All-new versions of the midsize Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and the midsize Toyota 4Runner SUV are on the way. We expect the next-generation Tacoma to launch for the 2024 model year, followed by the 4Runner a year later. Both models are strong performers in their respective segments, despite being tremendously outdated. The new vehicles will continue to share a common body-on-frame platform with perhaps several other twists. Read on and we’ll explore what these two very similar models will likely offer.
Crossover utility vehicles have a place in the market. But when it comes to off-road grit, body-on-frame vehicles lead. Sure, there are some exceptions, such as LandRover and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but for the toughest and comparably affordable choice, our money is on the traditional body-on-frame construct.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Toyota continues with this proven arrangement. Tacoma has long topped its segment, outselling its next three competitors combined. The 4Runner remains a strong seller, taking second place behind the Jeep Wrangler and ahead of the Ford Bronco. Not surprisingly, all the top sellers utilize the traditional layout with usually standard rear-wheel drive and available four-wheel drive.
Toyota hasn’t shown pictures of the next-generation Tacoma and 4Runner yet. But we believe the look for both will align closely with the current models, representing a styling evolution instead of a revolution. Just look at where Toyota went with the full-size Tundra pickup truck and the equally larger Sequoia SUV and you’ll see a pattern emerge there.
The changes, though, are likely to include new grilles, crisp lighting treatments, profile eye candy, fresh wheels, and perhaps unique color schemes. We believe the two models will parallel each other, although Toyota may prefer unique beltline and roofline treatments for the 4Runner.
Two Engine Choices
The Chevrolet Colorado recently went from three engine choices to just one, dropping its diesel and V6 gas engines, and replacing all three motors with a turbocharged four-cylinder. Clearly, Toyota could do likewise and replace two engines with one, but we do not see that happening.
Instead, we expect the duo will offer a standard four-cylinder gas engine. It might be turbocharged, but we believe it won’t. Instead, it most likely would be offered with one or two base trims and work with manual and automatic transmissions. Expect some sort of hybrid powertrain to represent the second offering. Unlike the typical Toyota system geared toward optimizing fuel economy, this one will emphasize power. In this case, Toyota would place the electric motor on the bell housing between the engine and the transmission to yield maximum power. Toyota could do this with a four-cylinder engine and we think that will be the choice. But if they want to shake the segment, incorporating a V6 would deliver V8-equivalent power. We expect a 10-speed automatic transmission will work with this engine without a manual offered.
While the Tacoma and 4Runner are likely to share much, we believe the differences will cover the interior. But first, expect only a crew cab to accompany the Tacoma as Toyota delivers the body style customers want most. Thus, the Tacoma would fit five relatively comfortably, with the 4Runner also offering standard room for five. We say standard because a third-row option with two seats remains possible.
A traditional analog instrument panel seems likely for both models, with the upper trims receiving a digital design. As for the center console, a large touchscreen display mimicking what the Tundra and Sequoia offer makes sense, although a more size-appropriate 12.5-inch screen makes sense. All your favorite tech equipment will accompany these Toyotas with head-up displays, advanced audio packages, and perhaps a washout interior at least for the 4Runner.
Safety and Off-Road Features
We expect Toyota will continue to offer a long list of standard safety gear. Automatic emergency braking, lane control, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control should chart the list. The current-generation Tacoma offers more standard driver-assist features than the 4Runner, but we believe the two will match each other going forward.
As for off-roading, crawl control will supply both models an edge in their respective segments. Possibly multiple off-road suspension systems on tap. All four-wheel-drive models most likely would have reinforced steel bumpers, underbody protection, a roof rack, and an internal draw storage system, the latter two exclusive to the 4Runner. Lift kits, beaded tires, suspension correction, and a winch are other features of note. Expect aftermarket suppliers to offer plenty of components for customization. It’ll be worth it too as the two models should sell more than 300,000 units combined year after year.
The New Arrivals
We expect the 2024 Tacoma to be unveiled in late summer or early fall with production beginning toward the end of this year. Thus, dealers should see the new model by January or February. As for the 4Runner, we believe Toyota will repeat the process the following year. Concerning the hybrid variants, it may take a few extra months for these to arrive, just like Toyota did with the Tundra.
Will we see fully electric versions of the pair? That’s possible, but maybe more likely for the 4Runner. In this case Toyota may simply choose to fully electrify the models on hand instead of building EV-dedicated variants.
Photos copyright Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.