So you’ve decided that you finally want to experience an SUV. You’ve driven small sedans all your life, and the Colorado lifestyle (both summer and winter) have you craving something a little more rugged.
Or you’ve already tried other SUVs, but they were mostly posers - you know, an SUV body without the off-road chops to really stake a claim.
In both cases, Toyota’s dependable player in this category is the legendary 4Runner, first introduced in 1984. Over the years it has developed from little more than a pickup with a hard-case back into today’s mid-size sport utility.
Disclaimer: I’ve personally owned two 4Runners, but not with the current body style. For 2014 Toyota added a few changes to keep things interesting, while hanging on to some of the features that help set it apart.
Both the interior and the exterior received some stylish new touches, and the extremely popular rearview mirror has been added to the array of standard features. There are three trim choices for you to scout: the SR5, the Trail, and the Limited. There’s standard seating for five in all three, but with the SR5 and the Limited you can opt for a split-third-row to squeeze in two more adults.
A few people squawk that the 4Runner doesn’t come with a V8 option, and that’s true. But I’ve driven my share of Jeeps and other assorted SUVs that boast about their additional power, and in my semi-professional opinion you’ll rarely notice - or miss - anything with Toyota’s V6 power plant, unless you need to haul a trailer behind you.
The ride is smooth and comfortable, and provides plenty of boost if you decide to head off-road.
And that’s where the 4Runner and just a few others (again, Jeep) stand out. For several years SUVs have crept toward the showy side of the lot, with families using them for nothing more than weekend sporting events and trips to the mall. But the 4Runner maintains its off-road pedigree, equally at home on the trails as it is in the school parking lot.
Inside you’ll find enough creature comforts to satisfy the average driver, with materials that aren’t Lexus - but aren’t Subaru, either. (No offense.) A new instrument panel replaces an earlier style that wasn’t too good, with a dashboard screen computer to handle most functions, including audio, climate, and Toyota’s Entune suite of apps and services.
Because it’s an SUV you’ll expect storage, and the 4Runner delivers with almost 50 cubic feet behind the second row. Fold all of the seats and that number almost doubles.
In the looks department I personally feel like the newer boxy style is not as attractive as in years past, but that’s a subjective emotion. The eyeball test from some of my friends produced glowing compliments.
Mileage will be a factor for many buyers; the Limited version that I drove for a week averages about 18 mpg between city and highway driving. The MSRP lists at just over $43k, and with options my test car clocked in at about $47k.
The 4Runner has sold extremely well for decades, and with these slight upgrades it’s safe to assume it will continue to make Toyota proud. It’s a reliable and stylish choice in the crowded SUV field, and well worth a test drive from you.
Reviewed by Dom
Car provided by manufacturer