The Toyota Tacoma was fully redesigned for 2016 and will be updated for 2020.
The Toyota 4Runner was last all-new for the 2010 model year and will receive additional features for 2020.
Both offer off-road oriented TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro trim levels.
The 2019 Toyota Tacoma and the 4Runner are two of the most trusted, best-selling off-roaders on the market. The earliest versions of these trucks were very closely related to one another, with the first 4Runner simply being a Toyota pickup with an enclosed bed and a bench seat bolted into the floor. Since then, the two vehicles have grown apart, but still share a variety of components, in addition to their legendary Toyota reliability. Here we’ll take a look at the major similarities and differences between the 2019 Tacoma and the 4Runner, some of which are more obvious than the others.
The best-selling midsize pickup on the market, the Toyota Tacoma competes primarily with the Ford Ranger, the Chevrolet Colorado, the Nissan Frontier and the upcoming Jeep Gladiator midsize pickups. The Tacoma was last all-new for 2016, and now offers a variety of active safety features in addition to a few other modern amenities. At it’s core though, the Tacoma is a relatively simple, no-nonsense pickup. See the 2019 Toyota Tacoma models for sale near you
The 4Runner has been on sale in its current form since the 2010 model year, although it did receive styling updates inside and outside for 2014. Either way, as it enters its 10th model year on sale, the 4Runner is one of the most old-school new vehicles on sale today, and it lacks all of the modern safety features offered on the Tacoma, along with just about any of the creature comforts one might expect on a new vehicle selling for up to $50,000. That said, buyers looking for an off-road ready SUV don’t have many options outside of the 4Runner, which has helped it to maintain strong sales despite its advancing age. See the 2019 Toyota 4Runner models for sale near you
The 4Runner and the Tacoma come in similar trim levels. The Tacoma lineup starts off with the entry-level SR and SR5 models. The TRD Sport offers additional curb appeal in the form of stylistic touches like a hood scoop, body colored fender flares and 18-in wheels. While a Limited model offering leather seats and blingy wheels technically fits in near the top of the lineup, the true stars of the Tacoma line are the TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro models. The TRD Off-Road trim comes with 16-in wheels, a Bilstein suspension, a locking rear differential, and Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select modes that allow you to tailor the vehicle’s stability control and antilock braking systems to a variety of off-road conditions. The TRD Pro adds to the equation a higher-performance oriented off-road suspension developed by Fox giving the vehicle a one-inch overall lift, an aluminum front skid plate, black wheels, a TRD cat-back exhaust and a black grille featuring the "Toyota" wordmark.
At the bottom of the 4Runner lineup is the basic SR5 model. The TRD Off-Road trim is arguable the most off-road capable 4Runner thanks to its inclusion of Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, better known as KDSS, which is able to disconnect the 4Runners sway bars when it detects uneven terrain, allowing for increased suspension articulation. Additionally, the TRD Off-Road introduces the same locking rear differential, Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select features offered on the Tacoma TRD Off-Road. Next up is the TRD Pro. Although it offers unique wheels, colors and a beefed up Fox off-road suspension, the 4Runner TRD Pro lacks the clever KDSS system offered on the TRD Off-Road model, although it’s still a lot of fun in the dirt. Sprinkled in are the Limited and special edition Nightshade models offering a full-time all-wheel drive system and various luxury touches, but if luxury is what you’re after, we suggest you look to other vehicles, as you can do a lot better than a 4Runner.
Tacoma buyers have their choice of a two different cab sizes: an extended cab with rear half doors and room for four — barely — or a crew cab model, with four full doors and room for five. The Tacoma’s single cab option was discontinued with the 2016 redesign. Two bed lengths are also available. A 5-foot short bed is available only with the crew cab, while a longer 6-foot bed is available on either the crew cab or the extended cab. TRD Pro models are only available in crew-cab, short bed configuration.
While a 2-door 4Runner was offered decades ago, the basic configuration of the modern 4Runner doesn’t change, although buyers can opt for a third row on SR5 and Limited models, which increases overall seating capacity from five to seven.
While the 4Runner and the Tacoma both come with a V6 engine, the two vehicles do not share engines.
Entry-level Tacoma SRs come with a small 2.7-liter 4-cylinder making 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. This engine comes paired exclusively with a 6-speed automatic. Starting with the SR5 trim, all Tacomas get a 3.5-liter V6 putting out 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. Transmission options with this engine are either a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual, which is a favorite among off-roaders. With the V6, automatic transmission and 4-wheel drive, the Tacoma returns 18 miles per gallon in the city, 22 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg in combined driving.
The 4Runner comes with just one powertrain. Under the hood of every 4Runner is a 4.0-liter V6 paired with an ancient 5-speed automatic transmission. While most 4Runners are fitted with 4WD, 2-wheel drive variants are available. With 4WD, the 4Runner returns an underwhelming 17 mpg city/20 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined.
The 4Runner and the Tacoma have reputations for being two of the most dependable and reliable vehicles ever sold, resulting in excellent resale value. Either one comes with Toyota’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
The 2019 Tacoma earns much better scores in crash tests than the prehistoric 4Runner. In addition, the Tacoma offers a great assortment of driver safety features, including automatic emergency braking, as standard. The 2019 4Runner offers nothing in the way of active safety tech. Needless to say, thanks to its recent redesign and inclusion of standard active safety tech, the Tacoma is a much safer vehicle than the 4Runner.
Technology and Infotainment
Neither the 2019 Toyota Tacoma nor the 4Runner offers a particularly compelling infotainment experience. Every 4Runner comes standard with a 6.1-in touchscreen, while most Tacomas offer a 7-in screen. Neither vehicle offers Android Auto nor Apple CarPlay for 2019, forcing buyers to make due with Toyota’s underwhelming home-grown Entune software. The 2019 Tacoma offers two 12-volt outlets, while the 4Runner offers five. Either vehicle comes with only one USB port, although either one can be had with a 3-prong AC power inverter in their cargo areas.
A JBL-branded premium audio system is available on either vehicle, while the Tacoma can be had with a wireless charging pad at the base of its dashboard.
One of the 4Runners most compelling features is its power retractable rear window, a feature exclusive to Toyota and offered on every 4Runner since the original. The Tacoma is available with a power-sliding rear window.
The similarities between these two vehicles aren’t what they used to be, with the Tacoma having received a full redesign just a few years ago and gaining a variety of modern features still not offered on the aging 4Runner. Still, if you want an off-roader but don’t want a pickup, the 4Runner is a great option, and even goes so far as to offer seating for up to seven people, although not in any of the off-road oriented models.
Speaking of off-road, both of these vehicles offer compelling adventure-oriented trims. As of 2019, the TRD Pro variants of both the 4Runner and the Tacoma offer the same suspensions, giving them nearly identical performance credentials when it comes to going off-road.
The 4Runner and the Tacoma differ mostly when it comes to modernity. While either one is a basic, old-school truck at it its core, the 4Runner feels particularly old inside, and lacks the life-saving active safety features offered as standard on the Tacoma. For this reason, if you’re on the fence and aren’t swayed by either vehicle’s unique attributes, we recommend the safer and more practical Tacoma. Find a Toyota Tacoma for sale or Find a Toyota 4Runner for sale