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Why a Next-Gen 2022 Toyota 4Runner Hybrid Makes Sense

The Toyota 4Runner is a proven commodity for many reasons: dependability, off-roading capabilities and for being really fun to drive. Could a 4Runner Hybrid be next?


Toyota is in the midst of a remarkable shift in philosophy from a gasoline mindset to one of electric. The giant automaker recently announced an aggressive company-wide plan toward electric-driven sales. This includes EVs (electric vehicles), along with hybrid and hydrogen vehicles.

In fact, Toyota plans for 50% of its global sales to be electric-related by the year 2025. This is not the entire story, though. The most remarkable fact is that Toyota originally planned for this lofty goal to be accomplished by the year 2030. They recently bumped this deadline up by a whopping 5 years.

With sales skyrocketing for popular models like RAV4 Hybrid and Camry Hybrid, I can see why public demand has altered Toyota’s thinking. People want fuel efficiency. They also want to protect their environment.

This leads me to wonder what models will follow suit in the coming years. Could Toyota 4Runner be next?

What does 2019 Toyota 4Runner bring to the table now?

First off, the 2019 4Runner is available with a 4.0-liter V6 engine that produces 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. torque. This is paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission.

People in the market for a durable and reliable SUV often look to the Toyota 4Runner for a variety of reasons. As it is a body-on-frame design, it was built to withstand the challenging twists and pulls and strains that treacherous, uneven ground and terrain can put on an SUV. The 4Runner is often referred to by industry enthusiasts as “the last true SUV on the planet.”

For those owners who plan on staying mainly on city streets and long stretches of highway, a 4x2 rear-wheel drive (RWD) 4Runner is a logical choice. Part-time 4WD is most common in the 4Runner, and this is for those folks who need four-wheel drive performance in heavy rain, sand, mud, snow and for challenging terrain.

Why would a Hybrid Toyota 4Runner make sense though?

All auto manufacturers must constantly monitor government requirements and respond accordingly. Continuously changing industry-wide mandates will force automakers to improve their individual model and brand fuel efficiency within the next few years. This will affect not only passenger cars, but also trucks and SUVs as well.

It is expected that a new redesigned Toyota 4Runner will make its way into dealerships for the 2022 model year. With it should bring not only updated exterior and interior styling, but also an updated powertrain as well.

Not every driver of a 4Runner plans on using it to its maximum limits while traversing that next difficult mountain pass. Many use it as a commuter or family road trip vehicle. This may fit perfectly with the development of, dare I say it, a 4Runner Hybrid.

Toyota 4Runner Hybrid – it has a certain ring to it

Offering a Hybrid alternative to the 4Runner lineup makes sense in a number of ways. First off, improving that all-important MPG will satisfy higher government fuel expectations. Also, it will save owners tremendously in their wallets.

Currently, all 4Runner 4x2 models offer gas mileage of 17 city / 21 highway / 18 combined and 17 city / 20 highway / 18 combined with all 4x4 models.

Let's Compare All 2019 4Runner models side-by-side and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily Toyota and automotive news analysis.

What could fuel estimates be for a 4Runner Hybrid?

Toyota already has an extremely impressive fleet of Hybrid models to offer its customers.

The all-New RAV4 Hybrid features fuel mileage of 40 MPG combined. The Prius offers drivers up to 56 MPG combined, while Prius Prime can back up its estimates of an unbelievable 133 MPGe. Drivers can expect up to 52 MPG combined with its very popular 2019 Camry LE Hybrid.

What about the SUV market? Excitement is building for the arrival of the all-new next-generation 2020 Highlander that will hit dealerships around December. The Highlander Hybrid will show incredible MPG estimates rated at an incredible 34 MPG combined.

This brings me to my speculation on what a 2022 Toyota 4Runner Hybrid would look like at the gas pumps. Do you think we can expect to see it would rate at a combined 25 MPG? Could it reach or surpass 30 MPG? Also, would you be interested in purchasing a 4Runner Hybrid if it was made available?

Watch 6 changes coming tot he 2020 Toyota 4Runner and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily Toyota and automotive news analysis.

Thanks for reading everyone. See you next story…

Jeff Teague is a Toyota news reporter at Torque News. You can reach Jeff on Facebook and Instagram. Twitter @toyotajeff1 and tweet him tips for new stories. Jeff also shares Toyota news videos on his Youtube Channel at ToyotaJeff1.


Digitaldoc (not verified)    July 24, 2019 - 12:20PM

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 spd tranny (it is a 5 spd 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 love... one of these decades!

cremari (not verified)    September 21, 2020 - 12:29PM

In reply to by Digitaldoc (not verified)

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...I read somewhere the engine would be twin turbo V6 hybrid

Enthusiast (not verified)    December 24, 2020 - 9:59PM

In reply to by Digitaldoc (not verified)

If the 4Runner had anything close to my 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, I would've settled for it instead. I just love the rugged look of the 4Runner. I love the Highlander Hybrid better overall, but Gas Mileage was the dealbreaker.

KC (not verified)    July 25, 2019 - 8:33PM

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. But I love the 4Runner as my family has had them for decades. I hope they offer it as a hybrid. Not in place of a standard gas engine, but as an option for guys like me who drive it mostly on-road but need that off-road capability from time to time without the need for huge towing capacity (if I needed that I wouldn’t switch from a Tundra. Trust me, the market is there, and you don’t have to alienate the die hard off-roaders to offer it.

Francesca (not verified)    March 16, 2020 - 2:39PM

YES! I would LOVE to see a Hybrid 4-runner! I am a fan of the "truck look", i.e. higher stance, larger windows, square body shape. I am so turned off by the "used bar of soap" look that ALL SUVs seem to have these days.
Bring it on! Toyota does Hybrids best!

Michael Kohl (not verified)    April 13, 2020 - 3:24AM

I've driven one car my entire life: my beloved 2001 Toyota 4Runner. She still works great. BUT, if Toyota came out with a 4Runner Hybrid, I would buy it in a heartbeat. PLEASE, Toyota... make this happen.

Denise Tolley (not verified)    April 18, 2020 - 11:49AM

A 4Runner Hybrid is an excellent maneuver. It would be an actual improvement. My fear is that Toyota will follow other trends and redesign the body so much that it looks like a minivan (like Honda did with the Pilot). If I wanted a minivan I would have bought a minivan. The 4Runner has a look that makes it stand out. By all means, make it competitive with hybrids. Please don’t conform with the body.

Justin (not verified)    April 28, 2020 - 10:08PM

I would love to see 4x4 4Runner model with 30mpg optional 3 row and all of the off road capabilities of the current 4Runner. The 4Runner is one of the most popular overland rigs and fuel efficiency just makes sense.

chris (not verified)    June 17, 2020 - 4:04PM

A 4Runner Hybrid would be truly epic. I predict the mpg to be around 35mpg combined and a new 4 cylinder engine instead of the 6 cylinder. I know that's pretty insane to even think of for 4Runner fans but even a Jeep Rubicon uses a 4 cylinder and they put a turbo on it. But modern American turbos don't last past 5 years. So I think hybrid is the next step for the next gen 4Runner. And I'll be first in line to get one!

TheLegend (not verified)    August 22, 2020 - 3:30PM

This guy creating rumours wanting hybrid 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 isnt a lot of future hybrid info for the 4Runner. You may want to look at a different career . Rumours and fake news. Your part of it to create more ad revenue.

Jeff Teague    November 29, 2020 - 8:21AM

In reply to by TheLegend (not verified)

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them. I do know Toyota pretty well. I have represented Toyota for 15 years and I review them on my "Toyotajeff" YouTube channel. Over 750 review and how-to Toyota videos. I do understand the market and the changing and evolving climate. I might be wrong. That is why it was an editorial and opinion piece I wrote. TheLegend I invite you to write to me when the next-gen comes out and see if I was right or wrong. I don't mind being wrong at all. I bet I'm right. Thanks again for reading! Jeff

Al (not verified)    January 19, 2021 - 10:44AM

I would like to see a 3.5L V6 Hybrid with a 6 or 8 spd auto (no cvt please) on the 4Runner as it will help bump up its fuel efficiency yet still keep its ability to tow and drive briskly when needed. A four cylinder hybrid will kill the soul of this vehicle.

If Toyota does choose to go the 4 cylinder route, then a turbo diesel hybrid would suffice.

Al (not verified)    July 11, 2021 - 11:15PM

In reply to by 2013Trail (not verified)

By adding an electric motor you are essentially increasing torque down low as an electric motor has its max torque when it starts up. This will give the 3.5L the charateristic of a V8 without the fuel economy hit.

Jram (not verified)    January 24, 2021 - 2:18AM

PLEASE for goodness sake, 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.

Dennis L. (not verified)    February 3, 2021 - 12:45AM

If I could get the brand new fully redesigned version with the blacked out TRD wheels and blacked out emblems and grill, with the 2019 Voodoo blue, with a hybrid powertrain that had more power than the current engine, and with an app where I can remote start it from my phone, I'd be ordering one at the dealership the day they started selling them.

2013Trail (not verified)    July 6, 2021 - 1:53PM

The things they're struggling with are packaging and getting the hybrid system to play nice with the 4x4 system.

They're doing it to the Tundra first, and once they can get the Tundra to work (larger package, easier to fit) then they're going to do the 4R and the Taco.

Willing to bet it's a version of the Dynamic Force V6 (without turbos, probably close to 2.8-3.0L) that goes in to the 4R Hybrid, and the standard naturally aspirated V6 will be in the 3.7-3.8L Range, also with vastly improved fuel economy, because of the long stroke's better torque curve.