Toyota has sold nearly 2 million 4Runners since its introduction back in 1984—and about 75% of them are still on the road. (Or still off-road…) This year, they are releasing the 5th generation of the rugged, go anywhere vehicle, and we got a chance to get a first look at the 2014 4Runner before it hits showroom floors in September or October.
The exterior was given an update, with an aggressive new front facia sporting a muscular front grille and smoked headlamps that flare wide off the front end. Available in the same three trims as the previous year—SR5, Trail for maximum off-roading, and top-of-the-line Limited—the Trail still sports the hood scoop, and the Limited gets 20-inch wheels, painted black for added style and contrast, and enough chrome to keep a posse happy.
Still one of the only SUVs with a truck’s body-on-frame construction, giving the 4Runner optimal off-road capability, it’s coupled with a suspension technology that gives it a smooth ride more often associated with crossovers.
All three trims will get the same engine: a 4.0-liter V6 that pushes 270 horses and 278-lb-ft of torque, allowing the 4Runner to tow a max of 5,000 lbs. with the integrated tow-hitch receiver on the back end.
Toyota has made the interior of the 4Runner a little more refined and a little more “premium” looking for the 5th Gen as well. We finally get a Smart Key system with keyless entry and pushbutton start, although it only comes standard on the Limited. The SR5 and Trail now get a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, with the option to swap the fabric trimmed seats for the Limited’s double-stitched leather.
But the best new feature we love is the standard Party Mode. Ideal for tailgating, Party Mode is a unique audio setting that shifts all the sound to the rear of the 4Runner, especially the liftgate mounted speakers, and pumps the bass for maximum enjoyment in the campground or stadium parking lot.
The new 4Runner is slated to be available starting in September, and from what they’re telling us, the goal is to keep the price points to 2013 levels. And we’ll be test-driving one of the first production models on an off-road course in late July, so watch for that review.