By: Brandon Randall
We live in a world of increasingly watered down SUV’s. Where borrowing chassis and components from the passenger vehicles parts bin has become business as usual. What happened to the simpler times? Where Jeeps still looked like proper Jeeps, and Land Rovers the thing you climb into for a tour of Jurassic Park. Here to remind us of the SUV’s glory days is the 2014 Toyota 4Runner. In essence, the 4Runner began as a pickup truck, and today it remains one of the few remaining SUV’s built on a dedicated frame using truck parts.
As a result, the 4Runner is as tough as it looks. It’s exterior offers a wonderfully rugged alternative to many of the fancied up SUV’s filling the market. With plenty of ground clearance, roof rack, 20” rims and overall chunky proportions, this SUV is a proud work horse.
On the inside, the same fundamental styling approach carries through. Knobs and controls are big and clunky. Interior panels seem to have been carved by the ‘Brawny’ lumberjack. In general, an air of hyper-masculinity pervades every nook and cranny of this capable Toyota.
The front seats are wide and supportive, and a high roof line offers ample head room. Second row seats recline and adjust to comfortably accommodate two adults as well. The third row, which is only offered in certain models, is best left for the little ones. Cargo space is limited due to the 4Runner’s narrow body and tall floor.
Inside, plenty of creature comforts can be found, like USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, a 15-speaker JBL sound system, satellite navigation and power everything. The soft ride and whisper quite cabin found in so many SUV crossover’s is slightly compromised, but on the whole, the 4Runner balances performance and comfort very well.
Powering our trail ready Toyota is a stout V6 paired to a 5-speed automatic gearbox, making 270 hp and 278 lb ft of torque. MPG comes in at 17 around town and 21 highway. The result is a large SUV that is faster and more athletic than its size would suggest. The full time 4WD system and active locking center differential help ensure there’s never a shortage of traction.
The 2014 Toyota 4Runner is a refreshing reminder that the SUV was once built to blaze trails and help us explore more than just Hollywood blvd. If adventure is calling and you need a vehicle that can do more than just ‘talk the talk,’ the 4Runner has all the right moves, and a platform that’s perfect for the job.
Price as tested: $47,745.00