First Look: 2014 Toyota 4Runner -- Same Great SUV, Plenty More Features and Refinement

By Jacob Brown | April 27, 2013
Real SUVs are a dying breed. Gas is expensive, and while people still like the rugged style and utility of an SUV, they can find much of it in a crossover without such a penalty in fuel economy. But for some, a proper SUV is the only way to go, rugged and able to go nearly anywhere. For 48,755 customers last year, the Toyota 4Runner was the way to go, with a truck-like "ladder" frame, a low-range transfer case with four-wheel drive available, and amenities galore. Now, there's the 2014 Toyota 4Runner, the automaker is revising its SUV with more features, more capabilities, and a revised look and feel, in and out, that should help it carry on as one of the few SUVs left that can literally and figuratively more than tow its own weight.
What's New The first thing you should notice is the 2014 Toyota 4Runner's new headlights, grille, and front bumper, giving it an even more butch, squared-off look. Smoked headlights, clear-lens tail lights, new 17-inch wheels on SR5 and Trail models (the 20-inch wheels from last year's Limited will carry over), and a standard roof rack on all trim levels complete the refreshed style on the outside, highlighted by eight paint colors--four of which are new.
Inside, the 2014 Toyota 4Runner SR5 and Trail both add soft-touch door trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a leather-wrapped shifter handle as standard equipment. The SR5 adds a standard eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat. Trail models come with Toyota's CRAWL function as standard, which acts as a cruise control for off-road driving. All you have to do is set its speed, usually only a few miles per hour, and keep your hands on the steering wheel. Customers opting for leather seats will be greeted with better-quality hides that Toyota says are near-Lexus in quality. Additionally, much of Toyota's latest features for the 2014 4Runner include standard Entune Audio Plus, an update on the company's infotainment system. Limited models have Entune Premium, equipped with a 15-speaker JBL audio system and a navigation system. For all models, the radio antenna has been integrated into its glass instead of having a pole antenna, and each model also comes with Party Mode in its audio settings that pumps up the bass and shifts the sound to the rear of the 4Runner for tailgating. Engine and Drivetrain Carrying over from the 2013 Toyota 4Runner is the SUV's 4.0-liter V-6, producing 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. Power is routed to either the rear wheels or all four when optioned, allowing the 2014 Toyota 4Runner to two up to 5,000 pounds, which is fine since all 4Runners come with an integrated tow hitch and wiring. Trail and Limited models have a part-time low-range transfer case as standard. Limited models have an active X-REAS suspension that helps smooth out the ride, which is likely made harsher by those big, heavy 20-inch wheels. Perhaps, the 4Runner's biggest letdown is that it still has a five-speed automatic transmission, which is a ratio short of much of the competition; the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is getting an eight-speed automatic. Still, the 4Runner is able to achieve 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway with rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel-drive models achieve one fewer mpg on the highway. That's not terrible for a heavy two- to three-row SUV, but it could afford to be better.
Our Thoughts There are some automakers that don't sell 49,000 vehicles in a year. For Toyota, a company that sells 400,000 Camrys each year, the 4Runner is chump change. Still, it's in an important segment that most automakers have outright abandoned in the U.S. Toyota has stuck with it, refining its midsize SUV, and made it into one of the go-to options for someone in need of a go-to mudslinger, whether an avid camper, a park ranger, someone who has a cabin, or someone who simply has a need for something a little more outdoorsy.
As one of the few credible competitors left for the V-6 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 2014 Toyota 4Runner comes back refined where it needed it most: Its interior. And it comes back better-looking and just as capable as ever.

The Jeep now has a car suspension so it can't compete for real offroading anymore. What would be really nice is if Toyota would return to an aftermarket friendly design philosophy. They are making it near impossible to get a nice looking aftermarket bumper and their suspension technology while very good also makes it near impossible to properly lift the vehicle to use 33-35 tires and or gain entrance/exit clearance.

I mean if you are going to keep it a real truck let people use it as one or at least let vendors create parts to allow it to do so.