2018 toyota highlander vs toyota 4runner whats the difference lexington toyota boston ma_o

Toyota Highlander vs Toyota 4Runner: What’s the Difference

If you’ve been spending any time whatsoever looking at Toyota’s Crossover/SUV offerings, you may have noticed something. It almost looks as though Toyota has two different vehicles in the same automotive class, which is generally a no-no (provided they don’t offer unique functionality). In order to demonstrate, let’s take a look at Toyota’s crossover/SUV lineup:

C-HR (Subcompact) -> RAV4 (Compact) -> Highlander/4Runner (Mid-size) -> Sequoia (Full-size) -> Land Cruiser (Large Off-Road)

Both the Toyota Highlander and Toyota 4Runner occupy the mid-size crossover/SUV slot on Toyota’s lineup. Since Toyota’s not keen on competing with themselves, there must be some significant difference between the two that warrants the other’s inclusion in the market.

The biggest difference between the Toyota Highlander and the Toyota 4Runner is that the Highlander is a crossover, and the Toyota 4Runner is an SUV.

What’s the difference between a crossover and an SUV? We’re glad you asked. Let’s talk about it!

The Difference Between a Crossover and an SUV

Led by the Toyota RAV4, the crossover classification was born out of the desire for improved safety and all-weather terrain management in consumer automobiles. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, this want for more safety led many drivers to purchase big, gas-guzzling SUVs. This wasn’t a big problem until gas prices began to climb in the early 2000s.

Drivers wanted the best of both worlds, they wanted the safety and versatility of an SUV, but also the handling and efficiency of a family sedan. Having already introduced the RAV4, Toyota saw this want as an opportunity to lead the way into the development of a new class of automobiles. The term crossover was born from their work.

The biggest difference between a crossover and an SUV is found in how it’s built. Crossovers (like the Toyota C-HR, Toyota RAV4 and Toyota Highlander) are built on car platforms using uni-body designs. These vehicles are built to provide predictable steering, minimal body roll on corners and a low center of gravity (when’s the last time you heard of a RAV4 tipping over because it turned a corner?).

Conversely, SUVs are built on truck platforms. They’re built using body on frame construction which places the cabin on top of the power and drive train, as opposed to being integrated with it.

[READ MORE: Compare Cargo Space Dimensions for Toyota Crossover/SUV Vehicles]

You can tell by looking at the two vehicles that their construction is different. Shown below, the 2018 Toyota Highlander beckons drivers to set in the vehicle, the 2018 Toyota 4Runner wants drivers to sit on the vehicle.

2018 toyota highlander shown on street in se trim lexington ma boston_o

The 2018 Toyota Highlander, shown in SE Trim

2018 toyota 4runner sr5 trim shown driving through field lexington ma boston_o

The 2018 Toyota 4Runner, shown in SR5 Trim

As you might expect, the form follows function. Designed for urban travel, all-weather performance and light off-road challenges, the 2018 Toyota Highlander is streamlined and unconfined. Built with more wild adventures in mind, the 2018 Toyota 4Runner echoes ruggedness. Its stiff and robust frame welcomes challenges from any terrain.

Another way they differ is in their drive train. The Toyota Highlander employs either FWD or AWD, which does not feature a two-speed transfer case like a 4WD vehicle.

Have questions about Toyota’s crossover or SUV offerings? Interested in test driving these vehicles and finding out which one is perfect for you? Contact us today!


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