While the 4Runner is admirably brisk, given its 400-pound weight gain over its predecessor, we miss the 2009's V-8 option. Toyota points out that the tweaked 4.0-liter makes more horsepower than the old 4.7-liter 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 all-new 4.6-liter, 310-horse, 327-pound-foot V-8, which bowed in the 2010 Tundra and replaces the aforementioned 4.7, would've made a welcome option, especially for towing or carrying a full load.

But that's the only real complaint-er, wish. Thanks to a diverse lineup, the 4Runner can be either a dirt-devouring, rock-crawling, sand-swallowing rig or just a rugged, roomy, everyday transporter.

TRAIL MIX

In addition to all the goodness that is the SR5 4WD-body-on-frame construction, 9.6 inches of ground clearance, a live rear axle, 265/70R17 Bridgestone Dueler H/T tires, and standard A-TRAC, DAC, and HAC-the 4Runner Trail Edition offers the sliding cargo deck as standard; an available $1750 Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that, as in the Lexus GX and Toyota Land Cruiser, can disengage the anti-roll bars for increased wheel articulation and travel; a Crawl Control system for navigating especially rough ground or steep inclines; and new Multi-Terrain Select, with pre-programmed off-road settings similar to Land Rover's Terrain Response. If that's not enough, the Trail provides the ultimate approach and departure angles of any 4Runner as well as front and rear 120V AC/400W power outlets. Trail giveaway cues include unique alloy wheels, a non-functional hood scoop, smoked head- and taillamp bezels, and black bumpers, fender flares, front grille, door handles, mirror housings, and utility roof rack.