What would you say if we told you that outside of Jeep and Land Rover, the best brand for those who want to go off road is Toyota? Sounds remarkable, eh? But the truth is, Toyota's history of providing vehicles for the rougher bits of our blue marble dates back to 1950, barely a decade after Willys built the first Jeeps and only a few years after Land Rover made its big debut with the iconic Series I. In fact, Toyota's start in off-roaders was with a small contract for providing the US Army with vehicles, during the Korean War. From that, the BJ was spawned. This Jeep-like vehicle evolved into the 20 Series and then into the iconic 40 Series Land Cruiser in the 1960s. So yes, Toyota knows its way around the trails. While the Land Cruiser, deservedly, gets all the attention thanks to its impressive longevity, we're partial to the 4Runner, which is a far more affordable entry that serves as Toyota's challenger to the Jeep Grand Cherokee. For 2014, Toyota issued a light refresh of the fifth-generation 4Runner, which originally arrived back in 2009. You'll recall that we already have a test of the off-road-oriented Trail trim level, thanks to our man Michael Harley. For this test, we're driving the top-of-the-line Limited model. The 4Runner sort of charms you with its unattractiveness, like a mud-covered mutt. The 4Runner is not a pretty car. It's not even an okay-looking car. Some might go so far as to call it ugly. It's got a snout. But it sort of charms you with its unattractiveness, like a mud-covered mutt. That blunt face, with its large, dominating stack of grilles, wears a pair of chrome strips, the bottom of which runs nearly the width of the vehicle. The headlights are narrow, angrily canted towards the center of the body, giving the impression that the Toyota always disapproves of whatever it casts its gaze on. This is a slab-sided brute, with its biggest bit of flair running along the wheel arches and side sills. The C-pillar angles forward rather aggressively behind the quarter windows, while a rather substantial rear spoiler pokes out from the roof. The rear of the 4Runner is perhaps the most under-styled aspect, with nothing more than some glitzy, rectangular taillights and eye-catching "4Runner" badging. It's quite simple, in contrast to the front. If you've looked at the images we've posted of the Trail model, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the 4Runner's cabin is a simple, plain place. In the top-end Limited trim, the high-quality leather of our tester's Sand Beige seats contrasts nicely with strips of (faux) wood and bright, painted plastics. Despite the artificiality of some of the materials, the cabin feels like a very solid, durable environment. The dash is largely plastic, with a soft-touch upper and a harder, more solid lower section. A family hauler at its core, space needs to be ample, and it is. Kind of. The large knobs for …
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|MPG||17 City / 21 Hwy|
|Transmission||5-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||270 @ 5600 rpm|
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