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2014 Toyota 4Runner - Heels on Wheels Review


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2014 Toyota 4Runner


HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

KATRINA SAYS: More true to ruggedness than the next utility vehicle trend, the 2014 Toyota 4Runner is still able to bring refinement and modern technology to your next big outdoor adventure.

INTRO TO THE 2014 4RUNNER VEHICLE
A key vehicle representing Toyota’s off-road heritage, the 4Runner honors tradition over trend with body-on-frame engineering and a four-wheel drive system designed to handle actual trail terrain. Yet this SUV addresses all the technology and comfort issues of today’s busy families for a ride that can also function in a concrete jungle.

I drove a 2014 Toyota 4Runner with the standard 270-horsepower 4-liter V6 engine with 278 pound-feet of torque, paired to a five-speed automatic transmission and full-time four-wheel drive system with A-TRAC and a locking center differential. Available in three trims – SR5, Limited, and a Trail grade for those who want more off-road ability – my Limited test-drive came with the following standard feature highlights: leather upholstery; heated front seats; upgraded JBL audio system; Toyota’s Entune; Bluetooth; a 6.1-inch touchscreen; navigation; moonroof; power rear window; front and rear parking sensors; tow hitch receiver; fog lights; sport suspension; and twenty-inch alloy wheels. Total price as described came to $41,365.

The 4Runner has refreshed styling for 2014, most noticeable in the grille, front fascia and headlight design – inside you can expect more refined appointments and an improved Entune infotainment system. Main competitors include other rugged three-row SUVs such as the Dodge Durango and GMC Suburban. The Grand Jeep Cherokee is the 4Runner’s best trail-rated match, and I recently test drove a Summit 4x4 trim.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Plush and roomy describe the 4Runner’s interior, with a very accommodating driver power seat, brushed-chrome accents, and vivid digital displays. Equipment for the tech-minded includes Entune, Toyota’s multi-media system for streamlining your smartphone to hands-free navigation, calls and music. A newer feature, App Suite, allows for quick searches on the 6.1-inch split-screen and offers iTunes Tagging and XM Radio. The $1,500 optional automatic running boards are crucial if you have small children; every time you open a door, they magically unfold for little bodies to step up on. Because the 4Runner is more on the rugged SUV spectrum, there is no power liftgate or safety technology other than a rearview camera.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) names the 2014 Toyota 4Runner a Top Safety Pick with ratings of “Good” in all crash-test areas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated the vehicle.

Cost Issues: A base SR5 4Runner starts at $32,820; the Trail trim at $35,725; and the Limited trim at $41,365 ($43,400 with options). These are not prices to balk at – my fully load Jeep Grand Cherokee was $51,990 (as it does offer more refined appointments and options than the 4Runner0 and a 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite tops out at $44,450. And a previous 2014 Dodge Durango test drive with a rear DVD system, upgraded Bi-Xenon headlights, and a Blind Spot Monitoring System elevated the cost to $45,465.

Activity & Performance Ability: Well-tuned brakes, a confident steering response and powerful acceleration round out the 4Runner’s performance highlights. We took the 4Runner into the Tahoe mountain range for four-wheel drive testing, and the SUV attacked very icy and snowy conditions at high speeds with total confidence. I did miss not having the safety technology I have come to love in a larger SUV, but visibility proved to be excellent so the rearview camera (and a good one at that with very clear reverse parking lines) sufficed. Boarding on bulky but deserving of no complains, I was also able to navigate into some pretty tight parking situations. Like the Tundra, the 4Runner features a more generous approach angle than competitors with the same body-on-frame construction.

The Green Concern: The 4-liter V6 gets 17-city and 21-highway for a combined 18 miles-per-gallon combined. I was able to average roughly 18.5 in mixed highway and traffic driving.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Stoically representing ability and history rather than chasing after the next utility trend, the 2014 Toyota truly is a no-compromise SUV and quite competitive in price for its segment – it just might be the entertainment investment your family is looking for.

2014 Katrina Ramser