2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited Review

Tough and rugged, can the 4Runner please all parties?

2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited Review

Many storied names in off-roading have changed course in recent years, and now serve better as family haulers because, frankly, that is where the money is.


1.The 2014 4Runner starts at $33,680 and our Limited-trim tester costs about $44,260.

2. A 4.0-liter V6 offers 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque.

3. 4×4 models are rated for 17 mpg city, 22 mpg highway.

4. The 4Runner is one of the few SUVs to retain body-on-frame construction.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder, and even the Range Rover now use unibody construction, a move that Toyota refuses to make with the 4Runner, for better and worse.

Not to say that unibody vehicles can’t hack it when the pavement ends, but the simple truth is unibody vehicles will never offer the reliability and dependability of a body-on-frame off-roader. That’s something Toyota is banking on.

Marshmallow Inspired Ride

So what are the differences? Well the most obvious trait of a body-on-frame vehicle, and the one sure to be noticed first by families cross-shopping these vehicles with their unibody competitors, is body roll, and the 4Runner is no exception. On SR5 and Trail models – the two lower trims – the 4Runner tips like its riding on marshmallows, not offering a smooth ride.


However our tester was outfitted in Limited trim, and Toyota knows that to keep its top-tier buyers happy, the ride has to be smooth, which is why the 4Runner Limited gets special treatment. This model forgoes the proper two-speed transfer case in favor of a center limited slip differential and most importantly, it gets a system Toyota calls X-REAS that automatically adjusts damping force and uses a central control absorber that cross-links the shocks to keep the ride as smooth as possible. It does a fairly good job of keeping the 4Runner Limited flat in the corners, but the body-on-frame dynamics still seep through.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Powering the 4Runner exclusively is a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque, which feels like just enough for this vehicle. Helping when the going gets tough, the motor has a low and flat torque curve, which keeps the grunt under your right foot in all situations. Engine noise can be a little intrusive at high rpms, and the note isn’t all that pleasing.


Fuel economy for the four-wheel drive 4Runner is pegged at 17 mpg and 22 mpg on the highway, though our week with the vehicle returned an average of 16 mpg.

Refined Interior

So, the driving dynamics aren’t exactly soccer mom-friendly, but how does the interior do at kid hauling? First off, Toyota will sell you a 4Runner with seven seats, though our test unit didn’t have them. Everything else about this interior is good. Materials are nice, and the dashboard has a clear, concise layout. Even the plastic that is used doesn’t come off as gaudy and the small bits of wood trim in our Limited model add a premium. Based on its own merits, the innards of this off-roader are comfortable and pleasing, but it doesn’t feel quite as premium as some of its contemporaries, namely the Jeep Grand Cherokee or Nissan Pathfinder. However, the 4Runner does have an aura of ruggedness surrounding it, and the overall feeling of the interior follows suit.


The 4Runner is equipped with Toyota’s latest Entune infotainment system, which works well…. for most things. Oddly, the navigation is the only system that doesn’t run seamlessly. It can be slow and the wording on the buttons can be misleading. For example, almost all systems have a “cancel navigation button,” but in the 4Runner, it is marked “delete destination.” On top of that, the touch-screen buttons are small and can be hard to read.

Ready and Willing to Tackle Nature

That just about covers all of the downsides, which leaves us to discuss the true reason why most will consider a 4Runner in the first place: off-roading. And the 4Runner will not disappoint.

Ground clearance totals 9.6-inches when equipped with four-wheel drive, while the approach and departure angles break down to 25 degrees and 24 degrees. Massive 20-inch alloy wheels are fitted on to the Limited 4Runner, shod in mud and snow off-road tires. And these bad boys can grip.


On snowy pavement, the full-time four-wheel drive setup in cooperation with the tires won’t lose grip, even when a great deal of throttle is thrown in. Even mid-corner, the rear end never felt as if it wanted to step out.

Climbing steep snowy hills didn’t result in wheel spin, either. Where most SUVs would have lost grip and had to quickly redistribute power, the 4Runner setup is ready to tackle obstacles at all times. The high approach and departure angles offer more than enough clearance to tackle most obstacles, but just in case, it’s fitted with skid plates to protect its vitals. There is also a solid rear-axle in the back complete with a mechanical locker. That’s yet another component that compromises the 4Runner on road, but keeps it climbing like a mountain goat when the pavement ends.

Best of all, the 4Runner is an ego boost, as the lack of slip and grip transfers the vehicle’s confidence straight into the driver and makes you feel like a tank commander. The 4Runner feels like it can go anywhere. 

Toyota 4Runner Clip  16

The Limited model features three drive modes: regular 4×4 along with a locked four high and locked four low. In our time with the 4Runner, we took this SUV through snow and mud, and never once had a need to take the vehicle out of its standard drive mode. Ready and willing from the moment it starts, that’s this vehicle’s mantra.

Pay to Play

At its base level, the 4Runner is more expensive than most of its rivals, coming in $33,680, compared to the Grand Cherokee’s base price of $29,195. It is also more expensive than the Nissan Pathfinder and Honda Pilot by about the same margin. Even at its top level, the 4Runner calls for a little more cash at $44,260, but if you place your money in a Toyota, you are more likely to see it again. The 4Runner has one of the best resale values in the industry, which should help to justify dropping a few thousand dollars more on this SUV.

Toyota 4Runner-Nose-Close

The Verdict

4Runner buyers have to be prepared to compromise. The ride and handling of this SUV on the road will simply never compete with its tamer rivals and the interior won’t be quite as nice. But if you’re looking for more than a highway cruiser and want to go bigger than gravel roads, there is nothing else on the market that offers the same mix of capability and refinement with the space for seven passengers. Combined with the high resale value, and the 4Runner makes a compelling argument to those who want a long-lasting, durable vehicle.

  • Oliver

    We switched from the Cadillac SRX to the 4Runner. Best move. I didn’t think that I could get excited about a vehicle anymore. This one is a game changer. Smooth and powerful on the highway, great on snow covered roads. Knowing that it’s fully capable on trails is an added bonus. I don’t notice the body roll as mentioned in the video. Tithe running boards on our limited model are silly, almost useless and in the way. Maybe that’s something that I will get used to? Great vehicle.

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked