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We drive the Toyota 4Runner Limited

by Ali Arsham
Tuesday, June 03, 2014

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2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited
For nearly three decades, the Toyota 4Runner mid-size SUV has been a stalwart for off-roading enthusiasts seeking an SUV with rugged, go-anywhere capability.  Currently In its fifth-generation, 4Runner stands out in a crowded SUV field as one of the few fully capable mid-size SUVs.

The original 4Runner was basically a Toyota pickup with a back seat.  It was not very fancy and there were not many creature comforts but the price was right and it was a great off road machine.  Times have changed and now buyers expect more from their vehicles.

The 4Runner combines rugged body-on-frame construction with comprehensive suspension technology that yields optimal off-road capability with a smooth ride and comfort more often associated with crossovers.  The 2014 4Runner is available in three grades: an entry level SR5, a top-of-the-line Limited, and a Trail grade for those who want maximum off-road capability.  Our vehicle was the Limited with the optional third row seat.

All 4Runners use the Toyota 4.0-liter V6 which generates 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. of torque.  Dual independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) optimizes torque across the engine’s operating range.  The V6 runs smoothly and very quietly but it has enough power to tow 4700 pounds.  We tried towing that much and it handled it with ease.  The 4Runner feels like it can tow much more than that.  The 4Runner comes with an integrated tow-hitch receiver and wiring harness as standard equipment which makes towing a breeze. 

4Runner fuel economy is pretty good with our 4WD version receiving an EPA rating of 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the freeway.  We came close to those numbers and while towing a trailer averaged almost 15 mpg which was not bad at all.

What really separates the 4Runner from many of its competition is that it is a real off road machine and it can climb places that you would not dare take your fake SUV.  A double-wishbone independent front suspension, combined with a variable-flow rack-and-pinion steering, help give the 4Runner precise control on demanding roads.  The four-link rear suspension maximizes off-road axle articulation, while providing a smooth ride for rear-seat passengers on and off pavement. 

The Limited grade comes standard with an X-REAS suspension system that further improves performance, comfort and control.  With X-REAS, 4Runner corners flatter, smoother, and handles choppy pavement more easily.  X-REAS automatically adjusts the damping force of shocks when driving over bumpy surfaces or when cornering.  The system uses a center control absorber to cross-link shocks on opposite corners of the vehicle, substantially reducing pitch and yaw by offsetting opposing inputs.

The 4Runner SR5 and Trail 4x4 models have a two-speed, part-time four-wheel-drive system with neutral position, maximizing fuel efficiency when a 4x4 configuration isn’t needed.  The 4Runner Limited is equipped with a full-time, four-wheel-drive system with a locking center differential and a three-mode, center console-mounted switch.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited interior
While the 4Runner is a great machine off road, it is amazingly civilized on road.  It features a beautifully crafted interior with tons of features, soft leather seats and nice wood accents that give the truck a Lexus feel.  The front seats are super comfortable and feature not just heating but cooling as well. 

The second row seats are very comfortable and provide plenty of legroom for long trips.  The third row is the only problem as it is a little tight for adults and it takes away some valuable cargo room in the trunk.  If you don’t absolutely have to have the third row, you may want to avoid it and get a much bigger cargo area instead.

The 2014 4Runner has grown up and is an adult now.  It is a very capable vehicle and can perform many duties.  It can tow a pretty good size trailer, it has many luxury features and it is roomy and comfortable.  We only found one major problem with the 4Runner and that was the price.  That many features and that much capability comes at a price and our Limited’s price tag came out to just over $47,000.  The good news is that there are ways to get the 4Runner for a lot less money.  Pick the SR5 and you save about $10,000.  Now the 4Runner starts to look even better.

Basic Specs

FUEL ECONOMY (CTY/HWY) 17/22 mpg
CAR TYPE 4dr suv
TRANSMISSION 5-speed Shiftable Automatic
BASIC WARRANTY 3 Yr./ 36000 Mi.
BLUETOOTH Yes
HEATED SEATS Yes
ENGINE TYPE Gas
TOTAL SEATING 5
CYLINDERS V6
DRIVE TRAIN Four Wheel Drive
NAVIGATION Yes

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