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2014 Toyota 4Runner runs the road as good as the trail

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2014 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium

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Earlier this year, we were in Jackson Hole, Wyo. doing first drive tests of the new 2014 Toyota 4Runner. We tested the Trail model under simulated off-road conditions only during this test.

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As we reported, it showed us clearly that this new 4Runner was not only continuing, but also improving, the long heritage of this popular mid-size SUV as a rough and tumble off-road SUV. (2014 Toyota 4Runner: Best of old and new for road and trail).

The short two hours we had in the new 4Runner, did not give us a full opportunity to assess its everyday capabilities, so we requested one be delivered to us for a full week of driving in and around Central Texas.

In early December, we tested a factory fresh 2014 Toyota 4Runner Trail Premium 4x4 in rich Black with a Brick tone interior featuring SoftTex-trimmed seating.

Our purpose was to evaluate the 2014 4Runner as a multi-purpose SUV focusing our time behind the wheel on everyday family use to see how it met the Monday – Friday requirements while having all the right stuff to take on the most challenging of off-road weekends.

We were not disappointed.

Though it does not reach levels of what are generally considered ‘luxury’ SUV competitors for ride and interior ambiance, it delivers a very solid and comfortable drive and ride experience around town and on the highway. It does not have to apologize for its truck frame heritage that also makes it one of the toughest off-road SUV’s in the market today.

Even on the truck frame, this SUV is indeed multi-purpose road and trail.

The Trail comes in two well-equipped trim levels, the Trail (MSRP $35,725) and the Trail Premium (MSRP $38,645).

Our test Trail Premium had just a couple of, what we would call, cosmetic options added - and, with freight, the delivered price was $40,034.

All 2014 Toyota 4Runners are powered by the solid 4.0L DOHC V6 which generates 270 horsepower delivering 278 lb.-ft. of torque through the five-speed Electronically Controlled Automatic Transmission (ECT) with a 3.727 rear end.

Steering for the 2014 Toyota 4Runner is power-assisted rack and pinion with variable gearing that delivers a neat 37.4-foot turning radius. Braking control is enhanced by Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC).

The 2014 Trail also tows a respectable 4,700 pounds and has a payload of 1,550 pounds – plenty enough for a family off-road weekend.

The Trail uses regular fuel and has an EPA rating of 17/22 mpg City/Highway with an average of 19 mpg. With a fuel tank capacity of 23 gallons, the Trail has a range of over 400 miles at 19 mpg. We did achieve about 18.7 mpg during our week of driving.

To satisfy the ‘hardcore’ off-roader who insists on ‘authenticity’ in a true 4x4, the Trail uses a separate High/Low range Transfer Case with gearing of 1.0/2.566.

The Trail has Hill-Start Assist Control integrated and then adds to the off-road authenticity and capability through specific task controls located in an Overhead Console for easy driver access when maneuvering difficult terrain. The readily identified and hand-size controls enable operation of the Multi-terrain Select, Active Traction Control (ACT), VSC Cutoff, Locking Differential and Crawl Control functions.

Though 20-inch wheels are available on the top-of-the-line 4Runner Limited, the Trail comes with uniquely styled 17-inch wheels clad with P265/70 Mud & Snow radial tires for optimum off road performance - taking full advantage of the 4x4 ground clearance of 9.6-inches, Approach Angle of 33 degrees and Departure Angle of 24 degrees.

The Trail and Trail Premium have many features that add to the ride experience for both driver and passengers.

On the exterior, a ‘Trail’ look is created with color-keyed front and rear bumpers, door handles,heated power outside mirrors, overfenders, rocker panels, mud guards, front grille insert, hood scoop with accenting smoked headlamp and taillamp bezels and a silver painted utility roof-rack system.

The Trail Premium features a power tilt/slide moonroof with sunshade and the outside mirrors have turn signals and puddle lamps; heated front driver and passenger seats and four-way power adjustable front passenger seat.

Our Trail Premium was equipped with the Entune Premium Audio with Navigation system utilizing a 6.1-inch touch screen with integrated backup camera functionality. Eight speakers surround the cabin providing information and entertainment from the AM/FM CD player and MP3 playback, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, HD Radio with iTunes Tagging, auxiliary audio jack, USB port, Vehicle Information Center (VIC) with customizable screens, hands-free phone, Bluetooth capability, advanced voice recognition and text-to-voice translations.

One of the unique features needing to be mentioned is the power sliding rear liftgate window with auto up/down which is very handy when you need access for a small item or are in tight spaces.

We like the 2014 Toyota 4Runner Trail edition. It delivers all the rough and tumble capability you want on the weekends while giving you all the convenience and comfort with capability you want during the week.

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