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Toyota 4Runner vs Tacoma : [ Differences & Similarities ]

Toyota 4Runner vs Tacoma : [ Differences & Similarities ]

The 4Runner and Tacoma continue to be two of the most legendary four-wheel-drive vehicles that the established automobile brand, Toyota has launched. Although these off-roading vehicles share certain similarities, they have striking differences as well. Well, it’s time to peep under the hood and get an understanding of their respective reliability, ride experience, and utility. You might love adventure, or simply be hunting for a reliable vehicle for everyday commuting. So, it’s time to compare two of the most-sought models from the same brand.

Apart from pointing out the differences, we have also shared the similarities between these two models from Toyota.

Toyota 4Runner vs Tacoma: Which one is better?

The 4Runner continues to be on the top when you consider the popularity of off-roading SUVs from automobile manufacturers outside the US. On the other hand, Toyota Tacoma is the best selling pickup truck in its category. So, these two vehicles don’t compete with one another directly. However, both of them can tow, haul, or travel through rough terrains. Therefore, both these vehicles should be on your list if you are looking for a robust midsize vehicle capable of traveling everywhere, regardless of the weather conditions.

However, when you closely differentiate these two vehicles, the 4Runner appears to be a more versatile specimen of engineering. The rides are smoother, but the off-roading experience would be similar to that of Tacoma. The truck bed in the Tacoma is durable and spacious, you have a larger trunk space, cabin, and more spacious legroom in the 4Runner. As a result, this model from Toyota turns out to be a better choice.

Differences between Toyota 4Runner vs Tacoma

When it comes to off-roading both the Tacoma and the 4Runner emerge as champs in their respective categories. However, the Tacoma offers certain additional amenities and perks, which you would lack in the 4Runner. Here, you will get a comprehensive idea of how these two powerful vehicles differ from each other.

1. Cabin space

The 4Runner and Tacoma stand apart with regard to their respective cabin spaces. This is obvious, as one is an SUV, while the other is a pickup truck. Besides, you can purchase the 4Runner only in the four-door variant, while the Tacoma has two doors. Therefore, customers won’t swipe one vehicle for the other when cabin space happens to be a priority. When you consider the Access Cab with two doors, you will come across similar measurements in the front. However, compared to the Double Cap, you will find a comparatively smaller seating space in the rear.

Evidently, if the space requirement is more than 5 people, you need to settle with the 4Runner. However, if you are someone who doesn’t travel regularly with more than 3 people, the Tacoma would be the idle pick for you.

2. Fuel economy

In the Tacoma, the fuel economy largely depends on the transmission, engine, and drive configuration. However, all Tacoma models deliver a better fuel economy as compared to 4Runners. In the rear-drive model of the Tacoma, there are 4 cylinders. This car can cruise along for 20 and 23 miles per gallon in the cities and highways, respectively. On the other hand, the V6 trucks featuring rear drives can clock 19 mpg in cities and 24 mpg on highways. When you add 4WD to the trucks with 4 cylinders, the mileage drops to 19 mpg in cities, while they travel around 22 mpg on highways. In the V6 models with 4WD, they clock 18 mpg in cities and 22 mpg on highways.

On the other hand, the 4Runner can offer a mileage of 16 mpg and 19 mpg on cities and highways. These numbers reflect the capabilities of all models, including four-wheel and rear-wheel drives.

So, if you prioritize fuel economy, the Tacoma would be a better option. Even the Tacoma model with the least efficiency fares better than 4Runners in terms of fuel economy.

3. Powertrain

In Toyota Tacoma, you will come across two different transmissions and engines. Besides, one can choose between either four-wheel or rear-wheel drives. When you go for the SR5 and SR trims, the models (4-cylinder, 2.7 liters) come with a standard 159 horsepower, and 180 lb. ft. of torque. Owners can get an engine with four- or rear-wheel drive features. In the SR5 and SR models, there is an optional engine with 278 horsepower (V6 engine, 3.5 liters). It also comes with automatic transmission (6-speed) along with four- or rear-wheel drives. In the TRD Pro model of Tacoma, there is an option of picking between manual and automatic transmission in V6 engines. The 4WD feature comes standard with the model. Therefore, you might feel odd about the 4WD not coming as a standard feature in the TRD model for off-roading. The Tacoma Limited, which offers adequate luxury, has automatic transmission (6-speed) along with V6 engine as standard. One can choose between four- or rear-wheel drives.

On the other hand, one can purchase 4Runners with a single engine only. It features 278 lb. ft. of torque and 270 horsepower in the V6 engines (4 liters). Across all the models, the engine comes with automatic transmission (5-speed). Across some particular models, the owners can choose from different drivetrain configurations. For instance, you can order the Limited trim, the SR5 Premium, the Train Special Edition, and the SR5 models in either four or rear-wheel drive. However, you need to go only for the four-wheel drive feature in the TRD Off-Road, TRD Pro, Venture Special Edition, and TRD Off-Road Premium versions.

Therefore, The Tacoma enjoys a little edge over the 4Runner in terms of horsepower. However, when you look at the V6 engines, the 4Runner has a slight advantage in terms of torque. Now, the weight of a Tacoma is lower than the 4Runner by a few hundred pounds. Besides, there is an automatic transmission (6-speed) in the pickup truck. Therefore, the Tacoma emerges as an undisputed winter in terms of performance. However, if you consider towing, the pickup truck would offer relatively more capabilities.

4. Infotainment and technologies

The 4Runner fares slightly better than the Tacoma in terms of infotainment features. In most Tacoma trims, you will come across a touchscreen (8-inch) just like 4Runners. However, there are more speakers in a 4Runner. Besides, most trims of the 4Runner have premium JBL systems with 15 speakers, which gives it a distinct advantage.

So, if you appreciate premium sound while cruising along the rough terrains, a 4Runner would be a better pick. The two models stand almost equal when you compare the quality of infotainment systems. Besides, the upholstery offerings also look almost similar. So, you ultimately need to consider the number of people the vehicles should accommodate. When it crosses three, you need to go for the 4Runner.

5. Towing and cargo

The towing capacity of the Tacoma is much more than the 4Runner, given that the vehicle doesn’t have any roof. For instance, if you need to carry a large TV set in a box, it would probably not fit into the 4Runner’s cargo space as the roofline comes in the way. However, you can use the bed of Tacoma to accommodate the bulky box. Moreover, when it comes to carrying longer items like ladders or lumber, the Tacoma would be the better pick. The Tacoma models with V6 engines can tow a maximum weight of 6,800 pounds. For the 4-cylinder models, the upper limit is around 3,500 pounds.

Well, for carrying large cargo, you definitely need to go for a pickup truck. However, if the items are more perishable and smaller, you can get more security in the cabins of 4Runners which remain enclosed. These items in the Toyota SUV remain secure from theft as well as weather elements. This brings you more mental peace. Behind the third row, you get around 9 cubic feet of luggage space. When you fold the third row, you can enjoy 46.3 cubic feet of space to accommodate your luggage. Also, when you fold the second row, you can generate a flat cargo space of 89.7 cubic feet. All 4Runner models are capable of towing a maximum weight of 5,000 pounds.

So, if your priority is to haul sizable cargo, it would be a logical move to go for the Tacoma. However, if you focus more on security, settling with the 4Runner makes sense.

6. Off-roading experience

Both the Tacoma and the 4Runner stand out when you consider their off-roading capabilities. Each of these vehicles has a good ground clearance of 9.6 inches. Also, across both the vehicles, the TRD models have skid plates, so that bumps and scrapes do not affect the undercarriage. The TRD (Toyota Racing Development) cars come with better mechanical tuning for bestowing them with better off-roading capabilities. They can absorb shocks better, and the suspension functions perfectly. Moreover, the manufacturers have enhanced the tire quality to help these cars cover the most challenging terrains.

Both Tacoma and 4Runners offer four-wheel-drive experiences to the owners. Besides, when you consider traction, power, and offroad safety, both the vehicles compete with the Jeep. Given that the off-roading capabilities look similar, it would be tough to make a call. However, the 4Runner boasts better shock absorbency and has a lifted suspension. Therefore, compared to the Tacoma, you would enjoy more cushiony rides in a 4Runner.

Ultimately, both vehicles are ideal for off-roading. They offer significant utility value, being powerful outdoor vehicles for sorts. So, you need to think about whether you need an SUV or a pickup truck. Accordingly, you can make your call intelligibly.

7. Reliability

When you compare a 4Runner to a Tacoma, both the vehicles appear to share the same kind of reliability. However, when you consider vehicles in their individual categories, consumer reports reveal that 4Runners fare average. However, several owners claimed these robust vehicles to last over decades. At times, they need replacements and tune-ups due to age and wear.

The consumer reports of a Tacoma look similar. However, when you consider the reliability of a new vehicle, sometimes the score drops below the average. A number of Tacoma owners have claimed that they have been able to hold up with their vehicles beyond the 100K mile mark without any major issue.

Over time, the 4Runner holds its value. However, you cannot afford to ignore the Tacoma, which also has a huge aftermarket. So, whether you go for a Tacoma or a 4Runner, you would benefit from the value that Toyota infuses into both the models.

8. Safety

The Tacoma and the 4Runners enjoy almost similar safety features. However, when you need to narrow down your preferences further, it would be wise to settle with a 4Runner. The reason is, that these models come with a greater number of airbags. They also have a few more standard features.

Some of the standard safety features you would come across in a Tacoma include traction control, brake assist, stability control, ABS with electronic distribution of brake force, pedestrian detection, and pre-collision warning. You even have a lane departure alert, automatic high beams, and cruise control with dynamic radar.

4Runners come with all the standard safety features of Toyota. However, the SUV has got more room in the cabin. This explains why the brand decided to go with 8 airbags. Apart from all the other features in common, it has a system to monitor the tire pressure and engine mobilizer.

Similarities of Toyota 4Runner vs Tacoma

The Toyota and the 4Runner fares are almost equal, when it comes to off-roading experiences. Besides, these two models share a similarity in terms of exterior design. However, Toyota has infused a sportier design in the Tacoma. This appeals to automobile enthusiasts looking forward to purchasing a pickup truck. For an average SUV owner, the 4Runner would be the perfect fit, as its styling looks milder. Even when you check out the infotainment system and associated features, both the models prove to be almost equal. Most importantly, when you consider the off-roading performance, you would find it tough to make a call. Evidently, your choice depends on whether it is a pickup truck or an SUV that would suit your purpose. The reason is, the Tacoma and 4Runner have several similarities in terms of experience, safety, and looks.

Is 4Runner more comfortable than Tacoma?

Toyota has incorporated a better degree of comfort into the 4Runner as compared to their Tacomas. Besides, the 4Runner has got a better built quality. When you compare its seating position, handling, NVH, and all-round suspension, the 4Runner turns out to be much better.

Are the Tacoma and 4Runner the same?

No, The Toyota Tacoma is different from the 4Runner, which also comes from the same brand. Both these vehicles look similar in terms of styling. However, the 4Runner is an SUV, while the Tacoma is a pickup truck. Even in terms of comfort, safety, and interior design, these two vehicles differ significantly. However, Toyota has designed both the 4Runner and the Tacoma for off-roading purposes. In terms of exterior designs, 4Runners have a wider range. Even though both these vehicles are sporty and aggressive, they belong to two different vehicle categories altogether.

Is 4Runner and Tacoma same frame?

The 4Runner, as per market experts, comes with a body-on frame. However, it is a different platform altogether from the Tacoma. Rather, it comes from the Land Cruiser Prado. Currently, it is not available in the market in North America.

In both these vehicles, you will come across a V6 engine. However, the engine in Tacoma is actually an upgraded one. Besides, the brand equips some models like the SR5 with a stronger engine. They have automatic transmissions (6-speed), and if you need a model with manual transmission, you should go for the TRD Tacoma.

Is the Tacoma or 4Runner safer?

Comparing safety features, it makes sense to choose the 4Runner over the Tacoma. This doesn’t necessarily imply that Toyota has ignored safety features in the pickup truck. Both these models come with the standard features across most of the trims. However, in the 4Runner, the availability of more airbags makes it a better choice. This ensures better protection for the passengers.


Now that you know the features and strengths of both these powerful vehicles from Toyota, it’s time to make a call. However, they belong to different automobile categories: SUVs and pickup trucks. In the first place, you need to determine your choice based on the purpose the vehicle would be serving. Next, you need to consider the number of people you would carry. For more than three people, you need to go for the 4Runner. Also, the enclosed SUV will help you carry some cargo as well. However, if you need to haul something large and the interior space doesn’t matter, go for the Tacoma. Again, you need to shell out an extra cost for the interior space in 4Runners. In case you don’t need this, it would be wise to settle with a Tacoma. Well, by now, you should be able to use your discretion and decide which vehicle to go for!