2023 Toyota 4Runner Review: The Last Real Sport Utility Vehicle

2023 toyota 4runner 40th anniversary special edition
The 2023 Toyota 4Runner Is the Last Real SUVBrian Silvestro

Our Take on the 2023 Toyota 4Runner

The 2023 Toyota 4Runner is one of the very last SUVs that still drives like a truck. While most competitors have gone to more modern, sensible unibody platforms, the 4Runner has remained the same since 2009, using a body-on-frame chassis setup now mostly seen only on pickups.

The design gives the 4Runner a unique driving experience that's distinctly old-school and analog. While some may not enjoy the vintage feel of a body-on-frame vehicle, we love the nostalgic rush that comes along with the boat-like body control and slow steering ratio. While we wouldn't call the ride soft, it is impressively sturdy, giving you the impression you could tackle any conceivable terrain without fuss.


That throwback feeling makes its way into the cabin, too, thanks to copious physical buttons and nice, big knobs for things like climate control and volume. This is stuff we took for granted a few years ago. Now, most cars have capacitive buttons or sliders for critical controls.

Not all of the old-school equipment dates the 4Runner in a positive light. The drivetrain feels well behind anything modern and turbocharged, with lackluster acceleration and below-average transmission tuning.

2023 toyota 4runner 40th anniversary special edition
Brian Silvestro

What's New

This generation of Toyota 4Runner has been around since 2009, making one of the oldest vehicles on sale right now. For 2023, Toyota has added blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts as standard equipment. The 2023 model year is also the 40th anniversary of the 4Runner in the United States, and Toyota is celebrating with the special edition variant you see here.

The 4Runner 40th Anniversary Special Edition gets tri-color graphics on either side of the car, as well as on the nose. It also gets a set of sweet 17-inch bronze wheels, bronze interior stitching, and a handful of unique badges.


  • Old-school truck-like driving experience is a refreshing feeling in a world of soulless crossovers

  • Excellent, muscular looks match the rugged on-road demeanor

  • Aging interior pairs big knobs and buttons to modern tech like Apple CarPlay


  • Naturally aspirated engine and five-speed auto feel like last-gen equipment

  • Missing tech available on competitors might irk some buyers

  • Won't be on sale forever

Performance, Engine & Horsepower

The 2023 Toyota 4Runner is available with just one engine: A 4.0-liter naturally aspirated V-6 making 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. It's paired to a five-speed automatic transmission and, in the case of our 40th anniversary tester, a transfer case with switchable 4WD and a low range setting.

2023 toyota 4runner 40th anniversary special edition
Brian Silvestro

Weighing in at nearly 5000 pounds, the 4Runner is no lightweight. Zero to 60 mph takes 7.7 seconds, onto a quarter-mile time of 16 seconds flat. Top speed is electronically limited to 113 mph.

Read our full Toyota 4Runner review

Features & Specs

Despite its age, the Toyota 4Runner is packed with useful features. That 4.0-liter V-6 has variable valve timing, allowing a peak of 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. Out back you'll find a tow hitch receiver with seven- and four-pin connectors, meaning you can tow most types of trailers. Towing capacity for the 40th Anniversary Special Edition you see here is 5000 pounds.

Inside you'll find an eight-inch touchscreen as standard, there for navigating through standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It's connected to an eight-speaker stereo system. The truck you see here also gets special 17-inch bronze alloy wheels a handful of nifty tri-color graphics, and copious special badging inside and out.


The 4Runner's aging powertrain and blocky design means it's not very efficient. The EPA rates the 2023 model at 16 mpg city and 19 mpg highway, for a combined 17 mpg. That's about what we saw during our 300-mile test, where we drove through a mix of high- and low-speed stop-and-go scenarios.

2023 toyota 4runner 40th anniversary special edition
Brian Silvestro

Test Drive

The Toyota 4Runner drives far more like a traditional pickup truck than a newer crossover or SUV thanks to its body-on-frame construction. You get the feeling you can drive over anything thanks to the big all-terrain tires and generous suspension travel, but those with more experience with newer crossovers might not like the wallowy chassis and slow steering rack.

Check out our full test drive of the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro right here.


The 2023 Toyota 4Runner is available in six trim levels. The base SR5 variant comes in at $41,050, including destination charges. Above that sits the TRD Sport, starting at $43,910. The TRD Off Road is the next up the totem poll, starting at $44,895. The 40th Anniversary Special Edition you see here is a bit pricer, at $48,365 to start. Above that sits the Limited, at $49,785. At the top of the range is the desirable TRD Pro, starting at $56,015.


The Toyota 4Runner's cabin gives away its age. The dashboard and center console are mostly in big, easy-to-use buttons and knobs rather than touch capacitive sensors and sliders. It's a welcome sight that makes finding and using controls simple and easy, even if you aren't tech savvy (or just have gloves on).

2023 toyota 4runner 40th anniversary special edition
Brian Silvestro

Of course, not even the 4Runner can escape the screen revolution. In the middle of the dash sits a big 8-inch infotainment touchscreen for controlling things like radio and navigation. Thankfully, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.


The 2023 Toyota 4Runner is a great big SUV, which means plenty of room for occupants and mountains of storage space. There are front skid plates for protecting the underside of the car, as well as full-size spare tire in case you get a flat. To promote airflow through the cabin while the windows are down, the rear window for the hatch can actually go down via a power-operated switch in the center console.

Inside you'll find a push-button start, power and heated front seats, and an eight-speaker sound system.


While the Toyota 4Runner doesn't sport the latest technological advancements in the car world, it does have some useful tech features. There's an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system mounted inside the dash for controlling the stereo and projecting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's also push-button start, heated front seats, an eight-speaker sound system, and a host of safety features, including pre-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and more.

2023 toyota 4runner 40th anniversary special edition
Brian Silvestro


The 2023 Toyota 4Runner is a big vehicle, which means there's a lot of space inside. Behind the rear seats is a gigantic 46 cubic feet of storage space. That means you can fill all five seats and still have more than enough space for everyone's luggage on a week-long trip.


Just because the Toyota 4Runner is an old vehicle doesn't mean Toyota hasn't kept it updated with the latest safety tech. There's adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, a pre-collision detection system with pedestrian detection, automated emergency braking, lane departure warnings, and blind spot monitoring.

The 4Runner received a four-star rating from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, with four stars in frontal crash scenarios, five stars in side-impact scenarios, and three stars in NHTSA's rollover probability rating. For ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, click here.


The Toyota 4Runner has no fewer than six trims to choose from. The base SR5 model gets a 270-hp 4.0-liter V-6 paired to a five-speed auto, sending power to the rear wheels. You'll have to upgrade to the TRD Sport to get 4WD, but you also get things like a power-adjustable driver's seat, specific interior trim, skid plates, 20-inch wheels, and a hood scoop. Jump up to the TRD Off-Road and you get a locking rear differential and a handful of cosmetic TRD-branded upgrades.

2023 toyota 4runner 40th anniversary special edition
Brian Silvestro

The 40th Anniversary Edition gets a bunch of specific exterior graphics, a set of lovely 17-inch bronze wheels, bronze interior stitching, and a collection of badges. Go for the Limited model, and you get dual-zone climate control, 360-degree parking cameras, Toyota's X-REAS adaptive suspension, and a ton of chrome trim.

The coolest and most expensive trim of all is the TRD Pro. It gets specific branded skid plates, unique Fox suspension, and 17-inch matte black wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires for ultimate off-road prowess. Things like 4WD and the rear locking differential come standard, as do a black grille and a roof basket.

Wrapping Up

The 2023 Toyota 4Runner is for those who want to break out of the norm of the SUV segment and feel something more when they get behind the wheel. The truck's rugged demeanor, cool looks, throwback cabin, and ample space means it can do so many things for so many people. And because it's a Toyota, it'll last forever.

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