Old school meets new school
Thanks to a diverse lineup -- the 4WD Rubicon-friendly Trail seen here; the 2WD entry-level SR5 with a more fuel efficient four-cylinder; the 2WD or 4WD SR5 with the V-6; or the luxury-oriented Limited, which adds 20-inch wheels, leather, and a full-time 4WD system with a three-mode center console-mounted switch -- the 4Runner can be either a dirt-devouring, rock-crawling, sand-swallowing rig or just a rugged, roomy, everyday transporter. Or both. How many SUVs can make that claim?
.All-New, but Still Off-Road Ready
What Works: Miracle crawl control; magic KDSS; surprising V6; improved driving position.
What Needs Work: Is 5,000-pound towing capacity enough?
Bottom Line: It's hard to find a real 4WD SUV these days, but this is a great one, no matter how you slice it.
* DOHC 4.0-liter V6
* Five-speed automatic
* 270 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Comparing the 4Runner to competitors in the midsize segment is a challenge right now, especially since Toyota has decided to maintain much of the 4Runner's traditionally rugged personality at a time when so many other manufacturers are hunting for the crossover sweet spot. There just aren't that many serious 4x4 SUVs being made anymore, really. But keeping a body-on-frame model for people who want real utility as well as real off-road capability makes sense to us.
It'll grow on you. They'll be everywhere in a matter of time. I'm tempted to dump the Celica for this rig.Specs are impressive, but I'm still iffy on the looks.
2010 Toyota 4Runner LimitedWhen the first Toyota 4Runner sport utility vehicle (SUV) was launched back in 1984 it was a revolutionary new vehicle based on the mechanics of the four-wheel-drive Toyota pickup truck. The 4Runner combined the versatility and go-anywhere ability of four-wheel-drive with the comfort and utility found in passenger cars.
Twenty-five years, four generations and more than 1.5 million sales later, the 4Runner continues to evolve while remaining close to its roots. The all-new fifth-generation 4Runner is even more rugged and athletic, and packed with more power and better mileage. A completely redesigned interior and unique cargo area make the newest 4Runner smarter, more comfortable, and more versatile than ever.
"Backed by a quarter-century of heritage combined with the integration of the latest comfort, convenience and performance technologies, the all-new fifth-generation 4Runner has evolved into one of the most advanced mid-sized truck-based SUV's on the market while at the same time staying true to its roots as a rugged and durable off-roader," said Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of Toyota Division.
More rugged than the Highlander and more versatile than the FJ Cruiser, the 4Runner combines the toughness and durability of body-on-frame construction with multi-use design that excels at a wide variety of tasks.
The newest 4Runner is taller, wider and longer for 2010, and is available in a variety of configurations. It will be offered in three models, top-of-the-line Limited, a well-equipped SR5, plus a Trail grade for those who require maximum off-road capability.
Drivetrain configurations include rear wheel 4x2, part-time 4x4 and full-time multi-mode 4x4 with a locking center differential. All 4x4 models are equipped with a 4.0-liter V6 mated to a five-speed ECT-i automatic transmission. The 4x2 models will be equipped with either a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a four-speed ECT automatic or the 4.0-liter V6 with the five-speed ECT-i automatic. Optional third-row seats allow for up to seven-person capacity.
The design strategy for the new 4Runner emphasizes a more rugged, powerful stance. Large diameter wheels and tires were added to not only improve off-road performance, but also enhance the 4Runner's truck-based characteristics. In addition to its styling emphasis on ruggedness and outdoor adventure, the new design utilizes a combination of Toyota's classic boxy form and progressive styling.
All 4Runner grades feature rugged new bumpers and wider shoulders, with newly designed head- lamp and tail-light systems, which offer a newly-minted, technical design quality and better nighttime performance. The front ends square fender flares meld with a muscular profile that links with a beefy and square rear bumper and back door.
Aluminum alloy wheels are 17-inches in diameter on SR5 and Trail grades and 20-inches on the Limited, and include a full size spare.
In addition to its distinctive front grille, the SR5 grade also adopts overfenders and mud guards to help tackle inclement weather and off-road conditions. A roof rack comes standard for hauling equipment for outdoor activities.
The Trail grade is designed to maximize off-road performance with a superior approach and departure angles, high ground clearance, and an array of functional upgrades for the most demanding active outdoor enthusiast. It can be distinguished by a unique hood scoop, unique 17-inch wheels, black outer mirrors, front and rear bumper guards and dark smoke treatment on the head and tail lamps.
The Limited and SR5 grades add to the muscular design with special touches that provide a premium appearance. The front end includes a chrome-plated front grille insert, fog lamp bezel and front bumper molding. Front and rear overfenders and side skirts are color-keyed. Chrome plating is also found on the side molding, roof rack and rear bumper.
Turn signals on SR5 and Limited V6 grades are now incorporated into the outside mirrors, along with puddle lamps.
4Runner is available in six exterior colors. Three new colors, Shoreline Blue Pearl, Magnetic Gray Metallic and Classic Silver Metallic, join carryovers Blizzard Pearl, Salsa Red Pearl and Black.
New Engine Choices
The 2010 4Runner is powered by a new 4.0-liter V6, which now generates 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. Through the use of advanced engine management that includes dual independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), the new 4.0-liter engine offers the best of both worlds, adding more power while improving efficiency. For 2010, the new V6 engine produces 34 horsepower more than the prior V6, and 10 horsepower more than the optional V8 of the previous generation.
Additional mileage improvements have come from careful attention to wind flow, reducing aerodynamic drag to a Cd of 0.365. EPA-estimated mileage improves from 16 city and 21 highway to 17 city/23 highway for the 4x2, and from 16 city and 20 highway to 17 city/22 highway for 4x4 models. Both achieve an EPA-estimated 19 mpg combined, an improvement of more than five percent. With the new 4.0-liter engine, maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.
In addition to the upgraded V6 engine, a proven 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine with VVT-i is available on the 4x2 SR5 model. The gutsy DOHC, 16-valve 2.7 makes 157 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a four-speed automatic transmission with 2.80:1 first gear and 0.753 overdrive 4th, the 2.7 delivers 18 city/23 highway mpg.
4x4 Capability Designed-In
To build on its tradition of rugged body-on-frame construction, the newest 4Runner shares the same platform as the FJ Cruiser. Extensive frame and body reinforcements have been added, using high-tensile materials to add strength without adding weight. SR5 and Trail 4x4 models have a two-speed lever-operated, part-time system with neutral position, while the 4Runner Limited is equipped with full-time, four-wheel-drive with a locking center differential and employs a three-mode, center console-mounted switch. The new 4Runner is also equipped with a stronger rear differential over the previous model, thanks to a gear ring that has increased in size from 7.87 to 8.18 inches.
To enhance grip, the A-TRAC system is now standard equipment on all 4x4 models. The system can distribute driving force to any one wheel in contact with the ground, making terrain irregularities and slippery patches transparent to the driver. An electronic-locking rear differential is standard on the Trail grade. Axles house 3.73 gears, or 4.56:1 with the 2.7-liter engine and the differential housings have improved seals for better resistance to mud and water.
An array of advanced features, formerly only available in the Land Cruiser, further boosts off-highway capabilities. The Trail grade offers Toyota's Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) as an option. KDSS radically improves terrain-following ability by disconnecting stabilizer bars to allow for more axle travel, and better suspension articulation in slow, difficult terrain.
Toyota's Crawl Control (CRAWL) feature is standard on the Trail grade. CRAWL is an adjustable electro-mechanical system that can be tuned to match the terrain by selecting any of five speed levels. The system maintains an appropriate speed that keeps the vehicle under control and minimizes the load on drivetrain and suspension components. The CRAWL feature helps make traversing difficult terrain easier and safer. With the transfer case shifted into low range, Crawl Control regulates engine speed and output (along with braking force), to propel the vehicle forward or in reverse at one of the five low-speed settings. This allows the driver to maintain focus while steering over very rough level ground or steep grades, without having to also modulate the throttle, or brake, pedals.
The Trail grade also features a Multi-Terrain Select system which allows the 4x4 operator to dial in wheel slip control to match the terrain. In loose terrain such as mud and sand, more-than-normal wheel slip is permitted, allowing wheel-spin to work in the vehicle's favor. On bumpy moguls, or solid rock, wheel slip is minimized and the system acts more like a limited slip. The Mogul setting is for any extremely uneven terrain, such as V-ditches, slopes, and ridges, uphill or down.
All 4Runner 4x4 models are standard-equipped with Downhill Assist Control (DAC), which is designed to augment the low-speed ascending ability of low-range by holding the vehicle to a target speed with no driver intervention. All V6 4Runner models come standard with Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), which provides additional control for off-road driving by helping to keep the vehicle stationary while starting on a steep incline or slippery surface.
On-Road Driving Dynamics
The new 4Runner may be a truck-based SUV, but it offers the kind of drivability and riding comfort more often associated with car-based platforms.
Coil springs over gas shocks are used at all four corners for a comfortable ride and controlled handling. A double-wishbone independent front suspension, combined with new, variable-flow rack and pinion steering, makes for precise control on demanding roadways. The four-link rear suspension minimizes rear axle hop and assures a smooth ride for back seat passengers.
The Limited grade comes standard with an X-REAS suspension system that further improves performance, comfort and control. X-REAS automatically adjusts the damping force of shocks when driving over bumpy surfaces, or when cornering. The system uses a center control absorber to cross-link shocks on opposite corners of the vehicle, substantially reducing pitch and yaw by offsetting opposing inputs. With X-REAS the new 4Runner corners flatter, smoother, and handles choppy pavement more easily.
To show off the 2010 4Runner’s impressive capabilities, Toyota will enter a very lightly modified version of the car in the SCORE Baja 1000 -- one of the toughest desert races in the world.
The grueling SCORE Baja 1000 covers more than 670 miles of some of Mexico’s toughest terrain. Seeing as the race has a time limit of 31 hours, breakdowns aren’t an option. The race will be a true test of the 4Runner’s mettle, as competing in the stock mini class means the truck is lightly modified. Despite the harsh environment, Toyota is confident the 4Runner will finish respectably.