As the list of serious 4×4 SUVs dwindle away, the 2014 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Premium is just what the off-road, truck-loving folks ordered. Currently in its fifth-generation, the 4Runner continues as one of the few fully capable mid-size SUVs. The redesigned 2014 4Runner receives a rugged new exterior design and interior refinements that add comfort and convenience without sacrificing its hallmark performance capability and excellent value. We drove the 4Runner enough to realize this is one tough customer!
The refreshed 4Runner features a redesigned front fascia that conveys a more rugged and aggressive appearance. This includes a muscular front grille and edgier smoked headlamps for a more forceful look. The headlights have also been changed from halogen to projector beam and the redesigned rear combination lamps now feature LED lights. The SR5 as tested and Trail grades feature a color-keyed grille insert and front bumper that is surrounded by fog lamps set in sharply cut inlays that extend from the headlamps down to the bumper. In addition to the distinctive new grille, the premium Limited’s front design stands apart with a chrome-plated grille insert and chrome front bumper that extends to the fog-lamp bezels. The side molding, roof rack and rear bumper are also chrome trimmed.
Both the SR5 and Trail grades ride on 17-inch alloy wheels with a new and unique wheel design to both, while the Limited continues to ride on 20-inch alloy wheels, which are now painted black prior to machining to add contrast. All grades continue to come standard with a full-size spare. The look of the 2014 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Premium is very distinctive on the road, commanding attention with the aggressive front end.
There are plenty of full-size pickups that would crave the cabin space of the 4Runner with the well thought out spacing, touches of refinement and made-for-work toughness. The SR5 and Trail grades add standard Soft Touch door trim and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather shift knob provide a premium feel and atmosphere. The SR5 receives a new bright and highly visible Optitron instrument panel that houses speedometer, tachometer, voltage, fuel and coolant temperature gauges, plus a multi-information display that offers multiple functions. An Eco-Driving feedback system allows the driver to monitor fuel consumption in real time. On the 4Runner Trail, an overhead console within easy reach organizes the off-road control switches into one location. A compass indicator and outside temperature display add functionality. A manually controlled air conditioning system is standard on SR5 and Trail grades, while the Limited features an automatic dual-zone climate-control system.
For second-row passengers, a sculpted front seat-back shape provides additional knee space. The second-row seats, which include a center armrest, individually recline up to 16 degrees in four steps for relaxing passenger comfort. The 40/20/40 second-row seat configuration also has a one-touch walk-in function, making access to the third row easier. Third-row seating is available on SR5 and Limited grades and features a roomy, supportive seating area.
The SR5 and Trail grades come standard with comfortable fabric-trimmed seating available in Sand Beige, Graphite or Black. Available SofTex seats offer a soft, rich feel. New for 2014, the SR5 adds a standard eight-way power driver seat, and both the SR5 and Trail grade 4Runner models feature Entune Audio Plus, which includes Toyota’s Entune multimedia system, an AM/FM/MP3 CD player with eight speakers, integrated SiriusXM Satellite Radio (includes 90-day trial subscription), USB port with iPod connectivity, and Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and music streaming. New SR5 and Trail Premium grades are available with added standard equipment including SofTex seats, Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite, power tilt/slide moonroof, power passenger seats, electrochromatic mirror, Homelink Garage Door Opener and 120V AC in the cargo area.
The 4Runner 4.0-liter V6 generates 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. of torque. Dual independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) optimizes torque across the engine’s operating range. Fuel economy ratings rival some crossover SUVs with an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway for 4×2 models, and 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway for 4×4. Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds and all vehicles feature an integrated tow-hitch receiver and wiring harness as standard equipment. A double-wishbone independent front suspension, combined with a variable-flow rack-and-pinion steering, helps give the 4Runner precise control on demanding roads. Coil springs over gas shocks are used at all four wheels for a comfortable ride and controlled handling. The four-link rear suspension maximizes off-road axle articulation, while providing a smooth ride for rear-seat passengers on and off pavement.
The Limited grade comes standard with an X-REAS suspension system that further improves performance, comfort and control. With X-REAS, 4Runner corners flatter, smoother and handles choppy pavement more easily. X-REAS automatically adjusts the damping force of shocks when driving over bumpy surfaces or when cornering. The system uses a center control absorber to cross-link shocks on opposite corners of the vehicle, substantially reducing pitch and yaw by offsetting opposing inputs.
The 4Runner SR5 as tested and Trail 4×4 models have a two-speed, part-time four-wheel-drive system with neutral position, maximizing fuel efficiency when a 4×4 configuration isn’t needed. The A-TRAC traction control system is standard on all 4×4 models. The system can distribute driving force to any one wheel in contact with the ground, making terrain irregularities and slippery patches virtually transparent to the driver. An electronic-locking rear differential is standard on the Trail grade. All models come standard with Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), which provides additional control for off-road driving by helping to hold the vehicle stationary before starting on a steep incline or slippery surface. All 4Runner 4×4 models feature standard Downhill Assist Control (DAC). This feature augments the low-speed ascending ability of low-range by helping to hold the vehicle, allowing time for the driver to a target speed with no driver intervention. We found the ride to be very truck-like with a strong sense of power and control on the road. Clearly, if you are looking for a car-based SUV, keep looking, but if you want the performance of a truck in a sleek package, then the 2014 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Premium could fill your needs.
After driving the 2014 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Premium just about everywhere in Northeast Ohio, there is no doubt that this SUV is one of the toughest on the road. Our loaded test model came in at a sticker price of $39,045. When the winter months arrive and the you-know-what hits the fan, the people driving a 4Runner will surely make it just fine, and that’s worth every penny of the price. With this tough vehicle, you also get a cabin that is refined and spacious, which tops off a great vehicle that can do just about whatever one wants.