The 2023 Toyota 4Runner isn’t like most of the other mid-size crossovers and SUVs that line the streets and fill suburban driveways. That’s because the 4Runner is more old-school truck than new-age car: it has a pickup-truck frame and boasts legitimate off-road chops. In its most capable forms, it has extra underbody armor, an electronic locking rear axle, upgraded suspension components, and knobby tires. Along with rear- or four-wheel drive, every model has a 270-hp V-6 and an automatic transmission. Unfortunately, that powertrain is a relic compared to those powering body-on-frame rivals such as the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler. The Toyota’s 4.0-liter engine might be reliable, but it also reliably consumes fuel at an alarming rate. The truck’s interior has plenty of passenger and cargo space, but its cabin materials are drab. On regular roads, this truck-based SUV drives like, well, a truck: its handling feels loose, and its ride is uncouth. The 4Runner can go places many of its classmates can’t, but outside of those limited-use cases it’s undeniably antiquated.
What’s New for 2023?
The 2023 model years marks the 40th anniversary of the 4Runner nameplate. To celebrate, Toyota introduces a special edition based on the entry-level SR5 model that’s limited to a production run of 4040 examples. The ’23 4Runner 40th Anniversary Special Edition comes in red, white, or black paint with tri-colored graphics on the body sides and grille. A set of bronze 17-inch wheels is also part of the package. Inside, the bronze color is repeated in the stitching on the leatherette seats and shift knob. There are also callouts to the 4Runner’s 40th birthday on the floormats, front headrests, and a couple interior badges. Also new for 2023 is standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert on every model.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We recommend the TRD Off-Road model. It’s not as capable off-road as the lifted TRD Pro, but its significantly lower price tag makes it a better value. Along with standard four-wheel drive and some TRD-specific exterior and interior bits, the TRD Off-Road gets equipment that helps justify its name. This includes an electronically locking rear differential for maximum traction in slippery or muddy conditions. It also has selectable drive modes (called Multi Terrain Select and Crawl Control) that can alter the SUV’s powertrain behavior to accommodate various driving scenarios. We’d select the optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension, which allows improved wheel articulation during off-road action. We’d also opt for the sliding rear cargo deck, which makes moving heavy cargo easier and even provides tailgate seating.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Every 4Runner is motivated by a 270-hp 4.0-liter V-6 paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. Available with rear-wheel drive and either full- or part-time four-wheel-drive systems, the outdated powertrain provides unremarkable acceleration, with the last version we tested taking 7.7 seconds to hit 60 mph. The automatic’s lethargic responses certainly don’t optimize the engine’s uneven behavior, and downshifts often require heavy right-foot inputs to spur the 4Runner ahead. Still, the Toyota manages to feel more composed on pavement than the more unwieldy Wrangler. Our time behind the wheel of the off-road-oriented model showed off the SUV’s notable ground clearance, and its body-on-frame construction was supported by a soft suspension that absorbed a variety of terrain reasonably well. The 4Runner’s steering is lightly weighted and imprecise, and while those traits betray any sense of sportiness, they’re fine for crawling along trails and around parking lots. 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 the Toyota’s rugged frame and torque-rich engine give it a leg up in towing; its 5000-pound capacity beats the Ford Edge and Wrangler, while falling short of the more powerful Durango’s 8700-pound limit.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The 4Runner’s powertrain combinations show their age at the pump, with every model rated at a lowly 16 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. For comparison, the V-6-powered Wrangler has much better estimates of up to 19 mpg city and 24 highway. The last 4Runner we tested on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, did exceed expectations by returning 22 mpg. For more information about the 4Runner’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The interior of the 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, it 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 it’s best for children. A flexible cargo area 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—its floor is uncomfortably high off the ground. The two-row models that 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.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every 4Runner features an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The interface includes a set of physical buttons as well as rotary volume and tuning knobs. The system comes standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot. A built-in navigation system and a 15-speaker JBL audio system are available upgrades.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Every model comes with a host of driver-assistance technology that includes automatic high-beam headlamps, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert, and more. For more information about the 4Runner’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Toyota provides two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance, a rarity in this class. The coverage in other categories is less impressive but matches industry norms.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for two years or 25,000 miles
2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro
Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear/4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $53,635/$55,003
Options: sliding cargo deck, $350; running boards, $345; cargo cover, $179; TRD floor mats, $169; hood protector, $165; blackout emblem overlays, $160
DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 241 in3, 2956 cm3
Power: 270 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 278 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Suspension, F/R: control arms/live axle
Brakes, F/R: 13.3-in vented disc/12.3-in vented disc
Tires: Nitto Terra Grappler All-Terrain
P265/70R-17 113S M+S
Wheelbase: 109.8 in
Length: 191.3 in
Width: 75.8 in
Height: 71.5 in
Passenger Volume: 96 ft3
Cargo Volume: 46 ft3
Curb Weight: 4800 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 7.7 sec
1/4-Mile: 16.0 sec @ 86 mph
100 mph: 23.8 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 8.1 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.2 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 5.6 sec
Top Speed (gov): 113 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 192 ft
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 15 mpg
75-mph Highway Driving: 17 mpg
Highway Range: 390 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 17/16/19 mpg
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
More Features and Specs