2020 Toyota 4Runner Continues Off-Roading Legacy

by Tom Crosby
Grey 2020 Toyota 4Runner Nightshade Edition

Toyota’s philosophy has been to avoid major overhauls for its largest SUVs – Sequoia, 4Runner and Land Cruiser – all of which are known for their off-roading excellence. None has been significantly overhauled or redesigned in the last 10-12 years.

2020 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 Nightshade V6 Review

Our test-drive was the special edition 2020 Toyota 4Runner 4×4 Nightshade V6 – one of six trims – outfitting our vehicle with black accents including bumpers, doors and handles, side mirrors, window moldings, rocker panels, and roof rails.

Chrome is minimal on side mirrors and front fascia with a long strip below the doors.

Both the 2021 and 2020 Toyota 4Runner are the same size using the same 4.0-liter V6 engine as the fourth generation 2010 4Runner, with new features in past years dealing mostly with interior technical or feature changes and exterior colors or trim.



For 2020 driver safety features were standardized, USB ports added for rear passengers, and the 4.2-inch instrument panel upgraded. For 2021, LED headlights have been added and a limited-production (4,000 units) Trail Edition is offered.

Our Nightshade edition had two options – automatic running boards and accessible leather-trimmed fold-flat third-row seats with enough room to accommodate adults.

Like all 4Runners, Nightshade was built with sturdy body-on-frame construction.

It was armed with off-road features such as double-wishbone front and four-link rear axles, coil springs, a two-speed transfer case with multi-terrain traction control, driver-selectable rear locking differential, and 9.6 inches of ground clearance.

It was fun to drive and highly capable off of the macadam.

On-road, handling was average, the ride was truck-like jouncy and engine noise was cabin-intrusive.

Toyota’s Safety Sense P suite is now standard, including most cutting-edge driver safety aids, except no blind spot detection or cross-traffic rear alert. 4Runners earned four out of five stars overall safety rating in government crash tests.

The ample cabin now integrates AppleCar Play, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa and Wi-Fi Connect.

A 15-speaker audio system conquers engine noise, front seats are leather-trimmed and heated/ventilated with an easily reached 8-inch dashboard touch-screen with voice recognition and infotainment access.

There are power outlets in all three rows and the cargo area, which boasts 47 cubic feet with the third-row seats down and 90 cubic feet also dropping the second row.

A 3-year free of Safety Connect services includes automatic collision notification and emergency calling capability.

A mid-size SUV, 4Runners can tow 5,000 pounds. There is a spare tire; visors are insufficient to block sun; resale value is high.

At a Glance

LIKES: Spacious, versatile, off-road prowess, comfort, reliability, value
DISLIKES: Noise, low gas mileage, flawed visors, no blind spot detection
BOTTOM LINE: Great for off-roading, not a practical urban commuter vehicle

Fact File: 2020 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 Nightshade V6

Base price w/destination fee
Curb weight
EPA Rating
$38,865 ($39,260 as tested)
$49,860 ($51,645 as tested)
4,805 lbs.
109.8 inches
190.2 inches
79.9 inches
4.0-liter, V6, DOHC, Horsepower 270 hp at 5,600 rpm
278 lbs.-ft. at 4,400 rpm
5-speed shiftable automatic
16 mpg city/19 hwy
23-gallon tank, regular fuel
0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds

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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.

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