11 Must-Have Upgraded Interior, Performance and Tech Features for the 6th Gen 4Runner
I used to consider myself a low maintenance car owner because I never had a need for all the “bells and whistles”.
Things changed after the recent purchases of my wife’s Kia Telluride. I could not help but notice that Kia offered better technology and convenience features, at lower trim levels than Toyota does for the 4Runner.
Nearly every feature request I am about to mention for the 6th Gen 4Runner is one I enjoy on our Telluride and not typically “standard” on the 5th Gen 4Runner. These requests are also frequently mentioned by 4Runner owners as well.
I know what you’re thinking.. whoa man, a KIA? Yeah, it doesn’t boast nearly enough off-road features as the 4Runner but the tech sure is nice – and somewhat normal at this day and age.
With the release of the 2021 Trail Edition 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra – it still leaves us obviously wanting more. As we inch closer and closer to the 6th Gen, is the 2021 4Runner an indicator of what we can expect in the new to come model-generation or just more of the same old?
I would likely say the new 2021 Trail Edition Toyota lineup has hit the end of the 5th Gen road. However, there are many features to be desired of what’s to come in the all-new 6th Generation Toyota 4Runner. And, from what we have seen from other sites, we may have to wait until 2023 to see a 6th Gen 4Runner.
So when is this 6th Gen coming? Well rumors are saying 2022 and some are saying 2023, and some even push the 6th to 2024.
What do we want from a 6th Gen?
The early models of the 5th generations Toyota 4Runner gave us everything we wanted at first but as time went on, it seemed like tech past us in the dust.
What happened Toyota? What did we do to upset you? All we are asking for is some badass interior functions and a bit more performance off-road.
To start, we would really appreciate some innovation. Plain and simple, please update us with what we know you are capable of. If you can’t come up with something different – we will take some of the same we already know you have. Now that you are discontinuing the Land Cruiser, can we please get some of those interior upgrades? I will be the first to tell you that a $90K high-end locked Toyota isn’t going to up that stock price so if possible – just pass it down to the 4Runner.
Honestly, we want a heated steering wheel, bigger screens, bigger vents, cooler buttons, more USB chargers, sleeker designs, more digital tachometer functions with the basics like oil pressure, tire pressure, and fluid levels. And, would it be too much to ask for our transmission temps and battery voltage?
While I am at it, I could really go for some actual ground clearance off the lot or even a manual transmission? Would it be too much to ask for a turbo diesel engine with stock front and rear lockers? Possibly a V8 variant with built-in winch options? And for the love of exploring the great outdoors, we want something with a better fuel economy, among other attributes. Ok, I might be dreaming a little bit but you get the point.
We have quite a few asks of the 6th Generation 4Runner.
What can we expect from a 6th Gen?
Just as the 5th Gen excited us in the beginning, I think the 6th Gen will as well – but not by far. I think we will see some pleasant design upgrades and well-overdue tech enhancements.
We should see many of the limited features come factory on the SR5 Premium models (heated steering wheels, hopefully – many new infotainment upgrades, Etc.). I am not sure Totota is going to invest their time into a big portion of the consumer diesel market as financially, it wouldn’t make sense. Yeah, a handful of us would love it but the volume just is not there for them to justify it, nor is the V8.
Keep in mind the Toyota 4Runner market is not for all of us off-road and overland type people. The majority of the market is smart soccer moms and dads who want a dependable long-lasting SUV that is safe for their family. This is Toyota’s number one market. BUT, their off-road, adventure and overland community is growing by the day.
More and more adventure seekers ad families are realizing just how special of a platform the 4Runner is. It offers superior off-road functionality while also offering a comfortable ride around town.
I think the changes in the 6th Gen will be minimal but the important part is that the 4Runner will stick true to its community. All we can hope for is 3rd or 5th Gen characteristics and that they stray from 2nd and 4th Gen characteristics. I am kidding, all Gens need love too.
With all that said, what features does the 6th Gen 4Runner need?
1. Remote Start/Keyless Entry/Push Start – Standard
With more and more manufactures utilizing FOBs across the product line, Toyota is falling behind on the 4Runner.
They have a remote start on the 2014+ 4Runners but it’s rare. Only a select few models have the remote start functionality built-in. You will find this on Trail Premiums, Off-Road models, Pros and of course the Limited. They have just now release push start on more recent 2020 4Runner Models. This should come standard on all model variants throughout the 4Runner lineup.
Keyless entry is great for when your hands are full taking care of kids or other tasks. A FOB is an ultimate convenience as I can just throw it in a bag or briefcase instead of having to carry the key or a set of keys in my pocket. Proximity intelligent FOBs are great for recognizing when you are close to the vehicle so you don’t need to lock or unlock, the system does it for you. Similarly, the remote start feature is convenient during the winter to help clear the vehicle of ice and warm it up. Or to cool the car down in the summertime.
And the factory remote start on the 4Runner should last more than the 5-min time it does before it shuts off. Just as a heads up to Toyota, that is not enough time to warm up and ice-cold truck in the middle of winter.
There are many aftermarket options out there for remote start installation kits for the 4Runner, though. Here is an easy DIY plug and play option is the 12V Solutions Remote Start Kit that Trevor installed and reviewed.
The bottom line is we need more of this functionality standard on the 6th Gen.
2. A Better Apple CarPlay/Android/Infotainment System
Carplay is probably the number one feature I wish I had in my 4Runner. The old Entune system is horrid and outdated.
Apple Carplay provides a more visually appealing infotainment system and is better suited for use while operating a vehicle. Large icons allow easy access to a variety of entertainment apps such as podcasts, audiobooks, and music, all while providing easy access to maps, messages and the phone.
While many of the available head units for the 4Runner do not fit properly and can be expensive, there are some options out there that are reasonably priced, like the T9 Head Unit for the 5th Gen 4Runner.
Even though there are current options out there, it would better if Toyota had a factory Apple Car Play and Android accepting head unit.
And we are the point where this should come standard on all models.
3. Heated Steering Wheel
Pictured: Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel Upgrade
A heated steering wheel used to be only available on the most luxurious vehicles and trims, but it has started to creep their way into more base models.
The heated steering wheel feature is one of those upgrades that you didn’t know you needed until you had it. It comes in handy after cold football games, hiking or even just during a simple commute. Trust me, it’ll change your life.
A heated steering wheel should come factory on all 4Runners and if not all trims, at least the SR5 Premiums, Off-Road, Pro and Limited models.
4. Control All Windows Using FOB
For some reason, the ability to roll up and down all windows in the 4Runner using the FOB is not an option.
One thing that was cool about the 3rd Gen 4Runner was that you could at least roll down the back window with the key fob. This made it really easy to walk up to your 4Runner and throw something in or pick something up from the rear cargo area.
At the very least, I want the ability to control the rear window using the FOB, especially since I am running a rear tire carrier. Since the 4Runner is often an adventure vehicle, not including this feature is a huge misstep. It is one of the most requested and desired features by 4Runner owners.
Sure, the Carista OBD can control all the windows but its just another step we shouldn’t need to take with a $40K+ SUV.
5. Dual/Quad Climate Control
Dual-Zone can either mean separate controls for the front and rear or separate controls for the driver and passenger.
Quad-zone either means separate controls for the driver and passenger sides in front and rear rows, separate controls in all three rows or separate controls between the front and the two rear zones. Offering separate climate controls for the front and rear rows should be offered on the next-gen base trim.
As a parent, I am often carrying kids in my second row. In the wintertime, we are running the heaters full blast to get the kids warm. As my wife and I prefer the cold, this isn’t an ideal situation.
In the Telluride, we can control driver and passenger climates, as well as the rear climate all separately so everyone is comfortable.
The 4Runner needs to come factory with these basic features on the 6th Gen.
6. Power Liftgate
I consider myself more of a traditionalist. Therefore, I prefer not to have a power liftgate. I enjoy the satisfying slam of the liftgate on the truck.
However, I cannot deny its convenience when unloading groceries. A desire for a true power liftgate mod is one I have seen on various 4Runner forums and discussion threads. Additionally, power liftgates are even becoming more common on lower levels of vehicle trims as consumers become more fond of this feature.
Interestingly, flatbed truck brands are heavily advertising various mechanized liftgate models for the truck bed.
7. USB Port & Charging Upgrades
A 6th Gen 3-row 4Runner should have no less than 6 fast-charging USB ports.
Nearly every device nowadays can be charged using a USB cord. (E-readers, tablets, cell phones, portable radios, walkie-talkies, etc). There is no reason for these ports not to be included in a family-sized adventure vehicle.
8. Automatic-On Headlights/High Beams
Not much to say here as automatic-on headlights are simply convenient. I like having the option to turn this feature on so I can “set it and forget it”. This should be coming standard on most 4Runners with their newly released Saftey Sense. We could also go for some new innovation in the light department, both for the high beams, low beams, and fog lights.
Halogen lamps are virtually a thing of past on many new makes and models. LEDs are the future and Toyota should recognize that we don’t want to settle for sub-par forward-facing lighting.
9. 360° Reverse/Backup Camera
A 360° reverse/backup camera utilizes a number of cameras around the vehicle to provide a birds-eye view of the vehicle when reversing.
In most vehicles, the screen is split into two views. One showing the birds-eye view and the other provides the traditional rearview camera feed. It is a nice feature to have if you frequently drive in the city or in crowded downtown areas.
I thought the 360° camera would be gimmicky but I have begun to see the appeal since I drive frequently in crowded areas.
10. Diesel Engine Option
It has been nearly 30 years since Toyota has offered a diesel 4Runner in the United States.
The diesel engine for the next-gen 4Runner has long been rumored by Toyota. Toyota enthusiasts are always teasing a diesel return as well. Diesel engines tend to provide more torque, more efficiency and more reliability, than their gasoline counterparts.
Plus, they tend to be louder which some find appealing. With the rise in the use and awareness of biodiesel fuels, now might be a good time for Toyota to revive the diesel engine.
11. V8 Engine Option
A V8 engine has not been offered for the 4Runner in over a decade.
Rumor has it that the Toyota V8 engine was discontinued because it was terribly inefficient. I would imagine strict greenhouse gas emission laws played a small part as well. Surely, this is no longer an issue as Toyota offers a 5.7 L V8 for the Tundra. This engine could just be added to the next-gen 4Runner line.
However, the current engine bay is too small. If the 4Runner body receives a large refresh for the 6th Gen 4Runner, a larger engine bay would be needed to house the Tundra V8 engine.