Most SUV's only look tough enough to take off road. Few are actually capable, but the Toyota 4Runner, one of the original SUV's is most definitely capable. The 4Runner is a pick-up truck based SUV and the sister of the Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck. Off-roading enthusiasts have loved the 4Runner's go-anywhere capabilities for nearly 30 years.
The fifth generation 4Runner is getting a refresh, one that will further distinguish it from the minivan mom crowd that seems to have embraced the SUV in recent years. It's new rugged exterior design will leave no doubt that this is the truck that goes up to the cottage, rather than picking up groceries and kids after soccer practice. Inside though, it will possess all of the creature comforts and conveniences that mom or dad could want for making that long drive up north.
Combining body-on-frame construction with versatile suspension technology that nicely balances optimal off road capabilities with the smooth and comfortable ride normally associated with crossovers, the 2014 4Runner will be available in three different grades, a value driven SR5, top of the line Limited and more robust Trail.
The Trail model is aimed at drivers who want the most off-road capabilities from their SUV. It's getting higher ground clearance, bigger approach and departure angles and an optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) to improve terrain following by dynamically disconnecting stabilizer bars for better suspension on tough terrain. Standard on the Trail is Toyota's Crawl Control (CRAWL). This feature minimizes the load on drivetrain and suspension components and helps to maintain appropriate speed to keep the vehicle under control. It's also got a Multi-Terrain Select system to help wheel-slip match terrain, allowing it to work in the vehicle's favour. It can even handle slopes, ridges and ditches in Mogul setting.
The more-urban versions, the SR5 and Limited will have optional third row seating, allowing up to seven passengers. The upscale Limited sports 20 inch alloy wheels, while the other two are fitted with black painted 17s.
As in existing models, all three versions will continue to be available with rear wheel 4x2, part time 4x4 or a full time 4x4 with locking centre differential. They will all share a 4-litre 270 horsepower V6, five-speed automatic. Towing capacity maxes out at 5,000 pounds. All of the 4Runners come equipped with an integrated tow hitch and wiring harness as well as a roof rack.
New for the 2014 is a new front end designed to make the truck appear more rugged and aggressive to match it's authenticity and heritage. It sports spoke headlights, an aggressive hood scoop and a distinctive muscular looking front grille.
Inside, they will sport advanced connectivity features and audio. The interior has refined styling and the level of comfort one should expect from a mid-size SUV with touches that include Soft Touch door trim, and leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob. There are tons of other improvements inside, including a cargo door that can support 440 pounds- perfect for campfire nights or just easy access.
Nearly thirty years later, the 4Runner continues to impress as an authentic off-road vehicle, and one that cleans up good for around town handling too.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca