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2020 Ford Explorer vs Toyota 4Runner

2020 Ford Explorer vs Toyota 4Runner

2020 Explorer vs 4Runner - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

Designed for a maximum of seven occupants, the 2020 Ford Explorer and 2020 Toyota 4Runner are full-size SUVs that appeal to suburban and urban families. Both three-row vehicles boast sophisticated all-wheel drive (AWD) systems with multiple modes. These reliable models also have comparable towing capabilities and off-road attributes. In terms of active safety, both SUVs offer automatic braking, parking aides and various warning systems.


The Powertrain

Standard on the 2020 Explorer, a 2.3 L turbocharged engine block whips out 300 net horsepower. Managed by the Ti-VCT technology, this I-4 gasoline powertrain dishes out 310 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 RPM. Direct injection is another traditional technology in this four-cylinder propulsion unit. Operating on a twin-turbocharged configuration, the 3.0 L V6 engine yields up to 400 hp and 415 lb-ft at 3,500 RPM. Both turbo engines under the hood of this Ford SUV claim the EcoBoost label.

Running on a naturally aspirated induction system, a 3.3 L V6 engine is also optional for the Explorer. Peak outputs of this six-cylinder powertrain are 318 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque. This efficient propulsion system works in tandem with the hybrid powertrain, which harnesses electricity from a motor and battery pack.

Standard on the 2020 4Runner, a 4.0 L V6 gas engine pumps out 270 hp at tachometer levels of at least 5,600 RPM. Completing combustion through the VVT-i system, this six-cylinder powertrain unleashes 278 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 RPM. The Toyota Direct Ignition (TDI) technology manages some aspects of combustion in this full-size SUV.

An automatic transmission system with the SelectShift capability is installed on the 2020 Explorer. This trademark gearbox optimizes downshift and upshift ratios for smooth handling on sloped roads. The driver will barely notice the changes in gear speeds thanks to this highly adaptive transmission that's tuned for all-around performance.

This three-row Ford SUV rolls on the Intelligent 4WD System, which has been comprehensively tested on some of North America's most challenging trails. A driver can easily select one of seven options from the Selectable Drive Modes for optimum performance on various surfaces. Most of the personalized driving modes are governed by the Terrain Management System. Engineered for rapid acceleration, a rear-wheel drive (RWD) system is only compatible with the 2.3 L I-4 engine or 3.3 L hybrid powertrain.

The Deep Snow/Sand Mode maximizes traction on roads that are covered in ice, sleet or snow. This signature mode also improves handling on beaches and deserts. With assistance from the Trail Mode, this versatile Ford SUV navigates off-road trails with ease. The Slippery Mode should be turned on to prevent slipping on a wet road after heavy rainfall. Additionally, the Sport Mode tunes the 4WD system and gearbox for responsive handling on the freeway.

By selecting the Eco Mode, the driver can optimize the 2020 Explorer's fuel economy. This premium SUV gets up to 29 MPG on the highway and 27 MPG in the city. The lowest ratings for this three-row vehicle are 24 MPG on the highway and 18 MPG on urban roads. Low-level trims have a fuel tank that stores up to 17.9 gallons of gasoline. High-tier models have a standard fuel capacity of 20.2 gallons.

All five gear speeds in the 2020 4Runner are controlled electronically. The standard automatic transmission system can operate on the Sequential Shift Mode for dynamic or efficient performance. The ECT-i system works in tandem with the Part-Time 4WD System that boasts the Active Traction Control technology. As the name suggests, the A-TRAC function provides a substantial boost in traction on unpaved trails.

This full-size Toyota SUV also offers the Full-Time 4WD System that delivers class-leading handling on rugged terrains. Carrying the Torsen label, a limit-slip center differential allows the vehicle to overcome tough obstacles. This advanced mechanical hardware can be fully locked to optimize torque distribution among all wheels. Clearing the ground by 9.6 inches, the 4Runner is surely suitable to roll over rocks, pebbles, debris, logs and other obstructions.

The exclusive CRAWL Control technology gives the driver an extra boost for handling the 2020 4Runner on rocky terrains. By modulating the throttle and adjusting the braking system, this innovative function increases off-road traction. Up to five unique driving settings may be selected for the CRAWL Control, which is linked to a rotary dial in the overhead console. The Multi-Terrain Select is another cutting-edge technology that helps this three-row SUV conquer a wide range of landscapes.

Available with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, the 4Runner maintains its poise on rough trails. The KDSS prevents the chassis from jolting and oscillating on unpaved surfaces. This robust model can also be fitted with an exclusive suspension system that has the X-REAS Sport Enhancement technology. A double-wishbone front suspension system is also standard on this reliable vehicle.

The Downhill Assist Control allows this Toyota SUV to roll down a hill at a safe pace. By selectively applying the brakes, the DAC lowers the risk of sudden acceleration on a steep slope. The Hill Start Assist Control is another function that comes in handy for driving on inclined trails. With assistance from the HAC, the driver will have enough time to shift the transmission system into a proper driving mode.

Although it has superb all-terrain capabilities, this Toyota SUV doesn't impress consumers when it comes to efficiency. The maximum fuel economy ratings for this robust model are 19 MPG on the highway and 16 MPG in the city. Therefore, families shouldn't select this model for daily driving in urban and suburban locations. Nevertheless, this bulky SUV makes up for its low gas mileage by offering a large fuel tank that holds 23 gallons.

All brakes on the 2020 4Runner have a power-assisted design for smooth and reliable operation on paved roads and unpaved trails. The powerful braking system also ensures a predictable stopping distance when towing a trailer. Speaking of towing, this full-size SUV has a standard trailer capacity of 5,000 pounds. The much more powerful Explorer can pull a trailer that's packed with up to 5,600 pounds.

Valid for the first three years of ownership, a basic warranty covers the 2020 Explorer and 2020 4Runner. This standard warranty expires when the odometer reading reaches 36,000 miles. Both full-size SUVs come with powertrain warranties that last for five years or 60,000 miles. The same type of time and mileage restrictions apply to the 4Runner's restraint systems warranty. Additionally, this Toyota model has a corrosion/perforation warranty that's active for up to five years.


Based on EPA measurements, the 2020 Explorer has a maximum passenger volume of 152.7 cubic feet. Up to 87.8 cubic feet of cargo volume is available behind the first-row seats. When the second-row seats are folded, up to 47.9 cubic feet of cargo space is available. The standard cargo capacity behind the third-row seats is 18.2 cubic feet.

This three-row Ford SUV offers up to 40.7 inches of headroom and 59.2 inches of hip room for the driver. Other notable interior dimensions in the first row include 61.8 inches of shoulder room and 59.2 inches of legroom. Passengers in the second row have up to 40.5 inches of headroom, 39 inches of legroom and 59.1 inches of hip room. Occupants in the third row have 40.9 inches of hip room, 38.9 inches of headroom and 32.2 inches of legroom.

The driver in the 2020 4Runner may enjoy up to 39.3 inches of headroom, 57.8 inches of shoulder room, 56.5 inches of hip room and 41.7 inches of legroom. A moonroof slightly decreases the total headroom in all three rows of this Toyota SUV, which offers a maximum cargo volume of approximately 89 cubic feet.

Having a curb weight of at least 4,600 pounds, this Toyota SUV is fairly bulky for its class. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of this three-row model is 6,300 pounds. However, a power steering system with the Variable Flow Control gives a driver lots of leverage for handling this massive vehicle on the freeway. The VFC technology responds to the tachometer readings in real time.

The 2020 Explorer comes standard with an electronic power-assisted steering system, which seems a bit outdated compared to the VFC steering system. However, this Ford SUV has several features that are fine-tuned for smooth handling. For example, the Trailer Sway Control precisely aligns the drivetrain with the wheels of a rolling trailer. The traditional Roll Stability Control minimizes the potential for a rollover on a steep grade. The RSC is part of the well-tested AdvanceTrac technology, which is widely installed on many other Ford models.

Having a base curb weight of only 4,345 pounds, this Ford SUV is significantly lighter than its Toyota rival. Perhaps the Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI) design of the 3.0 L V6 engine block contributes to such a lightweight rating. The 2.3 L I-4 engine block is made of cast aluminum, which offers a good combination of strength and low weight. When rolling on 21-inch wheels, this Explorer maintains a balanced stance on any paved road.

In terms of the interior design, this full-size Ford SUV offers an array of family-centric amenities. All seven occupants will remain cool or warm thanks to the Tri-Zone Electronic Temperature Control. A twin-panel moonroof may be opened to ventilate or heat the massive cabin.

In dramatic contrast, the 2020 4Runner comes standard with a single-zone automatic climate control system. Not all trims are available with a dual-zone HVAC system, which includes air vents in the second row. However, a power moonroof with a sliding shade is optional in this robust Toyota model.

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The 2020 Explorer's Pre-Collision Assist is intelligent enough to detect automobiles and pedestrians in the driver's projected path. The PCA quickly turns on the Automatic Emergency Braking when an accident is imminent. This Ford SUV also has the Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control that responds to changes in traffic flow. With supplemental assistance from the Stop-and-Go technology, the driver won't be frustrated during an urban commute with heavy traffic.

This three-row Ford SUV offers the Evasive Steering Assist, which may come on when another vehicle that's ahead suddenly comes to a complete stop. The Lane-Keeping System is another technology that might adjust the steering system to prevent an accident. The Blind Spot Information System on the Explorer works in tandem with the Trailer Coverage for enhanced towing. Additionally, the BLIS is paired with the Cross-Traffic Alert.

Urban families will love the 2020 Explorer's parking aides, such as the Active Park Assist 2.0 technology. The Reverse Sensing System issues loud beeps when this Ford SUV gets too close to other parked vehicles. A rear view camera with a washer further improves the driver's judgment for backing up.

This spacious Ford model offers advanced security features, such as a perimeter alarm and the SecuriCode Keyless Entry Keypad. A passive anti-theft system with the SecuriLock label also puts the owner at ease.

The 2020 4Runner has several active safety features that are designed with urban drivers in mind. Nearly all of the vehicle's accident-prevention functions are powered by the standard Toyota Safety Sense P technology. For example, the Pre-Collision Assist and Lane Departure Warning provide excellent cues for avoiding high-speed crashes on the highway.

An anti-theft system with an engine immobilizer is a standard security feature in this Toyota SUV. All trims are compatible with the ToyotaCare plan, which includes complimentary roadside assistance. Additionally, this three-row model offers the Parking Assist Sonar technology for front and reverse motion. A backup camera with projected path lines is another standard safety technology in this tough Toyota car.

Which Has the Best Value

The 2020 Ford Explorer base trim has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of about $33,000. Sitting on top of the lineup, the Platinum edition has an MSRP of slightly more than $58,000. Consumers will have to pay approximately $38,000 for the 2020 4Runner base model. The well-appointed TRD Pro trim costs a little more than $49,500.

Despite the significant price differences, both three-row SUVs offer comparable value in active safety. The Ford Co-Pilot360 technology faces good competition from the Toyota Safety Sense P bundle.

In the digital technology category, the Explorer reigns supreme over the Toyota rival. The 10.1-inch LCD touch screen in this Ford model has a portrait-type design for enhanced functionality and visibility. The Dynamic Navigation System in the 4Runner comes with a touch screen that measures only 8.0 inches diagonally. However, both vehicles support Amazon Alexa, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth.

Blasting nearly 1,000 acoustic watts, the 2020 Explorer's B&O audio system is much more powerful than the 4Runner's eight-speaker sound system. Up to 14 premium speakers entertain all seven occupants in this three-row Ford model. The FordPass Connect Wi-Fi service gives passengers endless entertainment options during a trip.

Which is Better?

Offering three engine options, including a hybrid system, the 2020 Ford Explorer is a great choice for families that want lots of power without sacrificing efficiency. Available with a 10.1-inch infotainment system that offers Wi-Fi, Amazon Alexa and other advanced applications, this seven-seat SUV appeals greatly to tech-savvy families. Built on a robust mechanical platform that has been torture-tested on challenging courses, the 2020 Toyota 4Runner is the better choice when it comes to off-road performance.

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