But according to Sweers, the Bronco and Wrangler aren’t direct competitors.
“They’re competitors, but they’re not competitors. They are body-on-frame vehicles, but it’s a different customer,” Sweers explained in greater detail. “There is a balance between on-road capability and off-road capability. Those vehicles are more purpose-built than a 4Runner and because of that, they are more raw.”
This may not be the answer off-road diehards were seeking, but it shows Toyota’s commitment toward keeping the 4Runner as a capable road vehicle that can also handle itself when the pavement ends, not the other way around. Ford managed to make the Bronco formula more livable with independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering, but it still feels more at home on the trail than on the highway.
Toyota may not transform the next-generation 4Runner into a purpose-built off-roader with a removable roof and doors, but Sweers and his team have taken an important lesson from the popularity of the Bronco and Wrangler.