I don’t like to pigeonhole vehicles by associating them with a gender, however, the 2010 Toyota 4Runner SR5 is a decidedly masculine machine.
My first impression was that I had climbed aboard a man cave on wheels–from the heft of the steering wheel to the man-size knobs for the audio and climate control to the fiery orange illumination of the instrument gauges. Even my hard-to-impress husband gave this man machine two thumbs up for its rock-solid ride and interior design—which he described as resembling a plane’s cockpit control.
For the driver and passenger, the interior cabin has an almost fortress-like feel with a dashboard and interior side walls that come up high—nearly shoulder level on my 5-foot-4-inch frame. It certainly made me feel protected and a king of the road.
The 2010 4Runner comes with a 4-liter, V6 dual overhead cam engine, 5-speed automatic transmission and has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. The vehicle is estimated to get 17 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.
Despite its size, the 4Runner does a nice job handling bumpy, pitted roads. No major jarring, just a bouncy ride over uneven surfaces. I was surprised that it never felt like I was driving a mid-size SUV.
Those who take the 4Runner to terrain more adventuresome than a grocery store parking lot or a sloping subdivision, take note that this vehicle comes with a few features such as:
• Downhill assist control system that allows the vehicle to descend a steep hill while maintaining a constant low speed of 3 mph without using the brake pedal.
• Crawl control, which minimizes loss of traction, that allows travel on extremely rough off-road surfaces at a fixed low speed without pressing accelerator or brake pedal.
• Rear differential lock system to be used when wheels are spinning on slippery or rugged surfaces.
The 4Runner also comes equipped with what’s referred to as a “part-time” 4-wheel drive system with active traction control to be used in extreme road or off-road conditions. While I didn’t have reason to use the 4-wheel drive system, I couldn’t imagine it would be easy to manipulate as that stick shift is located in front and slightly to the right of the main (and larger) stick shift.
Technically, the 4Runner is a five-passenger vehicle with an optional third row of seating to accommodate two more passengers. While it wasn’t too difficult physically making the conversion with the seats (once a colleague showed me what to press and what to pull), getting into that third row was another story. I would suggest that only young children or those with extremely nimble limbs attempt climbing in and out of the third row as the passageway is extremely tight. And the ample cargo space that’s available when the third-row seats are folded flat disappears so there’s only inches of room left.
And if you’re one who likes to rock the neighborhood or the park with your sound system, you’ll probably appreciate the “Party Mode” switch, which increases the audio amplification through the back door speakers “optimizing audio performance outside vehicle when rear hatch is open,” according to the quick reference guide. (Not a high priority for me.)
While initially this man machine felt like foreign territory, within days I felt right at home in the Toyota 4Runner.
Stats: Variable flow control power steering, front and rear vented disc brakes, brake assist, front and rear stabilizer bars and skid plates, 17-inch wheels
Pricing: Starts as low as $30,915. However, the vehicle I tested had a few options including power moon roof, front and rear power outlets, backup camera, rear sonar, leather-trimmed third-row seating, third-row curtain shield airbags, bringing the total price to $37,609.