Toyota is doubling down on its small 4x4.
The 4Runner is getting a facelift for 2014 that features a chunkier look to emphasize the SUV’s tough guy chops in a world that’s quickly going soft.
With one time competitors like the Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer transforming into crossovers in recent years, the 4Runner is one of the few midsize SUVs that still rides on a truck frame. Toyota’s FJ Cruiser, the Nissan XTerra and Jeep Wrangler being the only others left in the class.
Along with a blocky, slotted new front fascia, the 4Runner gets a set of angry-eyes-shaped smoked headlight clusters and an aggressive skid plate-style front bumper. Inside, updated trim aims to add refinement and improve comfort throughout the cabin.
The mechanical bits carry over from last year, and still include a 270 hp 4.0-liter V6 and a hardcore 4x4 option with locking center differential and low-range transfer case.
Automakers have been shifting to crossover-based SUVs in recent years as buyers have gravitated toward their superior comfort and fuel economy compared to body-on-frame trucks like the 4Runner, which trails its competitors in both categories while aiming to offer a higher level of off road capability.
Of course, Toyota isn’t sweating it. It has the strong-selling Highlander SUV to go up against the soft-roaders and still managed to move almost 50,000 4Runners last year.
Pricing for the 2014 4Runner will be announced closer to its on-sale date late this summer, but the 2013 model starts at $32,335.