Toyota 4Runner & Highlander in Friendly Competition to be America’s Favorite SUV

Posted Friday, Mar 17, 2017 by North Hollywood Toyota

Most automobile manufacturers offer just one mid-size SUV model, but Toyota offers two very different products in this crowded segment: the Toyota 4Runner and the Toyota Highlander. Now available at Toyota dealers in Los Angeles, the 2016 Toyota 4Runner and 2017 Toyota Highlander are popular among consumers shopping for an SUV, but each has unique features aimed at different audiences.


The Highlander is the larger, more family-oriented vehicle. Built on a car chassis, the Highlander emphasizes values like comfort and fuel economy. The 4Runner is a more robust vehicle, as it is built on a truck chassis and comes with a more powerful standard engine. The 4Runner’s design makes it more suitable for outdoorsy types who enjoy off-road adventures.

The Highlander sold more than 146,000 units in the U.S. in 2016. The 4Runner has a smaller but passionate fan base. The Toyota 4Runner sold more than 76,000 units in the U.S. last year.

If you’re in the market for a mid-size SUV, you should carefully evaluate your options before making a choice. If you’ve narrowed your selection down to a Toyota, you’re going to get a great vehicle whether you choose the 2017 Highlander or the 2016 4Runner, the latest models of these vehicles available, but each vehicle has its own style, personality, and features that may make it more suitable for some drivers than others.


2017 Toyota Highlander

The 2017 Toyota Highlander has a variety of features that make it the ideal choice for a family SUV. Roomy, spacious, and well-equipped for family vacations or daily commutes to school and work, the Highlander also offers the performance needed to make it an enjoyable vehicle to drive.

Toyota made a number of updates for the 2017 Highlander, including tweaks to the exterior design such as a larger, more prominent grille and refreshed LED taillights. The Japanese automaker also added a more powerful engine and quite a few electronic safety features.

The new Highlander offers three powertrain choices: a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 185 horsepower and 184 lb. ft. of torque, a V6 engine that cranks out 295 horsepower and 263 lb. ft. of torque, and a hybrid engine that combines a V6 with an electric motor. The hybrid generates 306 horsepower and offers a significant fuel economy advantage. The hybrid gets 30 mpg in urban driving and 28 mpg on the highway. The base Highlander four-cylinder gets 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.


The new Highlander SUV offers lots of room and comfort for drivers and passengers alike. A three-row SUV, the Highlander can comfortably haul eight passengers and a fair amount of luggage. Front and second-row seats are quite comfortable, and the third row is ideal for kids. A huge center console offers plenty of storage space. The Highlander offers 13.8 feet of space in the rear cargo area and, when the second and third-row area is included, the vehicle offers 83.7 cubic feet of cargo space.

Upholstery and surfaces are of good quality, and the vehicle offers plenty of USB ports for passengers and the drivers to charge their devices. The new Highlander also offers some neat features such as a vehicle intercom system that makes communication from the front and back row easy, and a flip-up rear hatch window that makes cargo access much easier.

Safety is a huge plus for the new Toyota Highlander. The vehicle gets an overall four-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with five-star ratings for its passenger front crash protection and side crash protection. The Highlander gets top “Good” ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in side, rear, and front crash protection and roof strength.

The new Highlander has a variety of safety options, including active cruise control, a standard rearview camera, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, and a day/night rearview mirror.

A base model 2017 Toyota Highlander costs around $41,183, while a fully-equipped model costs $42,620.

2016 Toyota 4Runner

The 2016 4Runner, the most recent version of the vehicle currently available at car dealers in Los Angeles and around the country, is an entirely different animal than the 2017 Highlander. The 4Runner’s rugged build and powerful engine makes it ideal for tackling off-road adventures. More Spartan than the Highlander, the 4Runner still offers plenty of features that drivers and passengers will enjoy.

The current version of the Toyota 4Runner is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 engine that generates 270 horsepower and 278 lb. ft. of torque. The vehicle comes in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive options. The 4Runner is a strong towing vehicle, capable of pulling 4,700 lbs.

A variety of neat features such as hill-start assist and hill-descent control make the vehicle ideal for challenging terrains. While more robust engines are available with the Highlander, the Highlander does not have the additional features and ruggedness that make the 4Runner such a strong off-road vehicle.

The cost of all this performance is reduced fuel economy. The 4Runner gets 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.

The interior of the 2016 Toyota 4Runner is a little less cushy and a little more utilitarian than the Highlander. The cabin uses more pedestrian interior upholstery and surfaces than the Highlander. One plus is that the 4Runner’s instrumentation and controls are intuitive and user-friendly.

A standard 4Runner seats five, although a third-row option is available on some models. The third row is pretty tight, however. Cargo space is ample and should be sufficient for any camping equipment or other items you wish to take on your next outdoor adventure.

Standard equipment for the 4Runner includes 17-inch alloy wheels, mud guards and skid plates, a towing hitch, rearview camera, fog lights, heated mirrors, roof fails, keyless entry, cruise control, and several other features.

The vehicle also offers Bluetooth connectivity, a 6.1-inch touchscreen interface, and a USB port as standard features. Drivers who opt for the upper trim levels of the vehicle can get great features such as a sunroof, heated seats, upgraded shocks, kinetic dynamic suspension, and a number of other amenities.


A base model 2016 Toyota 4Runner costs around $35,560, while a fully-loaded version of the 4Runner costs about $45,090.

The 4Runner, like the Highlander, has excellent safety credentials. The vehicle earned four out five stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In front impact tests, the vehicle earned four stars, and, in side-impact safety tests, the vehicle earned five stars. The Insurance Institute for Highways Safety gave the 4Runner a “Good” rating in front and side crash tests and roof strength tests.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, both the 2017 Toyota Highlander and the 2016 Toyota 4Runner have a lot to offer consumers. Both get great ratings for reliability from automotive journalists and are well-reviewed for their other features. The SUV that’s right for you depends largely on your lifestyle and what you’re looking for from a vehicle.


Consumers looking for a quality SUV to use as a family vehicle or a fun weekender need the advice of car sellers they can trust. For southern California residents searching new and used cars in Los Angeles, North Hollywood Toyota has the wide selection and top notch service they want in a car-buying experience.

A well-regarded and established Toyota dealership, North Hollywood Toyota has an excellent track record of offering exceptional customer service and lots of post-sale care. Visit today to test drive a Highlander or 4Runner and to learn more about these great mid-size SUVs.

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