2021 4Runner driving on rocky terrain


  • The 4Runner and Explorer have extensive suites of active safety features to help keep you and your family safe.
  • You get Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) standard with the 4Runner.
  • Lack of airbag coverage is no concern in the 4Runner which has eight standard.

The 4Runner and Explorer have built-in technologies to add peace of mind to your drive.

Standard Active Safety Features

For instance, all models of the 4Runner come with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). This suite of active safety features includes: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).

Comparable features for the Ford Explorer are a Lane-Keeping System (includes Lane-Keeping Assist, Lane-Keeping Alert and Driver Alert), BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System), Rear View Camera, Automatic Emergency Braking, and Auto High-Beam Headlamps. This basic safety package is known as Ford Co-Pilot360™ Technology. To get the more advanced Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with: Stop-and-Go, Lane Centering, Speed Sign Recognition and Evasive Steering Assist, you'd need Ford Co-Pilot360™ Assist+. This safety package is available on the Explorer XLT, Limited, and ST and comes standard with the King Ranch® and Platinum.

These integrated safety systems are just one piece of the overall puzzle. All models of the 4Runner also have eight airbags, which include: driver and front passenger TAP (Thorax, Abdomen, Pelvis) front seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, and front and all row (third-row airbags on all models) Roll-sensing Side Curtain Airbags (RSCA). The Ford specs page lists a Front Passenger Knee Airbag and Safety Canopy® System under their safety section. No other airbags are specifically mentioned on the page.

4Runner splashing through a puddle


  • You'll roll over bumpy terrain with ease in the 4Runner which has a higher ground clearance than the Explorer.
  • Select between four different 4Runner models to truly optimize your off-roading experience.
  • Keep control as you go downhill with the 4Runner's available Downhill Assist Control and Explorer's Hill Descent Control™.

Adventure is out there, and the 4Runner and Explorer are built to help you escape the paved roads.

Built for Off-Road Fun

When you leave the confines of a smooth path, having a little extra lift to get you over the bumps is important. The 2021 4Runner creates some added separation with a ground clearance of 9.4 inches. With a minimum ground clearance of only 7.9 inches, the Explorer might cut it close when you come across rough terrain.

The Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, Venture Special Edition, and TRD Pro have a Locking rear differential, Multi-Terrain Select (MTS), and Crawl Control to help you drive over difficult terrain. For similar stability features, the 2021 Ford Explorer ST and Platinum have standard Terrain Management System™ and AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control™.

Once you've made it to the peak, remember what goes up must come down. For steep downhills the 4Runner SR5, Trail Special Edition, SR5 Premium, Limited, and Nightshade Special Edition 4x4 models have Downhill Assist Control to help you maintain control. The Ford Explorer ST and Platinum have standard Hill Descent Control™.

4Runner driving on a dirt path through a forest


  • While you have to accumulate points to get free maintenance from Ford, the 4Runner includes factory-scheduled maintenance with ToyotaCare.
  • Ride around in your 4Runner for you years to come or take advantage of its stellar resale value.
  • More customers recommended the 4Runner over the Explorer on KBB.com.

You can rely on your 4Runner, even years after you drive it off the lot and into the great unknown.

A Vehicle You Can Rely On

Thanks to ToyotaCare, all 4Runners have factory-scheduled maintenance that lasts two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. Plus, you get 24/7 Roadside Assistance for two years and unlimited mileage. Similarly, Roadside Assistance is included for five years or 60,000 miles for Ford drivers. However, for complimentary maintenance, customers will have to earn rewards through the FordPass™ app. Otherwise, the purchase of a Ford Protect Premium Maintenance Plan is necessary.

With standard scheduled maintenance, the 4Runner holds up against the test of time. In fact, the Toyota 4Runner received the KBB® Best Resale Value Award: Top 10 for 8 years in a row (2013-2020). Toyota also won the 2021 Best Resale Value Brand award from KBB®.

A car that maintains its value and is reliable is worth talking about. While only 60% of consumers on KBB.com would recommend the 2021 Ford Explorer, 90% of consumers would recommend the 2021 4Runner. Plus, the 4Runner received a higher KBB® consumer reliability rating with a 4.8 out of 5. The Explorer only received a 3.5 out of 5.

Conclusion: 4Runner vs Explorer

Active safety features come standard in the 4Runner while the more advanced safety features, like Ford Co-Pilot360™ Assist+, is only offered in the higher end Explorer models. The 2021 Toyota 4Runner is the way to go for an SUV with a bold on-road and off-road presence.

  • The ToyotaCare factory scheduled maintenance plan comes standard with every 4Runner.
  • The 4Runner comes standard with ToyotaCare 24/7 Roadside Assistance for two years and unlimited mileage.
  • The 4Runner has higher ground clearance for taking on rough terrain.
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) comes standard with the 4Runner.
  • All 4Runner models come with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P).
  • All models of the 4Runner come equipped with eight airbags.