Quick Drive: 2010 Toyota 4Runner SR5

By Winding Road Staff

March 16, 2010

The 4Runner SR5 did a decent job in winning me over, over the course of the weekend that it was in my charge.

The first night I took the SUV home, I was distinctly put-off by rubbery on-road dynamics, as well as by the very chunky exterior styling. Hard acceleration or braking in the Toyota always results in some pretty hardcore “squat and dive” behavior, meaning aggressive driving was always rewarded by a high level of drama—in a bad way.

Still, the 4Runner isn’t without its charms. The rambunctious ride quality might not be great for canyon carving (and by “not great” I mean “absolutely terrifying”), but it’s pretty appropriate when you frame it in the context of a true off-roader, which is, after all, part of what the truck is supposed to be. I didn’t have the opportunity to do any real trail work with the Toyota, but one gets the impression that the low-range equipped 4Runner would do just fine in an off-road setting. (Certainly the more brutal Trail trim would be right at home.)

The 4.0-liter V-6 feels robust and very willing at most speeds, only let down a bit by the somewhat slow-to-act automatic transmission, and in general seems to fit with the fun, loose nature of the 4Runner. Toyota’s aren’t usually overburdened with personality, but that, for better or worse, is a real strong suit with this one.

−Seyth Miersma, Editor-In-Chief

 

My first several miles in the Toyota 4Runner, I found it hard to get past the suspension, particularly in city driving. Upon acceleration, the nose lifted dramatically high. At stoplights, the whole vehicle would rock back and forth, not kidding, three times before coming to rest. I found myself conscious about decelerating gradually, and taking corners slowly, just for the sake of my own comfort, and that of the passengers. The 4Runner is not for those prone to motion sickness.

Despite that, it felt true to itself—a bona fide SUV. You know, the kind that would look at home at a mountaineer’s base camp, or at a Sumerian archaeological site. It would be a great vehicle to take camping, tailgating, or exploring. From my experience with it, I don’t see the 4Runner having trouble traversing more rugged terrain. It has lots of room for passengers and cargo. The power rear window is a nice feature, as well as the pull-out floor of the cargo area and a 110-volt electrical socket. As the elsewhere-mentioned “Party Mode” would suggest, the 4Runner could easily accommodate partygoers, dogs, trays of food, coolers, and electrical appliances. Or, for the working man, a bunch of tools, a place to plug them in, and a sort of workstation in the rear.

−John Beltz Snyder, Production Editor

 

Toyota has its fair share of issues, especially in recent months. One of these issues, which I suspect, has been pushed to the back burner, is the lack of personality across their range. With vehicles like the Camry and Corolla, there is no substance or character, just appliance-like utility.

Fortunately, the same cannot be said for the 4Runner. From the laughably squishy, off-road suspension, to the torquey 4.0-liter V-6, the 4Runner is chocked-full of character. The epitome of this character lies in one, discreetly placed button. Situated below and to the right of the steering column is a button, which upon initial inspection probably wouldn’t be noticed. It’s labeled Party Mode.

What this Party Mode button does to the function of the vehicle is completely irrelevant (increases bass, and transfers output to the speakers mounted in the rear hatch), but what it adds to the character of the car is monumental. This is a feature, in a modern Toyota no less, that is designed with no purpose other than fun. It encourages the driver to take the 4Runner tailgating or down to the beach, open the hatch, and blast the tunes.

That kind of character, spread across a range of vehicles, is a recipe for success.

−Brandon Turkus, Test Fleet Manager

 

Pros:

  • All the right parts for a proper off-roader
  • More character than the rest of the Toyota range combined
  • Did we mention Party Mode?

Cons:

  • Suspension could induce motion sickness
  • Nearly complete lack of positive driver involvement
  • There are much better SUVs and wagons for day-to-day use