The 2019 Toyota 4Runner is one of the last of its kind: a true body-on-frame off-road SUV. The 4Runner is unapologetically old school in almost every way, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. While almost every competitor has long since expired, the 4Runner stayed the course. It's now selling like hot cakes, and Toyota keeps releasing new and more expensive variations in the theme. Most importantly, the 4Runner remains one of the greatest off-roaders still available on the market – a segment that continues to dwindle as automakers struggle to meet environmental regulations.

Best Value

The Toyota 4Runner is designed to be an off-road vehicle, so the best value in our opinion is to go with the TRD Off-Road trim. At this level, you get standard four-wheel drive alongside a bunch of off-road technology like active traction control, crawl control, hill start assist, and a locking rear differential. While it isn't as equipped for off-roading as the TRD Pro, it's also nearly $10,000 less.

  • Model:2019 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road
  • Engine: 4.0-liter V6
  • Output:270 hp / 278 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Five-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain:Four-wheel drive
  • MPG:17 City / 20 Hwy
  • Options: Keep It Wild Savings with options ($190, premium audio system, navigation, running boards)
  • Base Price:$39,130 (including the $1,045 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$39,320

Performance

Toyota 4Runner

The Toyota 4Runner is nothing but dated in the performance category. It only manages a meager 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque out of a big 4.0-liter V6, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. This is curious considering that the Toyota uses a smaller 3.5-liter V6 with 296-hp in several vehicles, and the five-speed automatic has been replaced by fuel-efficient gearboxes that cram up to 10 gears into the box for better efficiency. Still, both the engine and the transmission work and remain cheap to fix, which are two things that off-road enthusiasts appreciate.

Almost every 4Runner model comes available with real, rear-wheel-based, part-time four-wheel drive, although it's optional on the two lowest trims (the one exception is the 4Runner Limited, whose system is closer to all-wheel drive and is capable of being used on dry pavement). The 4Runner is a pure-bred off-roader that offers some of the most advanced features for post-pavement expeditions you can find south of a Land Rover culminating with the TRD Pro trim. All TRD models get active traction control, hill start assist, and a locking rear differential, while the TRD Pro gets advanced Fox shocks that make the ride nicer on all surfaces, as well as a raised ride height, off-road tires, and a unique front fascia to help it get over obstacles better.

At the same time, while the 4Runner is great off the road, it's marginal on pavement – only beating out the Jeep Wrangler in on-road vehicle handling characteristics. It feels bouncy, and it's not stable at highway speeds due to the high center of gravity. Additionally, the 4Runner will lean like a ship in a storm when going around tighter corners without the optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System with chunky anti-roll bars with an auto-disconnecting feature for off-roading.

Style

Remember how we mentioned that the 4Runner is unapologetic? It remains unapologetic in styling too. The 4Runner is as aerodynamic as a brick, waving rude gestures to the god of fuel economy and all its worshippers. It almost seems designed that way out of spite, which gives the 4Runner a gruff but attractive appearance in the vehicular vein of Nick Offerman's character in Parks and Recreation, Ron Swanson. It can be hard to believe that the same company that builds the 4Runner sells the Prius from the same showrooms.

The 4Runner feels the most dated on the inside. There are hard plastics everywhere, the infotainment screen is tiny, and every model except for the Limited is started with a key, despite price tags approaching $50,000. All TRD trim levels forgo your ability to add a third row, but, even when equipped, that third row is cramped for anyone but children and difficult to get to. On the other hand, the 4Runner does offer a ton of space with the seats down, and the optional sliding rear cargo deck on higher trims is really nifty and adds a serious degree of practicality.

The Best and Worst Things

The biggest reason to buy the 4Runner is its off-roading chops. Alongside the Jeep Wrangler, it's one of the only purpose-built vehicles for going beyond the pavement left on the market. Additionally, it keeps an old school character that has all but eliminated from most other vehicles on the market that's charming and certainly desirable to many people.

At the same time, that old-school character doesn't combine well with the 4Runner's hefty price tag. It's simply lacking many features found on other vehicles at its price point. The most glaring of these is the lack of advanced safety features, which is particularly worrying as the 4Runner has below-average crash test safety rating scores.

Right For? Wrong For?

Toyota 4RunnerFor those that frequently go off-road, the 4Runner will be a great choice. It has all of the features someone with that lifestyle will want or need, and it'll remain capable and reliable even in harsh conditions. If you're using it in that aspect, you'll be able to better overlook its everyday issues.

On the other hand, the 4Runner isn't a great family-hauler. The most desirable trims lack a third row, and it isn't as comfortable of fuel efficient as other SUVs and crossovers. Additionally, the 4Runner is well behind the pack in safety, both in active safety features and crash test ratings. If you're looking for a mid-size SUV or crossover that's good at that, consider the Toyota Highlander or even the Land Rover Discovery Sport, which are more practical in almost every way.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line with the 2019 Toyota 4Runner is that it's one of the coolest SUVs on the road and amazing off-road, but it's also incredibly overpriced and heavily lacking in features. It's an old school design, but it leaves us thinking that Toyota doesn't feel the need to make it easier to live with considering its popularity. Regardless, if you're looking for something with off-road prowess, you cannot skip over the 4Runner in your search.