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Four-Cylinder Flop: Toyota to Discontinue Four-Cylinder 4-Runner

The latest generation of the Toyota 4-Runner debuted last year as a 2010 model, but less than one year into its life cycle, Toyota will remove the four-cylinder powerplant from its lineup due to a low sales volume.

The low take rate is likely related to the four cylinder's low power and lack of advantage in fuel economy when compared to the 4-Runner's optional V-6. The 2.7-liter I-4 makes 157 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque, while the 4.0-liter V-6 makes 270 horsepower and 278 pound feet of torque - a significant increase in power. The 4-Runner's I-4 is capable of 18 city mpg and 23 highway mpg, while the larger V-6 performs similarly at 17/23 (city /highway). With some 90 percent of buyers opting for the larger 4.0-liter V-6 -- and its five-speed automatic, as compared to the four-banger's four-speed automatic -- Toyota couldn't continue to make a case for offering the smaller engine.

The only real advantage to choose the smaller engine is its $3840 less expensive base price. Stepping up to the V-6 also ups towing capacity to 5000 from the I-4's 2000 pound rating. All things considered -- more power, more towing capacity, and practically the same fuel economy -- we understand the dilemma.

According to Motor Trend, just 10 percent of 4-Runners sold this year came equipped with the 2.7-liter I-4. With this week's announcement that Ford will ask consumers to pay more for a smaller, four-cylinder engine in the 2011 Explorer, it leaves us wondering: Would you be willing to spend more for extra power and towing capacity, while achieving the same fuel economy as a smaller engine offering, or less?

Source: Motor Trend