The Toyota RAV4, the Toyota 4Runner, and the Toyota Highlander: which Toyota SUV is right for you?

At our Portsmouth Toyota dealership we have a great selection of Toyota SUVS, and the most popular with drivers from Dover and beyond are the Toyota RAV4 compact SUV that was just redesigned for the 2019 model year, the adventure- and off-road-ready Toyota 4Runner, and the Toyota Highlander midsize SUV that's perfect for families. We'll compare the three and help you find the right one for your lifestyle.

Size: exterior, interior, and cargo

The RAV4 is the smallest of the Toyota SUVS, so if you want something nimble for driving in busy Exeter, this is a great choice. If driving a bigger vehicle doesn't bother you, or you need the extra space for family and gear, the Toyota 4Runner and the Toyota Highlander are larger options. The Highlander is about 2-inches longer than the 4Runner, so parking them won't feel that different. The inside is a different story, though.

The Highlander has a standard three-row setup, and depending on the trim you'll have room for either 7 or 8 passengers. Five-passenger seating is standard on the 4Runner, but on some trims you can upgrade to an optional third-row and seat up the 7.

Here's how the three models fare when it comes to transporting cargo. These specs are based on how much space (in cubic feet) you'll have behind the applicable third-row if it's up, then the second-row, and then the entire back if you fold the rows flat.

  • RAV4: 37.6 cubic feet/69.8 cubic feet
  • 4Runner: 9 cubic feet (w/optional third-row)/46.3 cubic feet/88.8 cubic feet
  • Highlander: 13.8 cubic feet/42.3 cubic feet/83.7 cubic feet
  • To further maximize your space, we suggest getting Genuine Toyota Accessories, like a bike rack or cargo box. You can even get a surf rack and head over to Hampton NH for some East-Coast surfing!


    Toyota RAV4      


    Toyota 4Runner   

    Toyota Highlander         


    With that statement, let's segue into the performance levels for each of these models. Because the Toyota RAV4 is the smallest, it's naturally going to have the smallest engine. All RAV4'S have a 2.5L with 203 horsepower, and all-wheel drive is available on each trim and standard on the Adventure model. The RAV4 Adventure also has better towing specs of up to 3,500 pounds, compared to 1,500 pounds on the other trims. It's worth noting that both the RAV4 and the Highlander have hybrid options.

    Next up for power is the 4Runner. Like the RAV4, all trims have one engine. The 4Runner's is a 4.0L V6 with 270 horsepower. Some trims have rear-wheel drive and others have part-time 4WD (not to be confused with AWD). Any of the 4Runner SUVS can hit the trails, though we do suggest choosing the three of the six trims that have better technology and engineering (like shocks and more protective underside plating) for rocky roads.

    The Toyota Highlander base trim has a 2.7L with 185 horsepower, and this is better for Highlander drivers who won't normally have a full Highlander - for example, those who got a three-row vehicle so they could bring their pets along. If you plan on having more humans on board, go with the 3.6L V6 that's standard on the rest. It offers 295 horsepower, and you can upgrade the base trim and get this engine.


    Drivers these days are hungry for advanced safety technologies, and with most new Toyota models you'll get a lot of standard amenities that blow the competition away. Many of these features are part of the Toyota Safety Sense™ package, and if you want safety no matter the trim you choose to buy or lease, you'll want to consider the Toyota RAV4. Even on the base trim you'll get Toyota Safety Sense™. The Highlander has the package once you clear the base trim, and you won't find Toyota Safety Sense™ standard or even available on any 4Runner. That's because many people buy the 4Runner for more rugged adventures, and those features would be cumbersome.

    Infotainment Technology

    Each of these models has a different touchscreen setup. All 4Runner's get a 6.1-inch standard touchscreen. After the base trim, all Highlander models have an 8-inch touchscreen. Depending on the RAV4, you'll get either a 7- or 8-inch screen. The RAV4 does go a step further by providing standard Apple CarPlay™, which is a new smartphone-meets-touchscreen integration that Toyota is beginning to rollout model by model.


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    If you're ready to take home one of these new Toyota SUVS, start by browsing our selection, checking our new vehicle specials, and then scheduling a test drive!