The 2021 Toyota 4Runner is a long-standing mid-sized SUV model. It has possibly the most classic structure of new sports utility vehicles that are sold today, but it still has many 21st century features. These include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, four USB ports, keyless remote entry, 8-inch touch screen, Amazon Alexa, a household-style outlet with 120-volt power, Wi-Fi hotspot, LED headlights, and more.
This year’s 5-7 seating model has a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter V-6 engine that still pairs with a 5-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. The towing capacity is about 5000lbs. It has 270 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 278 lb.-ft. of torque. And that is just the standard model. The 4Runner is customizable up the wazoo and has at least five limited-edition models, like the Trail Edition which only is available in 4000 units.
Now, while the 2021 4Runner is still top tier in terms of its off-roading capabilities and cargo space (nine cubic feet with the third row upright, 46.3 cubic feet with the rear row folded, and 88.8 cubic feet with all the seats folded), it scores low in many review blogs for regular driving and fuel economy, which is 17mpg city and 20mpg highway. For a car that ranges from $36,000-$50,000, the fuel economy alone may stop some potential buyers.
Luckily, there are many other similar mid-sized sports utility vehicles that are in the same price range with more attractive qualities. My top three are the 2021 models of the Honda Passport, the Kia Telluride, and the Ford Explorer.
2021 Honda Passport
This year’s Honda Passport is similar to the 4Runner because of its immense cargo hold, seating number, and towing capacity (3500-5000lbs.). With all the seats erect, there is a 41.2 cubic feet cargo area, and 77.9 cubic feet with the last row folded. The 2021 Passport also seats five passengers.
The fuel economy of this car is slightly better than the 4Runner at 20mpg city and 25 mpg highway. It has a 3.5L V-6 engine, 280 horsepower at 6000 rpm. Its transmission is a 9-speed automatic with over drive. The Passport’s price range, $33,000-$35,000, also beats the 4Runner.
The two SUVs are similar in terms of technology, too. The Passport also has an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, Bluetooth, and keyless remote entry. Additionally, it has a USB port, a 7-speaker stereo, push-button start, remote start, and tri-zone automatic climate control.
2021 Kia Telluride
The standard model for the Kia Telluride is one of the highest-ranking SUVs across critic blogs. It has a 3.8L V-6 engine and 291 horsepower at 6000 rpm. The transmission is 8-speed with over drive and its towing capacity is 5000. The drivetrain is front-wheel, and its fuel economy is pretty good at 20 mpg city and 26 highway.
Kia’s Telluride beats the Toyota 4Runner in the interior department. It seats eight passengers, has 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, 46 cubic feet with the third row folded, and an impressive 87 cubic feet with all the rear seats folded. It has many of the same technological features as the 4Runner and the other 2021 mid-sized SUVs on the market, like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an 8-inch touchscreen.
It also has Bluetooth, five USB ports, 6 speakers, an HD radio, and satellite radio. For a price range of $33,000-$44,000, this car is hard to surpass.
2021 Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer’s price starts at $33,000 and increases depending on the various available customizations and alternate models such as the Ford Explorer Hybrid. Its standard model has a towing capacity of 5000-5600lbs., a 10-speed automatic transmission. The engine is a 4-cylinder and an amazing 310 horsepower at 5500rpm. The Explorer has the best fuel economy with 27mpg city and 29 mpg highway.
A 7-seater, The Explorer’s interior has many technological features. The powered rear seats fold flat individually, and the second row can be adjusted with the touch of a button as well for easy entry and exit. The steering wheel has a power tilting/telescoping attribute, too. Smart features also include Amazon Alexa, Ford Copilot 360, SYNC3, and FordPass Connect.
2021 Hyundai Palisade
This SUV has a 3.8L V-6 engine and 8-speed transmission with over drive. Its towing capacity is average for its class at 5000 lbs. The car seats eight passengers and has a fuel economy of 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. Its horsepower is 291 at 6000 rpm and it has a front-wheel drive train. The Palisade’s price range is $32,000-$48,000.
The cargo capacity of this vehicle is impressive; 18 cubic feet with all of the rows up, 45.8 cubic feet with the third row flattened, and 86.4 with both rear rows down.
The Palisade is praised for its smooth ride, but it is not meant for off-roading. It has the average technological features of an 8-inch or 10-inch touchscreen, keyless remote, Bluetooth, HD radio, and a USB port. Other features are available as well.
2021 Toyota Highlander
The 4Runner’s class brother, the Toyota Highlander, has many similarities to it. It seats eight passengers and is priced between $35,000 and $49,000. Additionally, its towing capacity is 5000lbs. The cargo space is also 84.3 cubic feet with all of the back rows down, 41 cubic feet with just the third folded, and 14 cubic feet with all the rows intact. The Highlander, however, is smoother on pavement than the 4Runner and has a front-wheel drive train.
Its engine is a 3.5L V-6, 295 horsepower at 6600rpm, and it has an 8-speed automatic transmission with over drive. The towing capacity for the Highlander is 5000lbs. and its gas mileage is 21 mpg city and 29mpg highway.
The Highlander has similar standard technology as mentioned in previous models and has a large variety available for other trims.
2021 Honda Pilot
This mid-sized SUV has a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with a horsepower of 280 at 6000 rpm. Its towing capacity is 3500-5000lbs., and it has a newly standard 9-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. The model seats eight passengers and has an all-wheel drive train.
The Pilot offers riders a smooth drive and lots of space in the seats. Its cargo hold is also impressive: 18 cubic feet with all the seats up, 55 cubic feet with just the last row folded down, and a whopping 109 cubic feet with all of the rows folded. Certain trims also offer a power liftgate and a hands-free liftgate as a standard.
The technology of the Pilot is not as advanced as other models in its class and does not offer many of the features as a standard, but they are available for custom. The pricing for the Honda Pilot is average for its class and ranges from $33,000-$50,000.
2021 Nissan Rogue
The Rogue is least similar to the Toyota 4Runner. It seats five passengers and has a digital instrument panel, but only a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. Its horsepower is 181 and it has 181lb. ft of torque. The drivetrain is front-wheel, and the transmission is a continuously variable automatic (CVT). The towing capacity is a mere 1350 lbs.
As for its technology, it has an 8-inch touchscreen, a 4-speaker audio system, Apple and Android connectivity, a satellite radio, 2 USB ports, and the Nissan Safety Shield. It also has LED headlights. Other more advanced features are available for other trims and customization.
The cargo space for the Rogue is quite significant as well. Its floor can be adjusted to go from 31 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats to 36 cubic feet. With all of the seats folded down, the cargo space reaches 74 cubic feet.
2021 Chevrolet Traverse
The Traverse is similar to the Pilot with many of its specs. It has a 310 horsepower V-6 engine and a 9-speed automatic transmission. Its gas mileage is 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with a front-wheel drive train. It has a tow capacity of 5000lbs.
The cargo hold is most like the Pilot. The traverse seats eight passengers at most and offers 23 cubic feet behind the last row, 57.8 cubic feet with the last row folded down, and 98 cubic feet with both rear rows folded.
Many of the model’s standard technological features are the same as its competitors, but the Traverse also offers automatic tri-zone climate control and has a variety of features available to add. The price range for this car is $30,000-$53,000.
2021 Mazda CX-9
The average price range for the Mazda CX-9 is $34,000-$47,000. It can tow about 3500 lbs. with a front and all-wheel drive train. The engine is a turbocharged 2.5L 4-cylinder, 225 horsepower, and 310lb.-ft of torque on regular fuel. On premium fuel, it reaches 250 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission is a 6-speed automatic, and its gas mileage is 22mpg city and 28 highway.
The Mazda comes with the same standard tech features as its counterparts, but the cargo is below average. The seven-seater CX-9 has one of the sleekest structures but only has 14.4 cubic feet with all the seats intact, 38.2 cubic feet with the last row down, and 71 cubic feet with all the rows folded.
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
This model has a lower starting price than its class fellows, at $27,000 but ranges to $42,000. The five-seater has a front-wheel drive train, with all-wheel as an option, and can tow between 2000-3500 lbs. Its engine is a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine with 191 horsepower and 181 lbs. -ft. of torque.
Its standard drive train is front-wheel but the all-wheel is an option. The transmission is an 8-inch automatic (an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic is alternately available), and the fuel economy is decent at 25mg city and 28 highway.
The standard technology is the same as the other models mentioned, and the cargo space is average as well: 36.4 cubic feet of cargo behind the rear seats which expands to 72.1 cubic feet when you fold them down. An additional hands-free liftgate is available, too.
2021 Kia Sorento
This sports utility vehicle can seat up to seven passengers and can tow 2000-5000lbs. the engine is a 2.5L 4-cylinder with 191 horsepower and 181 lb.-ft. of torque. A turbocharged engine is available and has 280 horsepower and 311lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission is an 8-speed automatic with a front-wheel drive train (an all-wheel drive train is also an option).
The cargo space in the Sorento is average. 12.6 cubic feet behind the last row of seats, 45 cubic feet with the third row closed, and 75.5 with all of the rows folded down. The standard tech features are the same as other models in the mid-size SUV class, but some available features are a panoramic sunroof, a dual-zone climate control, and navigation, among many others. The price range for the Kia Sorento is $29,000-$42,000.
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee
This Jeep model is most similar to the 4Runner in the off-road category. It can handle difficult roads, but smooth ones are not its forte. It seats up to five people and offers rear and four-wheel drive train options. The price range is $33,000-$89,000, and that tells you all of the customization options you will have right off the bat.
The 2021 Grand Cherokee’s engine is a 3.6L with 295 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission is an 8-speed automatic, and its gas mileage is 19 mpg city and 26mpg highway.
The tech features are comparable to its fellow models and so is the cargo space; 36.3 cubic feet with the seats up and 68.3 with them folded down.
2021 Nissan Murano
Finally, the sleek Nissan Murano. For crossover SUVs, it offers a comfortable ride but is definitely not for off-roading like the 4Runner. It seats five people and ranges from $33,000-$46,000 in price. It can tow 1500 lbs. and has a front-wheel drive train, with all-wheel as an option. The transmission s a CVT and the engine is a 3.5L V-6 with 260 horsepower and 240 lbs.-ft of torque. The gas mileage is average t 20 mpg city and 28 highway,
The tech features are the same as the rest of the models on this list. Its cargo space has 32.1 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 67 cubic feet with them down.
Driver Assistance Features
Most of all of the listed 2021 mid-sized sports utility vehicles have the following safety and driving aid features in their standard models:
- Rearview camera
- Parking sensors
- Blind spot monitoring
- Traffic alerts
- Forward collision warning
- Automatic braking
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane depart and keep aids
- Automatic high beams
- Child locks
- Front, side, and rear head air bags for driver and passengers
- 4-wheel ABS
- 4-wheel disc brakes
- Traction control
- Electronic stability control