Category Archives: SUV

2014 Subaru Forester

The 2014 Subaru Forester comes standard with a four-cylinder engine, which most reviewers say provides adequate power. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine is available, and some reviewers say that it makes the redesigned Forester one of the quickest SUVs in the class. The base Forester comes with a six-speed manual transmission. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional on the base Forester and standard on higher trims. Few test drivers have commented on the manual transmission, but many say that the models with the CVT are responsive, and at 24/32 mpg city/highway, they also deliver good fuel economy for the class. Most reviewers say that the 2014 Forester offers a controlled ride and accurate steering, and that the available X-Mode traction assist system improves grip if you venture off-road.

2014 Subaru Forester

2014 Subaru Forester

Most auto writers agree that the 2014 Forester offers an interior that’s built with quality materials. However, a few also say that the Forester’s interior prioritizes function over form, which may not appeal to shoppers who want a car-like crossover. The Forester earns praise for its spacious front and rear seats, and it offers more cargo space than most affordable compact SUVs. The 2014 Forester comes standard with a four-speaker stereo with USB and auxiliary inputs, as well as Bluetooth phone and audio streaming. Options and features available on higher trims include a backup camera, a panoramic moonroof, a power liftgate, push-button start with keyless access, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, an upgraded stereo with HD Radio and Subaru’s EyeSight driver assistance system, which includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane departure warning systems. Many reviewers write that the small touch-screen display on the optional navigation system can be difficult to use.

2014 Subaru Forester

2014 Subaru Forester

For the redesign, Subaru made sure to focus on increasing fuel economy, which was perhaps the biggest shortcoming of the old Forester. New transmissions play a big part in the new Forester’s more efficient ways: the manual transmission now has six gears instead of five, and the truly ancient four-speed automatic has been replaced by Subaru’s new “Lineartronic” continuously variable transmission.

While the standard engine, a 2.5-liter flat-four with 170 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque, carries over unchanged, it does return improved mileage. With the stick, efficiency is rated at 22/29 mpg city/highway, while opting for the CVT increases those figures to 24/32 mpg.

2014 Subaru Forester

2014 Subaru Forester

Those looking for more power can opt for a new 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four. Based off the mill found in the BRZ sports car, the engine produces 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of twist and is capable of propelling the crossover from zero-to-60 mph in just 6.2 seconds. Only the CVT bolts up to the turbo motor, although it offers paddle shifters and two sport modes that simulate shifting through the gears of conventional six- or eight-speed automatic transmissions. The 2.0-liter turbo is rated at 23/28 mpg.

Depending on which gearbox is equipped, the Forester uses one of two different all-wheel-drive systems. Models equipped with the manual transmission utilize a viscous-coupling locking center differential that distributes power 50:50, transferring more power to the wheels with the best traction should slippage occur.

2014 Subaru Forester rear view

2014 Subaru Forester

In all Forester models with the CVT, the Active Torque Split version of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive uses an electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch to actively manage power distribution based on acceleration, deceleration and available traction. This system automatically transfers more power to the wheels with the best grip should slippage occur. Control logic enhances stability by monitoring individual wheel speeds and reacting more quickly to wheel slippage.

The Active Torque Split system also gains a new X-Mode for the latest model year, which provides increased traction in slippery conditions. Hill descent control is also newly added.

2014 Subaru Forester interior

2014 Subaru Forester interior

In combination with an SUV-like 8.7 inches of ground clearance, the Forester’s AWD systems help it a more sure-footed feel on gravel roads and in other mild off-roading situations, although the crossover is no Wrangler.

The Forester has highly competitive sticker prices – especially considering the standard all-wheel-drive, which adds $1,000 to $1,500 to the typical competitor – but relatively few discounts. Base 2.5i models start at $21,995 with a manual transmission or $22,995 with the automatic. Standard features include power windows, locks and mirrors; cruise control; and Bluetooth connectivity.

2014 Subaru Forester trunk

2014 Subaru Forester trunk

The 2.5i Premium – $23,495 with the manual or $24,995 with the automatic – adds a power driver’s seat, panoramic sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a rearview camera. A $500 options package adds heated seats and mirrors and a windshield de-icer; $1,100 on top of that package adds an in-dash navigation system.

The next model up, the 2.5i Limited, is comparable to the other vehicles in this comparison. Starting at $27,995 with only an automatic transmission, it adds heated leather seats, automatic climate control, a power liftgate, and foglights. Adding the $249 auto-dimming mirror with Homelink garage door opener – nearly ubiquitous on the competition, rarely as a stand-alone feature – the comparable Forester for this comparison has a sticker price of $29,069. Online tools suggest you can haggle it down to $27,508, in the heart of this comparison, but don’t count on necessarily being able to find the model you want amidst tight demand. The navigation system remains an $1,100 option on the Limited.

2014 Subaru Forester under hood

2014 Subaru Forester under hood

Buyers can step up further to the 2.5i Touring, $29,995, which includes the navigation system along with a one-touch folding rear seat (which should really be standard across the board) and a dual-zone automatic climate control, along with upgraded cabin lighting. A $2,400 package includes features exclusive to the Touring: Subaru’s “EyeSight” suite of accident avoidance features, including automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control; along with a proximity key.

For a $3,000 price premium, a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is available on the Premium and Touring models in the XT trim. It’s offered only with an automatic transmission…

2014 Toyota Highlander

With its brand new look, the 2014 Toyota Highlander gets a bit bigger, if only to finally make its third row a viable option for passengers. Comfortably fitting eight passengers, the new Highlander gets upgraded materials inside, as well as a one-touch power lift gate. Toyota also plans to offer a SpongeBob Squarepants-themed model, demonstrating the true target market for the crossover.

2014 Toyota Highlander motor show

2014 Toyota Highlander

One of the vehicles that made its North American debut at the Javits Center this past spring was the 2014 Toyota Highlander. This crossover, which has incrementally gained in size over its previous two generations, remains the brand’s mass market mid-sized offering, largely pushing the truck based 4Runner into an off road capable niche that most drivers don’t require.

2014 Toyota Highlander front view

2014 Toyota Highlander

The most obvious change coming for 2014 is a totally redone exterior. The wheelbase wrapped by this new sheet metal also ensures the available third row seating that will accommodate up to eight passengers is not the shoehorned afterthought of the second generation Highlander. In the previous generation, third row access was best performed by acrobatic children and when the third row was deployed the cargo room was too severely compromised. The new Highlander has reset the balance on passenger comfort and cargo room.

2014 Toyota Highlander profile

2014 Toyota Highlander

The second row now offers either 40/60 bench style seating for three passengers or two captain’s seats with a stowaway tray with cup holders between them. Access to the third row has been made easier by the addition of one step forward sliding tip up chair in the second row. The revised second row access affords a critical three inches more opening to the third row. Now adults can scramble back there too.

2014 Toyota Highlander rear view

2014 Toyota Highlander

The third row itself sees an interior width increase of over four inches and features a recline ability that provides for decent seating for as many as three passengers. As in the second row, the third splits 40/60 for minivan style cargo convenience. An increase of the Highlander’s rear overhang by three inches also provides the cargo area behind the third row with an added one-third volume increase over the previous generation. Making the new Highlander’s accessibility even better is a one touch power open and close rear lift gate.

2014 Toyota Highlander interior dash

2014 Toyota Highlander interior

Such thoughtful details abound throughout the new Highlander. The chassis has been stiffened with an increased use of high tensile steel. Toyota claims that the Highlander’s noise, vibration, and harshness measurements are improved by the use of an acoustical glass windshield and a 30 percent increase in the use of sound deadening materials in the floor. Vibrations are subdued through relocation of the three hydraulic engine mounts, relocation of the exhaust mounts, and an increase in the coverage of the dashboard silencer.

2014 Toyota Highlander interior 2nd & 3rd rows

2014 Toyota Highlander interior

As before, the Highlander will be coming with three drivetrain options. A 2.7L four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing mated to six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission appears in the base models equipped with front wheel drive. Most Highlanders will come equipped in an all wheel drive format, powered by a 3.5L V6, also sporting variable valve timing and coupled to an electronically controlled six speed transmission. Finally, that same engine is teamed with a electrical motor to create the hybrid version of the vehicle.

2014 Toyota Highlander trunk

2014 Toyota Highlander trunk

The refined AWD system on Highlanders so equipped features the ability to divert available torque in power configurations of 100% front wheel drive to a true 50/50 split.

2014 Toyota Highlander trunk

2014 Toyota Highlander trunk

Pricing likely won’t be announced until later this year, but the current Highlander ranges from about $30,000 to $40,000, and we expect the 2014 Highlander to stay the course for the most part, leaving higher price brackets to the premium Lexus RX…

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

 


2014 Toyota 4Runner

The 2014 Toyota 4Runner can blaze new off-road trails, and it’s a decent on-road utility vehicle, too. With the world moving on to crossovers en masse, the authentic, rugged sport-utility vehicle has been pushed to the margins. Toyota sells thousands more Venzas and Highlanders each year than it does copies of its 4Runner SUV but just try pushing either of those softer, car-based vehicles up a steep, rocky incline.

For enthusiasts that truly need and want an off-road vehicle, the 4Runner has few substitutes. And though we differ from other reviewers, we think it’s still decently capable on road as well, though nowhere near the minivan alternative that crossovers have become.

2014 Toyota 4Runner front

2014 Toyota 4Runner

The 4Runner’s rugged SUV look isn’t some conjured image. It’s the reverse: a long time ago it was spun off from truck-based hardware and given a wagon body, with few concessions made to style. That’s held true for decades now, and while we might like a ground-up fresh start every generation or so, the 2014 Toyota 4Runner at least remains honest to its mission. The beltline is high, the proportions are chunky, and the downward slope of the rear pillars are a direct callback to the ur-4Runner. Inside, the same fundamental approach works, and works well: the knobs and controls are big and laid out in an uncluttered way, and the controls and gauges are framed with simple materials and the barest dash of metallic trim. For 2014, the 4Runner adds more soft-touch trim inside on base SR5 and Trail models, and the SR5 gets Toyota’s sharp, bright Optitron gauges.

2014 Toyota 4Runner

2014 Toyota 4Runner

Overall, the Toyota 4Runner drives much better and more athletically than its trail-crawling appearance might suggest. Steering feel and maneuverability are unexpected delights in the 4Runner; at low speeds especially, the 4Runner handles with better precision and control than you might expect from such a big, heavy model, and visibility isn’t bad. But you’ll be reminded you’re in a tall vehicle with soft sidewalls and a safe suspension calibration if you attack corners too quickly. A 4.0-liter V-6 engine, makes 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque, and feels plenty quick either off the line or at highway speeds.

Fuel economy is estimated at 17/23 mpg for rear-drive models, and 17/22 mpg for four-wheel-drive versions.

V-6 SR5 models are offered either with rear-wheel drive or a part-time four-wheel-drive system, while Trail models are only offered with that 4WD system, with overhead controls. Limited models get a separate full-time four-wheel-drive system that’s more road-oriented. The Limited gets standard 20-inch wheels and tires, while other models come fitted with 17-inchers.

In Trail grade (the off-road model), the 4Runner includes a host of electronics and systems meant to complement the sturdy off-road hardware. Base models can be a little pitchy on rough pavement, but Limited models get yet another setup: a so-called X-REAS system with electronically adjusting dampers, geared for flatter cornering and pavement surfaces. The Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) that’s optional in the Trail model uses hydraulics to reduce motions on-road or increase off-road traction and riding comfort, with more wheel travel in that situation.

2014 Toyota 4Runner

2014 Toyota 4Runner

Interior space is where you might start to notice some of the shortcomings of the 4Runner’s traditional body-on-frame layout versus models like the Ford Explorer or Dodge Durango. Simply put, while the 4Runner has smartly designed seating and is comfortable enough for long highway trips, it’s not quite up to some of these alternatives in terms of cargo space or flexibility, due to its narrower body and rather tall floor. The front seats look and feel great with the available perforated-leather upholstery, and they’re wide and supportive, to fit quite the range of sizes. The second row adjusts for rake (reclining 16 degrees in four stops), and adult-sized occupants will also feel at home, thanks to seat contouring that goes well beyond the stiff bench cushions in some rivals. As for the third row, it’s hard to get back there, so leave it to the (small) kids; it’s only offered on the more on-road-oriented models, not on the Trail edition.

The 2013 4Runner is also surprisingly refined inside dodging some of the impressions of trucks and off-road-able vehicles and providing a tight, quiet highway cruising experience, with a reasonably smooth ride and very little road or wind noise. Safety is also not at all compromised compared to popular crossovers, with eight standard airbags, including front side bags, side-curtain bags for the second and third rows, and front knee bags for the driver and passenger. Safety scores from the IIHS and federal government have indicated that the 4Runner has relatively good occupant protection, but it’s not quite in the top tier. A rearview camera is now standard on all models.

2014 Toyota 4Runner interior - dash

2014 Toyota 4Runner interior

Base 4Runner SR5 models include plenty of standard equipment, including a power driver seat, a roof rack, power features, and an audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, a USB port, iPod connectivity, and Bluetooth audio streaming. Mobile-app connectivity is standard via Toyota’s Entune services. The off-road purists who also sometimes need to haul the family will want the Trail model, which includes all the off-road goodies. Top Limited models step up to dual power front seats, navigation, and 15-speaker JBL premium sound. Other desirable features include sonar-based rear parking, a navigation system, and a subscription-based Safety Connect telematics system.

2014 Toyota 4Runner interior - rear seats

2014 Toyota 4Runner rear seats

The 4Runner stays true to sport-utility tradition, which dictates a truck front end and a wagon body, and some bright chrome tossed in only where it’ll protect the paint from rocks or trees. You can admire that from a philosophical point of view, even if something like the 4Runner gets very, very familiar over time even with with year’s chunky new grille that borders on a Mitsubishi look more than ever.

It’s brawny and aesthetically unconcerned with sleekness. That sets the 2014 Toyota 4Runner aside from entries like the Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango even toward the rear end, where it’s still mostly a conservative, traditional SUV look, with a wide, downward-sloping C-pillar looking to past generations of the 4Runner.

2014 Toyota 4Runner trunk

2014 Toyota 4Runner trunk

Inside, the design of the 4Runner also feels traditional yet freshly detailed. It’s quite upright, built on the fundamentals of the Tundra pickup and Sequoia SUV as much as it does take after 4Runner tradition but again with better attention to detail throughout. The simple, sensible way the 4Runner’s controls are arranged and the chunky yet precise feel of them is a highlight of its interior. Off-road-focused controls are located in an overhead console, keeping the center stack of controls straightforward and accessible, with large buttons and knobs that have a great tactile feel. A secondary display sits atop the center stack, and redundant steering wheel controls access audio and Bluetooth functions…

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

The all-new 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, featuring Chrysler’s impressive 6.4L Hemi V8 powerplant with 470 hp, is enough to get any Mopar enthusiast’s heart pounding. The super SRT-ified Jeep has been completely overhauled for 2014, with updated sheetmetal, state-of-the-art safety technologies and other upgrades designed to set it apart from other performance-based SUVs.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT front

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

New features for the new 2014 SRT include an 8HP70 eight-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capabilities and an innovative eco mode that optimizes the new transmission’s shift schedule and furthers fuel economy gains by deactivating four cylinders when conditions allow. A towing capacity of up to 7,200 pounds is a 44 percent improvement over last year, and Jeep’s improved and retuned Selec-Trac system delivers more torque to the rear wheels in Track Mode (other modes include Auto, Sport, Tow, and Snow). New standard launch control ensures a textbook launch and consistent acceleration performance.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

The exterior makeover includes a shortened, tougher-looking version of Jeep’s traditional seven-slot upper grille with black screen insert. The grille is flanked by slimmer, adaptive, bi-xenon headlamps with a unique black background to distinguish it from its predecessors. Headlamp washers have also been incorporated into the headlamp housing for the first time. A more aggressive spoiler highlights the rear, and a new one-touch liftgate makes for easy access to the rear cargo area. The 2014 Grand Cherokee badge along the vehicle’s sides has also been overhauled.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

The 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT’s interior, offered in torque (black) and a new Sepia combination, features a multitude of user-friendly technologies and connectivity options. The 8.4-inch touchscreen in the center stack accommodates SRT’s exclusive Performance Pages (recent track times, lateral acceleration, 0-60 times, and more) which can be shared through a 3G connection, plus a 7-inch programmable multi-view gauge cluster. All-new Uconnect Access Via Mobile streams your favorite music into the vehicle via smartphone, and cloud-based voice texting and Bing searching via Uconnect Access enables direct, one-touch connections with 911 and roadside assistance.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT rear

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

A new, leather-wrapped T-handle shifter resides in the console and allows the driver to select two driving modes, Drive and Sport. An SRT-exclusive heated three-spoke steering wheel with a flat bottom is designed and positioned to provide optimal view of the new gauge cluster. True carbon fiber trim accents sweep across the driver’s door, instrument panel and front passenger door.

For those SRT enthusiasts who love their beats, the Jeep will feature an available 825-watt, 19-speaker premium SRT performance audio surround-sound system from Harman Kardon with world premier innovation, including a 32-volt tracking power supply (TPS) 12-channel Class D amplifier that delivers outstanding acoustics and brings multi-dimensional, quality sound for all interior occupants.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

In the suspension department, the Jeep offers short- and long-arm (SLA) independent front suspension with coil springs, Bilstein adaptive damping suspension (ADS), upper- and lower-control arms (“A” arms), and a stabilizer bar, while the rear suspension is a multi-link design with coil spring, Bilstein ADS, aluminum lower control arm, independent upper links (tension and camber), plus a separate toe link, and a stabilizer bar. The new Jeep stops on a dime – or in 116 feet from 60 mph – thanks to Brembo brakes all-around.

All of this while still delivering an impressive 470 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 465 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm. And as always, the new 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is built in Detroit.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT interior

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT interior

“We’re very happy with the long list of product and quality accolades the Jeep Grand Cherokee has earned,” said Chrysler’s Doug Betts in a statement announcing the new model. “But the most important feedback comes from customers telling us what they’d like to see improved. We are constantly looking at feedback and responding with improvements.”

The 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT will be available in the following exterior colors: Billet Silver Metallic Clear Coat, Bright White Clear Coat, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Coat, Deep Cherry Red Pearl Coat, Granite Crystal Pearl Coat, Maximum Steel Metallic Clear Coat and Redline Pearl Clear Coat…