2014 Toyota 4Runner: First Look

By Aaron Bragman  on April 29, 2013

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  • Competes with: Jeep Grand Cherokee, Land Rover LR4
  • Looks like: An angry Japanese battle robot
  • Drivetrain: 270-hp, 4.0-liter V-6, five-speed automatic transmission with locking transfer case
  • Hits dealerships: TBD

Toyota took the wraps off of the mildly updated 2014 4Runner SUV at a country music festival in California over the weekend. It added some minor touches to one of the few remaining truck-based rear-wheel-drive SUVs on the market. No crossover this, the 4Runner will be available in three styles: SR5, Limited, and the highly off-road-capable Trail model. Three drivetrains will also be available — all models share the same 270-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission, but the 4Runner will be available in rear-wheel drive, part-time 4x4 and full-time 4x4 with multimode selection depending on trim and package options.

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A full raft of off-road electronics and equipment will be available to keep the 4Runner one of the more capable all-terrain vehicles on the market. The SR5 and Trail 4x4 models will come with a two-speed transfer case; the Limited features a full-time four-wheel-drive system with locking center differential and three-mode electronic actuation. All models feature standard electronic traction control. The off-road Trail trim offers an optional electronically adjustable suspension that disconnects the stabilizer bars for greater axle travel and features a low-range electronically maintained cruise control for challenging off-road terrain. On top of that, a Multi-Terrain Select system allows the driver to tune the 4Runner for conditions like mud, sand and rocks.

It had better be an amazing off-road vehicle, as the styling updates to the 4Runner are less than stellar. It wears a new front end with aggressive slats on either side of the grille and bulging headlights that define the front corners. The updates make the 4Runner look like some kind of Japanese battle robot, to put it kindly. It will certainly set the 4Runner apart from its more elegantly designed main rival, the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Inside, things are nicer but still industrial in form, a sharp contrast to the surprisingly luxurious update the Grand Cherokee received for 2013. The Limited trim can be optioned up as a luxury SUV, however, with features such as a 15-speaker JBL premium audio system, 20-inch wheels and a third-row fold-flat seat.

Pricing and availability have not yet been announced.

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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman grew up in the Detroit area, comes from an automotive family and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich.   Email Aaron