While crossovers haven taken the space that SUVs occupied only a few years ago, a number of automakers are still producing them as there is still an audience for them. One that wants the off-road and towing ability SUVs offer. So come along as we take a look at three specimens in our latest 2014 review wrap-up.
First Up: 2014 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Premium
It is hard to believe that 30 years ago, Toyota introduced the 4Runner. The sister vehicle to the all-mighty Land Cruiser was to give Toyota a true competitor to the likes of the Jeep Cherokee and Ford Bronco. Since that time, the 4Runner has grown up somewhat in terms of size and position, but it never lost its mission; a vehicle that can get you anywhere. But with the recent 4Runner, does it still hold true to that mission?
Power comes from a 4.0L V6 engine with 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired up to a five-speed automatic and a part-time four-wheel drive system. The V6 is a workhorse for Toyota’s pickups and SUVs, and its easy to see why. Power comes on immediately and the engine roars with glee. The five-speed automatic doesn’t quite fully mesh with the V6 as first-gear takes a bit longer to kick down than I was expecting. Thankfully, all other gears did not have this same experience. Fuel economy is rated at 17 City/21 Highway/18 Combined. I got 17.4 MPG during my week of testing.
The 4Runner is built for those who seek adventure and their travels take them off the beaten path more often than not. If your travels are limited to payment, then you’ll be better off with a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the 4Runner, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: SR5 Premium
Engine: 4.0L DOHC VVT-i 24-Valve V6
Driveline: Five-Speed Automatic, Part-Time Four-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 270 @ 5,600
Torque @ RPM: 278 @ 4,400
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/21/18
Curb Weight: 4,675 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
Base Price: $37,615
As Tested Price: $39,045 (Includes $860.00 Destination Charge)
Rigid Running Boards - $345.00
Carpet Floor Mats & Floor Mat - $225.00
Next: 2014 Lexus GX 460 Luxury
Did you know that there two variations of the Toyota Land Cruiser sold in the U.S.? No, I’m not referring to the Lexus LX 570 which is a dressed up Land Cruiser. I’m referring to another model in the Land Cruiser family, the Land Cruiser Prado. This model sold in certain parts of the world is a direct competitor to the Land Rover LR4 with a body-on-frame SUV with all of the four-wheel drive tech to get through some of the worst conditions that mother nature has on offer. So you might be wondering where is this smaller Land Cruiser is in the U.S.? Well you only need to head down to your local Lexus dealer and check out the GX 460. But in this age where crossovers are taking the place of SUVs, does the GX 460 have a place anymore?
Power comes from a 4.6L V8 engine with 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up to a six-speed automatic and a full-time four-wheel drive system. Despite the high power numbers, the 4.6L feels like its struggling to move the GX. Tipping the scales at 5,340 pounds explains some of struggle, as does a lazy throttle. Plus points on the V8 is not much noise when idling or accelerating in the lower rpms. The six-speed automatic delivered smooth shifts and seemed to be in a good rhythm with the engine.
The GX comes with a full-suite of off-road technologies such as a central differential lock, adjustable suspension, and hill descent control which means you’ll be able to go anywhere you want. But in reality, many GXs will be in the urban jungle. During my week of testing, the only real off-roading I did in the GX was driving down a gravel road which really didn’t challenge the four-wheel drive system at all.
I was bit worried on how the GX would handle day to day driving duties as it has all of those four-wheel drive technologies, along with a tall ride height. But the GX surprised me as it provided a very comfortable and smooth ride. Bumps and road imperfections didn’t upset the GX ride, while road and wind noise were kept down.
The only way I could recommend the Lexus GX 460 is that you want something luxurious to take on your adventure to death valley or the wilderness. If your main driving takes to on the mean streets, then a crossover such as the Acura MDX or Buick Enclave would be a better choice.
Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the GX 460, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Model: GX 460
Engine: 4.6L DOHC VVT-i 32-Valve V8
Driveline: Five-Speed Automatic, Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 301 @ 5,500
Torque @ RPM: 329 @ 3,500
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined -
Curb Weight: 5,340 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
Base Price: $60,715
As Tested Price: $62,770 (Includes $910.00 Destination Charge)
Mark Levinson Premium Audio - $1,145.00
Next: 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ 4WD
There are very few times where I’ll drop my jaw because of the price tag of a vehicle I’m reviewing, whether its a bit too high or low. Such was the case for the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ that stopped by for a weeklong review. When I was reading through the window sticker, I dropped the sheet after seeing the price tag of $69,130. After letting the shock pass over me, I was wondering who would buy an almost $70,000 Tahoe? A GMC Yukon Denali I can see, but a Tahoe?!
Moving inside and Chevrolet deserves a gold medal for the improvements made in here. Gone is the bland dashboard design with the hard plastic and terrible looking wood trim. In its place is a dashboard full of contours and distinctive shapes, along with much better materials such as leather and soft-touch plastics on the dash which makes it a pleasant place to be in. My LTZ tester came with a eight-inch touchscreen and Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system. MyLink still has some bugs to work out such as how long it takes to respond when pressed and overall speed, but at least stability is much better than when I last used it in the Silverado.
Second row passengers get a set of captain chairs with heat, along with a set of climate controls to make themselves them comfortable. Space back here is good for headroom. Legroom I found was a little-bit tight. The third row is best reserved for small kids as head and legroom are very much at a premium for adults, or to be folded into the floor to increase cargo space.
Power comes from the 5.3L V8 that powers so many of GM’s light-duty trucks and SUVs. Ratings are 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet torque. This is paired up to a six-speed automatic and optional four-wheel drive system. Those looking for a more powerful V8 in their GM SUV will need to step up to the GMC Yukon Denali and Cadillac Escalade for the 6.2L V8. As I have stated before in the Silverado/Sierra review with the 5.3L V8, the throttle response when leaving a stop is very sluggish. It feels like there is a hump you have to overcome with the throttle before you get the full power of the V8. I get this is a way for GM to save fuel, but I think there are better ways to do the same thing. Once over the hump, the V8 engine has more than enough oomph to get you moving while providing very little noise. As for fuel economy, the EPA rates the 2015 Tahoe 4WD at 16 City/22 Highway/18 Combined. My average for the week was around 15 MPG.
So after a week in the Tahoe, I can see kind of see why it has a high price tag. The new model is a massive improvement over the old one and leaves competitors such as the Nissan Armada in the dust. But I’m still wondering if the Tahoe is a just a hair too high price-wise for its own good.
Disclaimer: Chevrolet Provided the Tahoe, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: LTZ 4WD
Engine: 5.3L EcoTec V8
Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 355 @ 5600
Torque @ RPM: 383 @ 4100
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/22/18
Curb Weight: 5,683 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Arlington, Texas
Base Price: $62,000
As Tested Price: $69,130 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
Sun, Entertainment, Destination Package - $3,255.00
Adaptive Cruise Control - $1,695.00
Max Trailering Packager - $500.00
Crystal Red Metallic Paint - $495.00
Theft-Deterrent System - $395.00
Cocoa/Mahogany Trim - $295.00