Toyota gave the 4Runner an update for the 2014 model year, but compared to last year, not much has fundamentally changed for the 2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited. It is still a family-friendly SUV that seems to lack purpose.

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Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Toyota
  • Year, Model: 2014 4Runner Limited
  • Class: Full-size SUV
  • Powertrain: 4.0L V6, 5spd auto
  • Base Price: $43,400
  • MSRP as tested: $46,490
  • Availability: Now

Overview

After spending time in the 2013 4Runner Limited, I was unimpressed (read that here). Frankly, in the 2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited, I found little to improve on that original impression. The 4Runner Limited remains an SUV that doesn’t seem to know where it fits. It is well-appointed, though not luxuriously so, and a more than capable people-mover, but it has all of the down sides of a truck-based sport utility to go with that.

On the flip side of my impression, however, are sales figures. I see 4Runner Limited packages on the road around here regularly. They obviously have an appeal to many people. I’m just not able to pinpoint what that is.

Exterior Look of the

2014 4Runner Limited

As with the 2014 4Runner Trail, the 4Runner Limited saw a few style updates inside and out for the 2014 model year refresh. Although it still retains most of the look of its 2013 predecessor, the new model has a somewhat more aggressive look to it, though it is subtle. Small changes to the grille, the addition of a few chrome accents, and a nearly unnoticeable revision to the rear taillamps are enough to add just a touch of muscle to the 4Runner’s look.

Otherwise, the 4Runner Limited retains its truck-like appearance and large size to go along with the wide-swinging doors and signature hatchback with the sliding rear glass. One thing to be said about the Toyota 4Runner is that no one will mistake it for something other than what it is: Toyota’s favorite SUV.

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Interior of the 2014 Toyota

4Runner Limited

Inside, changes are hard to note as updates from 2013, but most notable are the plastics and the new instrument panel. The plastics retain their solid functionality, but have upgraded somewhat to appear less cheap and have a little more class in their appeal. At a price tag of about $47,000 (after destination), as we drove it, though, the interior of the 2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited did no seem to match the window sticker. This, however, is at odds with the excellent functionality of the interior as a whole, which has plenty of storage, lots of room, and is easy to clean no matter what the mess might be. For those with children, that’s a big selling point.

The instrument cluster sees a more face-forward look with easier-to-read dials and readouts and a slightly better positioning for visibility. A nice update from the very dated cluster of 2013.

Window controls are still high up on the door sill where they beg to be rained and snowed on and the four-wheel drive control is still an odd knob next to the shift lever as holdovers from last year.

Overall, the interior has a solid, usable appeal that probably wins over more people than it turns away. Toyota definitely chose practicality over beauty in this regard and while the interior isn’t exactly a Russian peasant woman, it’s not exactly a Russian bride either.

Under the Hood of the 4Runner Limited

All of the 4Runner editions are powered by the same capable, tried-and-true 4.0-liter V6 that propels the Tacoma pickup truck upon which they’re based. That turns through a five-speed automatic transmission and differential to give full-time four-wheel drive (4WD).

The Limited package has street-worthy all-season tires with only the slightest amount of offroad capability, but which help the full-time 4WD 4Runner achieve a 21 mpg highway rating from the EPA. Our testing returned a more modest 18 on average, but given the nature of the beast, our altitude, and the wind and weather that are common in springtime Wyoming, that is a decent MPG payoff.

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On and Off the Road in the

Toyota 4Runner Limited

The 2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited is a capable family machine. This time around, our Limited package included the third row, which is large enough to be functional, but not comfortable for adults. About what should be expected in this segment and generally on par with the 4Runner’s crossover cousin, the Highlander (review coming soon).

Interior comfort is very good, given the high ride and heavy-footed truck this SUV is based upon. Although it’s rough compared to a sedan or crossover, it’s smooth enough that those who don’t expect their sport utility to be akin to a luxury sedan will enjoy it.

Ergonomics for daily use are good as well, though not as good as we’ve seen in similarly-equipped crossovers. The doors swing wide (to nearly 90-degrees) and the automatic running boards on our test model (a $1,500 option) make getting in and out for the shorter folk much easier. For those with children in child safety seats, one advantage to a tall SUV like this is that the seats are nearly level with an adult standing outside the car, making buckling and unbuckling (and the inevitable wrestling match that often ensues) far easier.

Out on the highway, the 2014 4Runner Limited is as smooth as can be expected, though you can still feel the truck underneath. Visibility is very good and the engine puts out more than enough power to give confidence on the road. In inclement weather, however, those all-season tires are a bit squirrely and undermine the bad weather confidence this SUV should have.

Off the road, the 2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited is capable of any light-duty task you ask of it. In medium-duty, capabilities are a mixed bag, though the high clearance and good engine power generally win the day in most situations. The 4Runner Limited is not, however, its Trail Edition sibling and it will get stuck. For the occasional weekend trip to the lake where a light dirt trail or road will be required, and may get muddy, the Limited will likely get you there without incident.

Competition

Competitors in this segment are heavy, though many SUVs have left the arena for the crossover pasture while others are either luxury machines in their own right or have left the market entirely. Most of the Detroit brands have an SUV competing with the 4Runner and all have their good and bad points. Naming each by brand and model would get tedious.

We should, however, name the strongest competitors to the Limited package here, which include the Dodge Durango, Volkswagen Touareg, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Compared to those, the Durango is larger and more comfortable, the Touareg is pricier but more premium, and the Grand Cherokee misses the third row and has a higher price point, but is more offroad capable.

Strong Points

Very family-friendly, which is probably why these sell so well. Toyota knows their market.

Spacious and comfortable with plenty of goodies to keep most buyers happy, if they have the pocketbook for them.

Weaknesses

Not as stable in inclement weather as we’d like.

Pricey and not as upscale as some of the price-matched competition.

Conclusions

We came away from the 2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited with a mixed bag impression. It’s a great family machine, though not so much so that we’d advise anyone to buy it over a similar crossover, and it has a lot of provenance in the 4Runner’s heritage. It does not live up to that name, however, when the weather turns sour or the roads get soft. For that, you’ll need the Trail Edition instead.

Test Period Length and Limitations
Vehicle was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week. During that time, a total of 186 miles were put on the 4Runner Limited in both highway and city/town driving. Some of that included heavy rain and light snow at freezing temperatures as well as light offroad with some medium-duty components for testing.

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An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.

5 thoughts on “2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited – a square peg in a round hole”

  1. I think the SUV conundrum is that there are so many out there, it makes it hard to differentiate one from the other unless you are a hard core specialist. I wouldn’t know which one to buy, short of being a “Toyota fan”, or other maker. The abundance of SUVs to chose from, the way they all looks more or less the same makes this market so confusing. It’s no wonder Toyota has a hard time making theirs clearly stand out, short of the company’s reputation and image.

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