By on September 13, 2013

2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I would normally start a car review with an item of trivia or history about the vehicle under review, or about the segment in general. This time I’m going to start by talking about the elephant in the room: the 2014 4Runner SR5/Trail front end. Yikes! I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when the attractive new 2014 Tundra pulled away revealing the 2014 4Runner, I was reminded of a woman I worked with in 1998. Drawn in by the promise of eternal good looks, she had her eyebrows surgically removed and lines tattooed on her face. The only problem was the tattoo artist (accidentally?) gave her a permanently surprised “eyebrows”. Oops. Perhaps the 4Runner also regrets going under the knife and that’s why the fog lamp slits make it look like it’s crying. What say the best and brightest? Click through the jump and sound off in the comment section.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited, Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Toyota

Exterior

Are you relieved by this picture? I was. Things change if you’re willing to pony up $41,365 for the Limited model which adds chrome to break up the frowning grille and deletes whatever is going on around the SR5/Trail foglights. While I still think the headlamps are a little odd, the 4Runner Limited’s nose is attractive overall but it makes me ask: why do you have to pay more for the good-looking nose. Never mind, I answered my own question.

Aside from the new schnozz and some clear tail lamp lenses, little has changed for the Toyota’s mid-sized go-anywhere SUV. That means the 4Runner’s body still sits on a frame. That also means the 4Runner, Nissan Xterra and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited are the only mid-sized non-luxury body on frame SUVs left in America. (And I’m not sure I’d even call the smallish Wrangler a mid-size SUV.) Since I currently own two GMT360 SUVs, I “get” the BOF argument in many ways. Aside from the SR5′s nose, which is still giving me nightmares, there is something decidedly attractive about the proportions and profile of a body on frame rock crawler. Of course I can’t go further without mentioning the 4Runner’s modern nemesis: the decidedly unibody Jeep Grand Cherokee. The big Jeep isn’t just the current darling of the press, TTAC included, it’s also one of the most attractive SUVs for sale right now.

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Interior

2014 brings a gentle refresh to the interior consisting of a new steering wheel, radio head units, gauge cluster, seat fabrics and plastic color choices. The new steering wheel is essentially shared with the 2014 Tundra and features a thick rim, well places sport grips, soft leather and well placed radio buttons. While Toyota claims that the front seats are unchanged from 2013, they seemed softer and more comfortable than the 2013 model made available for comparison. This could be down to the new fabric choices, but I think some foam was changed as well.

Ergonomics in the 4Runner have always been secondary to the off-road mission, and because little substance has changed for 2014 that remains. Window switches have gained an Auto feature but are still in an awkward and high place on the door, possibly to keep then out of the water should you stall in a stream. Radio knobs and switches and the 4WD shift level all require a decent reach for the average driver. Unlike the Grand Cherokee you can still get a 7-seat version of the 4Runner in SR5 and Limited trim, Trail remains 5-seat only. The extra two seats are an interesting option because the Nissan Xterra and Grand Cherokee, the only two rugged off-roaders left, are strict 5-seaters.

Toyota re-jiggered the features lists and the Trail model now gets heated SofTex faux leather seats with an 8-way power frame for the driver and 4-way power for the front passenger. You also get an integrated 120V inverter, auto-dimming mirror and programmable homelink transmitter. This placed the Trail model firmly between the SR5 and Limited in the lineup.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Infotainment

Like the new Tundra, the 4Runner gets Toyota’s latest infotainment head units. All models come standard with the 6.1-inch touchscreen unit with iDevice/USB integration with voice commands, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth speakerphone integration and smartphone apps. Toyota has “changed their Entune” lately and made the service free, however you need to sign up for an online account to make things work. SR5/Trail  Premium and Limited models add navigation software and improved voice commands with text messaging support to the same screen. Limited models upgrade the speakers from 8 Toyota branded blasters to 15 with JBL logos. If you want the detailed look, check out the video.

Drivetrain

Anyone hoping for a resurrected V8 4Runner needs to head to the Jeep dealer, engineers I spoke with indicated the V8 will never return. Unless you need to tow with your mid-sized SUV (like I do) this isn’t much of a problem since the V8 model existed primarily to bolster the 4Runner’s towing numbers and consume more fuel. Instead, the same 270HP 4.0L V6 as last year soldiers on cranking out a respectable 278 lb-ft of torque across a broad RPM range. For off-road duty the V6 is perfect as it’s lighter than the V8 and with the right gearing you don’t need more power. About that gearing. Toyota continues to use their old 5-speed auto in the 4Runner and that’s my only beef. The 5-speed unit has a fairly tall 1st gear with an overall effective gear ratio of 12:1, notably higher than something like a Wrangler. SR5 and Trail models feature a 2-speed transfer case bumping that to 31:1, still taller than the Wrangler’s insane 73.3:1 ratio. If you opt for the Limited model the 2-speed transfer case is replaced with a Torsen center differential for full-time four wheel drive with better on-road manners.

Keeping with the 4Runner’s mud-coated mission, the rear axle is still solid, features a mechanical locker and skid plates are still standard. The Trail model still uses an open front differential, but like the Jeep Patriot uses the ABS brakes to imitate a limited slip unit. Toyota claims this keeps weight down and improves grip on certain surfaces. Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select, active traction control and crawl speed controls continue for 2014. It’s worth noting here that the Wrangler still has a solid front axle.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drive

Out on the road the 4Runner’s manners are defined by the high profile (70-series) rubber and body-on-frame design. Toss the 4Runner into a corner and the high profile tires cause a “delay” in responsiveness that you don’t find in modern CUVs with their 35-series rubber. In terms of grip, the wise 265/70R17 tires on SR5 and Trail models help the 4Runner stay competitive with mainstream crossovers. The Limited model gets reduced grip but improved turn in and feel with its 245/60R20 rubber. Going lower profile but reducing width at the same time seems like an odd choice, but it helps the heavier Limited model with full-time AWD get the same 17/22/19 MPG (City/Highway/Combined) as the part-time SR5/Trail models.

Soft springs and trail tuned dampers mean the SR5 tips, dives and rolls like a traditional SUV, which makes sense as it is a traditional SUV. These road manners have caused a number of reviewers out there to call the 4Runner “conflicted,” “confused” or “compromised.” Clearly these guys don’t live in the country and have never been off-road. The 4Runner is quite possibly the last utility vehicle with a singular mission: retain off-road ability.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Yes, Toyota continues to add creature comforts, and I’m sure they will sell plenty of the RWD Limited model in suburbia, but at its heart the 4Runner is an off-road SUV. This is quite different from the Jeep Grand Cherokee which has been on a constant march toward the mainstream. (Albeit with an eye toward off-roading.) This is obvious when you look at Jeep’s switch to fully independent air suspension, constant size increases, a plethora of engine options and curb weight gone out of control. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Grand Cherokee, but if you want to climb rocks, it’s not the best choice. Meanwhile, Toyota has in many ways re-focused on off-roading. The 4Runner offers a myriad of off-road software aids and the retention of a mechanically locking solid rear axle and rugged frame. In this light, keeping the old drivetrain makes sense: it’s tried and true and there are plenty of aftermarket accessories designed with it in mind.

The 4Runner may be a go-anywhere SUV, but it’s not a tow-anything SUV. The V6 and 5-speed combo limit the 4Runner to 4,700lbs, down from the 7,300lbs the defunct V8 model could shift. That’s thousands of pounds less than the Grand Cherokee and even 300lbs less than the Ford Explorer crossover. However, even this can be seen as a refocusing on the 4Runner’s core mission. As I’ve noted before, nobody seems to tow with their mid-size SUV except me, and off-roaders prefer the lower weight and better balance of the V6 for true off-road duty.

With Toyota canning the slow selling FJ Cruiser at some point soon, the 4Runner will soldier on as one of the last rugged SUVs. For a model that helped ignite the SUV/CUV explosion, it’s refreshing that the 4Runner has stayed true to its roots: providing a daily driver capable off-road machine. The Wrangler Unlimited is a better rock crawler with solid axles front and rear, better approach/departure/breakover angles, better ground clearance and a lower range gearbox, but the Wrangler is too off-road dedicated for the school run. If you’re one of the few that drops the kids off and heads over to the off-road park on your way to Costco, the 4Runner is for you. If you’re the majority of SUV shoppers, there are more “conflicted” “compromised” options out there that will fit your lifestyle better. Jeep will be happy to sell you one.

 

Toyota provided the 4Runner for a few hours at the Tundra launch event. Food and flights were covered by Toyota.

 

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117 Comments on “Pre-Production Review: 2014 Toyota 4Runner (With Video)...”


  • avatar
    jkross22

    Ack! Ugliest car I’ve seen all year. It looks like they took Mitsubishi styling and decided it would look better if they made it out of chrome legos.

    Seriously, that’s hideous.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      I don’t get this styling trend. Why people are designing cars and trucks to look as though they’re voraciously scooping up plankton and krill like a whale shark is beyond me.

      The Hyundai Veloster Turbo and Sonata hybrid are IMO the worst offenders.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        Yup this trend ends when a few manufacturers make a model where the whole front end is one gigantic grill opening with tiny light modules on the upper corners.
        Drooling auto journalists will praise its “aggressive and masculine” lines.

        • 0 avatar

          you mean like the new Avalon?

          • 0 avatar
            IndianaDriver

            I like this new look on the cars. It gives it an aggressive tone. I would much rather see this than the jack-o-lantern front grill that Mazda is finally getting rid of. My question is – which was the first automaker to start doing it. I’m thinking it was either Mitsubishi or Hyundai. Does someone know?

          • 0 avatar
            This Is Dawg

            I’d guess it was Audi in 2005 with the grille redesign. And now the LED madness has trickled down as well. For the record, I’ll defend Mitsubishi and say their Lancer’s maw looks much much better than the new toyotas and latelty the german high end models with massive scoops A la the new M6.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        Looks more aggressive. Realistically, this is why people are buying these things anyway, so they’ll have a bigger and scarier looking vehicle than the next guy.

      • 0 avatar
        Tomifobia

        I think a generation who grew up watching “GoBots” and various other Japanese animated kiddie shows has been wielding too much influence on car styling for the past several years. Even worse, the Spongebob generation is next in line.

    • 0 avatar
      krayzie

      The front looks like a bulldog’s head and the back looks like a bulldog’s butt. Grrrr!

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      It could only look worse, if it had teeth or fangs sticking out.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      I agree, even the new Landcruiser’s, Prado’s, RAV4′s, etc have lost their looks.

      Mark my words, Toyota is now going to have a bit of a down hill run with it’s 4×4′s and SUVS/CUVs.

      They will need to offer more than just the Toyota name to keep on top. This means more than a 4 speed auto or 5 speed manual, with old engines. Their diesels are poor performers.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      “Toyota” could become an adjective like in “Toyota ugly”

      My gripe is that these “mock vents” go against the ideal that “form follows function”. Say what you will about the 2014 Cherokee, the front end follows the “form follows function” ideal by doing away with the corners of the front end. Corners don’t really do anything but catch air and stuff. Toyota puts it’s lights out on the corners to get busted and catch air.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick

      Awful.

      The 70s are known as the malaise era. When we look back on this era of hideous cars/trucks, what will we call it?

  • avatar
    Ion

    The “good” looking front end looks like brace face.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      I’m kind of meh about the chrome grill on the limited, its seems forced. The crying monster seems a little odd, but I could get used to it, like the new Tahoe’s headlights.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      I’m kind of meh about the chrome grill on the limited, its seems forced. The crying predator seems a little odd, but I could get used to it, like the new Tahoe’s headlights.

  • avatar
    TorontoSkeptic

    Is this another example of the theory that manufacturers intentionally make the base model look terrible (wheels, grill, colors) so that you just “have to” buy the top-trim version?

    I seem to remember Doug Demuro mentioning this about German cars, the base model will have some ludicrously ugly out-of-character alloys and you can only get rid of them if you buy the version that’s $5k more expensive.

    I just don’t get the 4Runner. The Rav4 is just your standard Rogue/CR-V family hauler. The Highlander is the more luxurious Rav4. The Land Cruiser is for seriously rough places where roads may or may not exist. The FJ Cruiser is for that niche market of people who like bright-yellow SUVs. But the 4Runner… I really don’t understand.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Well, they are killing the FJ, so that leaves the 4Runner as a smaller Land Cruiser in some ways. Shaking things up like that makes a bit more sense.

      • 0 avatar
        TorontoSkeptic

        But will the 4Runner only come in bright yellow? Grey sheet metal will not satisfy those (few) wild-and-crazy FJ buyers… :) I’ve never seen an FJ in a “normal” color like blue, black, grey or white.

        I feel like the Xterra has the “bro with backwards baseball hat and kayak on the roof rack” market sewn up, at least where I live. As I said I just don’t really get where the 4Runner fits.

        Land Cruisers are more for cabinet ministers in developing countries than the North American market.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        There’s also the Lexus GX 460, which is a rebadged Land Cruiser Prado.

    • 0 avatar

      The niche the 4Runner fills is that it’s pretty much the last sort-of-reasonably-priced, less-than-full-size, body on frame SUV out there, now that the Pathfinder, Explorer, Durango, Traverse, ect are all unibody. Some people prefer body-on-frame for off-roading, towing, and because they tend to look more manly/agressive than the minivan-styled CUV’s that everyone else makes.

      I suspect a lot of the target market for the 4Runner is single guys who want an SUV, but don’t want a soft-roader that looks like something a soccer mom would drive. I’m one of them – I ended up buying a leftover 2012 Pathfinder, last of the “truck” ones, but otherwise I probably would have bought a 4Runner. Especially since it’s got that sweet roll-down back window.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Don’t forget about the Nissan Xterra. It’s still a body-on-frame midsize SUV that is offroad capable and quite a bit less expensive than the 4Runner. If anything, the Xterra is the vehicle to get today if you’re looking for a reasonably priced, offroad capable, midsize SUV.

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve always thought of the Xterra as competing against smaller SUV’s, since it’s a foot shorter than a 4Runner (which is a couple inches shorter than the old Pathfinder). I guess some people might cross-shop them, though.

          I bet a substantial number of 4Runner shoppers also look at pickups. A coworker of mine who bought a 4Runner recently (it replaced a ’98 Cherokee) was looking at them, as was I before I bought the Pathfinder – I was actually looking at Frontiers on my local Nissan dealer’s website and saw the promos they had on the Pathfinder.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            The Xterra is really the only remaining direct competitor to the 4Runner. They are both midsize SUVs with live axles in the rear and body-on-frame construction. Nothing else out there is in the same price range nd demographic.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @White Shadow
          I remember reading an article in Popular Mechanics about the Xterra.

          It was apparently based on a D20/22 platform and extensively used the D20/22 parts bin.

          The D20/22 Nissan’s were very reliable, but not the best off road due to limited wheel articulation. I’ve owned an 86 King Kab with a Z24 and a 97 QD3.2 diesel dual cab. Very good vehicles, but the Hilux/4 Runner of their time outperformed them off road.

          Toyota made a point in the mid 80s when designing the 4 Runner/Hilux to design with a 4×4 first in mind, then 2wd. This is why they became legendary.

          I think now especially in the US with the TACO/4 Runner using the Surf platform (which is slightly different to the Hilux) is very dated 90s design tech.

          Our 4 Runner replacement was the Prado here which is very similar to your Lexus and uses a very similar platform to the 76 Series Landcruisers.

          The Prado’s are very reliable and one of the most capable off road wagon around. But they to are becoming dated.

          Toyota really need to look at it’s 4×4 range and provide a decent engine/drivetrain/chassis lineup. Other than a 200 Series they are antiquated now.

          Even the Chinese Great Wall pickup we get runs a licence built Surf Chassis, very similar to the Taco.

          This illustrates how far behind the US is becoming with mid sizers. Oh, well many support the Chicken Tax.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Since the very handsome 2nd and 3rd generation trucks in the ’90′s, the 4Runner has become more hideous with every generation, reaching its apogee (nadir?) with this…this…this…Thing.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’m continually disappointed with the interior on modern 4Runner’s, and I feel the 95-01 (ish) Limited models had nicer interior appointments. I hope what’s his face MPV/4Runner dude doesn’t reply “golden age” on here about his gone-over green 4Runner, cause he’s gonna be tempted. No!

    I also feel they’ve backed the 4Runner’s exterior design into a caricature-corner which is going to be difficult to escape. Though I suspect it’ll be soon time for an “All New” version – this one’s getting pretty long in the tooth. It’s always a bad sign when an update includes “made _______ lenses more clear.”

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Haha called it! Yep I felt a need to chime in. As Boff said above, The 2nd and 3rd generation 4runners are mighty handsome trucks. Nothing they don’t need, trim steel bumpers, great approach/departure angles, beefy tires. Interiors are plainly styled but impeccably crafted 1990s Toyota fare. I feel like the Xterra is much closer to my 4runner than this garish plasti-chrome ‘thing.’

      As an aside CoreyDL, I’ve been keeping an eye out for 1996-2002 (or whatever they are) Blazers to confirm your claims of their rust-resistance. Sure enough! Wow even the early gen 1995-ish trucks are usually very rot-free! The most I’ve generally seen is the bottoms of the front fenders start to go.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Those 2nd and 3rd gen 4Runners are so incredibly tough that there are still tons of them out on the roads…I’m not sure they ever break down, they have all the toughness of the Hilux but much better rust resistance.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          2nd Gen 4runners rust very badly unfortunately, 3rd gens (96-2002) have significantly more galvanization on body panels, but the steel bumpers are weak links. They gather dirt in the corners and rust from the inside out. At least the frames on both generations are head and shoulders better than similar year Tacomas (thank god)

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Oh yeah, it always seems to start with the bumpers. So many Hiluxes, Tacomas, 4Runners, and Nissan Hardbodies with rotted bumpers and only a faint misting of orange peel on the actual body panels.

            At least bumpers are cheaper than fenders and quarter panels…then again, a lot of guys seem to chuck the stock bumpers for chunky diamond plate numbers anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Yeah, aluminum winch-ready ARB bumpers are just a mouse-click and a few thousand dollars away! Even with the risk of corrosion, I’ll take chrome steel bumpers on an SUV any day of the week.

        • 0 avatar
          azmtbkr81

          Great vehicles indeed and are priced as such. Late 90′s 4Runners sold for stupid amounts of money when I lived in Colorado a few years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Oh yes, I gladly paid $6350 for my 1996 (plus $1500 refurbishing it top to bottom with new consumables/suspension/brakes). There were 1998-2002 trucks for as little as $5k, but mine’s a cherry: no winters since 2002, just broke 100k miles. That’d be crazy money for just about any other SUV of that age/mileage. But ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ applies here for sure.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Yup, see! I dunno how they did so well with the Blazer variants and failed so badly with the Suburban/Yukons, which rust away quickly. They were around until 01 for all models, and I think the base Blazer carried over into 04(!) being sold alongside the new TrailBlazer for 02-04.

        I thought of you yesterday -I know, sounds odd- because I saw an MPV All-Track driving the other direction, same color as yours. I did a rust check – yep, lower panel behind the wheel where dirt goes from the tires, totally rusted out! Around the doors looked fine.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Oh yes, the rear doglegs and quarter panels are the worst offenders (visually). Scarier though is the structural part of the unibody behind the rear wheel. My jacking points are rotted right through!!! I’ve sanded and repainted the rear panels on the MPV a good three times, and saturated the wheel wells with Fluid Film. At this point it’s been relegated to weekend hauler duty at my parents’ place, so cosmetics are of secondary importance.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’m just really flummoxed. The front end is horrid in the “poverty” version, find the open up this is going to hurt version VERY attractive.

    But, a 4.0 V6 with only 278 HP and a 5-speed, FIVE-SPEED, auto is utterly class uncompetitive.

    Toyota more and more looks like it is sitting on its ass and letting the spawning salmon return to the showroom. That strategy will work well, for about another decade, tops.

    I get the purpose of this vehicle, I’m not criticizing the solid axle, 70 profile tires, or soft suspension. It is a real offroader, a dying breed. I give kudos. But some technology needs to advance.

    The formula for reliable is go ancient (hello GM W-bodies with 3.8 and 4-speed) but you reach a point where even the salmon go WTF.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      The MPG seems in-line with the Grand Cherokee and even FWD based Crossovers like the Pilot and Explorer. The engine has the perfect spread of torque for the application at hand. The transmission, yes I suppose is long in tooth. Alex didn’t mention any particular short comings of it in terms of timing of shifts or anything besides the long 1st gear. For the application, this relatively old school port injected V6 is fitting, more so than a pentastar-esque engine would be IMO. Xterra has a very similar 4.0 VQ based v6, with a similar 5spd auto come to think of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      Who needs more than 6? At that point the transmission is so jumpy that you might as well set it up with a CVT, as evidenced by the new mini Cherokee.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I’m actually okay on the old tech powertrains, in fact go so far as to say I applaud Toyota for sticking with the 4.0L in the 4Runner.

      What I’m not enamored with is the modern prices.

      The GC starts at like $28K, the Wrangler U at $26K, and the Xterra at around $23K. This starts at $32K. Other than the “Toyota premium” I don’t see why MSRP doesn’t begin around $27K.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      If the Colorado is a hit it may force Toyota to update the Tacoma and by extension the 4Runner. I am hoping this is how it plays out; I would like to buy a new SUV but have a hard time dropping $30k+ on a vehicle with inefficient 10 year old engine and transmission technology. The other scenario is that Toyota drops the 4Runner altogether and cedes the off-road market to last man standing Jeep.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “The 4Runner may be a go-anywhere SUV, but it’s not a tow-anything SUV. The V6 and 5-speed combo limit the 4Runner to 4,700lbs, down from the 7,300lbs the defunct V8 model could shift. ”

    It’s not “tow-anything”, but 4,700 pounds is nothing to really sneeze at, either.

    (Hell, my F250 isn’t rated for over 5k without a weight-distributing hitch. Though I admit it’s probably a lot happier with a 5k trailer than a 4Runner is at 4700…)

    I bet those V8s were not selling like hotcakes – I can’t find any hard numbers, but both observation and anecdote on the web suggest that over 90% of them were V6s when the V8 option existed.

    People who want to tow a Really Big Trailer just aren’t really the 4Runner’s market, so much.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Sigivald
      There is a reason for that. The tow weight variation I would think is a weight restriction placed on the vehicle by Toyota.

      I do know here the 4 litre V6 Hiluxes where having drivetrain issue with towing heavier weights. The 3 litre diesel didn’t.

      Just because a vehicle has a V8 doesn’t necessarily mean it will out tow. It’s the drivetrain that bears the load. An engine will keep on spinning irrespective of size as long as you have the correct gearing.

      We used to have 345V8 gas IH dump trucks here in Australia that carried a 26 000lb load not counting the 10-12 000lbs of unladen truck.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Sillies…

    You back this into your driveway and either leave it outside or keep the garage door open.

    Keeps kids off your lawn.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I don’t want to hear about my Leaf’s frog mug any more. This beats that – yek.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    No V8, No Deal.

    It’s silly for a 5 to 6,000 lbs (dry weight) vehicle to have no available V8. Or a standard V8. I’m not talking a Hemi or Coyote equivalent and I don’t need to set the Nurburgerkingring on fire. Just a basic 4.7ish V8 so it can get out of its own way. Historically, midsize trucks with V8s had near zero penalty at the pump vs V6s. Not to mention, having the gas pedal matted the whole time takes its toll on the drivetrain, which doesn’t show itself until after the warranty expires.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen a v8 4runner, or a v8 pathfinder (excluding the armada) or passport for that matter.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        The 4TH generation 4Runner (’03-’09) had the 4.7 V8 and suffered only a 1 MPG penalty. Fully loaded or towing, it no doubt yielded better MPG than the V6.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          LOL….where do you get your info from? Seriously? The V8 in the 4th gen suffered far more than a 1 mpg penalty over the V6. And more importantly, in the early years of the 4th gen V8, the V6 actually made more HP. Sure, the V8 obviously had a torque advantage, but it was pathetic that when the 4th gen came out in 2003, the V6 had more HP than the V8. It didn’t make much sense to pay more for a V8 that made less HP and burned more gas, unless of course you were buying it to tow more than 5000 lbs….and even then there were better choices than a 4Runner if you really wanted a tow vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            There was a 1 MPG difference from the V6 to the V8. The 4Runner is just too heavy for a V6. Fully loaded it, and the V6 gets worse MPG. Never mind towing. A 32 valve V8 is perfect for such a tank and gives it some kind of class if not longevity.

            http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymodel/2009_Toyota_4Runner.shtml

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            No, there was no a 1 MPG difference between the V6 & V8 4Runners. Get your facts straight if you want to be some kind of authority.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Alrighty. I gave you a link that backs up my claim. Where’s your’s?

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Go read your own link again. You’ll find more than 1 mpg difference between just about every year of the 4th gen 4Runner. Unless you’re somehow comparing a 2wd V8 to a 4wd V6.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Nope. It varies a little bit between configurations and model year, but typically, V8s trail behind their V6 counterparts by 1 MPG. The same thing happened between the V6 & V8 Ford Sport Tracs and is typically the case with trucks and SUVs. When it comes the 4TH gen 4Runners, the V6 4WD and V8 2WD got the same 17 MPG ‘combined’.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Okay, I give up. You obviously don’t know the difference between 1 and 2, so I guess it doesn’t make any sense to keep debating this point. But for future reference: 2 is 100% more than 1. Now go back and read the data supplied in your own link and tell me again how there’s only a 1 mpg difference between the V6 and V8 4Runners. It’s funny, but I can’t find a single year during the entire 4th generation run (2003 thru 2009) where the combined mileage rating is only 1 mpg different. Not a single year.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            By ’09, the 32 valve V8 was right at 1.5 combined MPG, less than the V6, when averaging both 2WD & 4WD models. If you’re saying the V8 4Runner was gaining on the V6′s fuel economy when it was cancelled, you are correct. Now, this is for unloaded 4Runners. Use them for what they’re intended and the V8 will no doubt reward you at the pump, and by more than 1.5 MPG.

            Because of the weight, the V6 has seen a hard life by 100K miles. I won’t touch (or recommend) a used mid-size SUV with a V6. A V8 is an absolute ‘must have’ when dealing with used SUVs (or pickups). V6s are for mid-size cars.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Surely you can’t be serious. These aren’t marine engines we are talking about here. They spend VERY LITTLE time at wide open throttle. Neither the V6 or the V8 have a “hard life” just because they’re pulling around a 4500 lb vehicle. In fact, I’d estimate that neither engine spends more than maybe 3% of it’s life under wide open throttle and/or high RPM. Even vehicles used for towing aren’t normally subjected to any kind of crazy demand. The only way I’d agree with you is if we had a single speed transmission (which wouldn’t be a transmission at all) and ran near redline all day every day. But in the real world, no car or truck engine is used that way.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Over time, the V6 is worked much harder while the V8 just chugs along. I mean you buy a 4Runner to put it to work, right? I’m not talking about constant WOT, but you’ll still have your foot in it much more often with the V6.

            I’ve got the 16 valve 4.6 V8 in my super cab F-150 and I’ve never hit WOT because I needed to, even while towing. Mostly, I’m barely touching the gas pedal, but I’ll floor it for the great sounds it makes under a load.

            Commercially speaking, you always spec a truck with more power (and capacity) than you need most of the time. You’ll see less breakdowns, less wear and a longer lasting drivetrain. Better MPG is just icing on the cake.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            I’d have to disagree. The vast majority of 4Runners see normal street duty. Sure, some guys offroad them and some guys tow with them, but if you look at the amount of time the average 4Runner spends offroading or towing, it’s practically insignificant. It wasn’t too long ago that you could get a 4-cylinder engine in a 4000+ lb 4Runner and those engines proved to last just fine, so I’m not sure why you’d worry at all about a V6. If your point was valid, we’d see tons of V6 4Runners needing new engines, but that’s obviously not the case. So far, the V6 4Runners have proven to be very much reliable and very long lasting.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I agree SUVs generally don’t spend a lot of time offroading or towing, but mid-size V6 SUVs still have a big job just keeping up with traffic with the driver only. Or simply merging on to the fwy from a dead stop. Think about it, your foot has to be in it much more often than with the V8.

            But I’m not talking about complete engine failure. Blow a head gasket and you’re better off with a used engine. V8s rarely, if ever, blow head gaskets under normal use and high miles. It’s a different story with V6s, especially in mid-size SUV (and pickup truck) applications, over 100K miles.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Cylinder count has nothing to do with it.

            Would you prefer a 3.0L all-aluminum V8 in your truck or a 5.0L iron head and block V6?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Do I have to take either one? They’re the worst of both worlds. Five liters is about the sweet spot for DOHC V8s and 6 liters for pushrod V8s. Bottom line is you can’t beat a V8 for moving 4,000 lbs and up. A V6 will work, but you’re fooling yourself you if think it’s the best choice or most efficient, all things considered.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @White Shadow
            Actually to move the kinds of weight most efficiently in a SUV a 3 litre diesel will suffice. A diesel of this nature will give you an FE advantage of at least 75% over a V8 or possibly a V6 gas engine.

            This is a far better proposition than a V8. Even a V6 will move that kind of weight as you have alluded to.

            A lot of people are hung up on this V8 thing to tow. The current crop of modern V6 are very capable engines.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Dude, I really can’t believe how clueless you are when it comes to your V6 vs V8 debate. I happened to own a V6 4Runner for years and I can tell you first hand that it had more than enough power to keep up with traffic on any road. Merging onto the highway was not a problem and never required a lot of throttle. And even if I did give it a lot of throttle, it was just for short bursts…..certainly nothing that would ever become detrimental to the longevity of the engine itself. You somehow seem to think that a V8 4Runner spends its life loafing along, never using it’s full power, while a V6 4Runner is constantly straining just to keep up with traffic. LOL, nothing is further from the truth. In reality, both engines spend the vast majority of their time using just a fraction of their potential power. Rarely does either engine need to be wound out or run anywhere near redline. A V6 4Runner has more than enough power for the demands of any driver, even a boy racer who thinks the accelerator pedal is an on/off switch.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      This.

      It’s styled like a toy, now a very ugly toy. It’s overpriced like a toy. In every practical sense the Highlander in the same showroom wipes the floor with it, unless you tow or run fire roads in which case the Tundra wipes the floor with it instead, and even more so.

      But at the same time Toyota took out the other things a toy should do. It’s quiet, numb, and soft where a fun truck should be stiff and loud. The powertrain is the most important part of any fun car and a 5000lb truck with a V6 is pathetic. It’ll barely even chirp the tires. For $40,000 Toyota didn’t even put in an amp and decent speakers.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      How our perspectives change – this thing would accelerate right up there with a V-8 Grand Cherokee of 10 years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        No kidding, SUVs are traditionally heavy and accelerate with “authority” when adequately powered. They’re not supposed to be burning rubber from a stoplight, cracking of 7 second 0-60 times. Torque is the name of the game, and the Toyota 4.0 is just fine in this regard. It has more torque at a lower RPM than the Pentastar in the Grand cherokee, for example. Yes, the GC V6 with the new 8speed will embarrass the 4runner from a stoplight. Another question: which do you think will still be on the road in 20 years? My money’s on the port injected, 5spd auto Toyota.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          Torque is exactly the name of the game and the Toyota has about 250 lb-ft down low against 5,000 lb of truck. That’s less terrible than a Jeep with a car engine but it’s still pathetic for the price and market positioning.

          The full size trucks which are the most obvious benchmark to shop a 4R against all have around 50% more low end (and high end) power in vehicles that weigh only around 15% more.

          That 10 year old GC had 300 lb-ft (and peaking 1200 rpm earlier) in a 4,000 lb truck. Not much of a top end without VVT but peppy where it counted. The 4R is a lazy slug where it counts.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            That 4runner should have 538 lb-ft of torque, by your measure?

            Just under 8 seconds 0-60 is just fine for a truck like this (in fact I’d say that as quick as anyone needs a BOF SUV to be!), comparable to a contemporary Tahoe with the 5.3, and quicker than that ZJ Grand cherokee with the 5.2 (but slower than the awesome 5.9 Limited)

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            If a 5700 lb full size has 400 lb-ft on the brochure then this ought to have about 325. Which is, coincidentally enough, exactly what the 4.6 V8 that was originally going to go into this makes. But that went out the window with Obama’s CAFE changes.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Oops, misread your quote as the “toyota is about 250 lb ft down”.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      I remember watching a video posted on YouTube where two friends drag raced their new 4Runners (2004 models) at a drag strip. One guy had the V6 and the other guy had the V8. They raced 3 times and each time it was practically a photo finish. Yes, it was that close.

      BTW, if you know anything about internal combustion engines, then you should know that a smaller engine working harder is more efficient than a bigger engine working less. So if you think that a V8 loafing along on the highway, using just a fraction of it’s capability is somehow more efficient than a V6 (in the same vehicle) that’s using a bit more of it’s capability, then I have a bridge to sell you…and it’s really cheap!

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        The V6 4Runner was geared more aggressive than the V8. That’s what makes the V6 4Runner such a pig. And there’s no FREE Lunch. When you have a lot of weight, you also need a lot of power. Torque, I mean. Otherwise efficiency goes out the window when you have your foot in it the whole time.

    • 0 avatar
      jco

      both my friend and I own V8 4Runners. he owns the early version, mine is the updated VVTi V8 with the subsequent power increase.

      he uses his to tow a 23ft boat. with trailer, we assume that load is close to 5000lbs. the truck handles it very well. i cannot imagine trying that with a V6.

      in my own experience, driving conservatively with no load attached to mine, I was easily averaging 18mpg/22mpg. mostly because the motor actually managed to feel like more than the truck needed and therefore required very little throttle input to get up to speed. in regular driving I’d never even exceed 2000rpm. no exaggeration. aside from needing to manage timing belt changes every 90k, I fully expect that motor would make 1 million miles without issue. mine is at 110k and doesn’t even consume oil.

      and it’s sad that really the 4Runner is almost one of a kind in the market. on paper the Xterra might compare, but real world the Toyota is just an endlessly better truck in every way.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        V6 4Runners are rated to tow 5000 lbs., so that boat wouldn’t be a problem. Besides, it’s not really the engine that matters at all, it’s more about the size and weight of the tow vehicle. Regardless of the engine, I wouldn’t want to tow more than 5000 lbs in a 4Runner anyway because it’s not a big or heavy vehicle. Anyone with experience towing will understand exactly hat I’m talking about.

  • avatar

    I wish Toyota would just give up and pull a HyundaiKia. Hire someone with a sense of aesthetics already!

    One word to describe this one: Fearful.

    The predecessor was no looker either.

    • 0 avatar

      oh my. I had read just the first paragraph and took up Alex’s invite to comment on the looks. I thought the one in the second picture was the predecessor.

      Now that I realize it’s not, if forced to choose, give me the poverty spec. It’s at least a bit ‘interesting’ whereas the top tier is just bland and tacky with that large orthodontic chrome thing.

      Both hideous. The base one modernly so, the top one in a twisted 90s way.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Hideous.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    Well, it’s a Toyota. Which means it was styled by Toyota.

    WTF else do you need to know?

    Everyone keeps criticizing moment-in-time efforts like the Aztec, that were clearly the result of a seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time f-up, but Toyota… Just. Keeps. Freaking. Doing. This. Over, and over and over.

    The only attractive car in the lineup is not a car – it’s a minivan. When a vehicle that is constrained by its mission to be rotund and slabsided is the best-looking thing you’ve got, you’ve got trouble.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    The front is hideous but it looks really good from the side. One of the reasons for me buying my ’93 Toyota Xtra cab 4WD compact PU was it flat out looked way better than anything else, foreign or domestic. The 4 Runner at the time was equally handsome. What happened?

  • avatar
    Acd

    This picture reminds me of Bob Lutz’s comment a few years ago when he described many of the concept cars at an auto show as looking like angry kitchen appliances.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    To paraphrase Larry the Cable Guy: Now that’s ugly, I don’t care who you are.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    The Limited would look better if the big chrome strip was color-keyed to match the body.

    The rest of them though are just awful. Even I can’t find something to like about it. I sure hope they refresh it again next year and fire whoever was responsible for this and the Prado.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    I should also note that the FJ Cruiser demise after 2014 may have been premature. Toyota’s fleet website, the whole thing that caused this when it said “FJ Cruiser will be discontinued after the 2014 MY” no longer has this little note there, removed after the media saw it.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      I’m not sure why they would bother keeping the FJ alive unless its just for misplaced pride. The sales are in the toilet and the Wrangler handily trounces it in nearly every way except maybe for fuel economy, which hardly matters to buyers of that type of vehicle.

  • avatar
    08Suzuki

    So yeah I’m curious exactly as to what’s changed with the 4Runner, particularly the SR5, and since Toyota usually does their changeOH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT FRONT KILL IT KILL IT NOW.

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    As a 4th gen 4Runner owner, I’ll never own one of these uglymobiles. It’s only a matter of time for Toyota to kill this BOF design as sales are tanking.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      That’s exactly why Toyota should stick to with BOF in the midsize SUV segment…everyone else is going unibody and IRS. In the near future, that could leave the 4Runner as the ONLY midsize SUV with BOF construction and a live rear axle. I think the only other vehicle that can check both of those boxes is the Nissan Xterra, and the future for that vehicle looks very cloudy. It’s currently living on borrowed time…

  • avatar
    rudiger

    I don’t get it, either, but since it’s a Toyota, someone’s going to buy these just for that reason, alone. It’s not like the 4Runner was a big seller. The vehicle’s big heyday of two decades ago is long gone and the market for the 4Runner has kind of morphed into that of a baby Land Cruiser. That’s more in line with Land Rover’s products, so I’m not sure it can be comparable to normal consumer buying.

    As pointed out, I suspect the bizarro styling is compensation for the demise of the FJ Cruiser. I would imagine that the mission of the new 4Runner look is for it to accumulate as many (if not more) sales than combined sales of the old 4Runner and FJ Cruiser.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    I wonder if humans have some pyschological need to anthropomorphize automotive front ends?

  • avatar
    cartunez

    I think the front end is nice in a transformers sort of way…Sad they ditched the V8…I had a V8 powered black limited that I loved (currently owned by other family member)…sad to see toyota committing slow suicide

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Lets be honest….the 4Runner has looked horrible since the 5th generation reared it’s ugly head in 2010. Now this “updated” version has somehow managed to make it even uglier. That’s a shame because the 4Runner has always been a good-looking SUV, from the first generation through the end of the 4th generation.

    I have faith that Toyota will turn it all around for the 6th generation of the 4Runner….but I hope they don’t lose the offroad capabilities. As long as they keep making the Highlander, I see no reason for the next generation 4Runner to become a softroader, like what happened to the Pathfinder.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    This is a great design. Perfect amount of Lexus F-Sport flair without resorting to full scale sheet metal redesign. This mid-cycle refresh proves why Toyota is the top dog and the rest merely play catch up.

    I thank god every night for ensuring blogosphere message boards don’t dictate business decisions.

    Honda and Toyota make money hand over fist. They know how to amortize costs over appropriate timeframes and production volumes.

    This is simply a great redesign. The rest can suck it.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      Sales of the current generation 4Runner are poor. Much lower than the prior (4th) generation. Sure, some of that may be due to the economy and higher gas prices, but we also have to be mindful that the current 4Runner has FAR fewer competitors when it comes to capable midsize SUVs with BOF construction and live rear axles. The 4th gen 4Runner has MANY more direct competitors and still managed to greatly outsell the current generation.

      • 0 avatar
        smartascii

        I’ve driven both the previous and the current generation of 4-runners, and the thing that changed was that whereas the previous generation felt direct, mechanical and truckish, the current generation feels like a Lexus. People who want a BOF SUV buy them to go offroading, or to pretend like they go offroading. The experience of the previous 4Runner lent itself to that, and the current one doesn’t.

        And before someone says, “What about the GX 470?”, people don’t buy the GX because it’s an awesome offroader, they buy it because it’s a Lexus. I imagine that almost every single purchaser of a new GX would be horrified if you suggested that they use it to scrabble up a rocky trail or ford a stream.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          Actually, that’s completely incorrect. The last two generation (4th and 5th) don’t feel anything like a Lexus. They are sloppy handling vehicles that exhibit heavy nose dive under braking (the 5th gen has VERY BAD nose dive) and crappy dynamics in general. Quite honestly, other than the crappy styling, the 5th gen is very similar to the 4th gen under its skin.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            Lexus feel has nothing to do with tight handling or nose dive. Lexus feel is about quiet isolation and the 5th gen has that in spades.

            The 5th gen is very similar to the 4th gen mechanically but it picked up upwards of 400 lbs on the redesign – probably more considering the lighter body panels and general decontenting – and pretty much all of that weight went to more refinement.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Actually, Lexus feel has everything to do with driving dynamics. That’s a big part of what makes a Lexus and Lexus. It’s all about refinement. Anyone who thinks a new 4Runner feels anything like a Lexus needs to have his head examined. The 4Runner is far from refined and the current (5th gen) is no more refined than the 4th gen was since the 2003 model year. The Lexus GX is MUCH more refined and feels MUCH more “Lexus like”, simply because it has to be….you know, since it wears a Lexus badge.

        • 0 avatar
          Signal11

          Funny, I know several GX owners. All of them like to pretend that they could scrabble up a river bank if they had the chance.

          These are people who would have bought a Land Rover LR4 but didn’t want to deal with Land Rover problems.

  • avatar
    etrnlrvr

    For those that would argue the Cherokee’s styling is not really polarizing it’s just ugly need to take a look at one of these things.

    THIS IS UGLY.

    Ugliest, tackiest, and just plain most stupid styling refresh I think I have ever seen.

    As an 02 Tacoma owner I don’t foresee a time on the horizon where I would ever buy a(US SPEC anyways) new Toyota truck or SUV.

    The models now are bigger and porkier (and don’t forget uglier lol). The base 4 cylinder is terrible now, the v-6 is old and outdated. Fuel econ sucks. No diesel option or direct injection gas engine. Terrible interiors.

    When the hell is Toyota going to snap out of their stupor?

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    I have owned two Land Cruisers, an FJ Cruiser, a 3rd gen 4runner, and the current 5th gen TE.

    The 2014 face lift is abysmal. The truck is garishly ugly. 4Runners have always been conservatively styled, and making the trail look like a Japanese robot and giving the Limited a fat chrome lip is just too much to get over.

    The Tacoma design refresh was ugly, taking a decent looking pickup to something sporting Pep Boys plastic add-ons.

    Toyota either has no idea what people buying a 4Runner want, or has every idea and I’m out of touch. As one of the few who buys a BOF SUV to actually drive off road, I’ve found that manufacturers seem to think that if I want off-road capability, I also want leather, a sunroof, Entune, etc. It’s as if the 4WD equipment is just another box someone wants to check when they want a “loaded” SUV. You really can’t get a base model 4WD anymore, because even a locking rear differential inexplicably comes bundled with useless luxury packages like on the Tacoma.

    I want a base model SUV with every off road feature checked and no LCD, sunroof, leather, etc. Yes, you did sell the FJ Cruiser–which was hard to see out of and poorly built. I owned one, tried to like it, didn’t.

    Decontent the 4Runner, make it in the US. Sell it for less. There is nothing in these trucks that warrants a 35-40 grand price tag. I just want the off road capability and cheap ruggedness of a Tacoma in an SUV form–and no, I don’t want to put a rickety, leaky, cheap truck topper on a pickup to make one… yet.

  • avatar
    That guy

    Sales haven’t been spectacular for the 4Runner the last few years and that’s probably because it has a very limited market. It doesn’t tow more than a normal fullsize CUV. Few people really do any serious wheeling in their brand new $30K+ SUV, and those people probably buy Wranglers. The people that want their daily driver to have moderate off road capability are probably better served by Grand Cherokees. People who just want an SUV and aren’t worried about capability are buying CUVs. I’m struggling to see where this fits in.

    • 0 avatar
      That guy

      Speaking of off road use, it seems that performance side-by-side ATVs (Polaris RZR, Can Am Maverick, etc) are booming. People that want an off road toy are buying dedicated toys instead of messing with their M-F driver.

  • avatar
    SteelyMoose

    Yikes. That’s a face only a mother could love.


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