By Bruce Aldrich
The fifth generation Toyota 4Runner is worth a look if you need a capable off-road and snow-going vehicle. The 2014 4Runner has a wicked-looking front-end with added comfort and convenience features. The 4Runner is the last mid-size SUV with Body-on-Frame construction.
The 4Runner comes in three grades, SR5, Trail, and Limited. Each model has a 4-liter V6 with 270 horsepower and a five-speed automatic transmission. I recently drove the three models and I like them all. The SR5 is the “value” model, offered in a two-wheel drive version or 4X4.
My favorite is the Trail grade model, designed to maximize off-road performance. Toyota’s Crawl Control (CRAWL) is a selectable low-speed function that electronically regulates speed to keep the vehicle under control in tough off-road situations. The driver does the steering, CRAWL handles throttle and braking.
Trail grade includes a feature called Multi-Terrain Select, which dials in the amount of wheel-slip to match the terrain. In general, loose and slippery terrain work better with some wheel-slip. Rocks and bumps demand little wheel-slip.
All 4Runners include Hill-start Assist and Downhill Assist Control. Both features help to hold the vehicle or achieve a target speed without driver intervention. The Trail grade can also be ordered with KDSS, a system that dynamically disconnects the stabilizer bars to allow more axle travel, and better suspension articulation in slow, difficult terrain.
Trail Tough With Connectivity, Comfort
The sum total of all of this electronic wizardry is a vehicle that essentially drives itself (forward and reverse) through tough 4-wheel-drive situations with only steering input required from the driver. Even with one wheel high in the air, the 4Runner moved forward like nothing was amiss. Now everyone can go through the rough stuff like a pro.
Move up to the Limited model if you want the luxury treatment with the same off-road capability. The Limited comes standard with a leather-trimmed interior with ventilated and heated power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats.
All models are equipped with sturdy painted roof-racks for your toys. Fold-flat second-row seats provide a level load floor, and it’s not necessary to remove the headrests to fold the seats flat.
A 4Runner can pull small stuff like snowmobiles and personal watercraft. The towing capacity is 4,700 pounds with a tongue weight of 500 pounds (4X4).
The second generation audio system/multimedia system (Entune Audio Plus) is now standard in the SR5 and Trail grade 4Runners. Entune combines a smartphone, Satellite Radio, AM/FM radio, USB, CD player and more, into one easy to navigate touch-screen and voice recognition system.
This is one of the better systems available. The 2014 Toyota 4Runner has the manufacturer’s standard warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/60,000 miles; Roadside assistance, 2 years/25,000 miles.