2010 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4X4Posted on October 25th, 2010
Fifth-generation sport-utility vehicle seats up to seven passengers
By Nina Russin
Sixteen years ago, Toyota introduced a sport-utility vehicle designed to take active families through mud, sleet and snow. The 4Runner is a more affordable alternative to the upscale Toyota Land Cruiser with comparable off-road capability.
The fifth-generation model is slightly larger in each dimension than the outgoing version. A new V-6 engine has more horsepower than the former six-cylinder or optional V-8. Buyers concerned about gas mileage can opt for a 157-horsepower four-cylinder engine that averages 23 miles-per-gallon on the highway for the rear-wheel drive version.
Since the mid-sized Highlander appeals to buyers wanting the passenger car ride of a crossover vehicle, the 4Runner has remained true to its roots. The newest version rides on the same platform as the FJ Cruiser. Unlike the FJ, the 4Runner is available with three rows of seating.
Engineers added features formerly limited to the Land Cruiser, enhancing the 4Runner’s off-road capability. For example, the Trail grade is available with kinetic dynamic suspension, which automatically decouples the stabilizer bars to maximize wheel travel. Toyota’s crawl control, standard on the Trail model, matches vehicle speed to the terrain, so the driver doesn’t have to modulate the throttle and brakes.
The SR5 is the volume leader among three available grades, with pricing for the four-wheel drive model starting at $30,915. A two-speed transfer case on the test truck gives the 4Runner the extreme low gears necessary for off-road trails.
An audio upgrade adds XM satellite radio and a USB port with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth interface and redundant steering wheel controls ($585). A backup camera in the rearview mirror projects a wide-angle view to the back of the vehicle ($525). Leather trim and the third-row seats with third-row side curtain airbags cost $3570.
A convenience package adds the moonroof, sunshade and two 120-volt power outlets ($1050). Carpeted floor mats cost $204. These options plus the $800 delivery fee bring the price of the test truck to $37,649.
Toolbox on wheels
The 4Runner is a polarizing vehicle. It is designed for buyers who want utility in the truest sense of the word. It is one of the few four-wheel drive vehicles priced under $40,000 that can seat up to seven passengers. Standard skid plates on the SR5 protect the engine and fuel tank from rocks and roots along the way.
Seventeen-inch alloy wheels provide a large footprint for paved and unpaved road surfaces. A new torque distribution system can send engine power to a single wheel, enabling the driver to maintain directional control on extremely uneven surfaces. The standard full-sized spare tire eliminates worries about punctures on remote trails.
The cargo area is tall and functional. An optional sliding cargo floor holds up to 400 pounds, making it easy to load large heavy items in back. Standard roof rails make it easy to add an overhead bike rack.
A standard integrated tow hitch rated for 5000 pounds means that buyers don’t have to worry about cutting into the factory wiring harness to install an aftermarket system. When equipped with the V-6 engine, the 4Runner’s towing capacity exceeds our ALV minimum standards.
Road trip to Tucson
I had the opportunity to take the fifth-generation 4Runner on a road trip between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Since the trip coincided with homecoming weekend at the University of Arizona, we saw our share of traffic and crazy drivers, testing the truck’s standard safety features. The rear backup camera came in handy when we had to park the 4Runner on the street.
Because of its body-on-frame construction, the 4Runner can’t match the fluid on-road dynamics of some crossovers. The solid rear axle enhances the truck’s towing performance, but isn’t as compliant as an independent suspension.
The new engine develops peak torque- 278 lbs.-ft.- at 4400 rpm. The SR5 has a curb weight of 4675 pounds, making it a relatively heavy vehicle. While acceleration is certainly competent, the 4Runner doesn’t fly off the line. I had to push the throttle hard to gain momentum for merging onto the highway.
The five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly with a minimum of shift shock. It would have been nice to have an available six-speed box for better gas mileage, but there were no performance problems with the transmission in any driving situation.
Visibility around the vehicle is above average. Designers maintained a large greenhouse all the way around the exterior for good over-the-shoulder and rear visibility. I had no problems monitoring traffic to either side on the highway or around town. Blind spots in the rear corners are relatively small compared to some competitive products.
A rack-and-pinion steering system provides good response at all speeds. On-center response is adequate, though not exceptional. Because of the 4Runner’s long wheelbase, drivers should not expect to do U-turns except on extremely wide four-lane roads.
Engineers did a good job of minimizing noise intrusion into the cabin. Considering the 4Runner’s high two-box profile, the interior is remarkably quiet. Passengers in the second-row seats will have no problems conversing with those up front.
Four-wheel disc brakes felt a little soft at first. I think that this may have had something to do with vehicle weight. Once I got used to the brake feel, they performed uniformly throughout the test drive.
Increasing the 4Runner’s dimensions made it more spacious inside. This is especially noticeable in the second row of seating, which can easily hold three adults. The two rear seats are best for small adults or kids. Vents behind the center console circulate air through the back of the cabin.
The tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel can be adjusted out of the way for smaller drivers. Redundant audio and Bluetooth controls minimize driver distraction.
I like the abundance of storage around the front passengers, including cupholders in the center console and a fold-down rear armrest, and bottle holders in all four doors. The center console bin is deep enough for a small pack. A locking glovebox adds secure storage for the front row.
The 120-volt outlet up front allows passengers to plug in a computer or video games. A second outlet in the cargo area is ideal for camping equipment, and is accessible for third-row passengers.
Power adjustments on the front seats are easy to use. I found the seats comfortable for drives two hours in duration. Center stack control knobs are large, so they are easy to grab with gloves on. A 12-volt power point and auxiliary port at the base of the center stack recharge cell phones and interface with MP3 players.
A “party mode” button on the instrument panel turns up the bass on the audio system and transfers equalization to the rear for tailgate parties.
The digital displays in the center stack are black-on-orange and orange-on-black. While I was able to read the orange-on-black display at the top of the stack, the middle display with an orange background was illegible in bright sunlight.
The optional moonroof adds ambient lighting for first and second-row passengers. An overhead console holds sunglasses or a garage door opener. Dual overhead reading lamps in front and a dome lamp illuminate the interior at night.
Second and third-row seats fold flat to extend the cargo floor. The 4Runner easily meets our bicycle-friendly standards.
All models come with eight standard air bags. Vehicles with three rows of seating add side curtain airbags for the third row. Toyota’s STAR safety system integrates antilock braking, vehicle stability and traction control in a manner that’s invisible to the driver. Daytime running lamps, a tire pressure monitoring system and front active headrests are also standard.
Downhill assist control on all four-wheel drive models limits vehicle speed on steep grades to help drivers maintain directional control. Standard hill start assist prevents the truck from rolling backwards when accelerating from a stop on a hill.
The all-new Toyota 4Runner is on display at dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A seven-passenger sport utility vehicle that’s bicycle friendly, meets ALV towing and off-road criteria.
Dislikes: Digital displays in the center console are difficult to read in bright sunlight.
Model: 4Runner SR5 4X4 V-6
Base price: $30,915
As tested: $37,649
Horsepower: 270 Hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 278 lbs.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 17/22 mpg city/highway
2 responses to “2010 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4X4”
Is there a chance I could use one of the Toyota photos available on this page in order to use it in a print ad?
Thank you in advanced for your positive response.
Unfortunately, the photos I use from the manufacturers are for editorial use only. You can’t use them for advertising.
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