2010 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition Road Test

Alexandra Straub - CAP staff
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If I were to describe the all-new 2010 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition in one word, it would have to be 'diverse.'  I use that word because this SUV's new look is bold and rugged yet can appeal to anyone from a die-hard off-roader to a soccer mom.  It can satiate the appetite of a sporadic trail tackler, but also transport people from point A to B without feeling every imperfection on the road.  Bottom line, it can serve totally different functions without feeling out of place while doing any of them. 
Now in its fifth generation, this all-new utilitarian vehicle seats five (seven with the Limited trim), has a new interior to complement its all-new exterior design that is also to-the-point yet still attractive, and a slew of gadgets that will help in ones quest to venture into untamed territory.  The Trail Edition comes complete with locking rear differentials, a Multi-Terrain Select System (MTS) that regulates wheel spin for optimal traction, beefy 265/70R17 all-season tires with unique 17" aluminum alloy wheels, Crawl Control, water repellant seat fabric and more. 

Of the three trims offered in the 4Runner lineup the base SR5, Trail Edition or luxury-focused Limited trim, the Trail Edition is the one best equipped to take you into the bush.  It's also easily recognized when placed beside its siblings since it has a hood scoop, running boards, a unique grille and matte black door handles, exterior mirrors, roof rack and bumpers. 

Even if the 4Runner TE never leaves the comfort of asphalt, that doesn't mean the show can't go on.  There are a couple of really neat features to get a party started, literally, the first being the "Party Mode" button located to the right of the steering wheel. This switch reroutes the majority of the audio signal to the rear door mounted speakers, which is ideal for a tailgate party.  There is also a sliding cargo rack that supports up to 200 kilos (440 lbs) of weight located in the luggage area; a perfect sitting spot for party guests!  Now, if partying on the tailgate isn't your style, the sliding cargo rack also very handy for loading or accessing luggage and larger items placed in the 1,300-litre (47.2 cu ft) trunk. 

In TE trim, Toyota has done a fantastic job of creating an SUV that drives agreeably in the city but also off the beaten path.  Its front double wishbone and rear four-link suspension combined with a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) give the 4Runner the ability to drive with confidence and stability on and off the pavement.  Had I not pointed out to my passengers that the Trail Edition was able to crawl on rocks, immerse itself in water up to a depth of 27.6" (68.6 cm) and tackle the trails with its H4F, H4L, L4L modes, no one would have guessed that this comfortable-riding SUV was also so capable.  

When driving, the 4Runner does not hide its true colours.  It is a large vehicle and it feels like one, too.  For some this can be a deterrent, but for me it's not.  While I wasn't crazy about its turning radius, that's something that just comes with the SUV territory.  What I did like was its stability at highway speeds and its capability in corners.  It performed quite marvelously for its class.  I also took a liking to the power rear doors integrated hatch window, which was rather large.  This made visibility out the rear quite good.  Also, the TE trim's rearview mirror came with an integrated backup camera so I could see even better what was going on behind me. 

For the 2010 model year, we say goodbye to the V8 and hello to the more powerful 4.0L, 24-valve, DOHC, V6 engine, which is now standard across all 4Runner trims.  The V6 actually boasts great output by ten horsepower in comparison to last year's V8.  The total output of the V6 is 270hp and 278 lb-ft of torque.  The upgraded V6 is mated to a 5-speed, Super Electronically Controlled (Super ECT) transmission. 

Even with the smaller displacement engine, 4Runner is not a vehicle for the faint of wallet.  That's not because it's expensive to purchase, in fact it's quite reasonable. Its base MSRP is $36,800 and the price as tested for the Trail Edition is $45,530 (includes freight and delivery), but the V6 has a bit of a drinking problem.  It uses an estimated 12.6L/100km in the city and 9.2L/100km on the highway.  Those results aren't even too bad, especially for a vehicle of its size, but with petroleum prices hovering at over $1.15/litre here in BC, filling the tank up wasn't the highlight of the week. 

Overall, the 2010 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition gets four enthusiastic rocks out of five from me.  Its diverse portfolio of city comfort blended with off-roading features makes it a very agreeable everyday SUV without sacrificing its ability to perform where it really counts: off the pavement.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: SUV, Toyota, 2010, 4Runner, $30,000 - $39,999, $40,000 - $49,999,

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