2021 Toyota 4Runner

  • Overview

    A silver 2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road is angled left.

    Decades of off-road experience in some of the most intense conditions and most treacherous locations around the globe have forged the 2021 Toyota 4Runner into one of the most capable and rugged vehicles on the market today. The 4Runner stands out as a machine that refuses to compromise even as the world changes, a truck that continues to put the enthusiast first even as other SUVs turn into crossovers that only pay lip service to off-road ability. The 2021 Toyota 4Runner is one of the last full body-on-frame rigs available, and as such, it is also one of the last true Sport Utility Vehicles one can buy. In a world full of jacked-up cars with plastic cladding calling themselves SUVs, the 4Runner is a breath of fresh air. The pure-hearted purpose of the 4Runner lends itself to the vehicle's high reputation amongst enthusiasts, but its large amount of passenger and cargo space shows that this is no one-trick pony.


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    Maximum Seating (passengers)

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  • Drivetrain

    A white 2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro is shown driving over a rock pile from a low angle.

    The power plant that keeps the 4Runner moving is the 1GR-FE V6, a 4.0-liter dual overhead cam engine that makes a respectable 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. The GR-series of V6 engines is Toyota's latest and greatest and has provided reliable power to all of the Toyota brand's various midsize vehicles. The 1GR-FE is the largest displacement variant and is built specifically to provide long-duration service in Toyota trucks.

    Engine and Transmission

    The 1GR-FE, despite its large displacement for a V6 engine, is quite lightweight thanks to all-aluminum construction. Both the head and block are aluminum, and modern construction techniques ensure that even the lightweight design will last essentially forever, even under harsh conditions. The 1GR is incredibly under-stressed, meaning its individual parts don't have to work very hard to produce the specified power. While this low-strung nature does not produce stratospheric power numbers, it does guarantee that the engine will take enormous amounts of abuse and keep going without issue. More evidence that the 4Runner was not made to win magazine contests, but last the test of time out in the wilderness.

    The transmission used in the 2021 4Runner is much simpler than many modern systems, with just five gears arranged behind a standard torque converter. Eschewing the electronically-laden and complex transmissions that are becoming the norm, the five-speed automatic in the 4Runner is yet another sign that this is a truck unlike anything else on the market. However, it still includes a sequential shift mode, giving you complete control over which gear you are in during your adventures.

    Real 4x4 Options

    The 2021 Toyota 4Runner offers both part-time and full-time 4x4 options. The full-time system is available on the premium trims and uses a Torsen mechanical limited-slip center differential to provide reliable four-wheel grip even at highway speeds. However, if you are looking to maximize the 4Runner's off-road capabilities, then you will want a part-time 4x4 version with its two-speed transfer case.

    Available on the 4x4 SR5 and TRD trims, low range multiples the 4Runner's already capable gear ratios by 2.566, providing earth-wrenching torque when in challenging off-road conditions. The TRD models go even further with an electronically locking rear differential. These features give the 4Runner the grip it needs to conquer even the most rugged terrain - especially with the addition of Toyota's renowned A-TRAC active traction control. No matter where you desire to go, a 2021 4Runner can get you there in a way that no other SUV can match.

  • Interior

    A grey 2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Trail Special Edition is shown from the rear with the trunk full of cargo.

    The 4Runner's cabin is a nice place to be, whether one is working through the daily grind or out in the wild overlanding. While one would expect a no-frills look and feel from such a capable vehicle's interior, the 4Runner does include some modern amenities in order to make life easier, even when far from civilization.


    Available interior features include an available premium audio system with 15 JBL speakers, including a subwoofer and amplifier. This sound system can be paired with an eight-inch touchscreen to control all infotainment functions, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, and a dynamic navigation system with voice recognition. Not bad for an old-school mountain goat of an SUV. This full-frame off-road machine is even Amazon Alexa compatible, Bluetooth enabled, and comes with satellite radio and mobile Wi-Fi as well.

    Comfort and Cargo

    The 2021 Toyota 4Runner's interior has more than just infotainment options. Comfort amenities are also common, such as an available eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support, Optitron instrumentation in the dashboard cluster, and a glare-resistant rearview mirror. Where the 4Runner's interior truly excels is how it uses the available space to be as utilitarian and practical as possible. The 4Runner normally seats five comfortably but can be equipped with a third row for a total seating capacity of seven.

    The maximum passenger area volume of 128 cubic feet is enough to house all those occupants safely. When the 4Runner is optioned to use the rear space as a cargo area instead of for a third seating row, the total available cargo area is a significant 89.7 cubic feet, which is plenty for cargo carrying both on and off the trail. The 4Runner can operate as a great beast of burden, whether that burden is from a hardware store, mall, or outdoor equipment supplier. The 4Runner has no pretentious regarding frills, but it does have everything one needs to get the job done.

  • Chassis

    A red 2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road Premium is shown splashing through a large puddle.

    Optimized for maximum capability when striding off the beaten path, the 4Runner makes quick work of trails thanks to a variety of performance-minded equipment bolted to its solid frame. That frame itself is the backbone of the 4Runner and is a true ladder-type system that provides the maximum amount of modularity and toughness. Constructed primarily from high-strength metals, the 4Runner's frame provides the necessary rigidity and frame mounting points to give the truck its innate off-road capabilities.


    The 4Runner's suspension is tasked with delivering on the solid backbone provided by the vehicle's body-on-frame construction and does so with a combination of well-tuned geometry and available high-performance parts. Overall, the basic layout of the 4Runner's suspension package is pretty standard for an off-road machine. It uses coil springs on independent double-wishbone suspension in the front and coil springs with a 4-link rigid setup in the rear, with stabilizer bars on both.

    The standard setup can take care of on-road handling and most off-roading without any issue. But the magic is in the individual parts selected to equip the off-road variants of the 4Runner. There are 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass front shocks available, as well as 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass rear shocks with a piggyback reservoir. TRD-tuned springs round out the available package, in addition to a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System.

    By the Numbers

    All these high-end parts and fixtures contribute to the 4Runner's maximum ground clearance of 9.6 inches. This towering disposition allows the 4Runner to glide over obstacles that would stop lesser SUVs in their tracks and keeps many rocks and other debris from damaging the vehicle. Skid plates are also a factory option for drivers intent on going where most won't. The 4Runner 4x4 has a maximum approach angle of 33 degrees, paired with a departure angle of 26 degrees. These large angles allow the truck to climb and descend steep inclines with ease without a scratch or ding.

    One might think that such a stall truck might have stability problems, but thanks to the 4Runner's maximum track width of 64.1 inches, keeping the rubber side down is not a worry. The 4Runner's brakes are ventilated discs on all four corners, with 13.3-inch rotors up front and 12.3-inch rotors in the rear. Oversized for safer off-roading, these brakes are meant to go above and beyond what the average driver would require. Certain trims even include Multi-Terrain ABS, keeping your wheels from locking up even on off-road terrain. Rounding out the complete 4Runner package are available high-strength wheels and all-terrain tires.

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