2020 Toyota 4Runner vs 2020 Toyota Highlander: Head to Head

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Toyota’s mid-size SUV stands out in comparison


It is common, during comparisons, to find oneself in a particular pickle: the brand has two compounds of the same class. The 2020 Toyota Highlander and Toyota 4Runner are both midsize SUVs. Both models have been around for quite some time and have fans. But even at first glance, they are completely different. Surely they should have other differences too?

We compared it head-to-head in nearly a dozen categories to find the best midsize SUV. We looked at everything from price and horsepower to the seat comfort and information systems, and declared every game a win.

We update our results as new information becomes available, so the scores mentioned in this slideshow may not fully correspond to the full assessments.

Only one of Toyota’s SUVs could be a winner, so let’s see what wins.

2020 Toyota 4Runner vs 2020 Toyota Highlander: Head to Head

  • Price: 2020 Toyota Highlander
  • Reliability: 2020 Toyota 4Runner
  • Seat Comfort: 2020 Toyota 4Runner
  • Cargo Space: 2020 Toyota Highlander
  • Interior Quality: 2020 Toyota Highlander
  • Interior Features: 2020 Toyota Highlander
  • Acceleration: 2020 Toyota Highlander
  • Fuel Economy: 2020 Toyota Highlander
  • Ride and Handling: 2020 Toyota Highlander
  • Off-roading: 2020 Toyota 4Runner
  • Safety: 2020 Toyota Highlander


Winner: 2020 Toyota Highlander

File:2020 Toyota Highlander XLE AWD, rear 2.21.20.jpg - Wikimedia Commons


Toyota Highlander has been completely redesigned for the 2020 model year, so it may come as a surprise that its price is the lowest. The base version starts at $ 34,600, while the 4Runner costs $ 36,120. When you upgrade to the highest level in every vehicle, the Highlander is more expensive. The Highlander top starts at $ 46,850 while the top version 4Runner TRD starts at $ 49,760.


Winner: Toyota 4Runner 2020

Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro | Jacob Frey 4A | Flickr

Toyota 4Runner has an above average reliability rating. The Highlander was just behind the curve, with the average reliability rating being estimated among other vehicles.

Both models come with a three-year / 36,000-mile base warranty and a five-year / 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Seat comfort

Winner: Toyota 4Runner 2020

HD wallpaper: LED Screen car headrest monitor with red frame for back seat  passengers | Wallpaper Flare

4Runner has more space in the second row, especially when it comes to overhead space. The rear seats also recline, giving passengers more ways to feel comfortable. The front seats provide enough support for long trips, and there’s also plenty of headroom. A third row of seats is available, but it is very narrow and is best left for children.

Highlander comes standard with three rows of seats, with an optional second-row seat seat to increase capacity from seven to eight passengers. Taller passengers may think the roof is a bit low in the first and second rows, and the third row is a perfect fit, even for children. The 4Runner and Highlander both offer heated and ventilated front seats, but the Highlander also offers a heated second row.

Cargo space

Winner: 2020 Toyota Highlander

File:Matrix Interior.jpg - Wikipedia

The Highlander and the 4Runner are both mid-size SUVs and have the same total space, but the cargo spaces are configured differently. Highlander has 48.4 cubic feet behind the second row of seats, while the 4Runner has 47.2 cubic feet without the third row. But if you fold the second row of seats down, the 4Runner will have 90 cubic feet of total cargo space, while the Highlander has 84.3 cubic feet with the second row folded down.

Ultimately, we decided to give this narrow victory to the Highlander, as most families will use the second row of seats for people rather than fold up cargo space. The Highlander also features a hands-free power tailgate with height adjustment. Cargo space is a personal preference, however, if you know that you carry more gear than passengers, a more square option 4Runner might be the better option.

Interior quality

Winner: 2020 Toyota Highlander

File:2020-21 Toyota Corolla (Corolla Altis) 1.8 Auto interior in Brunei.jpg  - Wikimedia Commons

The Toyota Highlander has been completely redesigned this year, and the interior upgrades are very nice, including the use of soft plastic. The design is modern and the fit and finish are excellent. Fabric seats are standard, and SofTex synthetic leather or genuine leather upholstery is available

On the other hand, the 4Runner hasn’t been redesigned in years, and it shows. The design looks old and boring, and hard plastic is used throughout the cabin. As with the Highlander, fabric upholstery is standard, with synthetic and genuine leather options available.

Interior features

Winner: 2020 Toyota Highlander

File:Toyota CAMRY G"Leather Package" (DAA-AXVH70-AEXNB) interior.jpg -  Wikimedia Commons

4Runner and Highlander share the same 8-inch touchscreen and are both compatible with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa. The Highlander won this category for the features that set it apart, such as a standard Wi-Fi access point and five USB ports. 12.3-inch screen and wireless charging are available. The Highlander also has Driver Easy Speak, which sends the driver’s voice via a microphone to the speakers in the back of the SUV.

4Runner’s infotainment system is the same as that of the Highlander, but offers fewer improvements. Drivers who prefer knobs and knobs for things like the 4Runner’s volume and climate control will find it.


Winner: 2020 Toyota Highlander

Toyota Highlander - Wikipedia

Highlander is the most midsize SUV, with 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque. It has a 3.5 liter V6 engine paired with a smooth eight-speed transmission. Others in the class can speed up faster, but the Highlander does well in most situations.

The 4Runner, on the other hand, has a 4.0-liter V6 that produces only 270 hp. It is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, which is rare in the world of seven- and eight-speed cars. That’s enough power going forward, but not as fast as most of its competitors.

Fuel economy

Winner: 2020 Toyota Highlander

Toyota Highlander | Jason Lawrence | Flickr

The Highlander’s more modern powertrain also offers more modern fuel ratings, with 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. These numbers are slightly higher than average for a midsize SUV.

The old 4Runner engine also shifts to old-fashioned gas mileage. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ratings are 16 mpg city and 19 mpg highway, and are among the worst in its class.

Driving and handling

Winner: 2020 Toyota Highlander

File:2020 Toyota Highlander XLE AWD, front 6.6.20.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Highlander provides a comfortable and smooth ride. It’s easy to drive and has a lot of stopping power, although it’s not as sporty as some competitors.

4Runner continues to stick to its old habits by building a body on a frame that gives it a challenging, truck-like ride. It leans at corners and the steering can slip slightly on the highway, requiring steady small adjustments.

Off the track

Winner: Toyota 4Runner 2020

Toyota,off-road,extreme,free pictures, free photos - free image from


The 4Runner is clearly a winner when it comes to getting off the sidewalk. There are two versions of the TRD that add off-road features like four-wheel drive, a rear differential lock, creep control, upgraded shocks and springs, and a front skid plate.

Although four-wheel drive is available for the Highlander, this SUV is more comfortable on the highways than far from civilization. It can take quite a bit of off-road driving, like dirt roads to campsites and driveways.


Winner: 2020 Toyota Highlander

File:2020 Toyota Highlander XLE AWD, front (2) 6.6.20.jpg - Wikimedia  Commons

It’s hard to beat the perfect result from Highlander. It has the highest marks from the Insurance Institute for Road Safety (IIHS) on all tests, including preventing a frontal collision. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 driver assistance feature sets are standard, including cyclist and pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, head-up display and traffic light recognition. Some other safety features are also available, such as rear cross traffic alert.

This year the 4Runner has Safety Sense P for the first time as standard equipment. Although not as comprehensive as Safety Sense 2.0, it does come with popular technologies such as adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, and emergency braking.

The winner is …

2020 Toyota Highlander

Fichier:2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD front NYIAS 2019.jpg — Wikipédia


Toyota Highlander 2020 is clearly the winner of this competition. Its recent redesign gives it a feeling of freshness and modern technology. It ticks the boxes most buyers have on their list, for lower price, more capacity, great degree of safety, and very good gas mileage. The redesign also added more cargo space and technology to keep busy families happy.

The 2020 Toyota 4Runner has seen some improvements this year, including safety technology and an improved infotainment system with a larger screen. But a full overhaul is long overdue, which is evident in its outdated design, low fuel economy ratings and outdated powertrain. The 4Runner is the only obvious choice if off-road driving is a lifestyle, as the available TRD models are very capable of off-roading.

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