2010 Toyota 4Runner: First Drive


By John Stewart for Cars.com

The 2010 Toyota 4Runner debuts today at the State Fair of Texas, and it’s one of the last body-on-frame midsize SUVs on the market.

We spent a week in the 2010 4Runner Trail Edition, covering more than 800 miles, mostly on the highway with a few hours of commuting, mountain roads and trail driving thrown in.  The Trail Edition would be the most mechanically specialized 4Runner, trading on-road comfort for maximum off-road capability. Even so, we can vouch that the 4Runner is a comfortable cruiser and daily driver. In one day we logged 13 hours on the highway without feeling the least bit deprived.


The 2010 4Runner is designed with outdoor enthusiasts and family adventures in mind. Now in its fifth generation, the 4Runner is far more rugged than the Camry-based Highlander crossover and more versatile than the two-door FJ Cruiser. Toyota offers the 4Runner in three distinct models, each aimed at buyers with different lifestyle priorities.
  • For those who want maximum economy, there’s the SR5. It comes with a four-cylinder engine that gets 23 mpg on the highway and is available in either two- or four-wheel drive, with minimal frills.
  • For those who want a touch of luxury, there is the Limited model, which offers amenities like leather seating, full-time four-wheel drive, a 15-speaker audio system, 20-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and color-keyed exterior styling with chrome accents.
  • Finally, the Trail Edition is for the true outdoor recreationalist. It combines a part-time four-wheel-drive system with advanced electronic enhancements that allow the user to dial in off-road driving control based on the nature of the terrain. It’s aimed at buyers who want something as capable as the FJ Cruiser but with four doors and more cargo room.
Power and Mileage


In the interest of better fuel economy, Toyota has ditched the optional 4.7-liter V-8 engine in favor of a revised high-output version of their 4.0-liter V-6 that gets 270 horsepower. That’s 34 hp more than the prior V-6, and 10 hp more than the old, optional V-8. The 4Runner feels quicker than ever before, with stronger response. We had ample high-speed passing power and on-ramp acceleration — even with a full load, and there’s enough power to pass on the highway without forcing a downshift.  The V-6 is run by an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission. Its maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.

We averaged 20.3 mpg during the week we drove the 4Runner, which is a little better than its combined 19 mpg EPA rating.

Driving Dynamics


As you might expect, the Trail Edition rides and handles like a 4x4. The suspension permits a fair amount of vibration on the highway; contact with cracks and small imperfections are noticed in the cabin. On the other hand, larger irregularities — washed out dirt roads, speed bumps or dips at intersections — tend to disappear, soaked up by springs, shocks and bushings tuned to handle tough terrain.

Steering is easy and reasonably accurate in the 4Runner, and it’s easy to keep on-center while cruising on the highway. It takes minimal effort to maneuver in tight spaces. We think the 4Runner would readily out-handle and ride more smoothly than most full-size SUVs, but car-based unibody SUVs would be noticeably more precise, with better on-road manners.

For-Real Off-Road Capability
While the 4Runner might be so-so when it comes to on-road manners, it clearly excels in off-road capability. The frame is as rugged as they come, and the driveline has been strengthened all the way back to the rear differential.  The four-wheel-drive system in the SR5 and Trail Edition is a part-time system favored by off-road enthusiasts, enhanced by electronic traction control, speed control and terrain-following innovations.  Four-wheel drive is actuated by a short lever on the center console.  

We found that it was easy to shift in and out of 4-Lo, as long as the transmission was in Neutral, and it was easy to get back to two-wheel drive again. A locking rear differential that’s electronically actuated is standard on the Trail Edition. One unique feature, the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, disconnects the stabilizer bars to enhance suspension droop in highly irregular terrain. KDSS and other enhancements that allow for fine tuning the traction control system were formerly only available on the top-of-the-line Toyota Land Cruiser. Ground clearance — 9.6 inches for the 4x4 — is ample for trail use; the 33-degree angle of approach is very good, but it’s not quite equal to the Hummer H3, another superior off-road crawler.

How Big Is It?


The 4Runner offers a three-row option with room for seven. The interior volume is enhanced by the rear seats that fold flat without having to remove the headrests, and the rear liftgate opens wide. That allowed us to load the 4Runner with our son’s dresser, mountain bike, computer, chair, guitar and amp — plus boxes, clothes and groceries — to bring to his college quarters in a single trip.
By David Thomas | September 24, 2009 | Comments (50)


Original sheth

No comments on the mileage or interior quality? 18/23 for a 4500lb+ vehicle is not impressive. Not only will the base model be slow, its not much more efficient than the V6. Its funny that some have said the Lacrosse shouldn't offer a four cylinder based on weight and yet this SUV has one and is far heavier than the Buick.


Toyota is joking, right?
A new vehicle with a 4 speed automatic!?.,
The 2.7 I4 should have an 8 speed automatic

Where is the 6 speed automatic version of the 5 speed automatic (extra overdrive ratio of 0.586)?
When that comes, then the axle ratio can be shortened to about 4.1 from 3.727 (faster AND bettter mileage)

05 owner

23 highway is not bad for a "real" SUV with large tires and high ground clearace. These are more rugged than you may think. Too bad they dropped the V8-more torque!!! Towing capacity dropped from 8,300 to 5,000 (from old V8 to new V6). New model looks great. I wished they still offered AWD, that would better suite most 4runner owners. Your not going to rock crawl a $35K vehicle but certainly mud, snow and ice are common..a good reason why the older 4runner AWD and traction control systems are difficult to beat.

Original sheth

05 owner

23mpg isnt bad for a V6. That figure is for a four cylinder with 157hp. Its bad.


Bad move removing the V8, LED tail lights, and projector headlamps. If it aint broke, don't fix it!!


Where is every fanboy who usually complains about how much a luxobarge most offroad 4x4s have become? This car looks so much like the classic 4runner from the late 80s to early nineties, I like the look, but I think most consumers who usually would have looked at the 4runner for suburban duty might be turned off, resulting in a sharp drop off in sales... maybe Toyota can steer them towards the Highlander.


yessis, you people dont know how to pack a boot properly hey! You should have put the black box next to the brown one and the white appliance with the other big box on top of each other, and those dirty looking bags should be kept neatly behind the boxes, then there'll be some space for some cokes and padkos

Al G.

I like the new 4-Runner but if I were in the market for one I'd never buy it with the new 4 cylinder. To me it's too heavy of vehicle meanning it would be slow and I wouldn't get good gas mileage.


i dont see any place where a 4-speed auto is mentioned, but i do agree that if Toyota is really serious about this 8-speed auto they should start with this vehicle here. it would be a perfect addition to the V6 power train and will make it noticeably quicker and efficient, probably adding an extra 2 mpg overall.

It's not mentioned in the article, but Autoblog quotes the engine as the Tacoma's 2.7L with its 4-speed auto. Wikipedia (I know...) claims this as well. Whether or not this is true, time will soon tell, but preliminarily this appears to be the case.

18/23 for the 2.7 (157hp & 178 lb-ft) *wow that sucks*; 17/23 for the 4.0. 17/22 for V6/4x4.

Dave Wuss

I really like the new look, Toyota did a great job with this new version. They definitely have another winner on it's hands. The 4Runner is so far superior to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer, and Avis Trailblazer that they don't even figure into the equation any more. Anyone who has ever owned a 4Runner knows how bullet proof reliable they are. It's good to see that a high quality vehicle like the 4Runner still has it's place in the world.


I like it. It resembles the look of the 96-'01ish 4Runner in looks..thats a good thing since the last one was dog ugly.

Original sheth


The trailblazer has been out of production for almost a year and was never designed for serious off roading. the JGC will be replaced next year with a model that looks at least as good as this and offers a V8. The explorer is being replaced next year as well with a unibody model that should beat this in mileage with ECOBOOST. There is no up to date competition right now for this trucks since manufacturers aren't exactly rushing to redesign BOF gas guzzlers these days.


Toyota sure likes the zit headlight styling philosophy. Looks like the acne has spread to the taillights now as well. The puckerface frown grille tries to make the car look mean but only makes it look like...well a frown. Love that fake hood scoop.

Original sheth

I can't get over the 4 speed auto. Not that the press is actually mentioning it.


In status conscious LA and with status conscious rich yuppies, that Trail Edition will be a big hit. Forget the gas mileage and the towing capacity. They just show off in them.
One Question. Where the hell are the bumpers?
That plactic crap disintegrates on the slightest contact!


I have a 2001 4Runner with a dealer add-on Toyota Racing Supercharger. I love this new 4Runner except for one critical mistake; getting rid of the optional V8 was a bad move because this greatly reduces torque and therefore towing capacity, even with greater horsepower than the V8. Now anyone looking to do serious towing has to buy the Sequoia and not everyone wants a full-size SUV. Big mistake. They should have improved BOTH engines and kept the V8 option for people who tow. I'm very disappointed.


This truck is really nice looking. What ever happened to the Trailblazer and Explorer as I haven't seen any updates about them. I heard GM finally wised-up and gave up on the Trailblazer because of all the warranty work it was costing the company.


I think toyota did right by increasing the V6 power to 270 HP/278 torque..and getting rid of the V8..If your worried about it only towing 5000lbs you need to buy a Sequoia, Tundra or another truck. Most boats under 21ft weigh less than 4000Lbs with fuel anyway..Two jet skis weigh less 1800lbs.

If your pulling a 23ft camper trailer like I am with my 2007 Tundra, then you defintely shouldnt be pulling it with a 4runner. If people were buying the V8, then Toyota wouldnt have pulled it..Its all about practicality people. Buy a darn Rav4 if you want fuel economy.

As for me, I need a real 4x4 SUV to drive my kids on the beach at the Outerbanks.

John Galt

According to the Toyota website, all 2010 4Runners come with the V6 and a 5 speed automatic transmission. A 4 banger is not offered at any trim level.


It looks like they copied the Sequoia before the redesign, especially in the side pictures. Take away the hood and its *almost* identical.


Couple of Points on the new 4Runner

-Weight 4400-4805 lbs.
-V6 4X4 gets 1 mpg less then 4cyl @22/17 vs 17/15 for the outgoing 4x4 V8. IMPRESSIVE!
-New v6 features dual vvt-i and ACIS. Outstanding acceleration and fuel economy for a vehicle that weighs almost 5000 lbs.
Towing Capacity- 5000 lbs reflects the new ASE standard that all manufacturers will adopt as they redesign/replace models. That stated the V6 is equal to the last gen V6. 5000 lbs is a 22-24 foot boat. If somebody is towing more, then a full sized SUV or truck is the way to go.
Original Seth- The next gen Explorer will be a unibody. It won't be in the same category as 4Runner anymore.
Let's see how the ecoboost compares against a Highlander Hybrid.
Interior quality and versatility is impressive.

Rick Lee

Here it is, 4Runner was an offroad vehicle when originally designed, lets keep it that way, in fact lets bring back the removeable roof, It is not a work truck therefore it really doesnt need to tow 8,000 lbs, I currently have an 05 V8 and like it but it more than most people need. We need to get back to real Toyota Roots, compact offroad capable vehicles. I am tired of all these Road Tanks that squirm at a mud puddle.

The new 2010 Toyota 4Runner is an attractive model, it has got some good features like Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, new Multi-Terrain System, look and performance is fantastic. To know more on 2010 Toyota 4Runner features, performance, refer http://www.macktruck.org/2010-toyota-4runner-trail-edition.html


Did think it could get more ugly. But it did!


Haha "Anyone who has ever owned a 4Runner knows how bullet proof reliable they are."

Your funny, thats why thr 89-95 4runners had AWFUL AWFUL problems with the headgaskets blowing randomly for no reason. 4 runners are a joke, always have gotten worse mileage and less power than the competors like Pathfinder. That things a joke, 150 horse 4 banger in that huge pig, wow, Toyota sure is doing innovative things, lol.


In 2010 the SR5 drops the locking center differential and multi-mode. The limited is full time 4 wheel and has the locking center diff. but has 20" wheels with lower profile sidewalls and your stuck with X-Reas whether you want it or not. Try finding decent off road tires for it. The Trail model has neat off road features, but they are for low gear only, in hi 4x it is no better than the SR5 ( not counting the locking rear diff. which will have limited use on windy snowy roads ). The SR5 is a step backwards from last year, the Trail version is a specialized version for those that can afford to take $38,000 off road hardcore ( read "bash it" ) and the Limited looks like a pimp mobile with the worthless wheel / tire size, why not just put spinners on it and maybe neon lights under the rocker panels for crying out load. As a whole, I think they have taken the 4runner a step backwards, no doubt due to marketing. If they gave us the Trail version with a locking center diff. and multi-mode they would have risked cutting into the Landcrusier market, at $70k a pop. To bad. If they would just put the locking center differential and multi-mode back in the SR5 I have no doubt they would sell more 4runners.

If they keep the Trail Edition around and add a locking/Torsen center diff. and/or the Tundra's V-8, then Toyota's REALLY onto something. As it is, the 5th Gen. 4Runner Trail is a GREAT starting point. Land Cruiser Prado platform, so no crossover/car-like platform BS here. It has those two flaws, but those are details that can be remedied in subsequent model years, or in a mod shop for those of us who are hardcore off-roaders!


I just don't get it... this truck is/should be a midsize suv and powered as such. If you want monster power/8000.00lb towing and space... get a Sequioa that's what it's there for so stop complaining!!! Not everybody needs/can afford limitless power everyday. You're lucky you have something that big to tow!!!


Ive driven this thing already....Its much more comfortable than the previous generation, as far as space for the driver goes. Im disappointed that the V8 is gone, but its rediculous to put a 4 cylinder in an suv this big. Its not meant to be a fuel sipper. My biggest complaints? This time around the 4runner has adopted Toyota's infamous electric steering that is completely numb and lifeless. And I cant figure out why they put the window controls WAAAAY high up on the door, where you literally have to reach ackwardly up to press them. Finally, every Limited model that I've seen has Full-time 4wd, a big pet peeve of mine...I want to be able to switch the system when I want. The FT 4wd just slows the 4runner down and drains the gas mileage

bobby d

Diesel is what I'mlooking for and,according to toyota Canada,not going to be,therefor no new toyota for me,I'll be driving my Tacoma till the end of time!


Yea u drive your tacoma till the frame breaks like the rest of them.....usually in just a few years time....


Erik it sounds like you have a serious bug up your heinie about Toyotas. As far as the Tacoma frame issue, they got a crappy batch of frames from Dana, they recognized the problem and took action to fix the problem and protect thier consumers. Nothing wrong with that in my book. http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/toyota/TYT2008030714643.aspx

My experience with Tacomas has been great. My '02 Tacoma has been all over the country since I bought it in '01. I've driven class IV and harder trails, towed boats and trailers, loaded the crap out of it with sandbags and whatever else I needed to haul. Only thing Ive ever had to replace on it was the clutch after I burnt mine out from rockcrawling. No frame rusting or breakage yet either, lol. Back to 4Runners, this is a 2010, not a pre-96. Yes, the old 3.0 V6's had some problems. Aside from that, to my knowlege there has been no serious reliability issue with post-96 4Runners. Go stroke your e-peen somewhere else.


My read is Toyota is balancing demographics and economics w/ the 2010 4Runner. Face it, there aren't as many buyers out there that can spend $35K+ for a rock basher. The US dollar is in the toilet & Yen profit on 4Runner is way, way down. Better buyer investment would be a used 4Runner w/ the V8, AWD, etc features UR crying about. In case you haven't noticed the excess car/truck capacity worldwide, auto companies are in survival mode, have to move vehicles for the MASSES & rationalize (read reduce) product offerings. As a 50+ previous 4Runner owner, I welcome the 5th Gen w/ fuel efficient V6, trim options & reasonable price/features available in 2010 - way better than the CUV's & I'm betting a lot more reliable. Thank God there still is a 4Runner. It's not perfect but what vehicle is?

Joe - Pittsburgh

Just purchased a 2010 SR5. Traded in a 2003 Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer and cannot be more happy. This vehicle is amazing. Agree with someones post regarding the steering, but other than that, this vehicle rocks! I am still in the break-in period, but gave it some heavy throttle yesterday and it really moves. I am so glad I didn't go with the Explorer again, and cannot stand the look of the Pilot or any other "SUV" out there. I say SUV in quotes because the majority of SUVs out there are not truly off-road vehicles. I could have purchased a Highlander, but it's essentially a car with 4WD and being that I'm 41, I wanted something more "younger" feeling. By the way, I love the fact that there are no buttons to press to engage 4W Hi and Lo (at least in the SR5 - the limited is full-time 4WD and I believe you have to use a button to dial-in Hi or Lo. The fact that you actually have to shift it into 4WD is awesome. If anyone has any questions on how this vehicle performs, let me know.


I have an '06 V8 and love it. I like that Toyota has minimized most of the silly plastic cladding around the new model. But I also noticed they dropped the nice projector headlights and LED taillights...perhaps a cost cutting move to keep the price the same?


I was very disappointed today to find out there is no V8. I get the same average millage with my '03 V8 with better performance and less work. What about the all wheel dirve? I was going to buy a new one but Toyota hasn't given me a reason to purchase the new design. Commonn sense, a six can't handle the 4 runner's weight.


I'm a former 4Runner owner. Pretty reliable but awfully expensive maintenance. Great off-road but cramped, underpowered, and poor mileage (considering its size and power). This looks to keep in line with that. I upgraded to a full size and wish I had dumped the 4Runner a long time ago. The price and mileage of this thing is similar to what you can get in a full size. So unless you need the off road ability, why would you buy this?


I own a 2005 4Runner limited edition , and i will not trade for this version not the look not even close the power engine

Ryan K.

wow.... shitty toyota tryin to pull a jeep thing? haha good luck

JB Rock

1997 Sport Edition owner here... The 2010 appears to be a jaunt in a better direction that preceeding years.
My wish list still includes a 5 speed(or 6) Manual and METAL bumpers. When we're offroad the 4Rnr WILL make contact with the ground. Exterior durability seems to be still lacking...

Peter Atallah

No V-8. And a 4? A 2.7 liter 4? Whats wrong with Toyota, now they're using a 2.7 for the 4Runner and Sienna.

loves toyota

So, I noticed some Erik guy posting about how pathetic the 4runner was in comparison to the pathfinder. Are you kidding? Toyota is way more reliable than a Nissan in my opinion...not to mention the oxidation on all that plastic on the pathfinders and xterras is sooooo ugly! I recently test drove the 2010 limited and I fell in love. This will be my next vehicle. And as far as Erik hating on the Tacoma. Are you serious? My dad bought his first tacoma brand new in 1998. He put over 200,000 miles on it that were virtually maintenance free. He sold it in 2009 and purchased the 2009 tacoma. So basically Erik needs to not be so jealous of how much better a 4runner is in comparison to his crappy pathfinder.


The Pathfinder was a real truck - comparable to the 4Runner - back when it still had a real frame. I had a 1988. I think the last of those Pathfinders was around 1991 if I recall right. It was tank solid and I drove it (towing a small trailer & off-roading often) well over 200k before selling it. The new Pathfinders (and other unibody or partial frame SUVs) can't cut the heavy duty stuff the 4Runner can. Nissan does make a really nice V6, but too lightweight for my purposes I now have the V8 4Runner, and tow a 25' travel trailer all over the west, and can take it places 95% of the other SUVs couldn't reach.


I had a 1998 4Runner that I drove across the US and canada, and put over 380,000 km (200,000+ miles) on, and traded it on a new Toyota, - I still see it around town, now over 400,000 km. The last cross continent trip I took with it was with over 250,000 km on it, and it never skipped a beat. I also used the thing for what it was intended for and took it way off road, and believe me up here off road is not just some dirt track...
I am buying a new truck this summer, and it will be a 2010 or 2011 4Runner Trail edition - without having to do the jobs I did before, I may keep it for a dozen years - like I did on an old Toyota pickup I owned!


So and i have an oldsmobile with 340k MILES not KM, on it does it mean every oldmobile car is bulletproof and goes forever and is the most reliable thing ever created? No, so just cause you got lots of miles from a 4 runner doesnt make them the most reliable peices of rusty tin on the road.


I've had my 2010 SR5 V6 4X4 over 30 days here in western North Carolina. We are into our 3rd snow of the season. I had it in the roughest position I hope to have it in ever, today and it preformed beyond my expectations. Took it up a 1/4 to a 1/2 mile steep unkempt driveway, large rocks and humps covered with snow and made it with very little effort.
It drives and rides much superior than my wife's Odyssey. so far I am well pleased.

When our 2010 4Runner arrived back in December, we were staring down the pipe of another Canadian winter.At least 10 centimetres of snow fell through the week. My friend Geoff, who owns a cottage across the This 4Runner is an ox. At about 9 pm Saturday there came a knock on the cottage door. It was my neighbour.

2010 4Runner

I drove every SUV and bought a 2010 4Runner. Having owned many "American" and "Japanese" cars and trucks I have found Toyota to be the most reliable and cheapest to maintain. (For all the uneducated bloggers please refer to any Consumer Reports) Nissans are way to expensive to maintain now and the Pathfinder felt like a toy compared to the 4Runner (it did have a lot of power but felt cheaper). The power in the Toyota is very good and the fuel economy is very reasonable...I average 20MPG so far and its still breaking in so it should increase further. They stopped offering the V8 because it wasn't a big seller and its cheaper to maintain a V6. I don't think the 4 cylinder will sell well. The LED tail lights would have been nice but the had to make the vehicle more affordable due to the economy. I am very pleased with the purchase and it seems quicker than my buddies V8 4Runner...after the breakin period we will find out.


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