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Toyota 4Runner
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Toyota
Overall: Toyota’s best seven-seat off-roader stays true to itself, which, perhaps ironically, keeps it relevant.

Drivetrain: A 4.0-liter V6 is the single source of power for the whole lineup; five-speed automatic transmission and two optional 4×4 systems carry over.

It’s funny how some things work out. Toyota’s rugged body-on-frame 4Runner outlasted its car-based Venza stablemate. That’s because Toyota’s hard-working truck stubbornly refuses to become a jacked-up car. For the 2014 model year, it was fitted with a slightly redesigned snout with more angular projector-beam headlights with smoked lenses and a huge lower grille and bumper. The latter is body color on most, although the top-end Limited gets a flashier metal insert. The 270-horsepower 4.0-liter earns a respectable 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. All models are equipped with five-speed-automatic transmissions. The four-wheel-drive option gets you a part-time system with a two-speed transfer case (it has a low range) in the SR5 (it’s standard with Trail models). Meanwhile, the luxury-skewed Limited’s 4×4 option is a full-time unit with a locking center differential controlled by a console switch. Dashboards and other interior bits have been similarly refreshed with softer materials and leather-wrapped steering wheel and a new audio system. Base SR5 4Runners feature air conditioning, eight-way power driver’s seat, eight airbags (including two front-knee inflatables) and chrome roof rails, while 4×4 models are also equipped with Hill Start Assist that keeps the vehicle from rolling backward when stopped on an incline and Hill Descent Control to prevent unintended out-of-control acceleration on a downward slope. The Trail Edition lives up to its name by including a system that sets the vehicle at a specific speed while operating in low range over extremely rough ground. As well, the Multi-terrain Select allows the driver to add or reduce the amount of wheel slip, depending on surface conditions whether loose sand or solid rock. Limited content includes the Display Audio system with a touch-screen and on-screen apps (optional on lower trims), leather interior, 15-speaker audio system, dual-zone climate control, backup camera and a sliding rear cargo deck that can support up to 440 pounds. To appease fans of the retired FJ Cruiser, the returning TRD Pro Series gets upgraded TRD-spec springs and Bilstein-brand remote-reservoir shocks, unique 17-inch black alloy wheels, and more aggressive Nitto-brand off-road tires. For 2016, all 4Runners get upgraded Entune multimedia systems, which include Apple’s Siri Eyes Free voice-command.

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