Alright, I finally decided to remove the chrome door handles on my 2014 limited and replace with brilliant black handles. I can typically find very useful DIY guides and posts on this forum. For some reason, I could not find any decent descriptions for removing the exterior front door handles (there are plenty of posts on the rear handles, but not the fronts...and the posts that did try to explain the fronts were very confusing and did not include pictures). Therefore, my time spent in frustration this weekend is your reward (hopefully).
Here is my guide to removing the exterior front door handles. No need to remove the inner door panel. No need to remove the door regulator. It's so easy that it took me an hour to complete 1 door (I will not share the rather embarrassing amount of time it took me to complete the 1st door though). Hope this helps some of you!
1.) Remove interior door panel. This is well covered on Page 45 of the interior trim manual, so I will not cover that here:
2.) After you complete Step 1, your panel should look like this:
3.) Disconnect the speaker from the inner panel by removing the 4 screws and electrical connector
4.) Using a flat head screwdriver, remove the inner belt molding:
5.) Align the power window about 3/4 of the way down so that you can see the window release tabs through the holes in the regulator bracket.
Here's the one looking through the cutout where the speaker was removed:
Here's the other side of the window looking through the inner door cutout hole.
6.) I used a flathead screwdriver to push the yellow tab back (towards the front of the door). At the same time, I pushed up on the bottom of the window. You will know when the window has been released from the regulator bracket.
Do the same with the other side of the window:
7.) Pull the window completely out of the door frame. It helps if you rotate the window almost 90deg while pulling out.
8.) Next I popped off the door handle retaining rod. If you have small enough hands, you may be able to reach in through the cutout and pop it off with your hand. Personally, after doing this step with the other 3 doors, I found that the easiest way was to loop some wire from the top of the door and catch it on the corner of the plastic and then pull the wire up. I was able to pop off the rod in 30 sec with this method.
9.) Next I remove these 2 bolts connecting to the handle. You can access these by removing the small oval plastic piece on the door.
10.) Remove the 3rd bolt. Again, reach your hands through the cutout if you can. I used a small ratchet reaching down from the top window opening. You can't see the bolt, but this is the location of the 3rd bolt:
11.) Disconnect the power connector from the door handle
12.) At this point, you can FINALLY remove the handle from the door.
Now all you have to do is attach the new door handle and reverse the steps above...good luck!!
I was able to complete the steps above in about an hour, but then again, this was my 4th door so I was getting pretty good and tearing apart these PITA door panels.