October 27, 2021

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2021 Ford Bronco vs. Toyota 4Runner Comparison

If you’re shopping for a midsize SUV with genuine off-road capability, you will certainly want to look at the 2021 Ford Bronco and 2022 Toyota 4Runner.

The Bronco is the latest smash hit in retro design. It’s a faithful rendering of a famous nameplate with 21st-century running gear underneath it. The 4Runner is a long-running classic with just enough creature comforts and technology to make it viable for modern families.

Both midsize SUVs offer capable four-wheel drive (4WD) systems and are arguably at their best when driven off pavement. The availability of specific off-road hardware might influence your purchase decision, but it’s also wise to consider how well either SUV will fit the rest of your life that might include commutes and kids.

Here’s a 2021 Ford Bronco vs. 2022 Toyota 4Runner comparison to help you sort out the differences that matter to you.

Price and Value

2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door Area 51 Doors Off Roof Off

2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door

If you’re shopping for a 2021 Ford Bronco, you’ll find that it comes in base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Badlands, and Wildtrak trim levels. Ford also took orders for a fully equipped Bronco First Edition model, but it sold out and is no longer available to order. 

You can select a 2-door or 4-door Ford Bronco. All trims are available in either body style. The 2-door Bronco looks undeniably cool on its short, 100-inch wheelbase. It seats four if you can coax anyone into the backseat. Families will prefer the ease of the 4-door Ford Bronco, which has a longer wheelbase, seating for five, and significantly more cargo space. (Note that the Bronco is unrelated to the Bronco Sport, which has more in common with Ford’s Escape.)

The 2021 Ford Bronco ranges in price from $28,500 to $46,980 (the First Edition had a $56,915 price tag), not including a $1,495 destination charge. Four-wheel drive is standard.

You’ll find a handful of connected services on the 2021 Bronco. You can use the FordPass app to lock your SUV and start the engine remotely. You can schedule engine starting, too. And there’s a Wi-Fi hotspot. 

Ford doesn’t offer complimentary scheduled maintenance for the Bronco.

Consumers shopping for a 2022 Toyota 4Runner will find that it comes in SR5, TRD Sport, Trail Special Edition, SR5 Premium, TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, TRD Sport, Limited, and TRD Pro trim levels. Toyota sells this midsize SUV in a conventional 4-door body style. Five-passenger seating is standard. An optional third-row seat increases capacity to 7, but with its high floor and relatively short wheelbase (both of which limit available legroom), the 4Runner is not a good choice if you need a 3-row SUV for everyday use.

The 2022 Toyota 4Runner ranges in price from $37,305 to $52,120, not including a $1,215 destination charge. Most trim levels have standard rear-wheel drive (also known as 2WD or 4×2) and optional 4WD. Four-wheel drive is standard on the TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro trims.

If you’re looking for connected services, the 2022 4Runner offers automatic collision notification, live emergency assistance, rapid access to roadside services, and concierge services (on 4Runners with factory navigation), though you’ll have to buy a pay subscription to keep using them after your first 12 months of ownership. Unlike the Bronco and most other Toyotas, the 4Runner cannot be locked or started remotely via your phone. It offers a Wi-Fi hotspot, though.

Toyota offers free scheduled maintenance for the first 2 years or 25,000 miles that you own a 2022 4Runner.

The 4Runner holds its value well. It led all midsize SUVs in the J.D. Power 2020 Resale Value Awards. 

Advantage: Toyota 4Runner

Reliability and Quality

2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro Lime Rush Front Quarter View

2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Since the Ford Bronco is an all-new offering for 2021, it wasn’t included in the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study or the 2021 Initial Quality Study. The 2021 Ford Bronco comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles 
  • Roadside assistance: 3 years or 36,000 miles 

The Toyota 4Runner did not rank among the top three midsize SUVs in either the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study or the 2021 Initial Quality Study. The 2022 Toyota 4Runner comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 2 years or 25,000 miles 

Advantage: Ford Bronco

Performance and Efficiency

2021 Ford Bronco Black Interior Dashboard

2021 Ford Bronco

Consumers have a handful of powertrain choices on the 2021 Ford Bronco. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder that develops 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque (or 275 hp and 315 pound-feet on 87 octane). You can have this engine with a 7-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmission. Aimed at off-road enthusiasts, the manual transmission has an ultra-low crawler gear.

Alternatively, you can have a turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 engine on the Ford Bronco. The V6 makes 330 hp and 415 pound-feet of torque (slightly lower numbers on 87) and comes exclusively with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Properly equipped, the Bronco has a 3,500-pound tow rating regardless of engine or body style.

The Bronco has a standard part-time 4WD system with low-range gearing. With a part-time system, the driver manually selects 4WD when needed. You also get a terrain management system known as G.O.A.T. (“Goes Over Any Terrain”). The basic system includes Slippery and Sand modes, and higher trims add Mud/Ruts, Rock Crawl, and Baja modes.

Ford offers an optional, on-demand 4WD system that automatically engages 4WD when conditions dictate, though it’s still up to the driver to decide when to engage the low-range transfer case. This 4WD has a greater gear reduction in its low range, which is desirable for off-roading. If you want to climb over boulders, the Bronco Badlands model has more wheel travel than other versions of the SUV, as well as a front stabilizer-bar disconnect feature that temporarily disengages the stabilizer bar from the front suspension’s lower control arms to provide more clearance.

If you plan to hit the sand, the Ford Bronco Wildtrak is the resident desert runner. It comes standard with the Sasquatch package (optional on other Broncos), which provides an upgraded suspension with progressive shock-absorber damping and 11.6 inches of ground clearance, 35-inch off-road tires with beadlock-capable wheels (so you can air down the tires off-road), front and rear locking differentials, extensive skid-plate protection, and a wider track for better stability during fast runs across the sand.

Regardless of trim level or equipment, the 2021 Ford Bronco offers considerable off-road talents. Yet, for all its off-highway capability, it’s well-mannered and even enjoyable to drive on paved roads.

Broncos with the Sasquatch package have a lower final drive ratio, which improves performance but typically increases fuel consumption. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates 4-cylinder Broncos anywhere from 17 mpg to 21 mpg in combined city and highway driving, depending on how you equip it. With the V6, the 2021 Bronco rates 17 to 19 mpg combined.

The 2022 Toyota 4Runner only comes with one engine. Its 4.0-liter V6 makes 270 hp and 278 pound-feet of torque. A 5-speed automatic transmission is standard.

These are lower numbers than on the Ford’s base 4-cylinder engine, and you’ll notice the difference in the Toyota 4Runner’s performance: It’s never more than adequate. Also, Toyota’s naturally aspirated V6 makes its best power higher in the rpm range, so it never feels as relaxed as the Bronco’s turbocharged engines, which generate lots of low-end grunt. When properly equipped, the 4Runner offers a 5,000-pound tow rating, though don’t expect to make rapid progress with a trailer in back.

A 2WD 4Runner isn’t very useful, so you’re better off getting a 4WD system for this tough-as-nails midsize SUV. Toyota offers both part-time and full-time 4WD systems. The latter is available only on the Limited and has a Torsen-type center differential that automatically reapportions engine torque between the front and rear wheels, depending on available traction.

The TRD Off-Road, Off-Road Premium, and Pro trim levels use the part-time 4WD system but have a locking rear differential. These trims also have Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select system with Rock, Rock/Dirt, Mogul, Loose Rock, and Mud/Sand modes.

Only the 2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro model has anything close to the Bronco’s arsenal of off-road hardware. The TRD Pro comes standard with all-terrain tires, and its modified suspension provides a 1-inch increase in ride height over other 4Runners and keeps it from bottoming out on rutted trails. Still, if you’re wanting ground clearance on par with the Ford, you’d have to make aftermarket modifications.

On the whole, though, the Toyota 4Runner remains an excellent companion for an off-road enthusiast. It’s great fun on trails, where it feels sturdy bordering on indestructible. Unfortunately, slow steering, touchy brakes, and sluggish acceleration make it far less satisfying for commuting to work.

With an older engine and fewer gears in its transmission, the 4Runner also trails in the fuel economy department. All 2022 Toyota 4Runners rate 17 mpg in combined driving regardless of drivetrain.

Advantage: Ford Bronco

Safety and Driving Assistance

2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Sport Interior Dashboard

2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Sport

Consumers will find that every 2021 Ford Bronco offers a standard package of advanced assistance aids (ADAS), including a forward-collision warning (FCW) system with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and pedestrian detection, and automatic high-beam headlight control. In addition, all Broncos have Ford Trail Control, which is essentially an off-road cruise control system that helps you manage throttle and braking inputs during low-speed climbs and descents.

If you’re looking for more safety technology, the available Mid package provides lane departure warnings (LDW), lane keeping assist (LKA), and a blind-spot warning (BSW) system with rear cross-traffic warnings. The Lux package offers adaptive cruise control (ACC) and evasive steering assistance (ESA).

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released safety ratings for the Ford Bronco.

Every 2022 Toyota 4Runner comes standard with FCW with AEB and pedestrian detection, ACC, and automatic high-beam headlights. You also get LDW, but the system is overeager in providing audible alerts and many drivers end up turning it off. Toyota does not offer a BSW system on the 4Runner. The TRD Off-Road and Pro trims have Crawl Control, which is Toyota’s take on off-road cruise control.

The Toyota 4Runner has a 4-star overall rating from the NHTSA. It earns 4 out of 5 stars in frontal-impact crash testing and a full 5 stars for side-impact crash safety. It has a 3-star rating for rollover resistance. In IIHS testing, the 2021 4Runner earned Good ratings in most crash categories but just a Marginal rating (second lowest) in the challenging small-overlap, front-offset crash test. 

Advantage: Ford Bronco

Infotainment and Technology

2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door Area 51 Rear Quarter View Convertible Top

2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door

All 2021 Ford Broncos use the automaker’s latest Sync 4 infotainment platform. An 8-inch touchscreen display is standard. It includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and there are two rear-seat USB ports. You can get an optional 12-inch touchscreen display, as well as a factory navigation system with conversational voice recognition technology (this requires a subscription). 

All 2022 Toyota 4Runners come with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment interface and support wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. Rear-seat USB ports are standard. Factory navigation is available on most trims. Voice recognition is so-so with this nav system, but a breadcrumb feature can display the path driven to get to your current location – a useful aid in remote areas.

Advantage: Ford Bronco

Comfort and Utility

2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Sport Rear Quarter View

2022 Toyota 4Runner TRD Sport

If outdoor adventures are on the menu, the 2021 Ford Bronco is the more reconfigurable of these two midsize SUVs. The 4-door can be equipped with either a soft, convertible-type top or a removable hardtop (the hardtop is standard on the 2-door). You can remove the doors, too. Some Ford Broncos offer rubberized flooring with drain plugs, and marine-grade vinyl seat upholstery that resists mildew when it gets wet.

One downside to the Bronco’s reconfigurable design is that accessing the cargo bay is more awkward than in most other SUVs, including the 4Runner. The Ford’s side-hinged lower gate has a full-size spare tire mounted on it and swings from left to right, which is not the most convenient for curbside loading. The rear glass flips up separately. 

Cargo space at least is decent. The 4-door Bronco offers 35.6 cubic feet (38.3 with the soft top) of cargo space behind its rear seats and a maximum of 77.6 cubic feet (83.0 with soft top) with the rears seats folded down. 

In comparison, the 2022 Toyota 4Runner feels much more conventional. It has a traditional single-piece, overhead liftgate with a rear glass window that powers down separately. With the rear glass lowered, all the side windows down, and the available sunroof open, the 4Runner offers much the same sensory experience as a Bronco with the roof removed but without quite as much sun exposure.

Inside, the Toyota 4Runner is far more old-school than the Bronco could ever hope to be. This is a genuinely old design, and that means you get oversize buttons and dials that are clearly labeled and easy to use, even when you’re wearing winter gloves.

Like the 4-door Bronco, the 4Runner offers comfortable accommodations for four once you make the climb to the cabin. Five can fit without too much squabbling. Cargo space is generous, but the cargo floor is inconveniently high. To address this, Toyota offers a slide-out cargo deck on 5-passenger 4Runners that makes it easier to load heavy items. Toyota’s midsize SUV offers 47.2 cubic feet (46.3 with the sliding deck) of capacity behind the second-row seats. With the rear seats folded, it maxes out at 89.7 cubic feet (88.8 with the sliding deck).

Advantage: Neither. The Bronco is more reconfigurable, but the 4Runner is more convenient for hauling gear.

Learn More About the Ford Bronco and Toyota 4Runner

If you’d like to learn more about these SUVs, be sure to read our expert reviews of the 2021 Ford Bronco, including the 2-door Bronco, and 2022 Toyota 4Runner. To find out how people like you rate vehicles in this segment, be sure to check out our ratings from verified vehicle owners.

Also, please keep in mind that while the information in this article was accurate and valid on September 8, 2021, it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker’s website or your local dealership.