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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A red 2021 Toyota 4Runner drives through the woods.

35 Years of Dependable Versatility: The 2021 Toyota 4Runner

What is the 2021 Toyota 4Runner? That depends on who you’re asking. For some, it’s an off-road adventure beast. For others, it’s the handy seven-seater that makes carpool and road trips far more enjoyable than ever before. For others still, it’s a reliable work companion that can do a little bit of everything pretty well.

Technically, it’s a midsize SUV that’s descended from the legendary Toyota Hilux and has plenty of ruggedness built into its genes. Seasoned drivers may remember pictures of lifted 4Runners climbing over obstacles and fording through rivers with ease. And, with off-roading gaining more attention than ever, it stands to reason that the 4Runner’s experience and dependability give it a leg up on the competition.

So what makes the 2021 Toyota 4Runner the actual “forerunner” when it comes to versatility and dependability? Perhaps it’s in that 35 years of unchallenged excellence. Or perhaps the 2021 4Runner really does hit a sweet spot in which purpose and fun mix.

Power and Performance: The 2021 Toyota 4Runner

A silver 2021 Toyota 4Runner is off-roading in the mud.

While there are plenty of trucks and SUVs out there with multiple engine options and a variety of configurations, Toyota has chosen to keep the formula pretty simple when it comes to the 2021 4Runner. And why not? As they say, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it!”

Under the hood is a tried-and-true 4.0L V6 engine, one of the largest V6 engines on the market. Equipped with Toyota’s special Dual Independent Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i), this engine provides a healthy 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. Paired to this engine is an equally well-engineered and reliable five-speed automatic transmission with a sequential shift mode for maximum control off-road.

Rear-wheel drive, part-time four-wheel drive, and full-time all-wheel drive are all offered, depending on the trim selected. The SR5 and Limited trims include standard rear-wheel drive, while the TRD trim features standard part-time four-wheel drive. The Limited trim also offers an optional full-time all-wheel drive with a limited-slip locking center differential for the ultimate in all-around versatility.

Regardless of which drive system is selected, drivers can anticipate a fuel economy of 16 miles per gallon city and 19 miles per gallon highway. Armed with a 23-gallon fuel tank, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find yourself in a precarious position off-road, though, as the 4Runner has a range of nearly 400 miles on a single tank.

Trims and Options for Every Driver: The 2021 Toyota 4Runner

Toyota offers the 2021 4Runner in nine different trims and special editions, providing drivers with a full range of choices to make. The base SR5 trim starts things off in fashion with features that are both practical and enjoyable. For example, LED headlights, tail lights, and fog lights add a sense of safety, while compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is an added bonus. The rear liftgate window is power operated, giving drivers additional space for long cargo without flirting with danger, too.

On the way up the trim ladder, the Trail Special Edition includes a dark gray exterior color scheme with a black and tan interior for added flair. Inside, drivers will enjoy this cargo-centered special edition, with a Yakima cargo basket, under-floor storage, all-weather floor liners, and tie-down straps in the cargo area. The SR5 Premium includes added comfort and convenience, such as push-button start, heated SofTex trimmed seats, and Dynamic Navigation.

The TRD Off-Road trim takes its job seriously, with features such as Crawl Control, which automatically moderates the brakes and throttle on uneven terrain, and a Multi-Terrain Select system that allows you to customize your drive to the journey you’re on. Hill Start Assist Control and a locking rear differential come on board here, too, for a truly adventure-ready ride. The TRD Off-Road Premium takes these basic off-roading features and adds a bit of comfort to the blend, with navigation, heated and power-adjustable front seats, and a self-dimming mirror that can make all the difference for daily journeys. The Venture Special Edition adds matte black exterior features and spoiler to the off-road scene.

4Runner’s Limited trim is loaded with dynamic features that can really make the difference on longer drives, such as dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated leather-trimmed seats, a premium JBL audio system, and a moonroof. Sportiness comes up a notch, too, with the X-REAS Sport Enhancement Suspension system and a sonar-based front and rear parking assistance. The Nightshade Edition of the Limited trim provides black highlights for a sportier aesthetic.

The TRD Pro trim rounds out the lineup, and it takes the TRD personality to the max, with specially-engineered TRD features that include an aluminum front skid plate, roof rack, Fox shocks, and even a TRD shift knob. Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select are combined with a sunroof, JBL audio system, and high-performance LED exterior lighting for a complete package that blends adventure and luxury.

One incredibly cool feature offered only on the TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium editions is the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System taken from the Toyota Land Cruiser. This technologically advanced system can actively sense when you’re off-road and disconnect both anti-roll bars automatically. This frees up the axles for climbing and tackling rough terrain, getting you to the other side with the highest level of fun.

Ready for Adventure: What Sets the 2021 Toyota 4Runner Apart

Two dogs sit in the open lift gate of a red 2021 Toyota 4Runner at a camp site.

When it comes to balancing adventure and practicality, the 2021 Toyota 4Runner stands out from the crowd. The rugged body-on-frame construction remains, making it one of few vehicles on the road now that continue the tradition. This construction gives it more control and resilience off-road. In addition, the 4Runner has a generous 9.6 inches of ground clearance, with a 33-degree approach angle and a 26-inch departure angle. That’s much more than your average SUV.

Drivers can also have a 4Runner with either five seats or seven seats. The SR5 and Limited trims include the optional third row, which provides additional room for passengers or things. In all trims, the second row offers a rare 40/20/40 folding configuration, providing greater flexibility than the common 60/40 split when you don’t need the full 90 cubic feet of cargo space. Towing can be a drag, but the 2021 Toyota 4Runner makes it fun. The 5,000-pound towing maximum means it’s not ready for huge loads, but when it comes to pulling extra sporting or camping gear, the 4Runner is well-prepared.

Another thing that sets the 2021 4Runner apart from the competition is Toyota’s commitment to safety. The Toyota Safety Sense P collection of driver assistance and safety aids includes a robust package of features that are standard on all trims. The TSS-P package includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beams, and even Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. All 4Runners are also equipped with stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, and Smart Stop brake technology.

An Oldie But a Goodie

The Toyota 4Runner has been around for a long time, and for good reason. It can do all the things you want your vehicle to do, and then some. Need room for seven passengers? There’s a 4Runner for that. Want to be able to tow and stow all the equipment you need for a weekend (or even a year-long) getaway? 4Runner has you covered. Whether off-roading is your primary concern or a new side hobby to add excitement to your week, there is a 4Runner awaiting your driving style.

Over the years, the competition has come and gone, but few vehicles retain a legacy of dependability and versatility quite like the 4Runner. They may say it’s just a “midsize SUV,” but it could be your family road trip vehicle, your campsite, your daily driver, or your “let’s go discover the world” vehicle. Why not do it all? With a Toyota 4Runner, you can.

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