skip to content
Driving Line Mark Logo

15 Years In the Making: Does the 2025 4Runner Live up to the Hype? Should you Buy a 5th Gen Instead?

It was November, 2009: Facebook was a hip, fresh thing still mainly used by college-aged kids and not your boomer parents. Instagram hadn’t yet launched. TikTok? What’s that? To even own a smart phone was still a big deal for many people at this point.

2025 4Runner TRD Pro Rear View

Over in the auto industry, General Motors had just built the last Saturn and there were still brand new Pontiacs rolling off the assembly line. The only vehicle a strange new brand called “Tesla” had built was a funky electric sports car that most people never saw in real life. And that was also the last time a new Toyota 4Runner came out.

2010 4Runner Towing

That’s right, with the exception of a small facelift and some interior tech updated, the 2024 fifth-generation 4Runner that’s currently on Toyota lots is virtually the same exact vehicle that launched almost 15 years ago.

Fifth Gen Toyota 4Runner Dark Green

But now, just as some babies that were born when the fifth-gen 4Runner launched are about to start driving themselves, Toyota has finally taken the wraps off the all-new sixth-generation model.

2025 4Runner TRD Pro Badge

The term “all-new” is thrown around a lot these days with varying degrees of truth, but the ’25 4Runner is more than worthy of that title. Mechanically, the new version shares nothing with the old one.

Sticking to the Formula

Fervently popular among both casual buyers and hardcore enthusiasts, the 2025 4Runner debut is one of the most anticipated SUV launches in years. And prior to Toyota spilling the details, there was a lot of speculation about which direction the new version may go.

2025 4Runner Rear Legroom

What Toyota seems to have settled on is an SUV-version of the Tacoma pickup, which is also all-new for the ’24 model year. And given the popularity of the outgoing model, it’s not surprising they’ve stuck to a familiar formula in terms of styling.

2025 Toyota 4Runner Blue

Though easily identifiable as a 4Runner, the sixth-gen is a couple inches wider than before and has a longer wheelbase, and its overall appearance borrows a lot from the new Tacoma.

2025 4Runner Trailhunter Green

Beneath the body, TNGA-F platform is entirely new for 4Runner, as are its engine options and transmissions.

That means the 4Runner’s ancient, though reliable, five-speed automatic gearbox has been put out to pasture in favor of a new eight-speed automatic across the lineup.

2025 4Runner Shifter

Bye Bye V6, Hello Turbo & Hybrid

The 4.0L V6 engine from the fifth-gen is also gone, now replaced by a pair of new 2.4 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines. As with the Tacoma, lower trim 4Runners will have a standard version that makes 278 horsepower and 315 pound feet of torque.

2025 4Runner TRD Pro on Trail

Higher trim versions, including the popular TRD Pro get the i-Force Max hybrid setup, which adds a boost of electric power and makes a total 326 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque.

As with the Tacoma, Toyota is also using the launch of the next-gen 4Runner to debut a new trim level: the Trailhunter. It’s positioned as factory overlander, with Old Man Emu suspension, and ARB roof rack and even a stock snorkel air cleaner.

2025 4Runner Trailhunter Snorkel

For the first time there will also be a Platinum trim for those looking to maximize the comfort and luxury of their new 4Runner.

4Runner, Land Cruiser or Lexus GX. What to Pick?

If you are in the market for a new Toyota 4x4, in addition to the new 4Runner you’ve probably also had your eye on the new 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser, and perhaps the new Lexus GX, which has always been seen as a more luxurious, more powerful version of the 4Runner.

2025 4Runner TRD Pro Rear View

The 4Runner will surely be the cheapest of the trio, though by how much so remains to be seen. Toyota hasn’t put out pricing for the ’25 4Runner yet, but it’s estimated that it will come in around $10,000 cheaper than a comparable Land Cruiser.

2024 Land Cruiser Blue

The Land Cruiser gets the I-force Max hybrid powertrain standard, and should also have a more spacious cabin than the Land Cruiser, so if you are looking for more of a family hauler the Land Cruiser might be worth the extra cash.

We like what Toyota has done to differentiate the style between the two. Both are rugged, with the 4Runner going for a more “active” modern design and the Land Cruiser taking on a more boxy, old school ‘70s and ‘80s vibe.

2024 Land Cruiser Side View

Then there’s the new Lexus GX, which shares a boxy shape similar to the Land Cruiser. Previously the GX offered a standard V8 engine over the 4Runner’s V6. Now the new GX gets a twin turbocharged V6 that makes 349 horsepower and a giant 479 pound feet of torque.

2024 Lexus GX Gray

That extra power doesn’t come cheap though. The Lexus GX starts off around $65,000 which puts it about $10,000 more than a Land Cruiser and most likely about $20,000 more than a 4Runner.

2024 Lexus GX Rear View

A lower or mid trim 4Runner should still be the value pick, but potential buyers of the more expensive TRD Pro or new Trailhunter model may also be cross-shopping Toyota’s other 4x4 offerings. And its great that there’s so many now.

2025 4Runner Leather Interior

Fifth Gen Forever?

What does this all mean for the beloved fifth-gen 4Runner? With all of the updates and what seem on paper at least to be huge improvements over the outgoing model, one might naturally wonder if the fifth-gen 4Runner will finally start to fall out of favor.

Toyota 4Runner on Nitto Ridge Grappler tires

We wouldn’t necessarily count on it. Yes, in terms of buying brand new, dropping $40,000 or $50,000 for the latest and greatest, we’d probably suggest going for the 2025 and it’s improved tech.

But if you don’t want or need the fuel economy and refinement improvements, the fifth-generation should and will continue to be a great enthusiast platform, and one that’s more than proved itself over its 15 years of service.

2023 4Runner Orange

While there’s nothing to suggest the new turbo and hybrid powertrains won’t be reliable long term, it will certainly be hard for them to surpass the reliability bar set by the outgoing model.

Ultimately, it was also going to be a tough job to modernize the 4Runner while maintaining its legendary reputation for reliability and mechanical simplicity and we think Toyota pulled off the task quite well.

2025 Toyota 4Runner Interior

15 years is an incredible run for a vehicle. And the ’25 4Runner looks like it should capture the appeal of the fifth-gen while updating its performance and effciency into the 2020s.

2025 4Runner Trail Hunter Green

And you can’t ask for much more than that, especially as it joins a Toyota and Lexus 4x4 lineup that’s more varied and more capable than ever.

We can’t wait to see what happens once the aftermarket starts digging into all these new rigs.

Return to beginning of article

Recommended For You

Loading ...