New, redesigned 2010 Toyota 4Runner ready to rumble

New, redesigned 2010 Toyota 4Runner ready to rumble

March 12th, 2010 in Carscruisin

The 2010 4Runner shows off the muscular look of Toyota's fi fth-generation SUV.

The 2010 4Runner shows off the muscular look...

Quick. What adjectives come to mind when you think of the Toyota 4Runner? Rugged, invincible, even sensible, perhaps? Toyota's 21st-century redesign of the 4Runner marks the fifth generation of the model. Unlike car-based SUVs, which have captured much of the urban SUV market, the 4Runner in 4X4 trim is one of the most athletic off-road vehicles you can buy.

If you think you might ever have to ford a creek or jump a stump, the 4Runner's locking rear differential and Crawl Control hill-climbing feature are ready to rumble. Capital Toyota sales representative Patrick Shadrick said the 4Runner's go-anywhere formula has resulted in a vehicle that holds its value better than almost any other on the road.

STYLING: The 2010 4Runner boasts several exterior styling updates which add up to a more aggressive look. A raised belt line - hints of the FJ Cruiser here - make the new 4Runner look taller than before. Let the crossovers have their soft, contoured lines; the new 4Runner exterior features more dramatic fender flares. Think of a bodybuilder flexing his "guns." Inside, the 4Runner's cabin is handsomely masculine. Our Limited-trim tester boasted a blend of rich leather seating surfaces and dark plastics. The center stack is a nest of modern electronics, with lots of brushed-metal framing. Analog gauges are easy to read through the telescoping steering wheel. New dimensions add headroom, which frankly had been a bit cramped for 6-footers in the earlier 4Runners.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS: In base trim, the 4Runner is equipped with a 2.7-liter inline four-cylinder engine (157 horsepower). The feeling here is that most buyers will default to the 4.0-liter V-6 with 270 hp, which seems better matched to a vehicle of this mass. (A V-8 variant has been discontinued for 2010.) During our test drive on I-75 in mid-day traffic, steering was secure and wellbalanced. Stability control stands guard when the SUV is driven at its limits.

BOTTOM LINE: As long as fuel prices stay in check, the traditional SUV market will re-emerge. Vehicles with a pedigree like the 4Runner are positioned to capture market share. The 4Runner's legendary durability and solid resale value count for a lot.


TESTED MODEL: Toyota 4Runner Limited 4X4.

ENGINE: six-cylinder, 270 horsepower.

TRANSMISSION: five-speed automatic.

FUEL ECONOMY: 17 mpg city, 22 mpg highway.

BASE PRICE: $39,800.