Ask TFL: Should I Buy a 2020 Toyota Tacoma Truck or a 4Runner SUV? New vs Old School?

New design of the Tacoma, or old school power in the 4Runner?

2020 toyota tacoma trd pro 4runner 4x4 hawaii
2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro vs Ford Ranger FX4

Should I buy a brand new 2020 Toyota Tacoma with the new 3.5L V6 engine and transmission or go for a new 4Runner with the older 4.0L V6 powertrain?

We recently received this question from Jon S.

I want to buy a new Toyota. It’s between the 2020 Tacoma and 4Runner. I hear things about the Tacomas transmission hunting for gears. It’s not that great and it concerns me. On the other hand the 4Runner has an old school tranny 5-speed and big 4.0L engine that has been around for ten years, so it’s tried and true. My question is: would the sketchy Tacoma transmission prevent you from buying that over the 4Runner? I live in Hawaii, so no snow or ice on roads and very little off roading. I just want a cool reliable Toyota I can own until we are out of oil. I could get by with a 2WD even, and the Tacoma does have the locking rear axle which I like.

Jon, thank you for this interesting question.

While driving in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, we sometimes noticed the new Tacoma 6-speed automatic hunting for gears a bit on steep inclines and transitions in elevation. Toyota has since been tweaking the transmission tuning, and they say the 2020 Tacoma is improved.

Indeed, the 4Runner still has the older design 4.0-liter V6 engine and a 5-speed automatic transmission. You should test drive both and see how you like each.

Since you live in Hawaii, and you do not do much off-roading – I would still recommend the Tacoma. The Tacoma should be more fuel efficient, and fuel prices are not likely to go down anytime soon.

What do you guys think? Please add your comments below to help out Jon.

Here is our recent test featuring a 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.