2010 Toyota 4Runner - Click above for high-res image gallery Toyota has made some serious money over the past couple of decades by making safe, reliable vehicles. There have been a few models, like the Supra and Celica, that have appealed to the enthusiast, but the rest of America hasn't really seemed to care. New Toyota chief Akio Toyoda has promised to change that paradigm, however, pledging to inject new vehicles with much-needed soul. But do we have to wait a few years for Toyota's designers and engineers to come up with something new and exciting? Maybe not. While the enthusiast-inspired products like the FT-86 coupe are still a ways off, off-roading types have a new Toyota to test drive: the 2010 4Runner. We've long known that the 4Runner has been perfectly capable of wrestling with a bit of mud, as it helped define America's sport-utility genre along with the original Jeep Cherokee way back in 1984. But this new model is at once bigger, more capable and more luxurious – and its styling has been designed to stand out in an admittedly thinning crowd of proper SUVs. We spent a week with a Magnetic Grey Metallic 4WD SR5 to see if Toyota has been right to stand by its mid-size mainstay while the rest of the automaking world has been busy turning its body-on-frame gas-guzzlers into pump-friendly softroaders. %Gallery-94911% Photos by Chris Shunk / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc. Looking at our $37,649 tester from the outside, it's abundantly clear that Toyota has zigged when the rest of the world's utility vehicles have up and zagged. Our naked eye tells us the 4Runner is a cross between a GMC Terrain and Sloth from the movie Goonies. That's a nice way of saying that we find the 4Runner a bit hard to look at. Its flat nose, square-rigged proportions and bold side moldings won't win any beauty contests, but after a few days, its "more is more" look began to wear on us, if only a bit. One trait we just couldn't get used to are the bulging headlights and taillights that protrude from the sheetmetal by a good two inches. We're thinking there isn't a huge market for taillights that appear to have an inoperable growth jutting out to the sides. The 4Runner's exterior definitely makes a bold statement, and that theme has been deftly carried over to the interior. Toyota has continued the big and bold theme inside the cabin, with oversized seats, a wonderful Delmonico-inspired steering wheel and a shift lever that could double as the barrel of a Louisville Slugger. Even the knobs are over an inch in diameter. The wide, squared-off center stack very efficiently packs in all the 4Runner's supersized buttons and switchgear, and ergonomics are surprisingly good. The 4Runner's overall length, at 189 inches, is three inches shorter than the Nissan Pathfinder, but the 4Runner is a far more useful 2.4 inches wider. That means more shoulder and hip room for passengers, more …
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|MPG||17 City / 22 Hwy|
|Transmission||5-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||270 @ 5600 rpm|
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