Susan Frissell

Womenwithwheels.com

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What one sees when eyeing Toyota’s ever faithful off-road SUV the 4Runner is a vehicle that is ‘dated’ in styling. Built with body-on-frame construction, the 4Runner is a great off-road driver for those wanting to try their hand at driving through deep mud, rutted trails or up/down steep inclines. This writer is not aware of 4Runner sales in 2014, however, it’s safe to say they are largely outsold by the ever-popular crossovers, such as Toyota’s own RAV4 and Venza.

Much like other off-road vehicles (think FJ Cruiser, Xterra), short on styling, but who have a loyal following, the 4Runner retains a small following that praises its ability to do things the more popular CUVS can’t or don’t. With its ease of handling and four doors, the 4Runner is a very comfortable, large SUV that can be a daily driver. It navigates city streets well and doesn’t give off a feeling of harshness.

The 4Runner is fairly quiet and comes equipped with most modern amenities required today, such as Bluetooth, AM/FM/CD/Satellite audio with USB input. The 4Runner dropped its truck-based hardware and took on a wagon body, but remained with similar styling. Apparently, Toyota doesn’t see the need to update its look or keep it up-to-date to attract new customers. The 4Runner doesn’t make any statements that it does other than what it has always done, so no need to dress it differently.

The 2014 4Runner interior isn’t anything to write home about, but it is functional and pleasing. Knobs and controls are large and are outlined with metallic trim. For 2014, the 4Runner base (SR5, Trail) models receive more soft-touch trim and bright Optitron gauges. The 4Runner sports Toyota’s 4.0-liter V-6 engine, with 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It doesn’t feel sluggish when entering traffic or traveling on highways. Fuel economy is estimated at 17/23 mpg for rear-drive models, and 17/22 mpg for four-wheel-drive versions, which isn’t the best, but fairly respectable for an over 4,000-pound vehicle. Our test vehicle, the SR5 model came equipped with Toyota’s part-time 4WD system (Rear-wheel-drive available) The Trail versions are only offered with that 4WD system, with overhead controls.

Limited models get a separate full-time four-wheel-drive system and rides on standard 20-inch wheels and tires. Standard tires on other models are 70R/17 inch. Other expected amenities include Hill Start Assist/Downhill Assist control, heated, power mirrors, and tilt-telescoping steering wheel, six-way power driver’s seat, reclining, floor-flat second row seating, rearview camera and power door locks. The 4Runner’s sound system, with 8 speakers is good. US-FR14-434-A

Two options came on our test SR5: Carpet floor mat/cargo mat ($225) and rigid running boards ($345). Although nothjng really special, the 4Runner doesn’t disappoint. It remains a specific-type of vehicle, aimed at a specific customer base. It steers and maneuvers and despite its size, is not a difficult vehicle to handle. Visibility is decent. This driver couldn’t come up with anything really distasteful about the 4Runner, just that it seems dated.

SPECS:

MSRP: $37,615; total vehicle price $39,045; destination $860

Engine: 4.0-liter V6 DOHC, 24-valve, 270 hp., 278 lb. ft. torque

Transmission: 5-speed Electronically controlled automatic w/ ECT-I and sequential,

Wheelbase: 109.8 in.

Length: 190.2 in.

Width: 75.8 in.

Height: 71.5 in.

Tires: 70R/17-inch mud/snow; full size spare, mounted underbody

Wheels: 17-inch alloy

Towing capacity: 4,700

Fuel tank capacity: 23 gallons

EPA fuel economy: 17/23 mpg.

Weight: 4,400 lbs (SR5); 4,750 lbs (Trail); 4,525 lbs (Limited)

Warranty: 3 yr./36,000-mile basic; 2 yr/25,000-mile free maintenance; 5 yr/60,000-mile drivetrain; 2 yr/25,000-mile roadside assistance.