Filed under: SUV , Toyota , Off-Road , Quick Spins I recently took the redesigned 2014 Toyota 4Runner for a muddy romp in Pennsylvania. While the mechanical bits and pieces beneath the body-on-frame SUV trudge forward into the new model year with very few tweaks, the truck “receives a rugged new exterior design and interior refinements that add comfort and convenience without sacrificing its hallmark performance capability and excellent value,” says the automaker. A quick visual scan of the 4Runner reveals a new front end with a more “aggressive” and “muscular” appearance (yes, I’m quoting Toyota ) that includes new headlights, grille and hood scoop. A roof rack is now standard across all trims, too. While the SR5 has a bland color-keyed grille insert that gives the face a monochromatic appearance, the Trail (shown above and in our gallery ) and range-topping Limited have brightwork on the front that provides a bit more character. New soft-touch surfaces within the cabin provide a more upscale environment and a bright new Optitron instrument panel improves readability and functionality. As before, the SR5 and Trail models arrive with fabric upholstery or optional Softex seats (synthetic leather). Genuine hides are reserved for the Limited trim, which is also fitted with Toyota’s unique X-REAS (X-Relative Absorber System) automatic suspension system as standard equipment. Driving Notes Despite (or arguably, because of) its 2014 facelift, the 4Runner is challenged in the appearance department. The styling, inside and out, is confusing to us, with odd angles and shapes that don’t appear cohesive with any overall sense of design.
Filed under: SUV , Toyota , Off-Road Toyota sold 121,055 Highlander CUVs in 2012, according to Automotive News . By comparison, it sold 78,457 examples of four different body-on-frame, truck-based SUVs ( 4Runner , FJ Cruiser , Sequoia and Land Cruiser ). One could argue then, that the traditional SUVs aren’t pulling their weight from a sales perspective. Yet that isn’t stopping Toyota from reaffirming its commitment to a segment that has seen its former champions – Ford , General Motors and Chrysler – abandon it with alarming speed. Ford and GM still offer body-on frame utilities, but only in the very largest offerings, catering to seven or even eight passengers. Everything outside of the Expedition or Tahoe rides now on a unibody. Toyota’s decision to stick with the technology is good news if you’re in the market for smaller SUVs that are still capable of heading well off the beaten path. Outside of the Jeep Wrangler , Grand Cherokee (a unibody) and perhaps Nissan Xterra , there’s not much in terms of capable SUVs between $20,000 and $50,000. As the Toyota brand’s US head, Bill Fay, says, “Clearly, the trend has shifted, but there is still an owner base that is interested in these vehicles.” We don’t doubt Fay on that, but it may also be somewhat telling that Toyota’s SUV lineup is aging, and we haven’t seen or heard much about replacement models in the pipeline. Admittedly, the 4Runner (pictured) has been facelifted for 2014, but it’s mostly cosmetic in nature.