Update: ‘History’ section added.
In May 2022, Toyota announced the launch of the 2023 4Runner 40th Anniversary Special Edition in the U.S. market. With only 4,040 units allotted, this version of one of America’s most popular SUVs should have no issues finding buyers.
However, in this story, we’re discussing the future of America’s favorite off-roader. The next evolution of the 4Runner (2024 Toyota 4Runner) will likely see the gasoline-only model transform into one with a hybrid powertrain.
A 4Runner Hybrid in line with Toyota’s electrification goals
Toyota has assured 70 electrified global models by 2025. In fact, by 2025, all Toyota models will be available with electrified options. With the new and full-size Sequoia SUV and Tundra pickup already being hybrids, it’s safe to expect the next 4Runner to be one, too.
Design & Mechanicals
The current iteration of the 4Runner has had its styling spruced up a few times since 2009 and shares several similarities with the Tacoma pickup stablemate. The next-gen Tacoma, which is expected at dealers this year, has already been spied, and spy shots have left enough hints about the design and styling changes. At the least, we expect Toyota to do the same when it comes to the 2024 4Runner, with double-slat horizontal grille bars and a boxy shape to differentiate it from Toyota’s own monocoque SUVs.
Like in the next-gen Tacoma, the 4Runner should ride on Toyota’s TNGA-F platform. The latest iterations of the Sequoia and Tundra already use this platform. Improvements over the current SUV should include weight savings, better ride quality, cabin quietness, and better safety. We also expect the suspension system of the next 4Runner to be updated for additional comfort.
Following the Tundra’s footsteps, the 2024 Toyota 4Runner should come with the new Toyota Audio Multimedia System, which was developed in the U.S. With the panel measuring between 8- and 14-inches, this system offers better resolution, faster response & crisper graphics, and can also integrate Toyota’s new Intelligent Assistant. Customers can even ask the assistant to tell them jokes after a hard day!
Even this larger screen will come with at least one physical dial to allow quick changes to the media volume. Apart from that, the new Toyota Audio Multimedia system also comes with various connected services such as Drive Connect, Cloud Navigation, and Destination Assist. Moreover, the 2024 4Runner would get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa compatibility, surround-view cameras, heated and cooled front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a JBL premium audio system.
The 2024 Toyota 4Runner has at least a couple of options to choose from when it goes down the hybrid route. There’s the highly capable i-Force Max hybrid powertrain which powers the likes of the Sequoia and Tundra. It utilizes a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine paired with a single electric motor housed between the engine and the 6-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile, a 1.87 kWh sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery sits under the rear seats. The combined system output is 437 hp and 583 lb.-ft of torque.
While these figures suit those bigger trucks well, Toyota may wish to rein in some of that power and torque on the smaller 4Runner. Hence, the company could also use the Hybrid Max powertrain that currently does duty in the 2023 Toyota Crown. In that car, a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a direct shift 6-speed automatic gearbox are mated to dual electric motors, one on each axle. The net output here is 340 hp, while also benefitting from lower fuel consumption than in the i-Force Max unit.
Next-gen 2024 Toyota 4Runner Release Date & Price
While Toyota hasn’t disclosed anything regarding the next-gen 4Runner, we expect it to begin testing in the coming months and start shipping it to dealers by spring 2024. The addition of an electrified powertrain and other updates should push the price upward, with the hybrid version starting at around USD 45,000. That said, we will update the story when new information comes to the surface.
1984: The Toyota 4Runner was born as a do-anything vehicle derived from the fourth-gen Toyota Hilux in 1984. Called Toyota Hilux Surf in Japan, it was a two-door model initially, with just two seats and a removable fiberglass top over the cargo area. One could say it was simply a pickup truck converted into something more comfortable and suitable for leisure purposes.
1990: The 4Runner gained a four-door version for its second generation in 1990. It ditched the removable top to become a proper SUV. The new model had a muscular and aggressive style, a more practical interior with three seats in the back, and additional comfort features. The two-door was short-lived, but the four-door version became an icon.
1995: In December 1995, the 4Runner entered its third generation. Its exterior and interior were obviously more modern, but its chassis was shared with the Tacoma, making it more American. The company also stressed sustainability, and announcing the Japanese version, it said the overfenders, side panels, and dashboard are made of recyclable Super Olefin plastic.
2002: In October 2002, the off-road SUV welcomed another redesign to move to its fourth generation. It was bigger, heavier, and more serious. For the first and the last time, there was a V8 mill on offer.
2009: The 4Runner as we know today, which is the fifth-gen model, arrived in 2009. Longer, wider, and taller, it was substantially upgraded in all aspects. However, 13 years have passed since, and the model’s feels outdated, mainly in the comfort and convenience and safety and driver assistance aspects.
Toyota 4Runner sales
The Toyota 4Runner’s U.S. sales were at an all-time high in 2021. With 144,696 units sold, it registered a 12.1% year-over-year growth (2020: 129,052 units) in its best-ever year. In 2022, though, sales reverted to 2020 levels, as the auto industry battled new supply chain issues and component shortages. Toyota sold 121,023 units of the 4Runner between January and December 2022, 16.4% lower than in 2021.
2024 Toyota 4Runner FAQs
What is the 2024 Toyota 4Runner release date?
The 2024 Toyota 4Runner may go on sale in the U.S. by spring 2024.
What will be the 2024 Toyota 4Runner price?
The 2024 Toyota 4Runner may cost around USD 45,000 onwards.
Which models will be 2024 Toyota 4Runner rivals?
The 2024 Toyota 4Runner will compete with the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco.
Featured image: TopElectricSUV’s rendition of the next-gen 4Runner