Heritage and performance are important defining elements of the culture at Toyota and there is probably no better example today than the "new" 2014 Toyota 4Runner.
The Toyota 4Runner, refreshed for 2014, is an excellent example of how Toyota designers and engineers can preserve and use the best of a vehicle's heritage while improving it with current technology and engineering developments to make it a better value for the consumer.
This mid-sized sport utility has been a staple of the Toyota product line since its introduction way back in 1984.
Year-after-year, the Toyota 4Runner developed a fairly good sized loyal user base who have purchased over two-million 4Runners over the years and depended on its rugged and tough body-on-frame truck-like design to get them wherever they wanted to go - whenever they wanted to go - every time.
Toyota says that the 4Runner is so tough and dependable that somewhere around 75 percent of all of them sold are still on the road today getting their owners anywhere and anytime every day.
Today, along with the Toyota FJ, it is one of the last true "truck" type SUV's available as the segment has moved to crossover type designs and styling. With the rumored demise of the FJ (as we know it today at least), the 4Runner becomes the last mid-size SUV "truck" standing, or rather, off-roading.
Toyota, recognizing that the rugged tradition of the 4Runner is an important element of their heritage, decided for 2014 to give the 4Runner a refresh preserving all that was good and adding a number of features and elements that make this solid performer an even better value - well able to outperform the competition with its optimal off-road capability and still last for years to come.
Today, preserving its legacy body-on-frame design with a rugged suspension enhanced by comprehensive technology, plus fully boxed frame, high-strength steel and driven by the powerful 4.0L V6 delivering 270 and 278 lb.-ft. of torque through the five-speed ECT-i automatic transmission - the refreshed 2014 Toyota 4Runner is poised to continue to deliver on its legacy while providing a better ride, more features and technology plus value for the mid-size SUV buyer.
We had a very short (too short) opportunity recently to drive the new 2014 Toyota 4Runner while doing the first drive of the new 2014 Toyota Tundra in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Toyota had intended that the media would be able to drive the new 4Runner both off-road and on-road at this event.
Unfortunately, a lightning storm the night before (yes lightning) had damaged a couple of the test vehicles and we only had vehicles and time enough to drive the short course at the ranch that consisted of ditches, ravines and very big holes carved into the rocky ground at the ranch by a bulldozer.
Every single way that we tackled this "off-road course" at the ranch, the 2014 Toyota 4Runner Trail, with its excellent ground clearance and Crawl Control, engaged the terrain with strength, balance and traction - reducing the obstacles to just "bumps" on the road and making wading the mud hole and climbing up the slippery slope on the other side a mere "walk in the park".
Having considerable time with off-roading in earlier generations of the 4Runner, we were satisfied that its off-road capability has been preserved and even enhanced.
For the 2014 refresh, Toyota enhanced the exterior with a rugged new design and added interior refinements for comfort and convenience of the driver and passengers.
The 2014 4Runner is available in three grades: a well-equipped and value-driven SR5; top-of-the-line Limited, and a Trail grade for those who want maximum off-road capability. Optional third-row seats on SR5 and Limited allow for up to seven-person capacity.
4Runner owners will have the choice of a rear wheel 4x2, part-time 4x4 or a full-time multi-mode 4x4 with a locking center differential and the 4Runner is one of the few vehicles that continues offer a transfer case.
The refreshed 4Runner features a redesigned front fascia that conveys a more rugged and aggressive appearance. This includes a muscular front grille, and smoked headlamps for a more forceful look. The headlights have also been changed from halogen to projector beam and the redesigned rear combination lamps now feature LED lights.
The SR5 and Trail grades feature a color-keyed grille insert and front bumper that is surrounded by fog lamps set in sharply cut inlays that extend from the headlamps down to the bumper.
The Trail grade features new color-keyed bumpers and overfenders, and it continues to be distinguished by an aggressive hood scoop and silver painted front and rear bumper accents. All grades are now standard with a roof rack.
The premium Limited’s front design stands apart with a chrome-plated grille insert and chrome front bumper that extends to the fog-lamp bezels. The side molding, roof rack and rear bumper are also chrome trimmed.
Both the SR5 and Trail grades ride on 17-inch alloy wheels with a new wheel-design, while the Limited continues to ride on 20-inch alloy wheels, which are now painted black prior to machining to add contrast.
The 4Runner experience is enhanced by touches of refinement on the inside with both the SR5 and Trail grade adding standard Soft Touch door trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather shift knob for a premium feel and atmosphere.
The SR5 receives a new bright and highly visible Optitron instrument panel (which is very bright and easy to read) that houses speedometer, tachometer, voltage, fuel and coolant temperature gauges, plus a multi-information display that offers multiple functions.
On 4Runner Trail, the overhead console within easy reach organizes the off-road control switches into one location with a compass indicator and outside temperature display add functionality.
For second-row passengers, a sculpted front seat-back shape provides additional knee space which can be important riding in back during off-road travel. Additionally, the second-row seats, which include a center armrest, individually recline up to 16 degrees in four steps for those who might like to sleep on the road or on the trail.
The SR5 and Trail grade come standard with comfortable fabric-trimmed seating. SofTex seats offering a soft, rich feel, are available and, for 2014, the SR5 adds a standard eight-way power driver seat.
The Limited comes standard with a leather-trimmed interior with new ventilated driver and front passenger seats. Front seats are also heated with eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory function and power lumbar support and four-way power-adjustable passenger seat.
New for 2014 on SR5 and Trail grade 4Runner models is Entune Audio Plus, which includes Toyota’s Entune multimedia system, an AM/FM/MP3 CD player with eight speakers, integrated SiriusXM Satellite Radio, USB port with iPod connectivity, and Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and music streaming.
Standard on the Limited grade is the new Entune Premium JBL Audio system. It includes the Entune multimedia system, a JBL premium sound system with navigation, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, HD Radio with iTunes tagging and 15 speakers.
Available on the SR5 and Trail Premium grades are SofTex seats, Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite, power tilt/slide moonroof, power passenger seats, electrochromatic mirror, Homelink Garage Door Opener, and 120V AC in the cargo area.
The MSRP for the 4Runner Trail 4x4 is $35,725, reflecting a price decrease of $1,430. The new Trail Premium grade is priced at $38,645.
The MSRP for the 2014 4Runner SR5 will be $32,820 for the 4x2 model and $34,695 for the 4x4. The new SR5 Premium grade will be priced at $35,740 for the 4x2 and $37,615 for the 4x4.
The 4Runner Limited will carry an MSRP of $41,365 for the 4x2 and $43,400 for the 4x4.