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The '25 4Runner is better off road, as well as on-road.

’25 Toyota 4Runner Gets Much-Needed Makeover

Toyota updates the 4Runner SUV after 15 years of selling it largely unchanged to a dedicated customer base.

SAN DIEGO – Fifteen years ago, Barack Obama was the new President. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger safely landed a US Airways flight in New York’s Hudson River, saving all passengers and crew aboard. Pop star Michael Jackson died. General Motors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And Toyota launched its last full remake of the 4Runner SUV.

Fifteen years is not a record for milking a vehicle. We can discuss the original Volkswagen Beetle for that (1938-2003) and the Ford Crown Victoria (1992-2012). But in the modern era of SUV competition and growth, letting a vehicle in the showroom age into its teens is rare.

Toyota is refreshing several of its vehicles with new designs and adding smaller 4-cyl. internal-combustion engines and hybrid systems to everything, while it slow-walks some of the battery-electric vehicles it plans to have on the market by 2032.

The Tacoma (new for ’24) and the 4Runner (new for ’25) have been joined at the frame and wheel arches since the latter was introduced 40 years ago as a modified 4-wheel-drive pickup with a cap covering the cargo area.

The 4Runner, like the Tacoma, comes with Toyota’s iForce Max hybrid system. Indeed, the Hybrid trim is the best-performing in the lineup with an electric motor mated to the turbocharged 4-cyl. to produce 326 hp. There are also ICE-only trims with less power and lower fuel economy.

Toyota these days is touting a family of body-on-frame pickups and SUVs, all with hybrid options. The company’s leadership has been talking up the benefits of broad hybrid adoption for some time in the face of slowing BEV sales. Now that the federal government has relaxed its BEV mandates a bit, other automakers are rushing hybrids, including plug-in hybrids, to market. But Toyota has a big leg up on them in terms of scaling up production to meet demand.

The Tundra pickup, ’24 Tacoma, ’25 4Runner, ’25 Land Cruiser and Sequoia all come as hybrids now with the i-Force Max powertrain. That’s in addition to Toyota’s passenger-car hybrids.


“We believe that having a good selection of body-on-frame SUVs gives Toyota an advantage with the growth of off-roading and other recreational use of trucks and SUVs, while the multilink rear suspensions, drive modes and software enhancements make these vehicles just as good on the road as off-road,” says Sheldon Brown, chief engineer on the Tacoma, which shares a chassis and a lot of content with the 4Runner.

The standard i-Force turbocharged 2.4L 4-cyl. in the new 4Runner produces 278 hp and 317 lb.-ft. (430 Nm) of torque.. The available i-Force Max hybrid powertrain produces up to 326 hp and 465 lb.-ft. (634 Nm).

Key features include the 4Runner’s signature rear-glass power retracting window; available power liftgate; and the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 safety feature suite that includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control,; lane  keeping?) with steering assist, road sign assist, proactive driving assist and more.

4Runner also has improved off-roading and rock-crawling credentials, with Toyota adding a Trailhunter trim. The newly available stabilizer bar disconnect mechanism increases suspension articulation with a button in-cabin. This feature allows the SUV to flex while keeping tires in contact with the trail. The 4Runner can do up to 32-degree approach and 24-degree departure angles. An available Multi-Terrain Monitor system allows the driver to see potential hazards on the center display.

4Runner will be offered in 2-wheel drive, part-time 4-wheel drive or full-time 4WD. Rear-drive models will feature an automatic limited-slip differential, and 4WD models have an electronically controlled 2-speed transfer case with a low range along with Active Traction Control and automatic limited-slip differential. An electronic locking rear differential is standard on 4Runner TRD Off-Road, TRD Pro and Trailhunter trims. The Limited is offered with an available full-time 4WD system with a center locking differential on i-Force Max models, while this setup is standard on Platinum grades.

The Multi-Terrain Select system now functions in both 4WD-High and 4WD-Low. This offers adjustable settings to help control wheel spin on a variety of terrain such as mud, dirt and sand. 4Runner also adopts the new, quieter Crawl Control function that acts as a low-speed, off-road cruise control that allows the driver to focus on steering.

The center stack comes with a new 8-in.  (20-cm) or available 14-in. (36-cm) multimedia touchscreen display. The system supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and pairs with the available Qi wireless charging pad. A 7-in. (18-cm) gauge cluster is standard on the lower trims and a 12.3-in. (31-cm) digital gauge cluster is standard on higher trims.

Toyota has 15 hybrids today and will have 19 in the ’25 model year. By contrast, Ford sells only two hybrids today, as well as two BEVs. It dropped hybrid versions of the Explorer and Lincoln Aviator. GM has only one hybrid in showrooms today, the Chevy Corvette E-Ray.

Toyota reported sales of 566,000 Toyota-brand electrified vehicles in 2023; 98%, or 554,000 of them, were hybrids or PHEVs, per Wards Intelligence. Honda, though, had the best-selling hybrid CUV, the CR-V, and passenger car, the Accord. That suggests that Toyota is much less efficient when it comes top production planning and product planning. And that may be true. But with a complete showroom of excellent hybrid choices, the company is set up nicely to meet demand for what most analysts see is a surge in hybrid demand while a legion of car buyers stiff-arm their transition to EVs.


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