2022 Toyota Highlander vs. 2022 4Runner: Brotherly SUV Love

If you’re drawn to the reliability and quality of a Toyota and want a midsize SUV, then you have two choices: the Highlander and the 4Runner. While the two SUV siblings share similarities in terms of size and the availability of three-row seating, there are many differences between them. Take a closer look with this 2022 Toyota Highlander vs. 2022 4Runner comparison. Will the Highlander and 4Runner fight to claim the title of best Toyota SUV — are will they show brotherly SUV love?

2022 Toyota Highlander vs. 2022 Toyota 4Runner: What are the differences?

Gray 2022 Toyota Highlander with tall buildings in the background
2022 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

In determining the differences between the 2022 Toyota Highlander and 2022 Toyota 4Runner, we evaluated several factors. This includes performance, efficiency, towing, off-road capabilities, safety, passenger and cargo space, interior features and technologies, reliability, and price.

Highlander vs. 4Runner: Performance, efficiency, and towing

Red 2022 Toyota Highlander parked near a beach
2022 Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

On the performance front, the 4Runner has a 4.0-liter V6 engine. It doles out 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. In comparison, the Highlander offers two powertrains: a 3.5-liter V6 engine that churns out 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque and a hybrid powertrain, with a total system output of 243 hp. Also, the Highlander provides a smoother ride and better on-road driving characteristics than the 4Runner. 

For efficiency, the Highlander has the advantage. The gas-powered Highlander has a fuel economy of up to 21 city/29 highway mpg, while the Highlander Hybrid has a gas mileage of up to 36 city/35 highway mpg. In comparison, the 4Runner has a fuel-efficiency rating of only 16 city/19 highway mpg.

For towing, both the gas-powered Highlander and the 4Runner have a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. However, the Highlander Hybrid can tow only 3,500 pounds.

Highlander vs. 4Runner: Off-road capabilities

The 4Runner has a definitive advantage for off-road capabilities. For one, it has a higher ground clearance than the Highlander (up to 9.6 vs. 8.0 inches). Also, it has a more capable four-wheel drive system with an available transfer case, compared to the basic all-wheel drive system for the Highlander. Furthermore, unlike the Highlander, the 4Runner offers an off-road-focused model with the TRD Pro, which includes off-road features like all-terrain tires, off-road drive modes, and an off-road-tuned suspension.

Highlander vs. 4Runner: Safety

The Highlander has the advantage for safety. For the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Highlander earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ score, which is the highest possible score. In comparison, the 4Runner wasn’t recommended by IIHS as either a Top Safety Pick or a Top Safety Pick+ and only earned a Marginal rating for the driver’s side small overlap front test. Also, the Highlander fared better for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing, with an overall five-star rating, compared to the four-star rating for the 4Runner. 

Highlander vs. 4Runner: Passenger and cargo space (Which is bigger?)

When deciding between the Highlander and 4Runner, one of the most frequent questions that prospective buyers ask is, “Which one is bigger?” In terms of exterior dimensions, the Highlander is slightly bigger than the 4Runner, with a longer wheelbase and overall length. This larger size results in a more spacious interior for the Highlander. It has a total passenger volume of 141.3 cu-ft, compared to 128.0 cu-ft for the 4Runner three-row model and 93.7 cu-ft for the two-row model.

However, the 4Runner has more storage space. It has a maximum cargo capacity of 89.7 cu-ft, compared to 84.3 cu-ft for the Highlander. 

Highlander vs. 4Runner: Interior features and technologies

The Highlander has a much more upscale and high-quality interior than the 4Runner, which is more rugged and utilitarian. As you move up to the higher trims, the differences in interior quality are more apparent, with more premium materials and features for the Highlander. For example, unlike the 4Runner, the Highlander offers heated 2nd-row seats.

Both the Highlander and 4Runner have a similar roster of interior technologies, including nearly the same infotainment system, as well as a Wi-Fi hotspot and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. However, the Highlander offers a larger touchscreen for the infotainment system, with a 12.3-inch version, compared to the 8.0-inch version for the 4Runner.

Highlander vs. 4Runner: Which SUV is more reliable?

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Another frequent question from buyers comparing the Highlander and 4Runner is, “Which SUV is more reliable? In terms of Consumer Reports predicted reliability ratings, the 4Runner is more reliable, with a score of 5/5, compared to 4/5 for the Highlander. With its durable and high-strength body structure, the 4Runner can handle the rigors of long-term use.

Highlander vs. 4Runner: Price

For price/cost, the 2022 Highlander is more affordable than the 2022 4Runner. The starting price for the 2022 Highlander ranges from $35,205 MSRP for the L trim up to $47,560 MSRP for the Platinum trim. For the 2022 4Runner, starting prices range from $37,305 MSRP for the SR5 trim up to $52,120 MSRP for the TRD Pro trim.

2022 Toyota Highlander vs. 2022 Toyota 4Runner: Which Toyota SUV is better?

So, which Toyota SUV is better? Which one is the best? As you can see from our 2022 Toyota Highlander vs. 2022 Toyota 4Runner comparison, there is no clear answer, and it depends on your needs and preferences. Advantages for the Highlander include on-road driving characteristics, efficiency, safety, passenger space, interior features and technologies, and price. For the 4Runner, advantages include off-road capabilities, cargo space, and reliability.

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