The Toyota 4Runner got a facelift in 2014 and the results look good. Unfortunately, the underpinnings are of another vintage and when compared to other trucks, they feel a little crude.
From the outside the truck is blocky and handsome. The canted projector headlights lend a determined look to the front fascia. 20″ alloy wheels wrapped in tires with plenty of sidewall fill out the huge wheel wells. The uncluttered body work and high ground clearance give the truck a utilitarian aesthetic. I especially like the hood scoop and LED taillights. It’s overtly macho and I don’t care. I like it.
The heated front seats are comfortable. Big, chunky buttons and knobs complement the squared off look of the dash. There’s a 6.1″ touch screen for controlling the nav and stereo. Nestled in the console to the right of the gear selector is the shifter for the transfer case. There’s a tactile gratification and peace of mind that comes from manually shifting into four-wheel-drive that a push-button selector will never provide.
The rear seats fold flat in three different sections to offer a space for all shapes of cargo. A power sliding rear window makes it convenient to haul those extra long items. Overall, the quality of materials used inside are good, but there are shortcuts here and there. For example, the shift boot is made out of a material that feels flimsy and I’m not sure how long wearing it will prove to be.
The current generation 4-Runner, the fifth iteration, was introduced in 2010. While the exterior looks thoroughly contemporary, the feel behind the wheel is a little less modern. It weighs in at nearly two and a half tons and you can tell. There’s a rolly, high-riding sensation and a disconnected steering feel common to Toyota trucks. Added to this, is the 4Runner’s tendency to enter a substantial nosedive that’s noticeable even under moderate braking.
It’s all relative to what you’re used to driving though. The ride probably feels pretty refined compared to your uncle’s clapped-out ’94 Silverado, but it’s probably not too far outside the ballpark.
The press truck featured the optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension which automatically adjusts the sway bars under the truck, tightening them to reduce roll on the pavement and loosening them so you get better wheel articulation off-road. A pretty trick piece of kit that will set you back $1,750.
Under the hood resides Toyota’s aluminum 4-liter V6. It offers 270 horse-power and about that many pound-feet of torque. Power feels adequate, but if you’re thinking it may not be enough you’re out of luck, it’s the only power option Toyota offers. The V6 is backed by a 5-speed automatic that does its job quietly and without fuss. The 4Runner, true to its roots, is not a dolled up crossover. It’s an honest body on frame construction which is why this SUV can boast a 5,000 pound tow rating.
With other manufactures refining there trucks and SUVs it begs the question how long will Toyota be able to sell a platform that feels a bit old fashion. Added to this is the so-so efficiency, expect mpg in the sub 20 region. Granted, Toyota has absurdly high resale value, so if you buy one it will always be worth something. If you’re looking to get a screaming deal on one you’re probably going to be disappointed. And if you’re used to the comfort of a crossover, you’ll be turned off by it’s unrefined manners. However, if you need a really capable kid hauler, or you’re a diehard 4runner enthusiast (if that’s the case there’s no other option) this might be an option.