2020 Toyota 4Runner vs. 2019 Ford Flex

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/23

The 4Runner has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Flex doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The 4Runner has a standard Pre-Collision System, which uses forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Flex offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the 4Runner 4WD’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The Flex doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

The Toyota 4Runner has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Flex doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The 4Runner’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Flex doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The 4Runner Limited/Nightshade has standard Parking Assist Sonar to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The Flex doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

The 4Runner’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Flex doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the 4Runner and the Flex have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras and available four-wheel drive.

The Toyota 4Runner has a better fatality history. The 4Runner was involved in fatal accidents at a rate 32.9% lower per vehicle registered than the Flex, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Warranty

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Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the 4Runner for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Ford doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Flex.

Reliability

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A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the 4Runner’s reliability 23 points higher than the Flex.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 38 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Ford is ranked 18th.

Engine

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The 4Runner’s 4.0 DOHC V6 produces 24 lbs.-ft. more torque (278 vs. 254) than the Flex’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Toyota 4Runner is faster than the Ford Flex V6:

4Runner

Flex

Zero to 30 MPH

3 sec

3.2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.7 sec

8.5 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.9 sec

5.8 sec

Quarter Mile

16.1 sec

16.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

89.2 MPH

88 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Toyota 4Runner uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Flex Limited requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The 4Runner has 4.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Flex (23 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the 4Runner’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Flex:

4Runner

Flex

Front Rotors

13.3 inches

12.8 inches

The 4Runner stops much shorter than the Flex:

4Runner

Flex

70 to 0 MPH

184 feet

192 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

131 feet

144 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

145 feet

157 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the 4Runner has larger standard tires than the Flex (245/60R20 vs. 235/60R18). The 4Runner’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Flex (265/70R17 vs. 255/45R20).

The Toyota 4Runner’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Ford Flex only has 5 wheel lugs per wheel.

The 4Runner has a standard full size spare tire so a flat doesn’t interrupt your trip. A full size spare isn’t available on the Flex, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which limits mileage and speed before replacement.

Suspension and Handling

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The 4Runner TRD Off-Road/Venture offers active sway bars, which help keep it flat and controlled during cornering, but disconnect at lower speeds to smooth the ride and offer greater off-road suspension articulation. This helps keep the tires glued to the road on-road and off. The Flex doesn’t offer an active sway bar system.

For better maneuverability, the 4Runner’s turning circle is 3.3 feet tighter than the Flex’s (37.4 feet vs. 40.7 feet).

Chassis

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The 4Runner SR5 is 11.6 inches shorter than the Flex, making the 4Runner easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the 4Runner TRD Off-Road is quieter than the Flex Limited AWD (67 vs. 68 dB).

Passenger Space

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The 4Runner has 1 inch more front hip room, .7 inches more rear hip room, 2.2 inches more third row hip room and 6.9 inches more third row shoulder room than the Flex.

Cargo Capacity

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The 4Runner’s cargo area provides more volume than the Flex.

4Runner

Flex

Third Seat Folded

46.3 cubic feet

43.2 cubic feet

Third Seat Removed

47.2 cubic feet

n/a

Second Seat Folded

89.7 cubic feet

83.2 cubic feet

The 4Runner 5-Passenger’s optional sliding cargo floor is capable of supporting 440 pounds, to make loading and unloading cargo easier and safer. The Flex doesn’t offer a sliding load floor.

The 4Runner’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the liftgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The Flex’s rear cargo window doesn’t open.

Towing

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The 4Runner’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Flex’s (5000 vs. 2000 pounds).

Servicing Ease

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The engine in the 4Runner is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Flex. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

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The 4Runner’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Flex’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the 4Runner the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. (This window function must be activated by your Toyota service department.) The driver of the Flex can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Consumer Reports rated the 4Runner’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the Flex’s headlights, which were rated “Good.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the 4Runner detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Flex doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

Economic Advantages

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The 4Runner will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the 4Runner will retain 61.48% to 71.13% of its original price after five years, while the Flex only retains 42.16% to 47.41%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 4Runner is less expensive to operate than the Flex because it costs $245 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the 4Runner than the Flex, including $432 less for a muffler, $3 less for front brake pads, $55 less for front struts and $311 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Toyota 4Runner will be $5555 to $6600 less than for the Ford Flex.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/23

The TRD Pro was selected by Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine as their 2015 4x4 of the Year. The Flex has never been chosen.

The Toyota 4Runner outsold the Ford Flex by almost six to one during the 2019 model year.

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