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The 2021 Toyota 4Runner is an SUV with a classic, old-school look. While Toyota calls this a full-size SUV, the dimensions are more akin to a mid-sized model. The standard 4Runner seats up to five people, but a small third row can be added to bring that total up to seven. There is plenty of room for passengers and cargo here no matter what size you choose to call it.
One of the 4Runner's claims to fame is its ability to go anywhere. This is a rugged SUV that is built on a truck platform. It offers exceptional off-road capabilities. Past models have proven to be tough and reliable, something that Toyota is known for in general. There are a lot of great reasons to own a Toyota 4Runner along with a few downsides to be aware of.
What's New for 2021?
For 2021, all models and trim levels will now be equipped with LED headlights. The TRD Pro model gets an upgraded suspension system this year. This model will also get redesigned wheels and a new paint scheme called Lunar Rock. The Trail Edition will receive some minor cosmetic changes, mostly for the exterior.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Toyota 4Runner – The Pros
1. The Impressive Performance
Every version of the 2021 Toyota 4Runner comes equipped with a 4.0-liter V6 engine. This power-plant features 24 valves, dual overhead cams and variable-valve timing. It can produce around 270 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. All of that power and torque means excellent performance. The 4Runner offers good acceleration and plenty of power to tow a trailer or haul a load of passengers and cargo.
2. Serious Off-Road Credibility
Off-road performance is one of the best reasons to own a 4Runner. There's a 4X4 version of every trim level. The 4Runner has a solid frame and a great suspension system. The vehicle sits up high for good ground clearance. You get a locking rear differential to distribute power to the rear wheels. Traction control and a system called Crawl Control help you to navigate over rough terrain.
3. A Large and Versatile Cargo Area
Extra cargo space is a great reason to choose any SUV over a standard coupe or sedan. The Toyota 4Runner has plenty of room to spare. In a standard model with all of the seats being used, you can get between 46.3 and 47.2 cubic feet of storage space depending on the trim. This can be expanded to 89.7 cubic feet with the second-row seats folded down. Some models also have a sliding cargo deck to make loading and unloading easier.
4. Plenty of Room for Your Passengers
A stock Toyota 4Runner can accommodate up to five people including the driver. Toyota also gives buyers an interesting option to add a third row of seats. The third row will be small, but it can still bump up the passenger capacity to seven. This is a pretty unique option for a vehicle of this size.
5. Respectable Towing Capabilities
All of the power and torque from the big V6 engine means the ability to tow. When properly equipped, the 2021 Toyota 4Runner can pull up to 5,000 pounds. That's an impressive amount for this class of vehicle and plenty enough for a good-sized trailer or small boat.
6. A Variety of Configurations and Trim Levels
Toyota provides buyers with a ton of options here. The 2021 Toyota 4Runner comes in a total of nine different trim levels with 14 different configurations available. There are a lot of colors and interior options to customize the 4Runner to your liking. There is even a special Nightshade Edition for those who appreciate a cool, blacked-out appearance.
If you want something for daily commutes and family hauling, there are trim levels like the SR5 Premium or the Limited. These come packed with a good amount of comfort and safety features. A couple of good examples would be the heated, 8-way power-adjustable front seats and SofTex upholstery. For some off-road fun, Toyota offers models such as the TRD Off-Road and the TRD Pro.
7. The Throwback Exterior Style
As SUVs get smaller each year and with the rise in popularity of crossover vehicles, the design elements of the SUV have become more car-like. They tend to be rounder with curved tops that look more like a coupe than what an SUV used to be like. Toyota unashamedly designed their 4Runner to look like the rugged SUVs of old.
The 2021 Toyota 4Runner is square, boxy and looks like it could double as military transportation. It has a rugged, outdoorsy look to it that is sure to please old-school SUV fans. Fortunately, it also has the off-road capabilities to match its appearance.
8. A Solid Infotainment System
While the 4Runner looks like an old classic on the outside, it's packed with modern technology on the inside. The standard infotainment system features an HD 8-inch touchscreen and an AM/FM stereo with HD radio capabilities. You get eight quality speakers to pump sound throughout the entire vehicle. Music can easily be streamed via Bluetooth technology.
In addition to Bluetooth, your smartphones and mobile devices can also be connected or charged via USB ports. Voice-Recognition Technology allows you to control the system or make hands-free calls while you drive. There's even an integrated navigation system to help you find you next destination.
The system is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Toyota provides a free trial for WiFi Connect Services and buyers can also upgrade to a premium audio setup by JBL. The JBL system offers a total of 15 speakers with a subwoofer and an amplifier.
9. Expected Reliability and Resale Value
All Toyota vehicles have a good reputation for reliability. This also means they hold their value well. Toyota's average resale prices rank highly among the many vehicles on the market today. While there is not yet a lot of data for such a newer model, J.D. Power and Associates has given a reliability score to the 2020 4Runner, which is very similar. It received an excellent score of 82 out of 100.
10. Plenty of Modern Safety Features
Safety is one of the most important categories to consider before you purchase a new vehicle. Fortunately, the 2021 Toyota 4Runner comes equipped with a lot of standard safety features. The Toyota Safety Sense package offers a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection and a Lane Departure Alert. Every model gets an Advanced Airbag System with a total of eight airbags.
Anti-Lock Brakes, Traction Control and Stability Control make driving a lot safer during a variety of conditions. You also get Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist to help you stop safely in time. Toyota even includes a standard vehicle alarm and an engine immobilizer to help prevent theft.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Toyota 4Runner – The Cons
1. Poor Fuel Economy
It's rare for any SUV to offer good fuel efficiency, but the Toyota 4Runner does especially poor in this category. It has a combined fuel-economy rating of just 17 miles-per-gallon. At best, you might get up to 19 miles-per-gallon on the highway. This is below average, even for this class of vehicles.
2. Sub-Par Ride Quality
The 2021 Toyota 4Runner is based off of a truck platform and it feels like it too. Ride quality can feel stiff, choppy and downright bumpy. A lot of automakers have gotten much better with this issue in their SUVs. Sadly, this isn't the case for Toyota and their 4Runner.
3. Awkward Entry and Exit
The 2021 Toyota 4Runner sits up high. This is to be expected with larger SUVs that are built with off-road performance in mind. The high ground clearance contributes to the 4Runner's off-road capabilities. Unfortunately, this can make entering and exiting the vehicle a bit awkward.
How It Stacks up To the Competition:
2021 Toyota 4Runner vs 2021 Honda Passport:
The Honda Passport will be one of the Toyota 4Runner's top competitors in 2021. Both vehicles can seat up to five people, though only the Toyota offers an optional third row to accommodate seven. Both vehicles come equipped with a V6 engine. The Honda Passport has a little more power than what the Toyota 4Runner offers. The Passport produces 280 horsepower compared to the 4Runner's 270.
The Honda Passport offers slightly more cargo space. The categories where Honda wins are still very close and will be negligible for most buyers. Where the Toyota really shines is in its off-road performance. The Passport is simply no match for the 4Runner once you take them off of paved roads. Both are comparable in terms of comfort and convenience, but the Toyota wins out overall.
2021 Toyota 4Runner vs 2021 Jeep Wrangler:
While the Toyota 4Runner beats the Honda Passport in off-road performance, the Jeep Wrangler wins that category here. The Jeep was designed with a serious focus on off-road capabilities. This is really one of the Jeep Wrangler's primary features. The Toyota strikes a better balance between utility, off-road fun and daily-driving conveniences.
The Jeep Wrangler excels at rock crawling, but the 4Runner is better in almost every other category for utility. The 4Runner can tow up to 5,000 pounds while the Wrangler can pull around 3,500 pounds. The 4Runner has massive amounts of cargo room while storage space is sparse in the back of a Wrangler. The Wrangler is one of the best vehicles for off-road fun, but the 4Runner is way more versatile.
The 2021 Toyota 4Runner is a solid choice for anyone looking for a new SUV. It's a reliable and practical vehicle. There's plenty of safety, comfort and convenience features on board. It's also versatile and can be downright fun to own. The 4Runner can be used to pull a heavy trailer or to go on an off-road adventure. It strikes the perfect balance between utility, practicality and fun.
• Why buy a 2020 Toyota 4Runner? w/ pros vs cons