max capacity of 7,200 lbs. It is also a little more at home around town and has a more premium interior. But in terms of sheer off-roading ability, the Jeep needs a few add-ons to even compete with the 4Runner, such as the optional air suspension. Even so, it isn't quite as confident on rougher terrain, and it can't stow as much gear in the trunk for a camping trip. If you're going to be using your SUV for commuting around town with the occasional outdoor adventure, the Grand Cherokee is the more balanced choice and easier on your budget. But, if you want a dedicated off-roader to go alongside your family hauler, then the Toyota 4Runner is the better choice.

See Jeep Grand Cherokee Review

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