$31,490 - $41,030

2013 Toyota 4Runner Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Toyota 4Runner was new.


Performance: 7.0

While not the perfect pavement-cruiser, reviewers say the 2013 Toyota 4Runner has a surprisingly comfortable ride and plenty of power for an off-road-oriented SUV. It may not be as sedate as car-based rivals like the Chevrolet Traverse, but reviewers are impressed with its on-road performance, given the 4Runner’s off-road credentials. Fuel economy also slightly trails rivals, though, and it cannot tow any more than most of the competition either.

  • "As one of the few remaining fully capable SUVs in its segment, it combines rugged body-on frame construction with suspension technology that allows it to ride comfortably, similar to a standard passenger vehicle." -- AutoGuide.com
  • "Besides ample horsepower and impressive off-road prowess, the 4Runner counts a civilized driving demeanor and a spacious interior among its other strengths." -- Edmunds (2011)
  • "In fact, the 4Runner's commendable on-road behavior impressed (surprised, really) every editor. Sure, its body-on-frame build and live rear axle translated to a rather bouncy ride and some chassis shivers not associated with today's unibody offerings, but its steering was linear and responsive, its brakes stout and easy to modulate, and its balance, in light of its six-foot height, buttoned down." -- Truck Trend (2010)
  • "The latest iteration of Toyota's traditional truck-type SUV doesn't make much sense as an on-road vehicle because it handles clumsily, wallows on the highway, and is difficult to get in and out of. Despite its body-on-frame design, it doesn't make much sense as a workhorse because of its unimpressive 5,000-pound maximum towing capacity." -- Consumer Guide (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 4Runner is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 the produces 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. Power is transmitted to the wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission. Maximum EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17/22 mpg city/highway with two-wheel drive, or 17/21 mpg on four-wheel drive models. These figures trail some of the thriftier, car-based rivals in the class such as the Ford Explorer.

Most critics think that the 4Runner has ample power for day-to-day driving, saying it provides for reasonably fast acceleration. They also like the automatic transmission, saying it shifts smoothly, if a bit early in the interest of maximizing fuel economy. One reviewer notes that the Eco mode, which softens throttle response to get better gas mileage, isn’t worth using.

  • "On the road, the 2013 4Runner's drivetrain shines. The Toyota SUV accelerates briskly with an eager 270-hp V6 engine mated to a smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic transmission." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Though no V8 engine is offered, the standard V6 provides plenty of grunt and should be suitable for just about any driver." -- Edmunds (2011)
  • "4Runner is a fairly heavy vehicle. As such, its power is merely adequate in any situation. The standard ‘Eco’ mode softens throttle response and makes the transmission upshift more quickly in order to benefit fuel economy. It's of fairly dubious value, as the alleged benefits don't outweigh the more sluggish drivetrain behavior when the system is active." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

The 2013 4Runner garners mixed reviews for its ride and handling. Some say it is OK, and others say that some full-size pickups handle better than it does, as do more car-like crossover SUVs. The steering gets equally mixed reviews, with some reporting there is too much power assist, and others saying it’s accurate. The brakes don’t get much mention, though one reviewer says they felt grabby when testing the 4Runner.

  • "4Runner's handling lags behind even many large truck-type SUVs and is not even close to the car-like performance of crossovers. This Toyota leans a lot even when taking corners at moderate speed. Steering feel is sloppy and lifeless, and the nose dives quite a lot, even when braking normally." -- Consumer Guide
  • Despite being on a truck chassis, the Toyota's ride is acceptable with its compliant suspension absorbing smaller bumps well. … The steering, however, is overly assisted in situations such as parking lots or tight turns and is slow to respond, thus requiring constant corrections. The brakes - a bit ‘grabby’ at times - took a little getting used to as well." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Cruising around town, the … Toyota 4Runner is surprisingly smooth and comfortable. Despite being built on a truck chassis, there is very little of the bouncy, over-sprung ride you expect from a body-on-frame vehicle capable of serious off-roading." -- Edmunds (2011)
  • "Steering is easy and reasonably accurate in the 4Runner, and it's easy to keep on-center while cruising on the highway. It takes minimal effort to maneuver in tight spaces. We think the 4Runner would readily out-handle and ride more smoothly than most full-size SUVs, but car-based unibody SUVs would be noticeably more precise, with better on-road manners." -- Cars.com (2010)


The 2013 Toyota 4Runner is built more for off-roading than most of the SUVs it competes with. The Trail trim is the most off-road-focused trim available, as it comes with an electronic locking rear differential and selectable terrain system that will optimize the vehicle’s performance settings for different types of terrain. Reviewers like its off-roading capability, but note that some lower-priced rivals are equally capable off-road.

  • 4Runner works as an off-road SUV, albeit one that carries a stiff price tag compared to the similar-purpose Nissan Xterra and slightly smaller Suzuki Grand Vitara." -- Consumer Guide (2012) 

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