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PAPA DOO RUN RUNNER

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Fri, Jun 4, 2010

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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Story by Doug Stokes The Toyota 4Runner is perhaps one of the most aptly-named vehicles since the Volkswagen Beetle. We just recently got a shot at a guest drive in the fifth-generation version of this stalwart. Being an official and fully-sanctioned LA Car review, we did what most of the locals do with a fully-equipped and rough-country-ready SUV … driving it through the desert (and not over it) to Las Vegas and back. Thinking back, the last time that I drove a 4Runner was four generations of the nameplate ago, about 25 years to put it in those terms. It really was a true forerunner back then. Here’s what one (very) dedicated 4Runner website I found said about the badge: "(In 1984) Toyota brought to market a revolutionary new vehicle - the 4Runner. Based on the mechanicals of its rugged and strong-selling 4-wheel drive pickup truck, the 4Runner combined the versatility and go-anywhere ability of 4WD with the comfort and utility found in passenger cars."

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(Doug Stokes) And they are still bringing the 4Runner “to market” and still packing it with ever more comfort, power, and stability. With starting prices at just under 30K, our fully-equipped (“loaded” actually) review unit had just about every item in the Toyota parts book on it and stickered out at 36 thou and change. Luxury abounds in the 4Runner (we’ll enumerate later), but it also has the unmistakable mark of a true 4-wheeler. That little stubby (extra) shift lever over on the side of the transmission hump that allows selection of a set of granny gears that would see the more adventurous among us clambering up the sides and edges of all sorts of strange terrain. Even more inviting/enticing (to some) is the fact that you can mash a button and have downhill control (as if I’d ever want to drive this machine high enough on some rocky off-road surface). The four-wheel drive in this one is called “part-time” which means that it’s there, available when needed, but not dragging down over-the-road performance, a perfect compromise in my book. The above is why this big, boxy (when we say “boxy” that’s not to say that this machine isn’t a handsome hunk of sheetmetal—the 4Runner fully looks the part and has every visual clue that says “capable, sturdy, tough but kind-hearted”) machine can still see 17/22 miles per gallon city/highway while churning out 270 husky horsepower and 278 pounds-feet of lovely (let’s go!) torque. We don’t do zero-to-60 times (especially with SUVs) for these reviews, but this one’s full throttle response is, let’s just say: “quite healthy”, I think that I actually surprised some other drivers. When horsepower and torque match up like this, accelerative magic often ensues. On the other hand, I really liked using the 4Runner’s five-speed automatic transmission with the driver shifting option. I used that feature to personally downshift many times in my test drive to just slightly adjust the 4Runner’s speed.

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Remember, this road test was an LA-to-Las Vegas PR run for an off-road race (bringing to mind Hunter Thompson) with a TV-station round-robin that entailed dropping off “B-Roll” and other press materials. The 4Runner performed that task admirably, looking good, acting professionally, and getting us past security checkpoints with great ease. In truth, the 4Runner is a very comfortable ride with great power. No, I would not choose it first for a gymkhana, the large, semi-off-road tires need to wind up and take a set before this one can make fast maneuvers. It was simply a matter of my adjusting to the timing and planning ahead with steering input. I tried not to invoke the stability control system, you should try to do the same. There’s plenty of room for four adults (maybe even five) and a slide-out picnic table for tail-gating etc. (Hey Stokes: that’s not really a “slide out” picnic table, the floor of the luggage deck actually slides backward an out to make loading and unloading easier. -Ed.). This is no half-baked, car-based, pseudo-four-wheeler. This is an authentic SUV that WILL do all of the stuff that fully 90 percent of the folks that buy them only dream about attempting. In point of fact, if the BLM would have let me, this one could have delivered my and my wares to Las Vegas NOT using I15 almost as quickly running the ridges and jackrabbit trails in my LA-Barstow-Vegas. Small deal, but I was at first pleased by the lack of a large dash viewscreen here. They are at least as distracting as any telephone. Of course the radio kept telling me who was singing what on the Sinatra channel (it had XM and new owners get 90 days free to get the hook set real good) but the backup-cam screen was very effectively located in the rear view mirror. Logical, useful, and a much more natural way of driving safely, at least for those of us who actually use the rearview mirror to back a machine up.

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Ok, we owe you a list of the features that this one “featured”…how about “everything”? That squared-off and powerful Toyota V-6 is standard, as are the alloy wheels, all-disc anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, chrome roof rails, tow package, power everything, multi-way electrically-adjustable front seats (the driver’s having a lumbar fun button too) fog lamps, rear clearance “sonar” (beep …beep … etc.), orange illuminated instrument panel (great for Las Vegas, it fits right in), remote keyless entry/exit/etc., compass, driving fuel range countdown (“How far to Needles again?”), heated seats (not this trip), and 10 (count ‘em TEN) cup holders. That adds up to $30,915, and that would be enough for me any day of the week, except for how much I like the other five thousand dollars worth of good times over on the old OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT side of the Munroney sticker. Tilt-slide moonroof, the afore-mentioned 8-speaker AM/FM/MP3/CD + XM entertainment system (with the magic “Party” button close by your right knee, that adds what the sound guys call “ambiance”). You (as I did) can use it as a sort of musical massage device as every bass note makes the seat shudder in time with the beat! Party on! So, what’s the take-away here? Toyota still makes one of the most popular ever SUVs ever brought to market. We under-utilized it by a huge factor and still had a great drive, how will you use one?

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(Doug Stokes) For more information about Toyota products, go to toyota.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2010 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4X4 V6 Price: $30,915 ($36,634, as tested) EPA rated fuel economy (city/highway): 17/22 miles per gallon Engine: 4.0 liter DOHC 24-valve Dual VT-I V6 Horsepower: 270 at 5600 rpm Torque: 278 pound-feet at 4400 rpm Transmission: 5-speed automatic with ECT-i Drive configuration: Part-time 4-wheel drive with transfer level Other features: Variable Flow Control power assisted, Front and rear stabilizer bars and skid plates, front and rear vented power-assisted disc brakes, hill-start and downhill assist control17-inch alloy wheels, and P265/70R-17 tires. Dimensions Length: 189.9 inches Width: 75.8 inches Height: 71.5 inches Ground clearance: 9.6 inches Curb weight: 4675 pounds

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(Doug Stokes)

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