The Toyota 4Runner has evolved as one of the most iconic vehicles Toyota has ever produced. First built in 1984 and still on sale today, the 4runner has grown to have the remarkable off-roading capability with the latest technology.
The TRD, TRD Pro, and TRD Off-Road are 4runner’s off-road-focused trims explicitly designed for serious off-roading. The 4runner has gone through 5 generations of design. The first one had a 4-cylinder, solid-axle setup, which was a pickup truck with a fiberglass cap and a pass-through with a starting price of $10,300. The latest 4runner, powered by a V6 and offers Toyota’s off-road package, crawl control, and optional rear locking starting from $37,305 ranging up to $52,120.
Getting on to Toyota 4Runner towing capacity, let us discuss towing first. A vehicle’s manufacturer’s tow rating or specification is useless if the car does not have properly functioning components. This includes having a faulty transmission, engine, tow package, drivetrain (4WD vs. 2WD), or any part which plays a vital role in towing.
A homemade hitch or bumper-mounted ball hitch is a scary arrangement (which is a safety hazard) that some people use instead of a properly rated tow hitch. The actual tow rating can only be utilized if all the equipment is properly maintained. And the vehicle is in good working order. An old, rusty, 40-year-old SUV with worn brakes and trembling chassis does not belong on the road, let alone be driven to additional tow weight and a trailer.
Understanding the tow rating is another important thing you should be mindful of. You need to know the difference between payload, curb weight, tongue weight, gross combined weight rating, and gross vehicle weight. Say that your trailer is under the vehicle’s tow capacity.
Your vehicle and trailer better have decent brakes and preferably a trailer brake system. Some states by law require a trailer brake controller and trailer brakes if you are towing one greater than 1500 or 1000 pounds.
Weight distribution along the trailer is another critical point you should not miss when loading your trailer and hauling it across the journey. Wrong tongue weight can lead to a disaster on the highway if you have messed it up or a significant load on the rear of the trailer.
This improper loading can result in a rollover, followed by blood and maybe death. To help you understand the technical tow terms and clear the confusion between them, let’s take a look at them.
Curb Weight: The Curb Weight is the unloaded weight of the vehicle. This does not include cargo or passengers
Tongue Weight: Very critical for towing safely; the tongue weight is the amount of force the trailer puts down on the vehicle’s hitch (rear of the car). The tongue weight is dependent on the weight distribution on the trailer and its total weight. If the tongue weight is too low or too high, it will cause your vehicle to become unbalanced when moving. The sum of tongue weight, passengers, and cargo should be less than the vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is calculated by adding the vehicle’s weight with the cargo and passenger. The tongue weight should be added to the Gross Vehicle Weight if a trailer is attached to the car.
Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR): The Gross Combined Weight Rating is the sum of the vehicle’s weight, cargo, passengers, and trailer. The maximum GCWR can be calculated by the sum of the towing capacity and the curb weight, which means that if your vehicle is fully loaded with passengers and cargo, then your actual towing capacity will be less than the maximum listed.
Payload: The total weight of the load the vehicle can carry is called Payload. This includes cargo and passengers. This is calculated by subtracting the curb weight from the GVWR. Remember that tongue weight will also add to payload if a trailer is hooked.
Tow Capacity: Tow Capacity is the total amount of weight the vehicle can tow. It is determined by subtracting the curb weight from the GCWR. But do not ignore the weight of the cargo and the passengers; they also add when considering the GCWR, therefore, reducing the maximum tow capacity. You can undershoot this issue if you keep a trailer you tow to be about 25 percent less than the maximum capacity.
The towing capacity integrates these values; therefore, you should consider how one changes when you alter the other to drive and tow safely.
Getting on to the Toyota 4runner and what makes it unique for towing, unlike most modern SUVs, which are based on a car chassis, the 4runner has been based on a truck layout. Because of this design feature, the 4runner has the upper hand in terms of weight rating and towing capability.
Some of those design aspects include having a solid rear axle, hardcore yet durable suspension parts, and a rigid ladder frame chassis which you normally get on the Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Tacoma, Lexus SUVs, and Toyota Tundra. This gives the Toyota 4runner an edge over its competitors on towing.
2010 to Date: Toyota 4runner fifth generation
The latest Toyota design update was done in 2010. The 4.7-liter V8 was discontinued, and the 4-liter was continued as the only option. This step was probably taken due to fuel consumption standards. The 4.7-liter V8 Toyota 4runner gave an appalling fuel economy despite the tow rating. The fifth-generation 4runner was launched with a set tow rating of 5000 pounds; however, in 2014, this tow rating fell to 4700 pounds, while in 2016, it jumped back to 5000 pounds.
This strange rise and drop came for reasons not known. The 2016 Toyota 4runner Limited 2WD, SR5 Premium, and SR5 had a tow rating of 5000 pounds, the TRD, Trail Premium, and Trail had a tow rating of 4900 pounds. The Limited 4WD has a tow rating of 4700 pounds.
In 2017, Toyota set the tow rating for all 4runner variants at 5000 pounds. The fifth-generation Toyota 4runner’s curb weight varies from 4400 pounds to 4805 pounds depending upon the variant.
2003 to 2009: Toyota 4runner fourth generation
Toyota released the most powerful 4runner in 2003 by introducing the 2UZ-FE engine. This was an electronically fuel-injected 4.7-liter V8 with DOHC 32-valve, which pumped out 320 lb-ft of torque at 3400 rpm and 235 horsepower at 4800 rpm. The Toyota 4runner’s tow rating remained at 5000 pounds for the V8-powered variants back then.
On the other hand, the optional 1GR-FE, an EFI 4-liter V6 with DOHC 24-valve, offered a decent 283 lb-ft of torque at 3400 rpm and 245 horsepower at 5200 rpm. By 2007, Toyota introduced a hitch that offered weight distribution; this led the 2WD 4runners with V8 to tow up to 7300 pounds while the 4WD variants could tow up to 7000 pounds. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating for the Toyota 4runner for the 4WD V8 was 6005 pounds, whereas the 2WD V6 was set at 5330 pounds.
1996 to 2002: Toyota 4runner third generation
In 1996, Toyota did a full makeover of the 4runner. The old 3VZ-E 3-liter V6 and 22RE engines were removed and replaced with 5VZ-FE, which was a 3.4-liter V6, and 3RZ-FE, which was a 2.7-liter inline-four-cylinder. These two engines pumped out 217 lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm and 183 horsepower at 4800 rpm, 177 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm, and 150 horsepower at 4800 rpm, respectively.
They offered a maximum tow capacity of 5000 pounds. The Gross Combined Weight Rating for the third generation Toyota 4runner ranged from 7600 to 9200 pounds, which was for the 2WD and 4WD variants, respectively. In contrast, the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating was 5250 pounds. The curb weight of the 4WD variant was 4115 pounds, and for the 2WD variant, 3795 pounds.
1990 to 1995: Toyota 4runner second generation
Another redesign was made in 1990 when Toyota removed the 4runner’s removable fiberglass body, installed at the rear, and replaced it with a full metal roof and four doors for greater versatility. The 3-liter V6 provided 180 lb-ft of torque and 150 horsepower. The base model engine for the Toyota 4runner was the 22RE. The second-generation Toyota 4 runner offered a towing capacity of 3500 pounds through a frame-mounted hitch.
In contrast, the Gross Combined Weight Rating of this model stood at 8100 pounds and 7700 pounds for the 4WD and 2WD models, respectively. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating remained 5350 pounds, and the curb weight was approximately 3760 pounds.
1988 to 1989: Toyota 4runner third-first generation
The Toyota 4runner received an engine upgrade to a 3-liter V6 in 1988. This 3VZ-E produced 180 lb-ft of torque and 145 horsepower. This was a large engine; however, it did not increase the overall tow capacity of the Toyota 4runner; however, what it did do, was become known for losing its head gasket. This model offered a maximum tow rating of 3500 pounds with a proper tow hitch mounted on the frame of the 4runner.
1986 to 1987: Toyota 4runner second-first generation
Toyota had replaced the solid axle in favor of IFS on the 4runner in 1986. Also, it installed a turbo for the 22RE to produce a maximum torque of 173 lb-ft and 135 horsepower. The towing capacity achieved through this engine with a proper, frame-mounted tow hitch was 3500 pounds.
The optional automatic transmission, which was a new launch back then, offered only 2000 pounds of towing capacity in comparison. The Gross Combined Weight Rating for this model was less than 7000 pounds, the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating was close to 5080 pounds, and the curb weight varied between 3520 to 3760 pounds.
1984 to 1985: Toyota 4runner first-first generation
Toyota first launched the 4runner in 1984, which came with a 2.4-liter engine known as 22R and a solid axle at the front. This Toyota 4runner had parts borrowed from the DX truck. After a year, Toyota added electronic fuel injection to the 4runner in 1985, and so the engine name changed to 22RE. This upgrade provided 16 horsepower plus reliability and a little more efficiency.
This 4runner used to have a curb weight of around 3520 to 3760 pounds. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating was set at 4800 pounds, whereas the load rating varied from 700 to 300 pounds, excluding the passengers. The towing capacity for the first Toyota 4runner is expected to be around 3000 to 2500 pounds.
Maximum tow rating for the Toyota 4runner
The most powerful Toyota 4runner was launched in 2007, with a 4.7-liter V8. This 2UZ-FE produced 320 lb-ft of torque at 3400 rpm and 235 horsepower at 4800 rpm. With Toyota’s special weight-distributing tow hitch, this model could tow the greatest weight of 7000 pounds for the 4WD variants and 7300 pounds for the 2WD variants.
Is the Toyota 4runner a good option for towing a travel trailer?
The Toyota 4runner is one of the most popular and reliable SUVs, providing decent towing capability. There are quite a few trailer options available that can be hooked on to the Toyota 4runner depending on the model year and trim of the 4runner and size of the trailer. Our recommendation for towing a travel trailer would be to stay under the maximum limit for safety reasons.
Look for a trailer with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 4000 to 3500 pounds for models that offer 7000 to 5000 tow ratings even though some models have a tow rating much more than. Continuously towing the maximum capacity will gradually shorten the service life of the vehicle.
Best features of the Toyota 4runner
Toyota has always focused on providing practical yet highly reliable and durable vehicles, especially when counting off-road types. Toyota’s 4×4 vehicles, including the Land Cruiser and 4runner, have always delivered great performance off-road.
The Toyota 4runner is not just a randomly designed SUV with accessories and features installed as an afterthought. It has been built to crawl over challenging off-road terrains with usable and realistic off-roading features since it first came out in 1984.
Some of the notable features include locking hubs, tip meters, transfer cases, the exclusive TRD pack, a locking rear differential, and suspension upgrade parts availability directly from Fox and Bilstein. Moreover, the Toyota 4runner has optional factory-fitted skid plates to genuinely protect the vehicle’s body and all-terrain tires for serious off-roading capability.
Among some of the great features of the Toyota 4runner is having a fiberglass rear cap that can be removed to enjoy off-roading or to catch some air while just cruising down the road; sadly, this option was only available with the first generation 4runner only.
Tow Capacity of the Toyota 4runner by Model Year
- 2022 = 5000 pounds
- 2021 = 5000 pounds
- 2010 = 5000 pounds
- 2019 = 5000 pounds
- 2018 = 5000 pounds
- 2017 = 5000 pounds
- 2016 = for Limited 4WD 4700 pounds; for TRD, Trail Premium and Trail 4900 pounds; for Limited 2WD, SR5 Premium and SR5, 5000 pounds
- 2015 = 5000 pounds
- 2014 = 5000 pounds
- 2013 = 5000 pounds
- 2012 = 5000 pounds
- 2011 = 5000 pounds
- 2010 = 5000 pounds
- 2009 = for 4WD 7000 pounds; for 2WD 7300 pounds
- 2008 = for 4WD 7000 pounds; for 2WD 7300 pounds
- 2007 = for 4WD 7000 pounds; for 2WD 7300 pounds
- 2006 = for 4WD 7000 pounds; for 2WD 7300 pounds
- 2005 = for 4WD 7000 pounds; for 2WD 7300 pounds
- 2004 = for 4WD 7000 pounds; for 2WD 7300 pounds
- 2003 = 5000 pounds
- 2002 = 5000 pounds
- 2001 = 5000 pounds
- 2000 = 5000 pounds
- 1999 = 5000 pounds
- 1998 = 5000 pounds
- 1997 = 5000 pounds
- 1996 = 5000 pounds
- 1995 = with a proper frame-mounted tow hitch, 3500 pounds
- 1994 = with a proper frame-mounted tow hitch, 3500 pounds
- 1993 = with a proper frame-mounted tow hitch, 3500 pounds
- 1992 = with a proper frame-mounted tow hitch, 3500 pounds
- 1991 = with a proper frame-mounted tow hitch, 3500 pounds
- 1990 = with a proper frame-mounted tow hitch, 3500 pounds
- 1989 = with a proper frame-mounted tow hitch, 3500 pounds
- 1988 = with a proper frame-mounted tow hitch, 3500 pounds
- 1987 = with a proper frame-mounted tow hitch, 3500 pounds
- 1986 = with a proper frame-mounted tow hitch, 3500 pounds
- 1985 = approximately 3000 to 2500 pounds
- 1984 = approximately 3000 to 2500 pounds
Toyota 4runner Pros
• Great value for money
• Large cargo capacity
• Rough and tough trail capability
• Reliable and durable build quality
Toyota 4runner Cons
• Second-row seats are cramped
• Thirsty and slow when compared with the competition
• Road manners not quite refined
What we think about the 2022 Toyota 4runner
The Toyota 4runner’s fifth-generation has been on sale since 2010, and with this time, it does look outdated. Compared to competing SUVs, the 4runner lags in efficiency, safety, road manners, and technology. So what does the Toyota 4runner excels in? Well, as a midsized SUV, the Toyota 4runner goes unbeaten for its off-road capability. The 4runner’s off-roading hardware, especially in the TRD variants, helps it venture over the most extreme terrains. There are very few vehicles that provide the power and capability the 4runner offers, which is why it still sells today, even though it is outdated.
However, if you are not into off-roading, we would not recommend the 2022 Toyota 4runner. There are quite several better options available at this price point that provide a more comfortable drive and are also more efficient and offer better technological features. The Toyota 4runner is for those who want to get dirty and focus on solid off-road capability. It can compromise little on-road manners and comfort.
Fuel efficiency and performance the 2022 Toyota 4runner
The fifth-generation Toyota 4runner’s 4-liter V6 produces 278 lb-ft of torque and 270 horsepower. The transmission is a 5-speed automatic available in 4WD, and RWD 4runner trims. The fuel economy is poor at 16 miles per gallon in the city and 19 miles per gallon on the highway. The 2022 Toyota 4runner comes in slow with a 0-60 mph time of 7.5 to 8 seconds, depending on the trim.
The Toyota 4runner 2022 gets a mediocre safety rating, as proved from its identical 2021 model. Overall, it earned four out of five stars in safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earned four stars for front-impact and five stars for side crash protection; however, it earned only three stars in rollover protection. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Toyota 4runner 2021 model earned Good, the top score in four crash protection tests.
The 2022 Toyota 4runner gets fog lamps and LED headlights as standard on all trims. Additionally, all 4runner trims get eight airbags. Optional active safety and driver-assist features include automatic emergency braking, high beams, and lane departure warning. However, old adaptive cruise control does also come as standard, which does not function below 25 mph.
The Toyota 4runner can tow a decent travel trailer, but how many passengers can it carry?
The 2022 Toyota 4runner comes with a five-seat, two-row arrangement which is standard. However, the Limited, SR5, and SR5 Premium trims can go for a third row which increases overall seating capacity to seven.
Compared to the 40.1 inches of front-row headroom offered by the Subaru Outback, the Toyota 4runner offers 39.3 inches. Similarly, the 4runner gets 38.6 inches in the second row, whereas the Outback offers 39.1 inches. The Outback has a front-row leg-space of 42.8 inches, whereas the 4runner has 41.7 inches. Surprisingly, the 4runner gets even smaller in the second row, with only 32.9 inches of leg space compared to Outback’s 39.5 inches. The Subaru Outback does not offer a third-row, though, while the Toyota 4runner does, it is cramped back there, with a leg-space of 29.3 inches and headroom of 34.3 inches.
The available cargo space the Toyota 4runner offers is 47.2 cubic inches behind the second row of seats and up to 89.7 cubic feet when the second row is folded. In comparison, the Subaru Outback offers 75.5 cubic feet of space when the second row of seats is folded and 32.5 cubic feet of space behind the second row.
The Toyota 4runner gets 5 USB ports at the front and second row of the vehicle, an optional JBL 15-speaker premium audio system that replaces the standard sound system, which only has eight speakers, and an 8-inch touchscreen for infotainment. The higher-end trims get a built-in navigation system, whereas Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on all 4runners.
Now let’s look at some questions people usually ask while inquiring about the Toyota 4runner’s towing capacity.
Question: How much towing capacity does a 4Runner have?
Answer: The fifth-generation Toyota 4Runner offers a towing capacity of 5000 pounds through its 4-liter V6, which pumps out 278 lb-ft of torque and 270 horsepower.
Question: Can a 4Runner tow 7000 lbs?
Answer: The fourth-generation Toyota 4Runner, which came with a 4.7-liter V8, offered a maximum tow capacity of 7000 pounds in the entire 4Runner lineup. The model year covered in this generation is from 2004 to 2009.
Question: Can a 4Runner tow more than 5000 lbs?
Answer: Well, the fifth-generation Toyota 4Runner can tow a maximum of 5000 pounds; however, the fourth-generation 4Runner can tow up to 7000 pounds.
Question: Is a Toyota 4Runner good for towing?
Answer: The Toyota 4Runner can tow up to 5000 pounds and handle up to 500 pounds of tongue weight, which is enough to tow regular loads.
Question: What happens if you tow more than capacity?
Answer: Towing more than rated capacity not only puts lives at risk but also strains the transmission, engine, tires, brakes, and warps the chassis. This could lead to catastrophic failure and cause injury while driving.
Question: Can a V6 4Runner tow a car?
Answer: The Toyota 4Runner with a V6 engine has a towing capacity of 5000 pounds, which means it could easily handle towing any car which is less than 5000 pounds.
Question: What kind of camper can a 4Runner pull?
Answer: A Toyota 4Runner will easily pull a small travel trailer such as Airstreams. It is recommended to check the trailer’s dry weight first, which is the trailer’s weight without any gear loaded inside.
Question: Can a four runner pull a horse trailer?
Answer: A horse trailer can be towed by the Toyota 4Runner as long as electric brakes and a properly rated tow hitch is used for the trailer.
Question: Do Toyota 4Runners come with a V8?
Answer: The current fifth-generation Toyota 4Runner comes with a V6 4-liter engine; however, the previous fourth generation came with a 4.7-liter V8.
The Toyota 4runner offers a maximum towing capacity of 5000 pounds and is available in several trims. You should pick the trim which fulfills your requirement; going for the top trim simply means overkill. So which one should you choose? The SR5 Premium is a nice option, which at $41,000 is only $3000 more than the SR5.
Still, it adds a touch of luxury through heated and powered front seats, leather upholstery, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and foldable second row of seats. On the other hand, the SR5 only offers LED headlights, keyless entry, and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, including in the SR5 Premium package.
If you are looking forward to spending more time towing off-road, consider buying the TRD trims, which start at $52,000. It might seem like extra money, but that is for the hardware, which makes the 4Runner geared up for off-roading; you can skip this model, though, if you will not be using it practically. The Toyota 4Runner Limited trim is another variant that comes fully loaded with luxury. Of course, it’s not as luxurious as its competitors, but that’s the best you can get in a 4Runner.
The TRD Off-road package, which stands for Toyota Racing Development, tunes the 4Runner for off-road performance. This package gets the 4Runner with a locking rear differential, skid plates, mud flaps, and a hood scoop. It also integrates trail technology, including different driving modes for types of terrain, hill brake hold, and low-speed cruise control.
The TRD Pro package gets the most off-roading features to the 4Runner. This includes tuned springs and Fox shock absorbers. The wheels comprise 17-inch, black alloy rims and all-terrain tires. Besides black badges and a roof rack, this trim also gets a heavy-duty skid plate.
For a more road-oriented approach, the TRD Sport is available, which integrates a unique X-REAS system that, based on road conditions, adjusts the cross-linked dampers to provide a more stable and controlled driving experience. It includes body-colored exterior trim, 20-inch alloy rims, and contrasting interior stitching. The TRD Sport is the only available TRD trim available as RWD.
Now that you have all the information regarding the Toyota 4Runner’s towing capacity and features, you can go ahead and decide to buy the model that fulfills your needs the best. If you want to tow loads up to 5000 pounds, you can go for the latest fifth-generation Toyota 4Runner. However, if your load exceeds this range, you can check out the fourth-generation Toyota 4Runner, which was available from 2004 to 2009. It had a 4.7-liter V8 which can tow loads up to 7300 pounds.
Nonetheless, more Toyota SUVs are available that can tow more than the Toyota 4Runner without compromising off-road capability. For example, the Toyota Sequoia and the Land Cruiser can tow much more than the Toyota 4Runner. The Toyota Sequoia has a 5.7-liter V8 coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission which pumps out 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque, which can tow up to 7400 pounds.
On the other hand, the legendary Toyota Land Cruiser can tow up to 8100 pounds. It also has the same 5.7-liter V8 but with 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s also quite expensive, though; almost double the price of the 4Runner. But the Land Cruiser is known globally for being extremely durable, which is why it holds such an exceptional resale value.
Remember, there is no need to waste money and get the top-of-the-line Toyota 4Runner trim if you will not utilize all of its features. Similarly, remember not to tow anything more than the rated capacity, which is a safety hazard and can seriously cause damage and injury, which may be fatal. Lastly, always use a properly rated tow hitch and distribute weight evenly on the trailer. Happy towing!