Toyota SUVs: Comparing the RAV4, Highlander, and 4Runner

By: Nelson Toyota   |   04 Apr 2024

When it comes to choosing the perfect SUV, performance is undeniably a significant factor in the decision-making process. Toyota's SUV lineup offers an outstanding selection of vehicles that cater to diverse needs, preferences, and lifestyles. With so many options, it can be challenging to determine which Toyota SUV is the ideal fit for you. As the second-oldest Toyota dealership in British Columbia, Nelson Toyota is proud to have served Nelson and the West Kootenays since 1969, offering unrivalled expertise in helping you find the perfect vehicle to fit your lifestyle.

In this article, we will compare the performance capabilities of three popular Toyota SUVs: the Toyota RAV4, the Highlander, and the 4Runner. Each model boasts unique performance characteristics, making it suitable for different types of drivers and driving conditions. By examining essential factors such as powertrains, handling, towing capacity, and fuel efficiency, we aim to provide you with an in-depth understanding of what sets these three Toyota SUVs apart.

Whether you're looking for a fuel-efficient and versatile SUV for your daily commute or a rugged, off-road-ready vehicle for exploring the great outdoors, this comprehensive comparison will equip you with the knowledge to confidently identify the Toyota SUV that best aligns with your performance priorities and driving preferences.

So, without further ado, let's take a closer look at the performance capabilities of the Toyota RAV4, Highlander, and 4Runner. Discover the key performance differences that set these SUVs apart, and with Nelson Toyota's help, you can get one step closer to finding your dream vehicle.

Powertrains: Engine Options and Capabilities

Each of the three Toyota SUVs offers distinct engine options for varying performance needs:

The Toyota RAV4 has a 2.5-liter Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine that delivers 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. This engine is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, providing a smooth and efficient driving experience. For those prioritizing fuel efficiency, the RAV4 is also available in a hybrid version, which combines a 2.5-litre engine with electric motors to produce a combined output of 219 horsepower.

The Highlander offers both a standard 3.5-litre V6 engine with 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque and a hybrid system consisting of a 2.5-litre gasoline engine paired with two electric motors that produce a combined 243 horsepower. Both powertrains come with an 8-speed automatic transmission, ensuring responsive acceleration and smooth shifting.

The rugged Toyota 4Runner features a powerful 4.0-litre V6 engine, generating 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission, the 4Runner is built to tackle challenging off-road situations with ease.

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Handling: Road Manners and Off-Road Capabilities

In terms of handling, these Toyota SUVs showcase unique characteristics suited for different driving environments. The RAV4 offers agile handling and a comfortable ride, with the optional all-wheel-drive system enhancing stability and traction on slippery surfaces. The RAV4 Adventure and TRD Off-Road trims add further capability with features such as all-terrain tires and enhanced suspension systems.

The Highlander features a refined, car-like driving experience thanks to its comfortable suspension tuning and responsive steering. Its available Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive system provides exceptional traction and control in various weather conditions.

The 4Runner excels in off-road adventures with its body-on-frame construction, enhancing durability and performance in challenging terrains. Equipped with features like locking rear differentials, low-range gearing, and Toyota’s advanced Multi-Terrain Select system, the 4Runner tackles off-road obstacles with incredible prowess.

Towing Capacity: Hauling Your Gear Made Easy

Strong towing capabilities are essential for many SUV drivers, particularly those who enjoy outdoor adventures involving boats, trailers, or other heavy equipment. The RAV4 offers a respectable maximum towing capacity of 1,500 pounds while upgrading to the Adventure or TRD Off-Road trim level boosts that capacity to 3,500 pounds.

The Highlander boasts a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds when equipped with the available towing package, making it suitable for drivers who need extra hauling strength for family vacations or outdoor excursions.

The 4Runner's robust construction and powerful engine enable it to tow up to 5,000 pounds, proving that it is just as capable at hauling gear as it is at conquering challenging terrains.

Fuel Efficiency: Sustainable Performance

Each Toyota SUV prioritizes fuel efficiency, ensuring an eco-friendly and economical drive. The RAV4 offers impressive fuel efficiency, with EPA-estimated ratings of 28 city / 35 highway mpg for the gasoline version and 41 city / 38 highway mpg for the hybrid model.

The Highlander gasoline model boasts an EPA-estimated 20 city / 27 highway mpg, while the Highlander Hybrid significantly improves fuel efficiency with an EPA-estimated rating of 36 city / 35 highway mpg.

Although the 4Runner's off-road capabilities and rugged design impact its fuel economy, drivers can still expect a respectable EPA-estimated rating of 16 city / 19 highway mpg.

Choose the Toyota SUV that Meets Your Performance Needs

As this comparison of the Toyota RAV4, the Highlander, and the 4Runner performance capabilities has shown, each model offers a unique set of characteristics designed to cater to specific driving needs and preferences. Whether you prioritize fuel efficiency, off-road prowess, or hauling capacity, there's a Toyota SUV that's perfect for you.

As the second-oldest Toyota dealership in British Columbia, Nelson Toyota is well-equipped to help you choose the perfect SUV for your lifestyle. Our experienced team is dedicated to ensuring you have a comprehensive understanding of each model's performance capabilities, helping you make the best choice to fit your unique needs.

Visit our Toyota dealership in British Columbia today to explore our extensive selection of Toyota SUVs and experience the unparalleled service and expertise of Nelson Toyota. Together, we'll find the perfect Toyota SUV to satisfy your performance priorities and elevate your driving adventures.


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