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First Look: 2010 Toyota 4Runner

Crossovers and cute utes may be the all the range these days, but some people still have uses for a beefy SUV that can hold its own off-road. Fortunately, Toyota's all-new 2010 4Runner holds true to its roots, and remains an honest, tough midsize SUV.

The new 4Runner may look familiar -- it still retains a muscular, boxy shape -- but designers worked a number of cues from recent Toyota trucks, notably the Tundra, into its appearance. What the new figure may not convey however, is an increase in size. The 2010 4Runner is slightly longer, wider, and taller than the last model, and even has space for an optional third row of seating, giving it room for seven for the first time.

Perhaps what's most important is what lies underneath the new exterior. As has been the case in all previous 4Runners, the 2010 model is a body-on-frame design, using the newly-revised chassis from the European Land Cruiser Prado as a start. Toyota claims the new frame is approximately 11 percent stiffer than before. The 4Runner's off-road prowess remains intact, especially on the Trail model. These models receive Toyota's new Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which disconnects stabilizer bars while off-roading, allowing for greater suspension articulation over rough terrain. Trail models also receive an adjustable crawl control and a new "multi-terrain select" system, which allows drivers to adjust wheel slip for different conditions.

Those looking for the ultimate in luxurious amenities instead of maximum off-road abilities will likely spring for the 4Runner Limited. Limited models include full-time all-wheel-drive, Toyota's adaptive suspension system, 20-inch wheels, and body colored trim. Inside, the top-end 4Runner receives leather seating, a powerful JBL audio system, moon roof, keyless start, and a slide-out tray in the cargo area designed to facilitate loading and unloading cargo. Toyota also includes a new "Safety Connect" telematics system as standard equipment on its top-of-the line 4Runner.

What doesn't carry over into 2010 is the 4.7-liter V-8. Instead, Toyota's increased the power of its 4.0-liter V-6 to 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque, besting both the previous 4.0-liter V-6 and the eight-cylinder. Shoppers also have the option of buying a four-cylinder 4Runner (equipped with a new 157-hp 2.7-liter I-4), albeit only in rear-wheel-drive form. Four-cylinder models are mated to a four-speed automatic, while six-cylinder models are bolted to a five-speed auto. All six-cylinder models return an EPA estimated 19 mpg combined, while the four-cylinder, two-wheel-drive model is rated at 18/23 mpg city/highway.