21 Best & Worst Toyota 4Runner Years (With Facts & Stats)

The Toyota 4Runner is a rugged mid-size SUV that was first introduced for the 1985 model year.

It combines serious off-roading capabilities with the comfort and utility found in passenger cars.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at its best and worst years…

2020 Toyota 4Runner

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Toyota 4Runner Are:

The best Toyota 4Runner model years are 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2013, 2012, 2009, 2002, and 2001. The worst model years of the 4Runner are 2011, 2010, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2000, 1999, 1998, and 1997. This is based on reviews, NHTSA statistics, problems, and consumer feedback.

What Are The Best Years For The Toyota 4Runner?

Listed below are the models that deserve to be viewed as the best of the best.

2022 Toyota 4Runner

Built like a tank, the 2022 4Runner is a top pick thanks to its wide range of standard active-safety features.

The TRD Sport trim was introduced for this year, boasting 20-inch alloy wheels, Sport badges, hood scoop and adaptive dampers.

Inside, it features synthetic leather upholstery.

Across the entire lineup, LED high beams are standard. 

  • Edmunds: 4.64 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.6 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 84 / 100

2022 4Runner, Edmunds review:

“Purchased a 2022 Limited in silver on November 1st 2021, and after 1000 miles I absolutely love it. Chose the 2022 Limited model so I could get the 360 degree cameras. Also has blind spot warning, parking sensors, radar cruise control and Toyota safety sense. The Limited has leather heated and cooled seats, and the JBL sound system…”

2021 Toyota 4Runner

Another firm favorite is the 2021 4Runner, offering LED headlights as standard and many configurations to suit a variety buyers.

Introduced for this year was the Trail Special Edition available with either rear-wheel or four-wheel-drive.

These models come equipped with 17-inch dark gray TRD wheels and black exterior badges.

On the inside, they feature black seating with tan stitching, as well as durable all-weather floor mats.

  • Edmunds: 4.0 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.6 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2021 4Runner, Edmunds review:

“This is my 3rd Toyota 4Runner and I have to say I am very impressed with the TRD Off Road Premium edition, I love the Magnetic gray metallic and the interior is wonderful I love everything about it bumper to bumper and the 4 wheel is great also defiantly has a lot of traction, Haven’t even had it a week and almost 1000 miles already I usually travel 5000 miles a month, so I am really going to enjoy this as a day driver.”

2020 Toyota 4Runner

For 2020 Toyota added advanced driver safety aids (Safety Sense P) as standard on all models.

This includes a pre-collision system with autonomous braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams.

A new infotainment system was added including an 8-inch touchscreen (previously a 6-inch) with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

An updated gauge cluster boasts a 4.2-inch screen for trip meter and fuel-economy data as well as a Safety Sense P display.

Every trim of this model year has 2 rear USB ports.

  • Edmunds: 4.2 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.6 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 81 / 100

2020 4Runner, Edmunds review:

“It sells itself and has a 5th generation history, could use a little more power/torque, and a power liftgate, auto start. I would suggest buy the 4WD to feel better about this great vehicle. This is a solid real SUV , nothing fake here. Fun to drive with a feeling of top quality and service.”

2018 and 2019 Toyota 4Runner

The 2018 and 2019 4Runners are essentially the same, both are solid choices when shopping for a burly vehicle that shines off-road.

The 2019 model has a Nightshade Edition which is equipped with black-colored wheels and trim, among other stylish features.

The 4Runner TRD Pro model also comes with an all-new suspension system with Fox internal-bypass shocks.

As for the 2018 4Runner, new paint options were added, namely Cavalry Blue and Midnight Black.

The Super White color is now available across the entire lineup (previously exclusive to the TRD Pro trim).

2019 Toyota 4Runner:

  • Edmunds: 4.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.6 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 83 / 100

2018 Toyota 4Runner:

  • Edmunds: 4.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.6 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2018 4Runner, Edmunds review:

“After owning two Wranglers tried to purchase an Unlimited, but, the dealers wanted too much for add-on packages. Toyota 4runner is so superior in ride, comfort, storage volume, towing capacity, creature comforts, DAYTIME INSTRUMENT ILLUMINATION, gas tank volume, and yet will go off-road equally as well. AND purchased for 9K LESS than Unlimited JL. TOO MANY reliability issues with Jeeps after owning (4) over the past 12 years.”

2019 4Runner, Edmunds review:

“After a year of searching what vehicle to buy this SUV came out on top! As a former owner of a Ford Explorer limited, this SUV knocks all others out of the race. I LOVE this vehicle. It can tow my camper trailer, haul my dog and groceries, and take me on long trips comfortably. I don’t have to figure out all the fancy add-on technology found in other SUV’s that I never used, and it’s beautiful to boot!! A great ride and a must-have!”

2019 Toyota 4Runner

2017 Toyota 4Runner

The 2017 4Runner is essentially a copy of the 2014 model year which received a major facelift/redesign. 

Slight modifications were done, however. These modifications include a rebadging of the Trail and Trail Premium variants to TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road premium.

  • Edmunds: 4.6 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.6 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 87 / 100

2017 4Runner, Edmunds review:

“When shopping for a new SUV I drove several makes and models. Toyota 4 Runner wasn’t on my list due to the reviews from Car and Driver and other sites, however my husband (a truck guy) convinced me to test drive the 4 Runner. It wasn’t my favorite while test driving but I went with my husbands recommendation and purchased the 4 Runner. After driving the 4 Runner Limited 4wd I love, love , love it…”

2012 and 2013 Toyota 4Runner

The 2012 and 2013 4Runners are part of the 5th generation introduced for 2010 and they are essentially the same vehicle. They aren’t as refined as the previously mentioned models but if you’re on a tighter budget they are good choices.

For 2012 the 4Runner received significant audio and connectivity updates, including:

  1. SiriusXM satellite radio
  2. A USB port with iPod connectivity
  3. Hands-free phone capability
  4. Entune connectivity system

Automatic-deploying running boards were also made available for the SR5 and Limited trim levels.

2013 Toyota 4Runner:

  • Edmunds: 4.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.6 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 83 / 100

2012 Toyota 4Runner:

  • Edmunds: 4.5 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.6 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 84 / 100

2012 4Runner, Edmunds review:

“Purchased a 2012 4Runner 6 months ago. After 10K mi. the vehicle still performs as it did on day 1. The 4L engine is the largest V6 available in a mid sized SUV. Fuel mileage avgs 19-20 mpg with the best at 23 on longer road trips. If you actually test drive this SUV you will notice a stiff ride, similar to that of a truck…that’s what I like about it..”

2013 4Runner, Edmunds review:

“This is one of the very few mid sized truck based SUV’s out there. I like to do some mild off road activites and have a boat to tow, so a car based SUV is not an option. So far I have loved it. Even though it is a mid size SUV, it has a very commanding stance on the highway. It feels larger than it is, people even comment on how large it looks. The handling is good for this type of SUV, especially since its truck based. It takes some adjustments at first, but once you figure out how to drive it, you’ll be pleased…”

2012 Toyota 4Runner

2009 Toyota 4Runner

The 2009 4Runner was the final and most reliable model of the 4th generation (Toyota ironed out many of the issues experienced with earlier models).

No significant changes were introduced for this year, but a new Trail Edition optional package was added for owners who want enhanced off-road capabilities.

  • Edmunds: 4.5 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.8 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 84 / 100

2009 4Runner, Edmunds review:

“Overall I think this 4runner is a good performing SUV. Handles well and everything works as promised except for the transmission. When I slow down for a turn or a stop sign, (while not coming to a complete stop) then step on the throttle the transmission hunts for a gear and the engine revs until the gear is found. This is very annoying because it happens all the time. The dealer says this is normal…”

2002 Toyota 4Runner

The 2002 4Runner was the final rendition of the 3rd generation and unsurprisingly it was also the most reliable. As a general rule, the later models of a generation are the most reliable, and this was certainly the case here.

This model also had top crash-test scores, power-down hatch glass, standard stability and traction control, and a brake assist system.

There were no major updates for 2002 although the SR5 package gained a front skid plate, tube step-up bars, and floor mats.

  • Edmunds: 4.6 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.8 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2002 4Runner, Edmunds review:

“Love this SUV! Bought new. I’m still driving 8 yrs later and 120K miles. Only problem was the tail light bulb seems to go every other year which got me a ticket 🙁 Mechanically very sound, well built, still runs like the day I purchased. I’ve replaced the water pump/timing belt only due to miles. I get 17-19 mpg in city and 23+ on open highway. I do agree with the others though that the ride can be a bit bumpy, slightly larger tires seems help with that a bit. Cost to own very good at 25K new in 2002, retail today in mint condition is $8-9K…”

2001 Toyota 4Runner

The 2001 4Runner was the penultimate entry of the 3rd gen, and if your looking for an older model we wouldn’t advise anything prior to this.

Base models were dropped for 2021, this left the Limited and SR5 trim levels which were equipped with:

  1. Standard automatic transmission
  2. Vehicle Skid Control (VSC)
  3. Traction control
  4. ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and BrakeAssist

Across the lineup, models came with power door locks, a pre-wired trailer hitch harness, refreshed tail lights, and a modified grille design. 

  • Edmunds: 4.8 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.8 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA / 100

2001 4Runner, Edmunds review:

“This is the best car I ever had! I gave it to my son. I bought it new when he was 8 and he is now 23. I never imagined I would be able to pass it off to him. This SUV still looks great and runs great!!! We had very few problems with this car. I recently bought a 2015 Toyota Camry and hope the Camry can live up to the 4Runner. This car is still running like a champ in 2018; no major problems or repairs ever on this car!”

Consumer Scores For Best Toyota 4Runner Years

Below is a table that presents all the consumer ratings of the best 4Runner model years from reputable vehicle websites:

Model YearEdmunds 
Consumer Rating
Kelley Blue Book
Consumer Rating
JD Power
Consumer Rating
2022 Toyota 4Runner4.6 / 5.04.6 / 5.084 / 100
2021 Toyota 4Runner4.0 / 5.04.6 / 5.082 / 100
2020 Toyota 4Runner4.2 / 5.04.6 / 5.081 / 100
2019 Toyota 4Runner4.3 / 5.04.6 / 5.083 / 100
2018 Toyota 4Runner4.3 / 5.04.6 / 5.082 / 100
2017 Toyota 4Runner4.6 / 5.04.6 / 5.087 / 100
2013 Toyota 4Runner4.3 / 5.04.6 / 5.083 / 100
2012 Toyota 4Runner4.5 / 5.04.6 / 5.084 / 100
2009 Toyota 4Runner4.5 / 5.04.8 / 5.084 / 100
2002 Toyota 4Runner4.6 / 5.04.8 / 5.0NA
2001 Toyota 4Runner4.8 / 5.04.8 / 5.0NA

Related: Toyota 4Runner Beeping? (11 Common Causes)

What Are The Worst Years For The Toyota 4Runner?

The 4Runner is a tough vehicle, but its had its fair share of problems over the years.

Be cautious of the model years listed below.

2010 and 2011 Toyota 4Runner

The 2010 and 2011 4Runner were the first models of the 5th gen and although they aren’t clunkers by any stretch of the imagination, they did have a large number of complaints due to a widespread airbag recall.

These models were affected by the exploding, shrapnel-shooting Takata airbags which had the ability to cause serious injury or even death.

Many complaints stated that the manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair. 

The 2011 4Runner had a total of 14 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 174 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Stiff shifter
  • Door handle fell off
  • Takata recall
  • Touchscreen not responsive

The 2010 4Runner had a total of 7 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 165 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Engine seal failure
  • Burning oil
  • Hesitates when shifting
  • Door locks broken

2006 Toyota 4Runner

The 2006 4Runner was very prone to rusting of the frame and suspension, which impacted the safety and integrity of the vehicle.

Here are some reports from owners:

“Vehicle failed inspection due to rust on the frame. Bought vehicle because it is supposedly ruggedly built and for the frame to rust out when the vehicle has 103k miles and not driven off-road for more than a few times since we owned it is ridiculous. Dealer quoted $11k for the frame alone, not including labor.”

“Machanic noticed rust when took in for service frame is thru and thru with rust damage, especially at rear torsion bars – not safe to drive.”

The 2006 4Runner had a total of 34 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 486 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Frame rusting
  • Seat assembly faulty
  • Dashboard has cracks
2006 Toyota 4Runner

2005 Toyota 4Runner

Much like the previously discussed 2006 model year, the 2005 4Runner also suffers greatly from rust-related issues. 

Owners reported holes in the frame from rust which made it look like swiss cheese.

The rust was so severe on some owners’ vehicles they felt it was about to fall apart at any moment.

The 2005 4Runner had a total of 84 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 527 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Undercarriage rusting
  • Frame rusting
  • Air injection pump failure

2004 Toyota 4Runner

The 2004 Runner a large number of complaints due to rusting issues, particularly the frame and suspension.

Here’s one owners take:

“Many signs of premature rust on the frame with several holes. The truck only has 124k miles and should not be in this state. Toyota has to recall these frames just like they do from other trucks manufactured during the very same years.”

The 2004 4Runner had a total of 101 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 839 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Crack in dashboard
  • Frame rusting
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) not working properly
  • Check engine light is on

2003 Toyota 4Runner

Based on online statistics from reputable automotive websites, the 2003 4Runner is by far the most problematic vehicle in terms of complaints and problems reported.

Excessive frame rust was the leading concern of this vehicle.

Another less widespread issue was a cracked, melting dash, one owner had this to say:

“This crack is just awful looking. It started at one end and just went all the way across.”

The 2003 4Runner had a total of 95 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 879 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Excessive rust and corrosion
  • Rust
  • Crack in dashboard

2000 Toyota 4Runner

The 2000 4Runner, much like many of the models of its era, was plagued by frame rust problems and the rusting of suspension.

Here’s one owners summary:

“Frame is really rusting bad as is the case with 100s of other 4runners. T4r. Org will show hundreds upon hundreds of complaints of this. My truck only has 99k miles and the frame is almost completely wrecked. This has been an issue on these trucks for years and nothing has been done. Please look into this it’s a huge safety issue!”

Some owners even reported parts of the frame falling off when driving.

The 2000 4Runner had a total of 25 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 616 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Frame rusting and rotting
  • Rusted out axle housing
  • Inability to correct minor fish tail

1999 Toyota 4Runner

Much to no one’s surprise (if you have been following the main complaints of all the previously discussed model years), the 1999 4Runner’s main ailment was rusting issues

Many owners were told by their mechanic, the rusting was so severe the vehicle was not safe to drive.

The 1999 4Runner had a total of 15 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 439 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Frame rusting and rotting
  • Battery constantly drained
  • Air conditioning does not function properly

1997 and 1998 Toyota 4Runner

As a finale to this list, we end by identifying the major problem of the 1997 and 1998 4Runner, and it is none other than severe rusting of the frame and suspension.

Reports have specified trailing arm detachment, rear control arm mounting bracket damage, and other fractures throughout the vehicle as a result of severe rusting and corrosion. 

The 1998 4Runner had a total of 10 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 292 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Frame rotting
  • Rusting bumpers
  • Frame rusting

The 1997 4Runner had a total of 11 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 364 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Engine cuts out at high speeds
  • Frame rusting and rotting
  • Paint is peeling 
1998 Toyota 4Runner

Related: Toyota 4Runner: 12 Common Problems (Solution Guide)

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

The 4Runner is no stranger to issues and complaints. It is important to look up common problems online and their corresponding frequency for each model year. 

Listed below are the number of reported complaints and problems for each model year of the 4Runner. 

Model YearComplaints
2022 Toyota 4Runner014
2021 Toyota 4Runner129
2020 Toyota 4Runner227
2019 Toyota 4Runner455
2018 Toyota 4Runner754
2017 Toyota 4Runner736
2016 Toyota 4Runner2480
2015 Toyota 4Runner26105
2014 Toyota 4Runner2473
2013 Toyota 4Runner1962
2012 Toyota 4Runner17108
2011 Toyota 4Runner14174
2010 Toyota 4Runner7165
2009 Toyota 4Runner331
2008 Toyota 4Runner17127
2007 Toyota 4Runner15193
2006 Toyota 4Runner34486
2005 Toyota 4Runner84527
2004 Toyota 4Runner101839
2003 Toyota 4Runner95879
2002 Toyota 4Runner22288
2001 Toyota 4Runner17229
2000 Toyota 4Runner25616
1999 Toyota 4Runner15439
1998 Toyota 4Runner10292
1997 Toyota 4Runner11364
1996 Toyota 4Runner1199

What Problems Do Toyota 4Runners Have?

  • Excessive rust and corrosion
  • Undercarriage rusting
  • Airbag failed to deploy during accident
  • Crack in dashboard
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) not working properly
  • Check engine light on
  • Frame rusting
  • Air injection pump failure
  • Frame rotting
  • Rusted out axle housing
  • Inability to correct minor fish tail
  • Brake pedal makes a squishy sound
  • Brake master cylinder assembly is faulty

Related: 11 Most Common Toyota 4Runner Problems (Explained)

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Toyota 4Runner?

As far as midsize SUVs go, the Toyota 4Runner is not as highly rated as its other competitors in the market. 

The 4Runner ranked 19th overall but secured a decent score of 7.1 out of 10.

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy (MPG)
Kia Telluride8.6$33,390 – $45,190City: 19 – 20 /Highway: 24 – 26
Ford Palisade8.6$33,600 – $48,990City: 19 / Highway: 27
Honda Passport8.4$37,870 – $45,430City: 19 – 20 /Highway: 24 – 25
Mazda CX-98.4$35,280 – $47,210City: 20 / Highway: 26
Hyundai Santa Fe8.3 $27,200 – $43,110City: 21 – 25 / Highway: 25 – 28
Chevrolet Traverse8.3$33,700 – $53,400City: 17 – 18 / Highway: 25 – 27
Honda Pilot8.3$38,080 – $51,870City: 19 – 20 /Highway: 26 – 27
Jeep Grand Cherokee8.3$39,000 – $61,675City: 14 – 19 /Highway: 22 – 26
Buick Enclave8.1$42,800 – $57,100City: 17 – 18 /Highway: 25 -26
Dodge Durango8.0$36,995 – $68,195City: 13 – 19 /Highway: 19 – 26
Volkswagen Atlas8.0$33,635 – $51,505City: 17 – 21 /Highway: 23 – 25
Subaru Ascent8.0$32,295 – $45,445City: 20 – 21 /Highway: 26 – 27
Kia Sorento8.0$29,590 – $43,190City: 21 – 24 /Highway: 25 – 29
Toyota Highlander7.9$35,405 – $49,510City: 20 – 21 /Highway: 27 – 29 
Nissan Murano7.7$33,310 – $46,560City: 20Highway: 28
Ford Explorer7.7$33,745 – $55,995City: 16 – 27 /Highway: 23 – 28
GMC Acadia7.5$34,800 – $48,600City: 19 – 22 /Highway: 26 – 29
Chevrolet Blazer7.3$33,400 – $44,000City: 19 – 22 /Highway: 26 – 29
Toyota 4Runner7.1$37,605 – $52,420City: 16 / Highway: 19
Ford EdgeNA$36,145 – $44,945City: 19 – 21 /Highway: 25 – 28
Jeep Grand Cherokee LNA$40,325 – $62,300City: 18 – 19 /Highway: 25 – 26
Nissan PathfinderNA$34,640 – $49,040City: 20 – 21 /Highway: 25 – 27

Source: cars.usnews.com, edmunds.com

Related: Toyota 4Runner Tune-Up & Maintenance Costs (Complete Guide)









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  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...