Call it ‘old’ vs. new. The 2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro vs. the 2021 Ford Bronco First Edition. In this preview of TFLoffroad‘s battle of 4-door SUV mountain-climbing capability the guys put the two vehicles side by side. The 4Runner slots in as the old truck here, thanks to an engine and transmission virtually unchanged in more than a decade. The Bronco comes in as a wholly new vehicle from Ford. Which is better on paper and while parked at the trailhead for Imogene Pass? Let’s take a closer look
Engines & Transmissions
A 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 powers TFL’s 2021 Ford Bronco, the same engine used in the Ford F-150. It puts out 330 horsepower and 410 lb-ft torque. And it’s connected to a 10-speed transmission. The 2021 4Runner uses a 4.0-liter V6 and 5-speed automatic transmission, the same package first introduced in, gosh, 2010. It produces a reliable 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. That said, the old-school 4Runner has a higher tow rating of 5,000 pounds, compared to the Bronco’s 3,500 pounds. For fuel economy, the Toyota’s EPA estimate is 17 mpgs combined, while the Bronco’s says 17 mpg’s combined, a draw.
Advantage: Toss up. Ford’s turbo V6 moves full-size trucks and the turbos work well in high altitudes, such as 13,000-foot high Imogene Pass. Toyota’s V6 is a reliable an engine as you can find in the world today.
Interior & Tech
While both vehicles feature spacious interiors and comfy seats, the 4Runner TRD Pro delivers better fit and finish on their no-nonsense interior layout while the Bronco wins hands down for digital screens and digital tech. After 10 years, the 4Runner is showing its age design-wise, but Toyota has also spent 10 years making incremental best-use changes. The result is an interior that works with nice leather touch points. The Bronco screams “the future is now” and the giant 12-inch touchscreen accesses a multitude of features that put the Toyota to shame.
In terms of cargo access and capacity, both can haul a ton, but the rear hatch on the 4Runner with Tommy’s favorite roll-down rear window is easier to live with everyday than the Bronco’s heavy swing gate, heavy due to the full-size spare mounted on it.
Advantage: Both Tommy and Roman agree, the TRD Pro’s interior may look tired, but it offers a more premium experience. And the tech works.
Here’s where the rubber meets the dirt. The Bronco Sasquatch edition is the most off-road capable version of the Ford. Checks in with 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT‘s, front and rear locking differentials, turn assist, and G.O.A.T. modes that alter traction control, gearing, and suspension based on terrain. The 4Runner TRD Pro comes with its own version of terrain modes, a rear locker, A-Trac traction control and Crawl Control (basically low-speed cruise control), but only 32-inch Nitto Terra Grappler tires. Both come with 4HI/4LO transfer cases, skid plates, high performance shocks.
Advantage: Both SUVs are supremely capable, but gotta give the Bronco the win for its front locker and bigger tires that roll over and through so much more than the Toyota.
Price & Conclusion
The fully-optioned 2021 Ford Bronco cost us roughly $63,000 and can be turned into a convertible like we did. This 4Runner TRD Pro lists for $52.5K, roof rack included. Both bring different options and approaches to the 4-door off-road SUV world. What is appreciated is the addition of the Bronco to what was, in simple terms, a two-SUV world shared by the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and the 4Runner (with a nod to the Land Rover Defender). All of them have different aspects that appeal to different drivers, yet all are supremely capable off-road. What’s nice is now there’s more choice.
To see what Tommy and Roman thought about each vehicle, click on the video below. Remember to go to TFLoffroad on YouTube in the coming days to see how these SUVs conquer the rock, gravel, wet, and altitude of Imogene Pass.