The 2014 4Runner receives a dramatic make over, giving it the enraged visage of a mouth-breathing Transformers Decepticon, but the update doesn't address the clumsy handling, busy ride, low seating position, and wide 45-foot turning circle.
In our road test, we stated that the rugged, body-on-frame 4Runner is "good for towing and off-roading but not much else." The 4Runner proved needlessly crude, with coarse dynamics, at a time when SUVs are gaining refinement. This freshening doesn't appear poised to change those impressions.
The front fascia is new, with smoked headlamps, angry angles, and oversized grille. The three trim levels get specific tweaks, with the Limited treated to chrome accents and projector beam headlamps. All 4Runners get a roof rack and LED tail lamps.
Visit our SUV buying guide for quick access to the latest advice, Ratings, road tests, and videos.
Inside, the SR5 and Trail trim lines get some soft-touch door surfaces, while the steering wheel and shift knob are wrapped in leather. The base SR5 also gains a snazzier instrument display. The Trail repositions some off-roading controls, while the Limited boasts an automatic dual-zone climate-control system. All versions benefit from sculpted front seatbacks that promise more second-row knee space, as well as a convenient back-up camera that now displays on the dash, rather than the rear-view mirror.
It is possible the interior updates make the cabin more inviting; we'll reserve judgment until we sample one.
Toyota continues to roll out its Entune infotainment system, with app integration for Bing, iHeartRadio, OpenTable, Pandora, and more. The SR5 and Trail get an eight-speaker Entune system with AM/FM/XM/CD, USB input, and Bluetooth connectivity. The Limited touts a 15-speaker Entune Premium JBL stereo with HD radio. All versions offer an interesting "party" mode for tailgating that biases sound output to the rear (including liftgate speakers) and adjust levels accordingly.
The 270-hp V6 continues. In our last test, the 4Runner 4WD returned 18 mpg overall; Acceptable for the class, but better fuel economy would always be welcomed.
Ultimately, the 2013 Toyota 4Runner scores too low to be Recommended, and it doesn't appear that this mild freshening would change that.
Discuss the 4Runner and other SUVs in our forums.
More from Consumer Reports:
2013 New Car Preview
Best and worst used cars
Complete Ratings for 200 cars and trucks
Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2007-2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.