Why is 4Runner MPG So Bad?

The 4Runner, a popular SUV manufactured by Toyota, is known for its off-road capability and durability. However, one common complaint among 4Runner owners is its poor fuel efficiency. Here, we will explore the reasons behind the low MPG (miles per gallon) of the 4Runner and shed light on the factors contributing to its less than stellar fuel economy.

Inefficient Aerodynamics

One of the key reasons for the 4Runner’s low MPG is its inefficient aerodynamics. The vehicle’s boxy design and chunky body shape create significant wind resistance, resulting in increased drag as it moves through the air. This, in turn, requires more power from the engine to maintain a consistent speed, ultimately leading to lower fuel efficiency.

Weight and Size

The 4Runner is a robust and sturdy SUV that boasts excellent off-road capabilities. However, this comes at a cost when it comes to fuel efficiency. The vehicle’s heavy weight and larger size require a more substantial engine, which consumes more fuel to propel the car. Additionally, the 4Runner’s larger tires, designed for off-road adventures, have higher rolling resistance, further decreasing its efficiency on paved roads.

Engine Performance

The 4Runner is equipped with a powerful engine to handle demanding off-road terrains. While this engine strength is well-suited for off-roading, it may not be optimized for fuel efficiency. The 4Runner’s engine is tuned for power and torque, sacrificing some fuel economy in the process. Additionally, the engine’s older design and lack of advanced fuel-saving technologies, such as turbocharging or hybrid systems found in newer SUVs, contribute to its relatively poor MPG.

Outdated Transmission

An outdated transmission system can also impact the fuel efficiency of the 4Runner. The vehicle often features a five-speed automatic transmission, which is not as efficient as more modern transmissions with a higher number of gears. This can result in higher RPM (revolutions per minute) and increased fuel consumption, especially during highway driving or when towing heavy loads.

Poor Aerodynamics and Fuel Efficiency Comparison

To better understand the impact of the 4Runner’s deficient aerodynamics on its fuel efficiency, let’s compare its MPG figures with some other popular SUVs:

SUV ModelHighway MPGCity MPG
Toyota 4Runner1716
Honda CR-V3428
Ford Escape3126

The table clearly demonstrates the 4Runner’s comparatively lower fuel efficiency when compared to similar SUVs. The Honda CR-V and Ford Escape surpass the 4Runner by a significant margin, thanks to their sleeker designs, lighter weights, and more advanced engine technologies.


The Toyota 4Runner, while excelling in off-road performance and durability, falls short in terms of fuel efficiency. Its boxy design, weight, powerful engine, outdated transmission, and lack of advanced fuel-saving technologies all contribute to its relatively poor MPG ratings. However, it’s important to remember that the 4Runner’s focus lies on its off-road capabilities, and sacrifices in fuel efficiency are often inherent in such vehicles. Nonetheless, if fuel economy is a prominent factor for you, exploring other SUV options with more aerodynamic designs and advanced engine technologies may be more suitable.