While the 4Runner is admirably brisk, given its 400-pound weight gain over its predecessor, we miss the '09's 4.7-liter V-8 option. Toyota is quick to point out that the tweaked 4.0-liter makes more horsepower than the old V-8 and that its fuel economy (17/22 for 4WD) is better than that of the 4.7 (14/17) as well as the previous 4.0 (16/20). Sure, but the new 4.0's torque is still down 28 pound-feet compared with the 4.7's. When overtaking slower vehicles on the highway, where the 4.0-liter strains through a downshift and some heavy breathing, Toyota's new 4.6-liter 310-horse 327-pound-foot V-8, which debuted in the 2010 Tundra, would have made a welcome option, especially for towing or carrying a full load.

Speaking of full loads, the new 4Runner can accommodate more than before - 89.7 cubic feet versus 75.1, with the rear seats folded; 47.2 versus 42.2, with the seats up - and its available third row, which boasts 5.2 more inches of legroom, now folds flat rather than up against the side windows. For better safety, the side-curtain airbags now extend to the third row, if that option box is checked, and there are standard knee bags for both the driver and front passenger. Pass on the third row (it's available only on SR5 and Limited trims, as Toyota figures Trail buyers aren't looking for seven-passenger capacity), and the 4Runner offers a sliding cargo deck that doubles as a tailgate tray - as the latter, it can support 440 pounds. Better yet, press the Party Mode button on the front dash, and the stereo tunes are concentrated to the tailgate and rear-cargo area for maximum enjoyment.

Thanks to a diverse lineup -- the 4WD Rubicon-friendly Trail seen here; the 2WD entry-level SR5 with a more fuel efficient four-cylinder; the 2WD or 4WD SR5 with the V-6; or the luxury-oriented Limited, which adds 20-inch wheels, leather, and a full-time 4WD system with a three-mode center console-mounted switch -- the 4Runner can be either a dirt-devouring, rock-crawling, sand-swallowing rig or just a rugged, roomy, everyday transporter. Or both. How many SUVs can make that claim?

2010 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition
Base price$36,000 (est)
Price as tested $39,000 (est)
Vehicle layout Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 4.0L/270-hp/278-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Curb weight (f/r dist) 4762 lb (53/47%)
Wheelbase109.8 in
Length x width x height 189.9 x 75.8 x 71.5 in
0-60 mph7.8 sec
Quarter mile15.9 sec @ 87.3 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph138 ft
Lateral acceleration0.73 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 29.5 sec @ 0.55 g (avg)
MT observed fuel economy15.3 mpg
EPA city/hwy fuel econ17/22 mpg
CO2 emissions1.02 lb/mile