Used to be, when it came to any kind of truck, we would advise friends and family to pay another $1500 for the optional V-8. The resale value was better, fuel cost was not a big factor, and the V-6 was a dog anyway.

These days, unless you tow, a V-6 really is the way to go. Today's V-6 engines are making V-8 horsepower and are backed by modern transmissions that mean there's no waiting when you ask for power. Gas prices are bouncing all over the place, but they never stay low for long, so a V-6 can bring significant relief in operating costs. The two V-6s in this test are very different vehicles, both successful in achieving different goals.

Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition
Our 2010 4Runner is Toyota's Trail Edition, the most trail-ready model Toyota offers. It's loaded with features aimed at the experienced outdoor recreational enthusiast, and is also the only way you can buy a 4Runner with Toyota's Multi-terrain Select system.

The Trail Edition is set up to see a lot of dirt, plain and simple. The truck-based Trail is the real deal, filling a niche largely abandoned by other manufacturers. There's nothing frilly or overly sophisticated: It's based on a sturdy steel frame, with an equipment package aimed at enhanced trail utility, including a part-time 4WD system actuated not by pushbutton, but by a lever. There's active traction control, plus a locking rear differential -- solid insurance in a really slippery environment. Inside is a conspicuous absence of luxury cues like wood or leather. The dash material is textured hard plastic. Seats are made from a water-resistant fabric. (Opting for a Limited model instead will provide a cabin much more in line with the luxury of the Grand Cherokee, but lacking many of the off-road features of the Trail.) Even the roof rack is more heavily built, and more conspicuous, than on typical SUVs.