Toyota 4Runner Preview: A Mid-Size SUV At Home Off-Road And In The City

on September 13 2013 2:20 PM

Toyota Motor Corp. has taken some of the best aspects of a Sport Utility Vehicle and grafted them onto a vehicle that can perform as a capable off-road vehicle. At a media press preview of the 2014 Toyota 4Runner, the midsize SUV handled an off-road course with comfort and style.

2014 Toyota 4Runner The 2014 Toyota 4Runner has been redesigned but maintains its off-road capability.  IBTimes/Charles Poladian

The 2014 Toyota 4Runner may not be as appreciated as the Tundra, but it has been redesigned to echo the full-size pickup truck’s power and capability. The 2014 4Runner has an overhauled exterior with Toyota leaning towards an "aggressive" look that has become popular in recent redesigns.

Much like the Tundra, the 2014 Toyota 4Runner comes in three grades, the SR5, Limited and Trail. Each grade comes standard with 4.0-liter, 270-horsepower V-6 engine and a five-speed automatic transmission, and owners can choose two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive or part-time four wheel drive.

The 2014 Toyota 4Runner SR5 and Limited feature new front grilles, and for those who want more off-road capability there's the Trail edition with a hood scoop. The 2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited will include chrome trim along the exterior, a chrome front grille and front bumper.

2014 Toyota 4Runner The exterior of the 2014 Toyota 4Runner.  IBTimes/Charles Poladian

Toyota has focused on improving the handling and performance of the 4Runner, similar to the design choices of the 2014 Toyota Tundra, which, coupled with the new interior, create an easy driving experience. Off-road, the 4Runner has several options, such as the Crawl Control that is standard on the Trail edition, that controls the braking and engine output of the vehicle, so the driver can focus on steering.

The 2014 Toyota 4Runner's off-road capability is aided by the body-on-frame construction. As noted by Autoblog, many car manufacturers are switching to unibody designs, but the body-on-frame construction of the 4Runnner increases the flexibility of the vehicle, reducing potential damage to the suspension. The mid-size SUV market is a competitive one and the 4Runner is one of the weaker-performing Toyotas available. According to Autoblog, Toyota sold more than 120,00 Highlanders in 2012 while selling just 78,457 body-on-frame SUVs, such as the 4Runner, FJ Cruiser and Sequioa. The redesign could help bolster sales but it may not be enough if consumers considering the number of available options.

Without any drastic upgrades, the 2014 Toyota 4Runner is the mid-size SUV many owners have come to expect from Toyota. The new design features help the 4Runner stand out from other mid-size SUVs and is well-suited for anything an owner will throw at it. As the last body-on-frame SUV on the market, the 2014 Toyota 4Runner is the torchbearer for traditional car manufacturing, but it's not stuck in the past and could be a good option for owners that do a bit of traveling.

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