That side-window shape has been a part of the 4Runner's design for decades.

2014 Toyota 4Runner

The Tundra wasn't the only 2014 Toyota to suck down some HGH.

By: Andrew Krok

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: August 5th, 2013

There was a whole lot going on during Toyota's 2014 Tundra press event, including a first look at the also-refreshed 2014 4Runner. The changes aren't nearly as widespread, but there's still a whole lot to get excited about, with the exterior leading the charge. Man, it's pretty.

In addition to the fresh looks inside and out, they've added cross-member braces to help strengthen the frame, added rigidity to the brake lines to fine-tune the brake feel, and altered the interior for better external sound mitigation.

As with the 2014 Tundra, Toyota made a point of streamlining both the trim levels and their associated options for purposes of simplicity. They now have three distinct grades - the basic SR5, the off-road-ready Trail, and the Whole-Foods-friendly Limited. All three 4Runners come with the same 4.0-liter V-6 found in the base two-wheel-drive Tundra, which is more than enough power for both the highway and whatever rock trail you decide to tackle.

And speaking of rock trails, we had the chance to go through a serious off-road course in the Trail model, and much like that super-smart kid from high school, it didn't even seem like it was trying all that hard. Unlike all the unibody SUVs on the market that would self-immolate before attempting to drive down a trail, the body-on-frame 4Runner kept asking for more.

One thing we feel the need to point out, though, is the 4Runner's Party Mode. No, it's not Miley's next big club-drug hit; instead, it cranks the bass and biases the sound system's balance rearward, which is helpful for tailgates or other party-hearty atmospheres. It seems a bit excessive, as Party Mode is no more than two simple tasks that don't really need a button to "simplify" matters, but hey, target demographics and whatnot.

  • Interior

    A place for everything, and everything in its place. The sheer number of control knobs makes us giddy with excitement, with the infotainment knobs on the center cluster and all the off-road business up near the map lights. It's also refreshing to see an old-school transfer case shifter. Toyota's typical hard plastic makes a not-so-triumphant return, but like the Tundra, we drove a pre-production prototype, so that may change.

  • Exterior

    Following the new Tundra's design language, the new 4Runner has been chiseled from Burt Reynolds' chest hair, yet it still retains the same window-frame shape that the model has had for decades. The Limited's front bumper looks a little too soft for off-roading, but the Trail's aesthetics are perfect for the intended market. The front headlights give it a sporty, FR-S-like aggression.

  • On the Road

    As expected, it drives like an SUV, which is to say it's a little soft. But, like the Tundra, they've managed to make it feel smaller than it actually is, which makes it far less cumbersome to drive on smaller roads or in populated areas. The chunky infotainment knobs keep distraction to a minimum, and the navigation system is much improved over earlier versions.

  • Off the Road

    Simply put, it's outstanding. With the right options (ours had the electronic stabilizers), you'll be able to tackle just about everything that's thrown at you. Their new off-road crawling system allows you to focus solely on the steering while the vehicle maintains a set speed on any grade. Wheel articulation is more than ample, and the approach, departure, and break-over angles are improved over the previous model, as well.

  • Final Thoughts

    There's a good reason why 75 percent of post-1984 Toyota 4Runners are still on the road today. They're rugged as hell thanks to Toyota's ability to build a car that will last through a supernova, and they're one of the last good body-on-frame SUVs still for sale. There isn't much nitpicking to do here, really. It should sell well once it lands on our shores, although we will be quite sad if they all end up in office parking lots without a speck of dirt on them.

  • Specs & Price

    Engine: 4.0-liter V-6

    Transmission: Five-speed automatic

    Power Output: 270 hp / 278 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy: 17 city / 23 highway (2WD); 17 city / 22 highway (4WD)

    Base Price: To be announced

    As Tested: N/A

    Optional Features: Sliding rear cargo deck, Entune Premium Audio (navigation system with app bundle), 50/50 split fold-flat third-row seats (includes sliding second-row seats), Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (electronically controlled stabilizer bars), automatic running boards

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