Toyota 4Runner Towing Capacity: Rating by Model Year

The Toyota 4Runner is one of the most legendary SUVs ever made. It’s been around since way back in 1984! Over the years, it’s earned a reputation as a super tough and capable off-road vehicle.

But did you know the 4Runner can tow too? Yep, this rugged SUV isn’t just great for hitting the trails – it can also pull some serious weight behind it.

In this article, we’ll dive into the towing abilities of the mighty 4Runner.

We’ll look at how much it can tow, how that’s changed over the years, and everything else you need to know to tow safely with your 4Runner.

Toyota 4Runner Towing Capacity

Toyota 4Runner Towing Capacity

Let’s hit the road!

Toyota 4Runner Towing Capacity by Model Year

Here’s a quick look at the maximum towing capacity of the 4Runner for each model year:

Model Year Towing Capacity
1984 2,500 to 3,000 lb
1985 2,500 to 3,000 lb
1986 3,500 lb with a frame mounted and properly rated tow hitch
1987 3,500 lb with a frame mounted and properly rated tow hitch
1988 3,500 lb with a frame mounted and properly rated tow hitch
1989 3,500 lb with a frame mounted and properly rated tow hitch
1990 3,500 lb with a frame mounted and properly rated tow hitch
1991 3,500 lb with a frame mounted and properly rated tow hitch
1992 3,500 lb with a frame mounted and properly rated tow hitch
1993 3,500 lb with a frame mounted and properly rated tow hitch
1994 3,500 lb with a frame mounted and properly rated tow hitch
1995 3,500 lb with a frame mounted and properly rated tow hitch
1996 5,000 lb
1997 5,000 lb
1998 5,000 lb
1999 5,000 lb
2000 5,000 lb
2001 5,000 lb
2002 5,000 lb
2003 5,000 lb
2004 7,300 lb (2WD), 7,000 lb (4WD)
2005 7,300 lb (2WD), 7,000 lb (4WD)
2006 7,300 lb (2WD), 7,000 lb (4WD)
2007 7,300 lb (2WD), 7,000 lb (4WD)
2008 7,300 lb (2WD), 7,000 lb (4WD)
2009 7,300 lb (2WD), 7,000 lb (4WD)
2010 5,000 lb
2011 5,000 lb
2012 5,000 lb
2013 5,000 lb
2014 4,700 lb
2015 4,700 lb
2016 5,000 lb for SR5, SR5 Premium, and Limited 2WD; 4,900 lb for Trail, Trail Premium, and TRD; 4,700 lb for Limited 4WD
2017 5,000 lb
2018 5,000 lb
2019 5,000 lb
2020 5,000 lb
2021 5,000 lb
2022 5,000 lb

As you can see, the towing capacity has gone up and down a bit over the years. In general, though, most 4Runners can tow between 3,500 to 5,000 pounds. And for a few special years, V8-powered 4Runners could even tow over 7,000 lbs! Not too shabby.

Towing Isn’t As Simple As It Seems

Now, just because your 4Runner has a certain “towing capacity” doesn’t mean you can just hook up any old trailer and hit the road. There’s a lot more that goes into towing safely.

First off, your particular 4Runner needs to have the right setup to tow the maximum amount. Things like:

  • The right engine (V6 vs V8)
  • Transmission (manual or automatic)
  • 2WD vs 4WD
  • Having a tow package installed
  • A properly rated trailer hitch

If your 4Runner doesn’t have the ideal combo of these things, you might not be able to tow the full amount listed in the manual.

There are also some other important numbers and ratings to know:

  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): The max weight of your 4Runner, including passengers and cargo
  • Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR): The max combined weight of your 4Runner, passengers, cargo, and trailer
  • Payload: How much weight your 4Runner can carry in passengers and cargo
  • Tongue Weight: The downward force of the trailer on the hitch

To tow safely, you need to make sure you’re not exceeding any of these ratings. You’ve got to do some math to make sure your trailer and cargo aren’t too heavy for your 4Runner to handle.

What Makes the 4Runner a Solid Tow Vehicle?

So why is the 4Runner a good pick for towing in the first place? It comes down to how it’s built.

Unlike a lot of modern SUVs that are based on car platforms, the 4Runner has always been built more like a truck. Some key 4Runner features that help with towing:

  • Body-on-frame construction
  • Solid rear axle
  • Tough suspension components shared with Toyota pickups
  • Advanced off-road traction control systems

The 4Runner is a stout, tough vehicle from the ground up. This comes in handy not just for off-roading, but also for pulling heavy trailers.

How Towing Has Changed Across 4Runner Generations?

Alright, let’s get into the nitty gritty of how the 4Runner’s towing game has evolved over the years. The 4Runner has been through five generations since 1984 – here’s the scoop on each one:

5th Gen (2010-Present):

  • 4.0L V6 engine only
  • Towing capacity fluctuated a bit, but settled at 5,000 lbs for 2017+
  • Curb weights range from 4,400 to 4,805 lbs

4th Gen (2003-2009):

  • V8 engine introduced! 4.7L made up to 235 hp and 320 lb-ft
  • V6 was also available, 4.0L with 245 hp and 283 lb-ft
  • 2WD V8s could tow up to 7,300 lbs, 4WDs up to 7,000 lbs
  • GVWRs between 5,330-6,005 lbs

3rd Gen (1996-2002):

  • New engines: 2.7L I4 and 3.4L V6 with up to 183 hp
  • Towing capacity jumped up to 5,000 lbs
  • GCWRs ranged from 7,600-9,200 lbs

2nd Gen (1990-1995):

  • Iconic removable fiberglass shell replaced with metal roof
  • Four-door model introduced
  • 3.0L V6 with 150 hp
  • Towing remained around 3,500 lbs

1st Gen (1984-1989):

  • Earliest 4Runners had 2.4L 22R/RE I4 engine
  • 3.0L V6 introduced in 1988
  • Solid front axle until 1986
  • Towing capacity between 2,500-3,500 lbs

As emissions regulations got stricter and fuel economy standards rose, some of the burliest engines got phased out. But overall, the 4Runner has always been a competent tow rig – especially in its V8 heyday!

Can a 4Runner Tow 7,000 Pounds?

If you’ve got a 4th gen V8 4Runner (2004-2009), then yes! The V8-powered 4Runners from those years were rated to tow up to:

  • 7,300 lbs for 2WD models
  • 7,000 lbs for 4WD models

So if you have a 4th gen V8 and you’re looking to tow something really heavy, you’re in luck. Just make sure your specific 4Runner is equipped to handle that much weight.

Is Toyota Discontinuing the 4Runner?

There have been some rumors floating around about the future of the 4Runner. With Toyota focusing more on hybrids and fuel efficiency, some folks have wondered if the 4Runner’s days are numbered.

But as of right now, Toyota hasn’t announced any plans to get rid of the 4Runner. They’ve been putting a lot of love into this SUV recently, with some awesome new off-road focused trims like the TRD Pro.

So while nothing lasts forever, it looks like the 4Runner is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Phew!

Can a 4Runner Tow a Travel Trailer?

Heck yes, it can! The 4Runner is a super popular choice for towing smaller travel trailers, pop-up campers, and lightweight toy haulers.

Most 4Runners can easily handle a trailer with a dry weight under 4,000 lbs. If you’ve got a 2014+ model, you can use this handy formula to figure out your max trailer weight:

  • GVWR – (curb weight + passenger weight + cargo weight) = Max Trailer Weight

Just plug in the numbers for your specific SUV and trailer setup, and you’ll know if you’re good to go.

One thing to keep in mind though – even if your trailer is under the max towing capacity, you still might want to keep it on the lighter side. Towing at the very limit all the time can put a lot of stress on your drivetrain. To be safe, aim for a trailer about 20-30% below your max towing capacity.

Our Favorite 4Runner Features for Towing

The 4Runner has some awesome features that make it a towing all-star. Here are a few of our faves:

  • Integrated tow hitch receiver: Makes hooking up your trailer safe and easy
  • Tow/Haul mode: Adjusts shift points for better towing performance
  • 7 and 4-pin wiring connectors: Let you easily connect trailer lights and brakes
  • Blind spot monitors w/ rear cross traffic alert: Super helpful when changing lanes or backing up with a trailer
  • Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS): Helps reduce body roll and trailer sway
  • Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select: Awesome off-road assists that come in handy if you take your trailer off the beaten path

From its rugged frame to its advanced safety tech, the 4Runner is loaded with features that make it a beast for towing on the road and off.

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The Bottom Line on 4Runner Towing:

Phew, that was a lot of info! Let’s boil it down to the key takeaways about towing with a Toyota 4Runner:

  • Most 4Runners can tow between 3,500 – 5,000 lbs
  • 4th gen V8 models can tow up to 7,300 lbs (the all-time 4Runner record)
  • Towing capacity varies a lot based on model year, engine, drivetrain, and equipment
  • 4Runners are great for towing small/medium travel trailers, boats, and toy haulers
  • Always double-check your specific vehicle’s ratings and never exceed them

At the end of the day, the Toyota 4Runner is one of the most capable, versatile, and reliable SUVs ever made. Whether you’re towing your weekend toys or exploring a remote trail, this truck-based SUV is up for just about anything.

So don’t be afraid to hitch up that camper and hit the road! With a 4Runner, you’ve got a tow rig that’s built to handle whatever adventures you throw at it. Happy trails!

Note: Always refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specific towing instructions, capacities, and safety info. Be smart and tow safe out there!

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