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You're Next, 4Runner: Why the Long-Awaited 6th Gen Toyota 4Runner is Shaping Up to be a Game-Changer

For what seemed like an eternity, Toyota’s entire lineup of body-on-frame trucks and SUVs was considered very outdated.

2023 Toyota 4Runner Orange

The vehicles were still popular and strong overall, but compared to the horsepower, fuel economy, refinement and overall performance of the competition, Toyota’s offerings typically felt at least a generation or two behind.

This all changed for the 2022 model year when Toyota gave the Tundra pickup its first full re-design since 2007. An all-new Sequoia came next, followed most recently by the announcement of the fully redesigned Tacoma pickup and the new Lexus GX SUV.

2022 Toyota Tundra Off-Roading

Worth the Wait?

Across the board, these next-generation rigs are significant leaps ahead of the vehicles they replace, with brand new platforms, major power bumps, turbochargers and even available hybrid power.

Toyota Tacoma iForce Max Badge

But there’s one extremely popular Toyota SUV we haven’t yet seen a next-generation of yet, and it might just be the most anticipated of all.

We are talking about the Toyota 4Runner of course, where the current fifth-generation model has been on sale since the 2010 model year.

2010 Toyota 4Runner Towing

Yes, Toyota has updated the exterior and interior a bit over the years, also adding new tech and convenience features, but in terms of design and performance, it’s an ancient vehicle.

2023 4Runner Special Edition

And nowhere more so than the powertrain department where the current 4Runner’s naturally aspirated 4.0L V6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission weren’t even that impressive by late 2000s standards.

2022 4Runner Interior

Now “outdated” doesn’t necessarily mean bad. And as the fifth-gen 4Runner has aged, it’s only gotten more popular among both enthusiasts and the car-buying public. And no doubt some of the appeal is the SUV’s old-school, proven drivetrain and somewhat unrefined personality.

2022 4Runner on Nitto Terra Grappler

Yet even the most loyal fifth-gen fans would admit they are excited to see the sixth-generation 4Runner and how Toyota is planning to modernize this cult-favorite 4x4.

A Hint of What's to Come

So what can we expect of the next generation 4Runner? While Toyota hasn’t yet shown anything official, it doesn’t take ultra-deep speculation to get an idea of what direction the new model is going.

2020 4Runner White

Surely the sixth-get 4Runner will share a lot with the recently debuted 2024 Tacoma and will very likely be replacing the current V6 with the 2.4L turbocharged four-cylinder from the new Tacoma, likely with an optional hybrid version.

2024 Tacoma Turbo Engine

The current five-speed automatic will also be replaced by the new eight-speed automatic, and we’d love to see the available six-speed manual from the Tacoma make its way to the 4Runner as well.

2024 Tacoma TRD Pro

As for styling, the most logical guess would be to combine elements of the new Tacoma and the new Lexus GX, which has always been a more upscale but DNA-sharing cousin to the 4Runner.

2024 Lexus GX

The interior will likely get the same updates, with a massive infotainment display and a new digital instrument cluster.

2024 Tacoma Interior

Land Cruiser or 4Runner?

There is, however, a new curveball in the mix, with Toyota recently hinting teasing the return of the Land Cruiser to the American market from its current hiatus.

Historically, the Land Cruiser and 4Runner have always had their own distinct spots in the lineup, but it will be interesting to see how these two vehicles differentiate themselves for the next generation. Especially when the new Sequoia already shares a lot with Land Cruiser sold in the rest of the world.

New Land Cruiser Teaser

As outdated as it is, the 4Runner is popular not just because of its reliability and ruggedness but because it doesn’t have a lot of real competition from other mid-sized, body-on-frame, family-friendly 4x4s.

Toyota 4Runner on Nitto Ridge Grappler

If Toyota does what we think they are gonna do and keep that formula going, but with the big jump in refinement, power and fuel economy we’ve seen in their other new trucks and SUVs, the sixth-gen 4Runner is virtually guaranteed to be a smash hit.

Here’s hoping we get official word on this highly-anticipated SUV sometime soon.

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