Toyota 4Runner:

2014 Toyota Highlander – Meeting Competition

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2014 Toyota Highlander F782014 Toyota Highlander R78Don’t Call it a “Crossover”  Like Ford and other makers, Toyota has largely abandoned the distinction between “traditional” and “crossover” sport utility vehicles.  “It was confusing our customers,” said Bill Fay, Group Vice President of the Toyota Brand.  Now, Toyota refers to both under the “mid-size sport utility vehicle umbrella”.  This might seem to be a small thing, but for decades (at least since 1997 when unibody “crossovers” began appearing) automakers have been making this distinction.  The customers largely did not know or care about the difference, they just bought the emerging crossovers in droves.

Toyota’s Two-Tier Mid-Size SUV Strategy  With the introduction of the 2014 Toyota Highlander, Toyota continues with a two tier mid-size SUV strategy.  The unibody 8-pasenger Highlander goes into its third generation with the 2014 model year entry in production since early December, 2013.  The body-on-frame 4Runner appeals to the traditional SUV buyer needing more off-road capability and towing ability.  Fay says, “these are totally different buyers and the 4Runner and Highlander are seldom cross-shopped with each other.

For 2014, the Highlander gets more aggressive styling, a more upscale interior and a price bump of about $1,500.  A lot of that price increase is offset by the Highlander having more standard equipment.

2014 Toyota Highlander F-Seat2014 Toyota Highlander CockpitInterior Moves Upscale  Toyota’s designers and engineers clearly devoted a lot of attention to the instrument panel.  It is a neat piece of automotive sculpture with the most up to date technology.  The base vehicle comes with a 6.1-inch touch screen.  When you get to the XLE and Limited models an 8-inch touchscreen is fitted.

A “why didn’t I think of that?” design feature is a shelf running beneath the center stack and below the glove box.  This padded shelf is the perfect place to set your smartphone while driving.  There is a slot in the shelf that allows a cord to be connected to the USB port to power the phone and connect it to the Toyota Entune app system.

The seat trim is typical Toyota.  In leather versions

The feature availability on the Highlander is impressive.  Features like adaptive cruise control, cross traffic warning, dynamic grid lines in the rear camera are just a few examples of Highlander (and many other middle- and low-market vehicles) offering features once found only on luxury entries.

Comprehensive Model Offerings  There are three basic powertrain offerings for the Highlander.  The price-leader LE (about $29,200) 185-horsepower 2.7L  DOHC 4-cyinder is perfectly adequate for around town driving in the Sun Belt.  If you do not need all wheel drive and don’t need to tow, the 4-cylinder would suffice, but you probably won’t find one at your Toyota store.  It will be 5% to 10% of the available Highlanders.

The bread-and-butter Highlander is powered by a 3.5L DOHC V6 making 270-horsepower.  This is the engine that about 90% of Highlanders will get.  It works sell in front wheel drive (with a good amount of torque steer under full throttle) and is required with all wheel drive (about of 60% of Highlanders will be AWD).  The 3.5L DOHC V6 is available on the base LE model for an additional $1,305.  Add all wheel drive to the V6 version and you increase the price by another $1,460.

The middle of the lineup includes the LE Plus for $32,740 for the front wheel drive version.  The front drive XLE model goes for $36,040 and the Limited goes for $39,640.

Hybrid Tops the Lineup  At the top of the line is the Highlander Hybrid making 280-horsepower with its Atkinson cycle 3.5L DOHC V6.  The Hybrid is available in the Limited trim level and is priced at $47,300.  Driving the Hybrid on the hilly roads around Carmel, California we saw about 30mpg – in line with its rated fuel economy.  The throttle effort on the Hybrid was high making it difficult to accelerate with traffic without really getting into it.  Maybe that is because Toyota wants you to drive the Hybrid like you have an egg between your foot and the accelerator pedal.

Evolutionary Improvements Meet Competition  All-in-all, the 3rd gen Highlander is an evolutionary, but substantial, improvement over its predecessor.  Toyota describes the Highlander as “Beyond Hero” in the SUV segment meaning it overachieves when compared to competition.  They also describe its development as “without compromise”.  It does not meet those lofty phrases, and although there are no WOW factors (with the exception of an absolutely gargantuan front seat center console), it will be a steady seller filling an important slot in Toyota’s lineup.  Toyota expects to sell about 140,000 units a year in the USA from its Princeton, Indiana assembly plant while sending another 10,000 to 15,000 overseas to another 20 countries.


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2010 Toyota 4Runner Shares AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Premium Mid-Size SUV

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Toy_10_4RunnerTrail.jpgThe 4Runner is an SUV icon, and the way the freshly 2010 model satisfies its owners demonstrates why. 4Runner does well in areas critical to SUV owners including durability, overall quality, safety features, reliability/dependability, and overall satisfaction.
In creating the new 2010 4Runner, Toyota has clearly paid attention to the factors that have made the nameplate such a longtime success – one that brings loyal owners back time and time again.
For a complete list of winners and description of the Awards, click here.


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2009 Toyota 4Runner: Motorist Choice Award Winner

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2008_09_04_09_4Runner_Ltd.jpg“The winner of the 2009 Premium Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle award is the Toyota 4Runner. That shouldn’t be a surprise, as the 4Runner won the same award last year. And the year before that. A three-time winner, the 4Runner is highly rated on attributes that make it an outstanding product, and also an outstanding proposition from a financial standpoint as well.” – AutoPacific
“The 4Runner has best-in-segment ownership costs with the best retained value in the segment and lowest fuel costs.” – IntelliChoice
Owner Satisfaction Highlights
• Reliable/Dependable
• Overall Quality
• Durable/Long Lasting
• Brand and Vehicle Reputation
• Overall Satisfaction
Cost-of-Ownership Strengths
• Best-in-Segment Ownership Costs
• Best Retained Value
• Lowest Fuel Costs


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SUVs Most Satisfying Vehicle Type

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AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards results are in. AutoPacific’s awards collect the opinions of OWNERS. There is no subjectivity added by AutoPacific at all.
As usual, there are expected winners and unexpected losers, but let’s take a look at some overall results that will surprise many of you.

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Truck-Based Traditional SUVs Most Satisfying
The vehicle type with the highest Vehicle Satisfaction Score is the Traditional Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are truck-based SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade, Toyota Sequoia, Ford Explorer, Toyota 4Runner, Kia Sorento, HUMMER H3 and Toyota FJ Cruiser. In fact, the Toyota Sequoia was the top scoring vehicle – car or truck – in AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction results.
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Car-Based Crossover SUVs More Satisfying than Cars, Minivans, Pickups
The second highest scoring category was the Crossover Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are car-based SUVs like the Audi Q7, BMW X3, Acura RDX, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, Hyundai Veracruz, Suzuki XL-7, Ford Edge, Saturn Vue, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue. Crossovers are the response by the automakers to make more user-friendly SUVs and in 2006 Crossover SUVs began outselling Traditional SUVs… a trend that will not be reversed.
Rated substantially behind SUVs are Cars, Minivans and Pickups.
Clearly, even in times of high and increasing fuel prices, SUVs are here to stay. Their Swiss Army Knife utility guarantees they will be a central part of a high many family fleets in the future. The continuing jihad against SUVs has failed again!


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Toyota 4Runner Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Mid-Size Sport Utility

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Toyota 4Runner Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicles:
“The Toyota 4Runner is a relatively traditional Mid-Size SUV with body-on-frame construction capable of heavy duty towing and off-roading,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. ?Owner ratings suggest that the 4Runner has a lot of strengths, and few weaknesses. It was rated highly for Quality, Reliability and Durability, but it also rated well for both Power/Acceleration and Fuel Economy. In none of the 46 attributes studied was the 4Runner below segment average. Pretty impressive!”


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2006 Pathfinder – Long Since Grown Up

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Remember the first Pathfinder? The two-door model with the refinement of a skateboard? Well the 2006 Pathfinder has long since grown up. The current (redesigned in 2005) model has come a long way from the earlier testosterone versions. Sitting on the “F-Alpha” family platform like the Xterra, Armada, Frontier and Titan, this new Frontier performs with more comfort and sophistication than any of its predecessors.
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