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Toyota 4Runner, one of the last real SUVs, gets redesigned


May 2, 2013

The headlamps receive a new angry look

The headlamps receive a new angry look

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Toyota introduced the 2014 4Runner this week. While other once-rugged mid-size SUVs have been watered down into car-like crossovers – just look at the station wagon called the Nissan Pathfinder or the thing Jeep wants us to believe is a new Cherokee – the 4Runner stays true to its off-road roots, including body-on-frame construction. In fact, the 4Runner's new styling shows that Toyota is eager to let everyone know that the truck means business.

The 4Runner is a name that appears regularly on lists of "off-roaders that you'd actually want to go off-road with," lists that seem to grow smaller every year. Toyota clearly plans for the model to continue making such appearances next year. The 2014 4Runner isn't a complete redesign, so it wasn't really up for a changeover to a unitized frame. Still in its fifth generation, the new 4Runner maintains its body-on-frame construction and off-road-tweaked features.

What changes is the exterior design, led by a dramatic new front fascia. The new 4Runner face is all mouth, with a large, trapezoidal grille dominating the aesthetic. The smoked headlamps have been redesigned, making room for a set of fog lamp-grasping vertical slashes underneath. The new lighting arrangement gives the 2014 4Runner an angrier, "more forceful" look. The top-end Limited model gets a chrome-plated grille insert and a chrome bumper underneath. The Limited rides on 20-inch wheels, while the off-road-enhanced Trail and base-level SR5 ride on 17-inch wheels.

Inside, the SR5 and Trail 4Runner models get upgraded with an Entune multimedia system featuring an AM/FM/MP3/CD player and eight speakers, SiriusXM satellite radio (including a 90-day trial subscription), USB port with iPod connectivity, and Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and music streaming. The Limited trim has a 15-speaker Entune Premium JBL audio system. In both cases, the Entune connectivity allows for in-vehicle apps, such as Pandora, Bing, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com and OpenTable, when paired with a smartphone. All 4Runner models come standard with a back-up camera viewable on the display in the cabin.

The heart of the 4Runner continues to be Toyota's 270-hp 4.0-liter V6 engine, which gets help from a 5-speed ECT-i automatic transmission. The model comes in 4x2; 2-speed, part-time 4x4; and full-time 4x4 options. The off-road-hungry Trail version includes an electronic-locking rear differential; a CRAWL Control system, which helps maintain an appropriate speed to keep the vehicle under control while minimizing the load on drivetrain and suspension components; and a Multi-Terrain Select system for controlling wheel slip in different terrain and conditions. All 4Runner models come with Hill-start Assist Control, and all 4x4 models have A-TRAC traction control and Downhill Assist Control.

Toyota debuted the 4Runner at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in California. It will hit dealerships in September. Toyota has yet to announce pricing for the new model.

Source: Toyota

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

Right, when Nissan converted the Pathfinder into a crossover with all wheel drive a couple years ago they left the 4Runner as one of the only remaining "real" 4x4 SUV's on the market. The main difference between the 2 technologies is 4x4 uses a locking center differential and AWD technically only requires an open center differential. Some companies have decent AWD platforms (Subaru, Audi) but the implementation and capabilities can differ a lot depending on which AWD system it is.

AWD systems without limited slip aren't very effective at getting out of a mess because open differentials work via "path of least resistance" so the wheel that is spinning is the one that receives most the power. There is a really simple explanation of how differentials work from a 1937 video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYAw79386WI

The front and back differentials on the non-trail 4Runner don't lock (and neither do most 4x4) but they use Electronic Limited slip. When one wheel is spinning it applies brakes to that wheel to force power to wheels with traction. It is a simple but effective method that doesn't require the complexity or cost of a mechanical limited slip differential and similar to what some companies are doing with their AWD platforms.

I still wish more companies would make electronic limited slip differentials standard in even 2WD vehicles. A limited slip 2WD is enough to get unstuck in many situations but it would be a difficult feature to market.


If an angry pig was what they were going for they nailed it.


Somebody at Toyota actually approved that design for production?

Fairly Reasoner

Looks like a Mexican wrestling mask.


RWD sports cars often come with a limited slip differential.


Hello: When is the last time you drove a Range Rover ? I drive them for the last 40 years and they are awesome, Incredible performance both on-road, but also off-road, which is a rarity for a car with the luxury and comfort of a Bentley (that's in fact one of its nicknames: a Bentley on Stilts). Unfortunately, sign of the times, the new Evoque (small Range Rover) is anything but that, even, blasphemy, the 4x4 is an option. It became a true show-off car, a pity. Andre


Hello: About the electronic anti-spin control, it is cheaper to produce than a conventional locking differential and, my Range is also equipped with it. Thus I have some experience with it drivng ofther off-road on muddy logroads. It works fine and is great inttheory BUT heat up te brakefluid like crazy and thus is in affect only a limited time to avoid boiling the brakefluid. After that, its back to free for all spin with an unlocked differential. In conclusion, it is good for limited use and the occasional, mild bog. Andre


Hopefully Toyota will sell you a bag to put over your truck's face.

Jon A.

So, I'm wondering how much the Lancer Evo designers got to work on the new 4Runner...


You could find it pretty easily for a while in the 80s when the Japanese companies decided to differentiate themselves by throwing as many transistors and microchips at at their cars as possible. Back then you could even get cars with an ECO mode that did more than just lowered shift points. As with all things, the recent green wave brought a lot of that back ( and for the same reason: gas prices ).

C. Walker Walker

I am so happy to hear that I am not alone in being repulsed by the snout on this ugly thing.

Robert Janca
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