By John Stewart
The refreshed ’14 4Runner Trail grade, shown here, is one of the few remaining body-on-frame, low-range-equipped compact SUVs available. The Trail-grade model is distinguished by the hood scoop, and a broad selection of off-road performance equipment.
The Trail-grade 4Runner also offers this sliding rear loading deck, which doubles as a handy seating spot for tailgating or camping.
The interior received a number of touches aimed at updating convenience features and improving comfort.
The interior will include upgraded electronics systems and new “soft-touch” trim.
Toyota staged the world debut of the redesigned ’14 4Runner mid-size SUV, Saturday, April 27, at the 2013 Stagecoach Music Festival in Indio, California, near Palm Springs. The Toyota 4Runner, now in its fifth generation, has been in the Toyota SUV lineup for nearly three decades and is one of the few body-on-frame compact SUVs remaining on the market.
The 4Runner will continue to be available in a variety of configurations and in three models: volume-leader SR5, top-of-the-line Limited, plus a Trail grade for those who desire off-road capability. 4Runner owners will have the choice of a rear-wheel 4x2, part-time 4x4 or a full-time multi-mode 4x4 with a locking center differential. All models are equipped with a 4.0L, 270hp V6 teamed with a five-speed ECT-i automatic transmission. The 4Runner is one of the few compact SUVs that continues to offer a transfer case with low-range gearing.
The refreshed ’14 4Runner features a redesigned front fascia intended to convey a more rugged and aggressive appearance. The makeover includes a redesigned front grille and smoked headlamps. The SR5 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.
A red Trail-grade prototype was the model revealed to the media at the Stagecoach Music Festival. It features new color-keyed bumpers and overfenders, and it continues to be distinguished by an aggressive hood scoop and silver painted front and rear bumper accents. All grades are now standard with a roof rack.
In addition to the distinctive new grille, the premium Limited’s front design will include 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. The headlamps have also changed from halogen to projector beam, with both the headlamps and redesigned rear combination lamps on all 4Runner grades now featuring LED lamps.
Both the SR5 and Trail grades will ride on 17-in. alloy wheels with a new wheel design for both, while the Limited continues to ride on 20-in. 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 4Runner exterior updates are complemented by touches of refinement on the inside. Both the SR5 and Trail grade add standard “soft-touch” door trim, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather shift knob.
New for 2014 on SR5 and Trail grade 4Runner models is Entune Audio Plus, which includes an AM/FM/MP3 CD player with eight speakers, integrated SiriusXM Satellite Radio, USB port with iPod connectivity and Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and music streaming.
Pricing will be announced later this year. Toyota marketing executives estimate that prototypes will be made available for the media to drive in July, and that production units will begin to arrive in showrooms by the end of September.