2014 Toyota 4Runner, nipped and tucked: Motoramic Drives
It’s hard to believe that the Toyota 4Runner SUV has been with us for three decades, during which Toyota has sold about 2 million of them, some 75 percent of which are still on the road.
But like its more storied cousin, the Toyota Land Cruiser, today’s 4Runner is a far cry from the simple sport-ute it was in 1984. As it grew bigger, heavier and more complex, it lost some of the charisma that made it an icon in the first place. Moreover, SUV buyers have moved away from truck-based models in favor of lighter weight, softer riding and more fuel efficient crossovers, leaving the 4Runner and its hip platform mate, the FJ Cruiser, as the last such mid-size SUVs on the market.
In hopes to extend its lease on life after 30 years. Toyota gave the 4Runner a facelift. And like many such decisions made to fight the march of time, this one didn't turn out well.
The 4Runner has never been much of a looker, but boy howdy does this thing draw attention now, and not in a positive way. Toyota says that the exterior freshening is intended to convey a rugged, off-road-worthy look, and let’s just say that it succeeds. In top-tier Limited form—positioned above the base SR5 and off-road-oriented Trail models — the 4Runner has a slightly more premium style, with a horizontal chrome grille visually breaking up what appears to be a vacuous hole in the nose of lesser 4Runners. Scowling headlamps, new LED taillamps, and various refinements (ie: mudguards on the SR5, skid plates fitted to the Trail version, new wheels and other bits and pieces) round out the changes.
Most of the styling changes seem to be butch-it-up contrivances rather than functional enhancements. While change for change’s sake comes with the car business, we can’t see why Toyota wouldn’t at least try to make the vehicle less ugly. As it sits, no other new model looks quite so "rugged."
Thankfully, the interior update is more of a genuine improvement. Each trim level gets its own dashboard treatment, and while they’re a tad cluttered, they all look good, particularly the Limited trim with its rich-looking wood grain trim. The Limited model’s interior is also available with a “Redwood” leather hue. At night, the gauges and switchgear glow in a sophisticated blue tint, rather than the plebian amber of previous years.