2018 Toyota Highlander

Starting Price:  $32,275 | Price Yours 

Above Average: Easy to use, easy to drive, unbeaten track record, diverse drivetrain choices

Below Average: Infotainment features, interior volume

Consensus: Hard to go wrong with Highlander

 

2018 Toyota 4Runner

Starting Price: $35,655 | Price Yours

Above Average: Towing capability, great resale value

Below Average: Price, exterior styling, handling

Consensus: An expensive choice for an SUV in need of a makeover

 

The 2018 Toyota Highlander is an eight-passenger crossover SUV that puts family first, especially those that number up to eight. It features up-to-date creature comforts (save for the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), including the Driver Easy Speak intercom system that takes that “don’t make me stop this car” warning to a new level and all the way back to the third row. Refreshed in 2017, it remains unchanged for 2018. The hybrid offers nearly 30 mpg in the city. The Highlander offers three powertrains: a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, a 3.5-liter V6 engine, or its more powerful 3.5-liter V6 hybrid sibling. The utility of the vehicle is surpassed by its comfortable ride. Then there's the 2018 Toyota 4Runner. Body-on-frame SUVs are becoming rarer than hen’s teeth. So, in this case, the 4Runner is akin to the last of the Mohicans, or, at least one of them. The 4Runner, capable of carrying 5 or 7 passengers, depending on configuration, handles everything from paved streets and highways to locations the competition can only dream of. There are six trim levels, and TRD models include 4WD, locking rear differential and multi-terrain select with crawl control. Depending on trim, other drivetrains include (rear) 2WD, part-time 4WD, and full-time 4WD with a limited slip locking center differential. Available TRD Pro Series model adds off-road Nitto Terra Grappler tires, Bilstein shocks, and skidplates.

Toyota Highlander Advantages

Includes a full complement of safety features including pre-collision warning and braking, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning. Offers a more comfortable ride and roomier interior, but is only mildly off-road capable. Better fuel economy than the 4Runner.

Toyota 4Runner Advantages

More off-road capable. Trucklike ride is not unbearable on-road. Narrow body with 9.6 inches of ground clearance. Standard roof rack and available Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System make it more off-roadable.

Similarities

Both Toyotas can carry large groups, although drawing the short straw may result in sitting in the tight confines of the “way-back.”

Final Recommendation

Think of the Toyota brand’s Highlander as a pair of dress shoes, able to take you from boardwalk to boardroom, while the 4Runner is more like a pair of lug-soled Timberlands. Each pair has a purpose, but neither are exactly the right choice for all situations. If directions to your destination include such phrases as “continue down dirt road for 20 miles, then turn left and rock crawl down the hill,” we think the Toyota 4Runner would be a perfect vehicle. If highway cruising to Wally World is more your style, check out the comfort of the Toyota Highlander. In essence, the 4Runner’s higher price is a premium cost for its extra off-road capabilities.

  2018 Toyota Highlander 2018 Toyota 4Runner
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 2.7-liter I4 4.0-liter V6
Horsepower 185 hp @ 5,800 rpm 270 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque 184 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm 278 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission Automatic 6-spd Automatic, 5-spd
Fuel Economy 22 mpg (20 city/24 hwy) 18 mpg (17 city/21 hwy)
Also Available 3.5L V6, 3.5L V6 Hybrid, Automatic 8-Spd Three-row seating
Specs    
Warranty 3 years or 36,000 miles 3 years or 36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5 Stars 4 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 8 passengers 7 passengers
Wheelbase 109.8 inches 109.8 inches
Overall Length 192.5 inches 190.7 inches
Width 75.8 inches 75.8 inches
Height 70.0 inches 71.5 inches
Turning Diameter 38.7 feet 38.9 feet
Headroom, Front 39.5 inches 38.6 inches
Headroom, Rear 35.9 inches 38.6 inches
Legroom, Front 44.2 inches 41.7 inches
Legroom, Rear 27.7 inches 32.9 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 59.3 inches 57.8 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.0 inches 57.8 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 142.2 cu. ft. 97.3 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 83.2 cu. ft. 89.7 cu. ft.
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