Behind the Wheel

2020 Toyota 4Runner Review: A modern throwback with so, so much to love

Toyota sells the 4Runner in an available Venture grade, which adds black accents and a handy roof basket.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Driving the freshest version of the Toyota 4Runner is like taking a step back in time. There's plenty that will make you think, "Is this really a 2020?" While the automaker has done its best to keep up with an aging platform and design shifts by the rest of the crowd, even the Jeep Wrangler has a sleeker interior at this point.

Still, it makes you yearn a bit for the days when trucks were trucks – when SUV meant body-on-frame and buyers understood what that meant. That's not to say that the newest crop of SUVs are bad or that the average SUV buyers is less informed today than they were two decades ago. They're just differently informed.

2020 Toyota 4Runner venture The 4Runner Venture is priced around $47,000 all-in. As tested, with added running boards and paint protection film, the cost went up over $48,000.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The 4Runner elicits a visceral nostalgic reaction. Moving the gated shifter reminds you that they're nearly extinct in mass production cars. Holding on to the beefy steering wheel leads one to realize how little effort it truly takes to move the Ram 1500 around a parking lot of obstacles. Using your foot to engage the parking brake, hearing the sound of the creaking movement – that's a thing of beauty.

What the 2020 4Runner does most is put the driver in a position to hope that with the redesigned model that is well on its way, Toyota doesn't go so far as to make it too modern. I don't want to change my own oil, but I'd like to know I can if I need to, without taking a masterclass.

There are, however, areas where the 4Runner could stand to be given a thorough update, starting with the powertrain. It comes standard with a 4.0-liter V6 that delivers 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It does the job. As the old man at the hardware store used to say while looking over the top of his glasses, "there's a different between doing a job and doing a job well."

2020 Toyota 4Runner venture The 4Runner hasn't lost any capability.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Its five-speed automatic transmission spends too much time search for the right gear and not allowing enough torque when needed, even when cruising on the highway.

The SUV's cabin is comfy, especially in top-tier trim levels, with the appropriate amount of ruggedness. Some finishes could stand an upgrade for the $40,000+ price tag as tested but the biggest changes should be the steering wheel and the infotainment system. While the touch screen's OS isn't bad (it's not pretty either), the center stack is simply dated. The wheel has the same affliction. Adding one-touch turn signals is a must, as is deleting the old school digital clock display at the top of the dash.

The 4Runner is still tremendously capable when it comes to traversing terrain, whether you're in the desert or a mud pit. That doesn't mean that it's great at keeping a lane or has a tight turning radius. Still, that's just about what you'd expect from an aging truck.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture The SUV rides on 17-inch gunmetal gray TRD alloy wheels.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

If you're worried about the coming changes to the 4Runner, you will want to keep an eye on dealer inventory for your new model. Don't be the person that ends up shelling out thousands over asking on BringATrailer.com just because you wish you could go back in time.

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Toyota's ready to make a big announcement.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation2

Auto Shanghai has another surprise in store. Toyota will debut an electrified vehicle next week and ahead of that moment, the company has leaked teaser photos and video featuring the model on its social media channels.

One of the posts, available on Twitter and Instagram, showcases the vehicle and a series of conceptual, perhaps inspirational, related items. A light shines as a reflection in an eye. A design on paper leads to a math equation. A laser, perhaps a plasma cutter, is focused on an object. Watch the see the rest.


It passes by quickly, but in there is the shape of a crossover. We've captured the moment in a still photo below so you can take a longer look. From the body design quickly shown here, the SUV is shaped more like the Toyota Venza than the Toyota RAV4. The key here is the rear side window, which is more triangular, like the Venza, than the squared-off RAV4''s.

202 The shape of the vehicle is similar to the Toyota Venza.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

2022 Toyota Venza EV

The face of the vehicle, shown in another social media post (this time on Instagram) and at the top of this article, shows a pared back vehicle face. The height of the vehicle confirms that it's in fact a crossover body style.

We do know that Subaru and Toyota have been working on an electric SUV for a while. While Subaru is likely calling the vehicle "Evoltis" there's some indication that Toyota may be reviving the "Celica" name for the EV. Batteries, after all, are made up of cells.

As of right now, we have to take the wait-and-see approach. One thing's for sure. We'll know more next week.

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Honda is working with Verizon on self-driving cars technology.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

The Mcity campus was designed to be a proving ground for new technologies. Honda and Verizon are utilizing it as such as they partner to explore how Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband and 5G Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) can be used to ensure quick and reliable communication between road infrastructure, vehicles, and pedestrians.

The 5G technology leverages cloud technology to deliver lower latency, a large amount of bandwidth, and improved communication. This communication includes the way that vehicles interact with ther cars, traffic lights, pedestrians and emergency vehicles to improve threat detection and avoid accidents when seconds matter most. That's where the "V2" in acronyms like "V2V" (vehicle-to-vehicle) and "V2X" (vehicle- to-everything).

Honda and Verizon Test How 5G Enhances Safety for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles www.youtube.com

Honda has been working since 2017 to develop a technology that will help to create a collision-free society. The technology, called Safe Swarm, uses V2X communication to enable vehicles to communicate with other road users and share key information such as location, speed, and vehicle sensor data.

There are some obstacles, not the least of which is the need to outfit each vehicle with onboard artificial intelligence capabilities. The use of 5G helps move the AI capabilities from the vehicle to the MEC, reducing the need for AI onboard each vehicle.

"The ability to move computing power to the edge of our 5G network is an essential building block for autonomous and connected vehicles, helping cars to communicate with each other in near real-time and with sensors and cameras installed in streets and traffic lights," said Sanyogita Shamsunder, vice president of Technology Development and 5G Labs at Verizon. "When you consider that roughly 42,000 people were killed in car accidents last year and 94% of accidents are caused by human error, our new technologies including 5G and MEC can help drivers 'see' things before the human eye can register and react helping to prevent collisions and save lives."

Three safety scenarios have been explored as part of the testing:

  • Pedestrian Scenario - A pedestrian is crossing a street at an intersection. An approaching driver cannot see the pedestrian due to a building obstructing the view. Smart cameras mounted in the intersection relay information to MEC using the 5G network. Verizon's MEC and V2X software platforms detect the pedestrian and vehicle and determine the precise location of road users assisted by Verizon's Hyper Precise Location services. A visual warning message is then sent alerting the driver of the potential danger.
  • Emergency Vehicle Warning Scenari - A driver cannot see an approaching emergency vehicle and cannot hear its siren due to the high volume of in-vehicle audio. Verizon's MEC and V2X software receive a safety message from the emergency vehicle and send a warning message to nearby vehicles. The driver receives a visual warning.
  • Red Light Runner Scenario - A vehicle fails to stop at a red light. Using data from the smart cameras, MEC and V2X software detect the vehicle and send a red-light-runner visual warning message to other vehicles approaching the intersection.

You can watch the video of Honda and Verizon's Mcity tests at http://honda.us/5GResearch.

Honda isn't the only company exploring what 5G communication can offer. Pirelli has installed the tech in its tires and BMW recently updated its My BMW app to make it compatible with the new technology. Audi is working on similar technology out on the road in Virginia and Georgia.

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