By on April 9, 2010

Et tu 4Runner?  So many historically famous cars are back with “good old days” styling but added overweight dimensions to the party. It’s sort of like Fat Elvis, on four wheels.  That said, “Moody Blue” is a pretty catchy song. And there’s nothing especially wrong with the 2010 Toyota 4Runner.  Elvis rocked the rhinestones with passion and the 4Runner combines it’s rugged past with urban sheetmetal and a host of electronic cocktails for pleasure and enjoyment. Which gives the impression that happy days are here again, even if polypharmacy did lead to the death of the King of Rock ‘N Roll.

The new 4Runner takes everything enjoyable from the original model and adds a shot of steroids.  The styling is proof: oversized fenders, blocky A-pillars and surprisingly short (and efficient) bumper overhangs.  The angry headlight eyebrows are an improvement from the outgoing model, but lack the classic Toyota truck virtue of honest workhorse design. Tough for toughness sake, perhaps?  Clock that small-ish greenhouse, but note the surprisingly decent visibility. While the 4Runner is a politically correct HUMMER H2, the menacing hood bulge looks truck-tastic behind the wheel.

Maybe the 4Runner is a poor man’s Land Rover: the dashboard was cribbed from something suitable for a weekend in the UK countryside. Never mind Toyota’s (now expected) rubbish plastics and a lack of charming British oak, there’s liquid-smooth buttonage, vents, and knobs.  Even the fake aluminum looks nicer than any paint job has a right to.  But the Limited-grade 4Runner’s leather trim feels and smells like a new rubber hose.  And again, there’s simply too much hard plastic on the dash and door panels to keep the GM references at bay:  the line between these two automakers is thinner and more blurred.

Toyota’s well-documented slip in quality is no shocker, but the seats escaped the brunt of the cost cutting: all three rows are comfortable enough for the 4Runner’s mission, though the third row is for kids only.  Add the intuitive touch screen navigation with a fifteen speaker JBL Audio system and two top-notch traveling companions come for the ride.  With the subwoofer thumping and the (aforementioned) hood bulge cutting an aggressive path toward the horizon, there’s little doubt the 4Runner is a cooler, tougher way to haul the kids around town. CUV’s don’t stand a chance.

Then again, maybe those new age station wagons don’t care.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The new 4Runner drives like a crossover utility: numb steering, vague handling responses, a thoroughly torque-less motor, roly-poly suspension and electronic throttle responses befitting a Camry.  While the SUVs from the good old days were no track Gods, you couldn’t resist cracking a smile when their chassis hugged a twisty road with surprising speed and grace.

When you combine a motor with a torque peak at 4400 revs, a drive-by-wire system with more red tape than Medicare and five-cog automatic with downshifts slow enough to earn a free pizza delivery, the result is a vehicle torn between doing what the driver wants and what the CUV-segment demands.  The available four-cylinder motor can only make matters worse, as the enlarged 4Runner should have kept the once optional V8 instead.

And the buzz kill runs like a negative undercurrent behind the 4Runner’s overpromising sheetmetal. Because turning is more of the same: less.  With Camry levels of body lean, the driver is discouraged from extra steering input or faster than geriatric mid-corner exit velocities.  Perhaps the legacy of SUV rollover terror lives on, so drive the 4Runner as its former self and prepare to clean the puke from your kid’s booster seats.

SUV thrills are a thing of the past, but the real shocker is the ride. Road noise levels were unacceptable, but a velvety ride from a 4400lb vehicle was expected.  At highway speeds, the 20” wheels bang on pavement joints like the drummer in a suburban high school jazz band: cross a lane and you’ll feel every Bott’s Dot on the pavement. Live-axle critics point to the antiquated rear suspension, but you’ll rarely notice the shortcomings: a back-to-back drive with a modern Ford Explorer is the only way to feel the advantages of an independent rear axle. Even then, the difference is modest at best: the Toyota’s overall suspension tuning is the main culprit.

And such compromise at the $40,655 asking price? On the plus side, bang for the buck of a used 4Runner is officially realized: more inspired performance and an optional V8 for those who take towing seriously. So the new 4Runner is another wrong move from a company seemingly destined to steal defeat from the hands of victory. Would-be buyers are better off filling the garage with a fully depreciated 4Runner to remember the good old days, plus a new Camry for today’s harsh realities.

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85 Comments on “Review: 2010 Toyota 4Runner Limited...”


  • avatar
    Rada

    “A torqueless motor”? What the heck are you talking about? I drove one of these loaners last week, and it went from zero to 45 mph in a couple of seconds without ever going over 1500 RPM. Did you actually drive one or did you just look at the “torque peak” on the spec sheet?

  • avatar

    Sounds like you drove different SUVs than I did back in the “good old days.” In my experience, conventional SUVs have always handled more sloppily and possessed number steering than their car-based imitators. It’s a center of gravity thing.

    The old V8 did provide reassuring levels of grunt, though, contributing to the previous 4Runner’s rugged overall feel.

    TrueDelta might have some initial reliability stats for the new 4Runner in August. Contrary to all of the talk in the press, the great majority of Toyotas have continued to do well in our Car Reliability Survey, and 4Runners have been consistently solid.

    Not yet involved? Details here:

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Not surprised that the reliability is still good but it is true that the interior fitments are not what they used to be. I guess that Toyota carried over the quality engineering for the mechanicals and electronics but made the cuts on the interior. Funny that a manufacturer would cheapen the things that the customer sees and touches every time they are in the car. Very GM like. Our family’s Buick Century has excellent attention to detail under the hood but a beancounted dash and switchgear…the parallels between these companies are uncanny. Doubt that Toyota will allow the slide to be as long and deep as GM though. I’m willing to bet that as Toyota’s products go through their next design cycle they will return to the quality they one had. Question: will customers be willing to pay for the extra quality? I know some Toyota owners that don’t think there has been any slide in quality, UA or not…

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      golden – the fitment in my 4Runner is absolutely perfect. The materials aren’t soft touch, but the fitment is flush and there aren’t gaps. I think you are mixing up two different types of interior quality. My GTI has pretty nice materials w/ lots of soft touch (for the cost of the vehicle), but the gaps are massive compared to the 4Runner. Same goes for my wife’s MINI.

  • avatar
    ktm_525

    The Limited 4Runner just has weird proportions. The 20″ wheels have tires that are narrower than the tires on the SR5. The tall skinny wheels look dorky. In Canada , buyers must pony up for the limited to get the third row seat, this puts the price at well over $50k. This thing needs a V8 and third row seat in the trail model. Until then I will just cling to the fading memory of the old 1990 4Runner..

  • avatar
    NN

    I’d say that there is no other vehicle sold in the US market today with a longer history of being absolutely indestructible as the 4-Runner. And this likely hasn’t changed. The consistency is amazing…I have never once heard of a 4Runner having early problems.

    The Tacoma, on the other hand, having switched from being made in Japan to being made in NUMMI to being Hecho en Mexico to now being Hecho in San Antonio probably will have resulting durability effects.

    I’m no Toyota fan–I have a Chevy truck. But I’ll show respect where respect is due.

    Truck-based SUV drivers will care about this much more than they will the comfort of the ride, or how it takes a twisty corner. They know it’ll go 200k+ miles without much trouble, whereas your Explorer’s transmission will blow at 65k, and your Chevy’s intake manifold gasket will surely give out some day, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Interesting point: per Consumer Reports, one of the 4Runners (V6 or V8, not sure) was always the one and only Toyota that got blackmarked consistently. Durable, yes; reliable, not so much. That said, it still placed better than most of it’s competition.

      Another interesting point: the Tacoma is the only compact (heh) truck with reliability rankings not described as “abysmal”.

    • 0 avatar
      davey49

      psarjhinian- CR goes back to 1999 cars in their surveys, nothing but red for the 4Runner. The Tundra and V6 Camry seem to be the problem vehicles as of late and really not by much. Better than almost all GM,Chrysler and Nissan

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I wish I had the reference, but it wasn’t uncommon to see at least one black “worse than average” bar for one 4Runner variant (either V8 or V6), at least in it’s first year of production. Again, it was dependent on the engine in question, and was usually straightened out in a year or so.

      Toyota didn’t often have trouble (they still don’t, objectively and relatively speaking) but this was the car that did.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    While the SUVs from the good old days were no track Gods, you couldn’t resist cracking a smile when their chassis hugged a twisty road with surprising speed and grace.

    What the hell were you driving, Syclones, Ram SRTs and SVT Lightnings? Because the last time I drove an old-school SUV it made my Sienna feel like a 5-Series.

    • 0 avatar
      Bancho

      I agree. I’d love to know more specifics about this since it doesn’t jive with *any* old school SUV I’ve ever driven.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      I’d have to agree with psarhjinian – body on frame SUVs are no sports cars. I was raised on late 70s FJ Landcruisers and they were prone to inducing feelings of imminent death when driven on public roads over 60 MPH. However, they were awesome off-road machines.

    • 0 avatar

      Obviously an SUV makes a minivan feel like a 5-series. But turning an older (smaller) SUV is far superior to new ones in terms of steering feel, turn-in is crisper even with tall tires, and they seem to have firmer suspensions too. And yet, their ride isn’t much worse than the new 4Runner. New SUVs feel way more like land yachts versus the originals. Everything is relative.

      I’ve driven several older Cherokees, 4Runners and Explorers to make that point. The original Cherokee was so much fun I dare to call it a sports sedan. So I shall!

      But those days are long gone.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      The old saying its fun to drive a slow car, fast applies here. My ancient ’95 Explorer is no match for a lot of things on the road, but I know it’s limits, which are low before it hits terminal understeer.

      But lower the tire pressure in the rear, up the pressure in the front, and you can have a tail-happy 50/50 weight distribution power slide as long as you can keep the 160hp OHV v6 on boil. It does have quick steering, a short turning radius.

      I’ve driven the IRS Explorers and in all honesty, can’t really tell the difference, other than going from leaf springs to coil springs took some of the bite out of the rear end over bumps. It’s somewhat entertaining to see how far I can get the rear to slide over speedbumps though.

  • avatar

    I’m wondering why I’m reading a review of a 4Runner that is comparing it to unibody car-based CUVs. Toyota makes (more than) one of those. If I buy a 4Runner expecting car-like handling, then I’ve bought the wrong vehicle. I do expect the 4Runner to be tough, the ride to be a bit rough, but when the pavement ends I want to be able to trust that this is like the 4Runners in the good old days. That is, that it will take me precisely where a CUV never could. I don’t mind a little extras here and there, if it can still do that.

    There are plenty of very good CUVs out there. I am glad Toyota has stayed true with the 4Runner and NOT turned it into one. I’m glad you can still buy one that does what you’d expect a truck with the 4Runner name to do.

    I would have much rather seen a review of the Trail Edition package, and maybe throw a little mud and rocks at it.

    • 0 avatar

      The 4Runner handles much like a CUV. Aside from the solid rear axle, I don’t know what’s very truck like about it. No dice on taking these things off of paved roads, I can’t make that happen. Maybe another TTAC writer can fill that gap.

    • 0 avatar

      The 4Runner handles much like a CUV. Aside from the solid rear axle, I don’t know what’s very truck like about it. No dice on taking these things off of paved roads, I can’t make that happen. Maybe another TTAC writer can fill that gap.

      What makes it a truck is the body-on-frame construction.

      The mid-size truck-based SUV is quickly disappearing, which I think kinda sucks. They’re incredibly useful and have actual off-road capability. Granted most people don’t need it or use it, but you could say the same thing about pretty much any car with more than 400hp. But it’s still nice to have that choice.

      When you guys review sports cars, we get to hear about their performance. This vehicle has performance capabilities, only they’re not necessarily speed-related. That’s all I’m getting at.

  • avatar

    I like the styling, but I can’t believe how big the 4Runner has gotten.

  • avatar
    bmoredlj

    $40K gets you seats that smell like rubber and crappy plastic? In an SUV built in Japan? What the heck gives?

    It used to be, when you shell out extra for a Toyota, you got dang-near the best plastics and finest fit and finish in the business.

    This was clearly designed prior to Akio-san’s mea culpa vis-à-vis quantity over quality, but I really hope future products like the FT-86 will have a little more love put into them, so to speak.

  • avatar
    Mercennarius

    Nissan Pathfinder > That.

  • avatar

    Check out the latest rankings from Consumer Reports in the new April Autos Issue. The content is free online at http://www.2010AnnualAutoIssue.com.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it’s been mentioned before, but we’re not real big on using the comment section as an advertising vehicle around these parts. I don’t typically gripe about this kind of thing, and maybe you’ve got some arrangement with the editorial staff, but I would rather not read advertisements from CR here.

      For a good example of being a valued, contributing member of this site, I’d recommend taking a look at how Michael Karesh handles himself here. His comments actually contribute to the discussion, and it’s obvious he at least read the article and has a passing interest in the topic. Credibility is important if you’re going to advertise here, and you’re not earning a lot of it this way.

      Just a suggestion…

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Oh Yeah…CR wanted me to sign up,and pay up. They make enough from the Japanese and the Korean car industry,they don’t need me. I guess I could buy a hard copy from the news stand,but I don’t need a garbage can liner right now.

    • 0 avatar

      Left unsaid: the reliability portion of the “latest rankings” in the “new” April Autos Issue are based on a survey conducted in April 2009–as in an entire year ago.

      Would CR let anyone else get away with peddling year-old data as “new”?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Who let the trolls out? Who, Who? Did you know that CR has determined that 40 toasters can fit in the rear of the 4Runner. Still boxed. Or twenty cases of green tea. Take that, Tahoe!

  • avatar
    obbop

    My hillbilly-surrounded shanty cost less than the above-mentioned depreciating non-asset though the hootch is admittedly non-mobile.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    I feel like a broken record – but anyone who fails to understand why vehicles get larger over time also fails to understand the demand-side of the automobile industry. The size increases are the direct response to the majority of customers of the prior generation vehicle coupled with regulatory requirements. There is no internally-driven reason for a car company to make their vehicle bigger. It’s the customers and regulations that push for change. Customers actually spend money buying the cars, they are not just a sub-set of bloggers and reviewers.

    The 4Runner now has side-curtain air bags. Did your 1998 version have them? No. Similarly, Guess what happens when you shove side curtains into the headliner. Same goes with the thicker crash beams, looming active head restraints, demand for more features, wider seats for fatter people, and concerns over rear-passenger legroom.

    When a vehicle gets too large, another one slots in where the prior one used to exist. Think Maxima/Altima/Sonata/Versa/Cube or Accord/Civic/Fit. As the Civic grows into the “old-days” Accord territory a new vehicle name appears to fill the void.

    For volume autos, they absolutely cannot take a step backwards in size under the same product name since the vast majority of esisting owners (again, these people spent money, they didn’t just drive the car for 2 hours) would view the reduction in size as the automaker failing to listen to their concerns.

    There is the argument that repeat car buyers (ones who buy the same car again) make up a small portion of the overall customer base, but I haven’t found the case of an auto-exec who makes a blanket decision to ignore complaints about inadequate leg-room, storage-space, and shoulder comfort of their vehicles.

    As for the ugly body-cladding… you can blame the people at the design clinic who kept on choosing the chubby-vehicle as the more attractive alternative out of the other design bucks.

    • 0 avatar
      lukemo2

      Very insightful!

    • 0 avatar
      postjosh

      holydonut, there is some truth to what you write but there is also a marketing aspect to size bloat. the car manufacturer’s are trying to hit a price point. rather than lowering the price of a given vehicle as the product ages and it’s marginal cost declines, the tendency is to hold the price point and add content to increase sales volume. marketing 101…

  • avatar
    Ralph SS

    Last year I replaced my very beat 1996 Pathfinder SE w/155k miles with a 1997 4Runner SR5 w/131k. Paid $6k for it. I wondered if I was crazy for paying so much for a vehicle with so many miles, but that is what it booked at. I could write an 800 word essay comparing the two vehicles but I’ll make just one point. I would say that if someone was shopping these two vehicles new I can’t see anyone choosing the 4Runner over the Pathfinder. The Pathfinder is easier to drive, much nicer interior, more features, more modern ergonomics, nicer, more balanced looking, more zoom (3.3 V6 – Nissan vs. 3.4 V6 Toyota). It wouldn’t even be close. But I can tell you that I have never in my life driven a vehicle (4Runner) that felt so solid and durable. I’ve used the phrase “hewn from a single ingot of metal”. I have no doubt it will still be 4running well after it’s paid for and there are 200k miles on the odo.

    • 0 avatar
      crazyfreddie

      My ’97 4Runer SR5 has over 238,000 hard miles on it. I am hard on the gas, hard on the brake, run it in 4WD when it’s raining hard at inter-state and highway speeds, and take it marginally off road on occasion. My plan was to keep it 10 years, then buy another, but the thing fires the second I turn the key and shows no sign of slowing down, so why mess up a good thing. I looked at the 2010 recently, and it’s a piece of junk in comparison in terms of interior/exterior. Most interesting to me, and speaks to holydonut’s point is that the MSRP for the Trail version, which appears closest to the ’97 SR5 in set up (in ’97, the SR5 was the middle version), is only about $2,000 more than the MSRP in ’97. They made it bigger with more gizmos, so they had to cut corners somewhere. Open and close the doors, for instance, or look at the quality of the interior, and it’s easy to see. with routine maintenance, I would expect you to get lots of miles out of yours.

  • avatar

    I cannot begin to say how disappointed i am in this redesign. I run dealer-trades for a Toyota dealership, and this past winter, (after weeks of lusting after the redesigned sheet metal of this new instantiation), i was finally sent on a trade into Pennsylvania in one of these. My GPS lead me to the mouth of a seasonal road with about a foot of packed snow resting upon it. I laughed in the face of nature and smiled as i selected four-wheel drive.

    Long story short, it was a two mile walk to barrow a shovel(on the only day all winter i chose to wear chuck Taylor’s rather than boots…), a two mile walk back, then twenty bucks to have a local saint with a bad-ass 90′s F-250 plow me out. Whats even funnier is that the vehicle i picked up and brought back, a V-6, stick shift Tacoma waltzed its way through that same snowy road with poise and ease.

    Is it sad that Toyota’s are no longer my most recommended cars?

    • 0 avatar
      davey49

      Why do you blame the car and not the tires? The new 4 Runner Limited comes with “highway all seasons”, not good for snow driving. I’m sure the new 4Runner would have made it fine if it had good winter tires installed.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Why on God’s Green Earth does this thing have 20″ wheels on it? I can’t even imagine what a decent set of tires for those things costs, and I am sure the requisite low-profile tires are a major contributor to the sub-par ride.

    But whatever, it’s a station wagon for those lacking in the penis department. Since exactly .00001% of them sold in the US will ever go farther off-road than a gravel parking lot.

    • 0 avatar
      davey49

      The OEM 20″ Bridgestones are $163 each at TireRack, the 17″ Bridgestones are $141. There is a 17″ Kumho for $105

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Dude, what’s up with all the penis-hate? In 9 years I’ve only done some light trail with my Trooper, but it’s nice to know I can should the occasion arise!

      And my penis is HUGE!
      /says your mom

  • avatar

    I like Toyotas but this is an overpriced, ugly, bloatmobile. I had 1990 and 1997 4Runners which were just the right size and not too expensive to get into. Whatever happened to 4 wheels, a stick shift and rubber floor mats? Just plain Ughhh!

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Just as we lose Hummer, Toyota rushes to the rescue.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I just bought a 2010 4Runner SR5 a week ago. It has 17″ wheels instead of those insane 20″ wheels. I gotta say that I mostly disagree with Sajeev (I don’t like Cougars, at all, either). It rides smooth and has some float to it (as expected, not supposed to be a racecar). It has a true selectable 4WD system versus those “slip and pray” systems of a CUV. The chassis is capable offroad, the clearance is a solid 10″ and the approach and departure angles are good. The plastics aren’t amazing, but the fit is perfect. It has bluetooth, ipod integration, backup camera and all that jazz. Seats are comfortable and visibility is good. The engine has plenty of grunt when it needs it. Otherwise it drives easy and without drama. It is the perfect garage companion to my wife’s MINI Cooper S and my VW GTI daily driver. I figure I’ll get 20 years out of this and it will do all the things that my little hatchbacks cannot. If you want a real review of the 2010 4Runner, check out the following link. http://communities.canada.com/DRIVING/blogs/driving/archive/2010/02/18/winter-not-tough-enough-for-2010-4runner.aspx He at least took it to places where it could shine instead of tooling around town. Tooling around town isn’t why you buy a 4Runner.

    • 0 avatar

      Plenty of people buy a 4Runner just to tool around town, and you know that just as well as I do. Matter of fact, I suspect the scales are still in that majority, even with the SUV market dwindling back to its original, non-poseur size.

      After reading the comments, I am tempted to drive a normal 4Runner as I suspect the smaller wheels will fix the ride/impact harshness problem.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Sajeev – The 4Runner wasn’t designed for tooling around town. Now, if people buy them an do that w/ them to show how “manly” they are instead of using it to explore this fantastic country, that isn’t the designers fault. The 4Runner is a hiking boot. They aren’t ideal for wearing to the mall, but they are fantastic in their element.

      Mine was hands down purchased to carry out truck duties (towing, offroad, cargo capacity) as well as comfortably carry adults for camping, hiking, and biking trips. The longitudinally mounted drivetrain and manually selected 4WD system (SR5 & trail only), as well as solid axle and BOF construction were what I wanted to get me places that CUVs cannot reach. Plus, I have concerns about the long term durability of unibody CUVs after a tough life of towing, hauling, and hooning.

      I test drove a Limited and didn’t care for the full time 4WD or 20″ wheels. I’m not sure if it was just a mental thing, but the Limited felt way less lively due to sending power to all the wheels. Plus, the 20″ wheels get a narrow 245 series tire, to keep the 22mpg highway rating, IMO, while the SR5 gets a 265 series tire. BTW, my SR5 is getting 21.2mpg on my first tank w/ 50% highway, 30% interstate, and 20% city.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with your comments, and your thoughts on the Limited make me wanna try out an SR5 like yours…even more so than before.

  • avatar

    Sajeev lost his marbles. Honestly, I’m shocked. Maybe he can write a blurb about 4Runner for CR, where I saw a graf about Jeep that complained about its “truck-like handling”.

    BTW, I heard that new 4Runner switched from Tacoma platform to FJ platform (which in itself is a development of Hi-Lux… oh an we had an article about Hi-Lux at TTAC, remember that?)?

    BTW 2, it’s funny how Toyota now has two very real yet halo SUVs: LandCruiser and 4Runner. How are they going to explain it to customers?

    • 0 avatar

      I like how you are honestly shocked, but you don’t say what’s so shocking. Is it the fact that the Limited has a lousy ride for a BOF truck? Or it has the vague dynamics, torqueless acceleration and unbelievably slow throttle response of a mundane CUV?

      I’m too shocking for CR, they’d never want me.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      The FJ? That can’t be good. Google FJ stress and frame cracks…

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    The 20″ wheels put this model squarely with similar poser-mobiles from high end suv makers. There is absolutely no reason for an off-road biased vehicle to have low profile tires, and buying an suv with them cannot be a clearer statement of personality issues.

    re: Ralph SS and his ’96 Pathfinder and ’97 4Runner. The ’96 Pathfinder was the least reliable of the first and second generation Pathfinders. The ’97′s and up were extremely reliable and would compare even better to the 4Runner. I have to disagree with his hope the 4Runner will endure. From what I see on the roads, rust will claim the 4Runner long before the Pathfinder. In the meantime, you get to put up with a narrow cabin and a high floor.

    I disagree with holydonut that customer demand is the cause of expansion of successive generations of car models. Vehicle manufacturers used this same nonsense to justify the high production and sales of trucks. The real culprit is that they tend to make more profit from larger vehicles, and spend about $500 per vehicle in advertising (conditioning) to shape vehicle preferences. Does anyone really think that on their own uninfluenced judgment, people would buy bazillions of clumsy goofy trucks?

    Since I don’t automatically do what I’m told to do, this vehicle bloat resulted in us going from a ’91 Pathfinder (which we were generally quite happy with) to a ’06 Grand Vitara, instead of a new Pathfinder or Xterra.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The 2011 Grand Cherokee should be able to handily take this thing down.

    • 0 avatar
      davey49

      It should but Jeep Grand Cherokee and “problem free for several 100K miles” don’t quite jibe. With the 4Runner (and other Toyota SUVs) it’s almost a given

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      Sergio Marchionne, the chief of both Chrysler Group and Fiat Group, said he will delay the launch of Chrysler’s redesigned 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee if he doesn’t think the vehicle’s quality is flawless.

      “It is the signature vehicle” of Fiat-run Chrysler — the first all-new vehicle since Italy’s Fiat took over — and will be seen as a sign of the quality of all successive Chrysler-Fiat vehicles, Marchionne said today in a speech to the Automotive Forum 2010 in New York.

      The Grand Cherokee “must be flawless’” he said. “It will not be launched (on time) otherwise.”

    • 0 avatar

      IIRC, the 2011 Grand Cherokee is no longer BOF. Not the end of the world to most buyers, but it loses some SUV cred (for lack of a better phrase) with the change.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      The upcoming replacement for the current Explorer will also move-away from BOF construction.

    • 0 avatar
      davey49

      sajeev- the Grand Cherokee has never been BOF. It just looks like that because the metal on the bottom of the body is extra thick and folded to have “frame rails”. You can’t separate the body from chassis.
      Same with the Cherokee and Liberty

  • avatar
    werewolf34

    The landcruiser is a great halo vehicle but it is out of reach for most consumers. It stickers at 60k+ and the buyer demographic clears over 180K a year. For a vehicle which most of its use is equal to a Sequoia.

    The 4runner is accessible to more buyers

  • avatar
    stuki

    The limited with the 20s is bizarre, to put it generously. The brakes are the same as on the SR5 & Trail, though, and a set of 17s are cheap. At which point it rides more like a 4runner is supposed to: Quiet, Rolly-Polly and pretty much unconcerned about such feats as driving over curbs and center dividers.

    Interior wise, too much has been sacrificed for third row room. To make room for that last row, the second was moved pretty far forward, and to give even barely adequate space in the second, the front was moved forward as well. This required the fronts to be raised higher than in previous Runners, as well as the Tacoma and FJ. The result being, a driving position more like a Land Cruiser or Van, than like previous 4runners. And there is almost no headroom. Going from a the driver’s seat of a 4R to an FJ feels like going from a casket to an aircraft hangar.

    The one saving grace, is the three row version has both rear rows folding perfectly flat on top of their cushions, making for a great camp bed. But for those who don’t buy cars for their sleeping accommodations, the 4R is too compromised.

    Another issue is, except for somewhat expensive and silly wheeled Limited, the other trims have old school style differential free transfer cases. Hence, they’re RWD trucks on road. For all those who think they “need” one of these to go skiing, this is likely to prove a major bummer. The transfer case is shift on the fly, and the latest generation, like the Taco and FJ, does retain stability and traction control even in 4 High, so all is not lost; but driving on paved roads with ice patches and snow is pretty awkward without a center diff. The Land Cruiser and manual FJ are much nicer. So are the various body on frame Lexi. It’s almost as if the new 4R was built for those who drive on paved roads to an off Road Park, go wheeling, and then go home on dry roads. For those guys, the new 4R in SR 5 and Trail trim makes sense.

    Packaging of the 4Runner is by far the most practical of any of the Prado based Toyotas; as, at the very least, it has a real tail gate, not a swing out door. The swing out doors are meaningful when they carry a spare without destroying departure angles, like on the FJ (and, I believe, the Prado in some markets), but the Lexus GX and the Prado in most markets have the darned barn door while still keeping the spare underneath, giving the worst of all worlds.

    Compared to the FJ (which I believe is in its last year), the 4Runner feels cheeeaaaap! The FJ is plasticky as well, but cost cutting has definitely picked up steam since that one was launched. Also, no manual on the 4R. And the off road angles on all but the trail 4R are not really all that. It’s still a nice “country car” for those who do lots of driving on poorly maintained seasonal roads and light trails, as they’re probably still customarily indestructible; but unless one needs the extra space, the FJ (with a manual, of course) is both more solid and a much “purer” drive. And for those who “need” 4wd for winter driving, the Outback and Pilot are much better choices. While the MDX and the Q7 is in an entirely different league.

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    I checked this out at the auto show and i ranked it near the top of my list of ugliest vehicles there.

    “so drive the 4Runner as its former self and prepare to clean the puke from your kid’s booster seats.”

    hehe, loved that

    • 0 avatar
      SacredPimento

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that.

      Just when I thought the 4Runner couldn’t get any uglier, they come out with something that looks like a cross between a current-gen Scion Xb and an Isuzu Axiom.

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    Just reinforces my decision to hang on to our family 2002 4Runner Sport Edition for as long as it’ll have us. At 121,000 miles the thing feels barely broken in and drives like new. The only thing that’s really showing its age is the terrible Toyota paint quality. Black paint under a Texas sun is by no means an ideal combo, but still, the paint on all horizontal surfaces looks really faded and beat up. By comparison the paint job on my 2000 Viggen looks almost showroom new. But mechanically, this thing is absolutely bullet-freaking-proof. And, dare I say, fun to drive.

  • avatar
    incyphe

    I’m sure Mr. Karesh is a nice man and i wish him well, but I shudder every time I see him mention his business True Delta. Even though his comments are generally valid, their credibility is undermined by his mentioning of True Delta. I just find it really bizarre that this site lets him continue to post his ‘plug’, and it makes me question what the business relationship between him and this web site is. Is he a part owner of the site?

    In any rate… I may be in a minority here. And if so, you can safely ignore my comment.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I just find it really bizarre that this site lets him continue to post his ‘plug’, and it makes me question what the business relationship between him and this web site is.

      While I sleep with CR, Michael’s website is an excellent alternative to worlds of information – especially the comparison mechanism, which measures out equal values. Join or don’t join (your choice), but I find it a great service to the many readers of TTAC as well as others. And his numerous reviews are well presented, although I may not always agree.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    “While the SUVs from the good old days were no track Gods, you couldn’t resist cracking a smile when their chassis hugged a twisty road with surprising speed and grace.”

    I’m sorry but I laughed reading that, and psarhjinian nailed it. Since did an SUV from the old days danced on roads better than your run of the mill CUV (a CX9 for instance)?

    The only elder SUV I can think that’s fun to drive would be the original Jeep Cherokee. Other than that…a Blazer? Explorer?

    Gotta be kiddin’ me.

    • 0 avatar

      Since when was a CX-9 a run of the mill CUV? How often do you even see one on the road?

      Try a Highlander or its RX twin. Neither of which are fun to drive, especially compared to rear wheel drive, narrow, torquey SUVs from yesteryear. Obviously the Cherokee is the best example of that breed, but the Blazer and Explorer were still far more entertaining to drive than most FWD CUVs or today’s 4Runner Limited.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      My ’95 Explorer is a heck of a lot more fun to drive than say Mom’s Rendezvous, or even sis’ Envoy. The Envoy can leave mine in the dust, but get both on a winding road, and the Explorer will eventually catch up and leave the Envoy.

      I have also taken my 2wd Explorer off pavement, into pastures, fire trails, BLM trails and all other sorts of places that you don’t expect a grocery-getter SUV to be.

  • avatar
    littlehulkster

    So am I the only one who thinks the tires on this thing look almost comically narrow? Maybe it’s just perspective, but I’ve seen old Beetles with wider looking rubber.

  • avatar
    Bancho

    Looking back over this article I was struck by how much the side profile reminded me of the GMC Terrain.

    @littlehulkster:
    I think the width of the tires looks more than adequate. The wheel diameter does skew the proportions though, especially in the 3/4 view shown in the article.

  • avatar
    Ion

    Slightly off topic but…

    I’ve seen a few comments saying how when sports cars are reviewed their used as sports cars but when SUV’s are reviewed they get used as regular cars. Now I think this point is moot since most statistics say that around 10% of SUV’s leave the pavement, and I’m willing to bet that more than 10% of sports cars see track time. Hell, I’d say it’s likely that even qausi-sports cars like the Mustang/Camaro have a higher percentage of seeing a dragstrip than an SUV does seeing a trail.

    • 0 avatar

      Yea, let’s dig into that: rarely have I driven a sports car for TTAC on a racecourse. Those reviews are as “flawed” as this, I drive them on public roads while not being a threat to other drivers/pedestrians.

      That’s what you get on a normal pre-purchase test drive too. It’s not exactly fair, but that’s life.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      Yeah those reviews are mostly track time paid on the manufacture’s dime right? I’d still wager on more sports cars seeing track time than an SUV does a trail though.

  • avatar
    Alcibiades

    The invasion of the huge wheels on any car, but especially on SUVs, has got to stop. Is it a sign of low IQ, or bad taste, or both?

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      My wife and I saw a Ford Edge Sport yesterday. 22″ wheels standard. I chuckled thinking of how the female driver was going to go berzerker here in 3 years when the tire shop tells her that it’ll be $1500 for a new set of tires.

  • avatar

    Some cool comments everybody, I’m inspired to write my own.

    “While the SUVs from the good old days were no track Gods, you couldn’t resist cracking a smile when their chassis hugged a twisty road with surprising speed and grace.”

    I don’t know what decade or year your talking about probably pre-90′s…but I really connected with that sentence Sajeev. I own a ’96 Limited 4Runner and it has been with me my whole driving life which hasn’t been that long (turned 21 last year). It never fails to make me smile on the twists. Excellent review, I was looking forward to the TTAC opinion. The 2010 4Runner had me kind of excited. I liked the new SUV capable looking interior, dash, and body style ever since I saw it on toyota-4runner.org. If there is a day I want/need a newer vehicle the lasting impression my 4Runner has had on me is that I must have a hatch. So I’m going to go read Mr. Don Gammill Jr.’s GTI review again to get over this 4Runner mess.

  • avatar
    7th Frog

    get a fully loaded Xterra Off Road and pocket the other 10k.

  • avatar
    StatisticalDolphin

    This is interesting, the first negative review I’ve seen of the new 2010 4Runner. All the others have been very positive to glowing. Motormouths dot com is good place to see car reviews aggregated. I’m beginning to think about replacing a Sequoia with the new 4Runner. The biggest concern I have is the passenger room compromises in rows 1 and 2 forced by the inclusion of row 3. IMHO, third rows should be restricted to big boy SUVs and minivans. In anything smaller, they force designers into too many unfortunate interior space decisions. And, if you really need the 3rd row there are usually aftermarket options available.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      You can always get a model without the 3rd row. My ’10 4Runner has no 3rd row and that results in a completely different setup for the 2nd row.

      Limited (5 seat model): http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/toyota/photo.aspx?fid=80790&id=E3C16244

      SR5 (7 seat model): http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/toyota/photo.aspx?fid=80916&id=E3C16241

      Also, the 3rd row models do have fore and aft sliding capability (keep cycling through the SR5 pictures to see this), so there shouldn’t be too much compromise unless you’re actually putting people into the 3rd row. Basically, w/ the 3rd row down, you should be able to slide the middle row all the way back. The 2 row models have fixed positions for the back seat. The only thing that bugs me about the 2nd row seating in my SR5 (I have a non-3rd row model) is that the bulge in the headliner means to make clearance for the moonroof means that taller people will have that bulge in their field of vision. It is more of a perception thing than actual room, though.

      The driver seat has loads of adjustability, so it is great for all heights. The front passenger seat is a fixed height and will feel like there isn’t a ton of headroom for those over 6′ if you get the moonroof.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    The 4Runners from two generations ago were beautiful designs. I look at this piece, and I have to shake my head. I know the market isn’t really there for vehicles such as the older 4Runners (or so I’m told) and the Montero Sports, Pathfinders, etc., but I’d really like to see new versions of them. Those designs are the real deal.

    • 0 avatar
      StatisticalDolphin

      Remember the first gen, with the removal fiberglass roof? I searched for one in good condition and had to give up. Everything out there has been butchered. I had a 1990, the first year of the 2nd generation. Many fond memories of that truck.

      It seems like Toyota has maintained some of that original heritage in the 5th generation. And, how many other choices are available? There are fewer alternatives in the mid-sized body on frame SUV category every year.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    What a bloated ugly mess. And what is with the Dodge Ram oversized 20″ rubber. Is Toyota in with the tire companies now trying to prop up sales with absurdly overpriced large rubber? Can you say $2000 tores replacement cost. And those massive oversized tires have a negative impact in the snow, road noise and ride comfort.I also agree about Toyotas interiors as of late. Thet have taken a step downhill. I have sat in numerous used Camrys, Corollas and Tundras with broken center console storage doors, misaligned glovebox doors, loose A-pillar trim moldings and worn off silver paint splashed about the interiors(The Prius is big on this). Try closing the door on a Corolla/Matrix or Yaris. It sounds like the paper thin tin can it is! The reference to the ride/handling and low torque can also be used to describe several other Toyos I have rented. And shame on them for removing the far more spirited V8 and shoving a dog underpowered 4 cylinder in such a massive vehicle. It really is sickening that CAFE is slowly ruining our vehicles once again as it did in 1973 and 1980 with the oil shortages and drastic changes in MPG rules. I can forsee a time when towing will be so hard to do becuase everything will have a gutless low torque 4 banger or underpowered V6 and buying a truck will require and arm and a leg to clear mightly government MPG rules.

  • avatar

    I have a 2008 4R SR5 V8 with full time 4WD. If I could have the 2010 interior (minus the stupid third seat) I think it would be an improvement. But I prefer the 2008 body style. Getting an average 21mpg on the computer. At 50K miles I am still running the original Michelin Cross Terrains which probably have another 5K left on them. It’s a great vehicle and I’m still enjoying driving it.

  • avatar

    Toyota had been quietly neutering the 4Runner over the last few years. At the same time, Nissan (and then Honda w/ the Pilot) started beefing up their mid SUV’s. When it came down to brass tacks, we went w/ the Pathfinder over the 4Runner because the 4Runner just looked soft. Toyota must have heard the grumbling, because this thing is far from subtle. Kind of like comparing Barry Bonds from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Barry Bonds from the San Francisco Giants….

  • avatar

    I can’t edit my last post but yesterday I looked at a few 2010 4Rs while mine was in for service. Again I’m so glad to have the 2008, the new body style really annoys me. It’s just way too blocky and squared off


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