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Do 4Runner Fans Want a Next-Gen 2023 Toyota 4Runner Hybrid? The People Weigh In

Plans seem to be in line for a redesigned 2023 4Runner. Could it include a hybrid?


One of my favorite vehicles to write about is Toyota 4Runner. This is one tough beast and has been making people and families happy for nearly four decades.

People who know them and own them realize 4Runner is solid and reliable and trustworthy. They can keep going for hundreds of thousands of miles.

Since the current 5th generation 4Runner has been in production since 2009, it is probably time for a redesign. Complete with a new body style. A new set of technology and safety systems. And a new powertrain.

But a hybrid? Interesting. Interesting indeed.

Toyota 4Runner Hybrid

2020 Toyota 4Runner Limited Blizzard Pearl profile view front end

Many 4Runner fans and enthusiasts have been asking for a way to keep 4Runner tradition intact, but with more power and increased fuel efficiency.

Current 2021 4Runner powertrain features a 4.0-liter V6 engine and 5-speed automatic transmission. This delivers 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. torque.

MPG estimates are 16 in the city and 19 on the highway.

Manufacturing a 4Runner Hybrid for 2023 model year makes sense in a couple important ways. First, people will pay less money at the gas pump.

Just look what adding a gasoline engine-electric motor combination has done for 2021 Highlander Hybrid – 36mpg combined. Or the all-new 2021 Sienna Hybrid – also 36mpg combined.

While Toyota 4Runner Hybrid probably would not quite reach those lofty figures, perhaps it could give owners 30 miles per gallon.

Maybe the upcoming 2022 Tundra will give us a clearer picture of what this type of vehicle could get for fuel estimates.

Another benefit of a Toyota Hybrid is increased low-end torque. This could be beneficial at lower speeds in tougher conditions and terrain.

Time will tell, I guess.

People Speak about 4Runner Hybrid

2021 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Premium Barcelona Red profile view front end

I recently wrote a Torque News story about the possibility of a Toyota 4Runner Hybrid. I also looked at comments from my “Toyotajeff” YouTube channel viewers. I found reactions to be mostly positive, but with some comments against it as well.

Digitaldoc wrote. “I am really not sure if a hybrid is the answer to modernize the 4Runner. All I can say is that after owning a 4Runner 13+ years, that the mediocre fuel economy from the 4.0L V-6 with 4 speed tranny (it is a 5 speed currently, but the fuel economy did not change with it), gets real old, real fast with frequent, thirsty fill ups. A smaller, more efficient engine might be able to at least improve the fuel economy without resorting to a more expensive hybrid setup. Would love to see Toyota give the 4Runner some of these decades!”

Matt had a more traditional view. “Do not turn 4Runner into a hybrid…please! We need it to stay tough”

RELATED VIDEO: Take a tour of 2021 4Runner TRD Pro in Lunar Rock.

“I totally agree! I own a 2008 4Runner now, in the market for a new 4Runner now. I am waiting for the hybrid now. I was all ready to purchase a 2020, heard and read about the hybrid, the gas mileage was just bringing me now, I am excited! PS. read somewhere the engine would be twin turbo V6 hybrid.” Commented Cremari.

KC had great thoughts on a potential 4Runner hybrid. “I’m waiting and hoping for this. I know there are plenty of hardcore 4Runner fans who will say it’s unnecessary or blasphemous, and that’s fine. Offer a regular 4Runner too.

I loved my 1990 4Runner but eventually moved on. I currently drive a Tundra, but my wife has a hybrid RAV and it’s a great car. Fuel efficient as a daily driver but capable when we make our yearly trips to the Sierras for snowboarding. I’m ready for something more fuel efficient than the Tundra and she’s ready for a sporty “fun” car. So, a hybrid 4Runner would be a great fuel-efficient family hauler for daily driving and a capable winter SUV when snow season comes around.

I get that the trailer abilities might take a hit, and some would argue a hybrid Highlander is waiting for me. Bring it on! Toyota does Hybrids best!” Good insight KC.

“I would have to test the hybrid 4Runner first to make sure I am not losing any power. This might be my next purchase. Bring back the removable top too!” Good suggestion Max. I like that one a lot.

TheLegend did not seem to appreciate my article. “This guy creating rumours wanting hybrid (is) badly hoping Toyota will follow his dream recommendation because he can barely afford the gas when he borrows his friend 4Runner. This is terrible editorial. There isn’t a lot of future hybrid info for the 4Runner. You may want to look at a different career. Rumours and fake news. You’re part of it to create more ad revenue.”

Thanks for your opinions Legend. I appreciate your thoughts.

Time for your thoughts on Toyota 4Runner Hybrid

2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road Premium Super White profile view

As much as it stings a little to get comments like TheLegend wrote, it helps me realize even more there can be multiple points of view on virtually any topic.

If the next generation Toyota 4Runner does feature a hybrid, Toyota will need to ensure its target audience is fully informed on features and ensuing benefits this power plant offers.

To satisfy all potential customers, a perfect 4Runner world for me would include both a 4Runner gasoline-only and a 4Runner Hybrid alternative.

Again, time will tell what Toyota decides is best for the 2023 4Runner. I cannot wait to learn what comes next.

What features are important to you with the next 4Runner body design, features, safety, technology and powertrain? Would you consider a Toyota 4Runner Hybrid?

Thanks for reading everyone. See you next story when I review the 2020 Lexus RC 350 F Sport.

Follow Jeff Teague on social media:

- My website
- My Torque News / Toyota News column
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Thank you everyone for following me.


TakWang Chan (not verified)    December 3, 2020 - 9:24PM

Give it the. Rav 4 prime's phev system and thos HYBRID naysayers will quickly shush up. They should offer that more ofted as an opt.powertrain upgrade.

Nancy Brown (not verified)    December 15, 2020 - 10:04AM

I CANNOT wait for a Hybrid 4Runner! Could not justify the 4Runner gas consumption and am leasing a 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid for now until they come out with the Hybrid 4Runner! The future is bright!

rmv (not verified)    January 5, 2021 - 7:33PM

We would purchase a hybrid 4Runner in a heartbeat provided it retains some off road feature like locking rear diff. Otherwise, just modernize the transmission and improve gas mileage and we’ll purchase it. Either way, we’re looking for an improved 4Runner to replace our Jeep Wrangler JKU as we need more hauling space for outdoor gear and IFS for better handling on long road trips. Hurry up Toyota! Bring back a nice blue color for 2023, too!

David (not verified)    January 8, 2021 - 3:23PM

I am SO torn as to whether I should grab a new Hybrid Highlander Plat, or wait for the hybrid 4runner. But I really want a 4runner like the one I grew up learning to drive on, and my dad still has, but hybrid!

Jram (not verified)    January 24, 2021 - 2:20AM

PLEASE make the next 4runner come in a leaner body like the 4th generation with Phev. I’m a loyal Toyota and 4runner owner. It’s very discouraging to see other vehicle companies come out with more sustainable options for sport utility vehicles. I’ve been waiting many years for the 4runner to become leaner. It was originally a “compact Sport utility vehicle.” Compact as in the body wasn’t so thick like it I had been. It’s such a clunky ride in the 5th gen. If customers want a bigger Toyota SUV they can get a Sequoia. Modernizing the fourth generation body to include phev 100+ electric miles, would be a dream come true! I’d buy at least one in the highest trim and tell everyone I know to do the same.

Jj (not verified)    March 1, 2021 - 3:25PM

If it’s hybrid, the 4 runner will most likely be an AWD car and not 4x4. So it will be a Highlander with a 4 runner body, which makes no sense.
But makers of the car will know looks are more important than drive Tran to the buyer. Even the guy who really wants a 4 runner will give up Highlander comfort and thousands more for a 4Runner body with same AWD system. They ll still have a 4*4 but not hybrid for 2023

Vito Aditya (not verified)    May 27, 2021 - 10:17PM

The 4Runner I say is likely to receive a hybrid. I say this because the Fortuner, a distant sibling to the 4Runner and a Hilux-based SUV will also receive a hybrid. It could be a diesel hybrid, gas hybrid, or even Toyota might offer it with both. And don't worry, it'll still be a 4x4.

MBP (not verified)    June 27, 2021 - 4:52PM

I would love a plug in hybrid 4Runner, it's the mileage that prevents me from daily driving one. I'm going to be looking at the Bronco PIHV when it comes out. Toyota could have had a winner against Jeep with a removable top FJ Cruiser, they screwed that up. They should have done what Ford is doing now. I feel like everything with a gas engine will need to be hybrid plug in at this point.

Kevin (not verified)    July 4, 2021 - 11:29PM

I do think the 4 Runner would welcome a hybrid option soon. I do not see a serious makeover with the vehicle for 2022, but I have to assume it will be 2023. About 4 years ago I heard of a diesel option for a powertrain but I am not sure how strong that rumor is. A hybrid or if they want to be real ambitious a PHEV would make a lot of sense with government regulations wanting to phase out petrol engines by 2030 at the earliest.

I have a 2018 Toyota 4Runner TRD off road edition and overall I really like it. Sure there are a few flaws with that year as it was the second year of the TRD off road level. The 4Runner needs a 6 cylinder that can put out the minimum of 300 hp. If it wants to continue with an automatic transmission a 5 speed is outdated and could at least a 7 speed. It could stand to be more efficient for fuel mileage as you are pushing 560 km on a full tank. Notice the KM as I live in Canada. The tire monitoring system is a guessing game in winter as with colder weather can result to lower pressure on tires. A tire indicator comes on in my 2018 model what will not label which tire it is. I could live without the pressure amount but not without the specific tire. I believe the more current versions have blind spot monitoring which is a nice safety feature to have and so many vehicles have it now.

What I do like about the 4Runner is you know what type of vehicle it is. Sure it may be a dinosaur in many ways, but it has a lot of charm. It still looks and feels like an SUV as I get tired with so many cookie cutter CUV's on the market. It is quite easy to operate as within a few days you know the overall daily habits of it. The 4X4 is a bit complex but if you have time to read the colossal manual it is a great system. Whether it is for aggressive trails or a serious snow storm, this vehicle is apocalypse lite. Only reason it is lite would be not being set up like a vehicle from Mad Max! My dog loves riding in this vehicle just for the viewing ability where he sits at also!

Another thing is the 4 Runners like mine have held their value extremely well. They barely depreciate and if a driver can put only 15K to 20K per year with regular service they almost sell nearly the same value as they were MSRP in 2018! I guess it is because they are unicorns on the sales lot and they only last for a few days if not a day. Finally I think a huge reason why 4 Runner needs to look at new powertrain options is the arrival of the Ford Bronco. I know the traditional SUV with good 4 wheel drive capability are dwindling for options, Ford has to make the competitors plan out thoroughly for the next generation model such as the Toyota 4Runner.

MF (not verified)    July 16, 2021 - 7:48PM

As long as it holds out, the performance I've heard about so far from the Rav4 Prime, is pretty great. With a few tweaks and lessons from their current models, I would buy a 4Runner Prime in a heartbeat. Those whining about power need to update their knowledge. As long as it's well-engineered, a hybrid or PHEV will have all the power you need.

Sandra craft (not verified)    July 31, 2021 - 9:31PM

In 2007 my intention was to purchase a hylander,they had redesigned to look like a family van,instead of a scaled down 4 runner with sport look good gas mi. The hylander set on cambray chassis for smooth I ditched that idea. So I opted for 4 runner 4wd sr5. The car I was driving made in USA Chevy blazer 1998,10 yr old I had replaced window motor and alternator and now the head liner was the 4 runner was my first Japanese made car. The thing about 4 runner style is it is set apart.when u see it ,u know it’s a 4 runner. Most cars and trucks look a like copy cats. My 4 runner is dependable ,I feel safe in it.I love the cargo space.I don’t get a lot of bells and whistles on my cars because they are designed to fail. My 4 runner is 15 yrs old and just as good as the day I drove it off the lot. I’ve been looking for a new car only to give my 4 runner to my son with 129,000 mi on it ,it’s still new.I’m sure I will get a 4 runner.there isn’t anything out there that has what I want.

Ted (not verified)    November 1, 2021 - 3:34PM

I've owned 4Runners for over 40 years and currently own two of them (one is kept at a second home). I want to purchase a new 4Runner now to replace my oldest one, but I won't buy another ICE vehicle. I'm forced to look to other medium size SUV manufacturers that make a hybrid model. It's too bad, but clearly, the future is electric and, in my opinion, at some point it's going to be hard to sell used ICE vehicles with the EV rebate program that is surely coming our way.

Howard Jow (not verified)    December 4, 2021 - 11:36AM

Toyota should offer both the hybrid and gas engines. This will satisfy the people who don't want the hybrid engine and offer a more efficient vehicle to everyone else.

Steve (not verified)    March 3, 2022 - 7:36PM

In reply to by Howard Jow (not verified)

Sounds like a terrible way to kill what 4Runner is all about. N/A v6 offers that longevity that hybrid and turbo 4 can’t offer. People buy them for reliable 300k mile suvs with true body on frame ruggedness. It would be like Mitsubishi calling the new SUV a evolution. Terrible. If anything just put a better transmission for highway mpg and call it a day. PS Koons Toyota, 54k for a 4Runner is robbery and killing the brand.