The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2014 Toyota 4Runner - Heels on Wheels Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2014 Toyota 4Runner

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.

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.


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.

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