Completely redesigned for 2010, the fifth generation of Toyota's mid-size 4Runner keeps its rugged body-on-frame design but gets new visual presence and enhanced features while offering more room, more power and even better fuel economy. Slightly taller, wider and longer than the 2009 iteration, this Gen V variant is based on the same platform as the FJ Cruiser and maintains its existing 109.8-inch wheelbase spec. However, bolder and more assertively angular bodywork imparts a new sense of purposeful style that's set off by 17-inch aluminum wheels on the SR5 and off-road oriented Trail trims and 20-inch alloys on the top-line Limited.

Inside, the new 4Runner offers more upscale appointments and user-friendly control layouts. Passenger accommodation is improved in all seating positions, with a new 40/20/40 second-row bench offering one-touch access to the optional and now-more-spacious third-row 50/50 split/folding perch. Standard equipment remains plentiful and even the base SR5 comes with air conditioning, cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering column, ECO driving indicator and an AM/FM/CD/MP3/XM Satellite Radio sound system with a new "party mode" setting that raises the bass and shifts the equalization to the rear of the vehicle to enhance audio performance outside of the vehicle during "tailgating" sessions. Also in the mix is Toyota's Star Safety System kit: anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist/Electronic Brake force Distribution and stability/traction controls plus eight air bags. The Trail adds special water-resistant seat coverings, Optitron gauges, front/rear 120V/400W AC outlets, a backup camera, sliding rear cargo deck while at Limited level, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, power front seats, keyless push-button start and a JBL premium audio package highlight an even lengthier list.

Underhood, the new 4Runner offers a choice of new more fuel-efficient four or six cylinder engines, although the rear-drive only SR5 is the only version to be fitted with the new 2.7-liter inline-four. Making 157 horsepower and matched with a four-speed automatic transmission, it returns 18/23 city/highway EPA numbers. While the 4.7-liter V8 departs, it's replaced by a new 4.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing (VVT-i) that makes 270 horses -- 10 more than the old eight and 34 more than the previous 4.0-liter V6. The 4.6 gets paired with a five-speed autoshifter and raises the maximum tow capacity from 2,000 to 5,000 pounds. It also delivers 30 percent better mpg than the V8. Three drivetrain configurations (rear-drive, part-time/full-time four-wheel drive) are also on offer, with both 4WD choices bringing dual-range transfer cases and requiring the V6. All 4WD 4Runners get the torque-transferring A-TRAC System in place of the limited-slip differential in RWD models plus Hill Start Assist and Downhill Assist Control. While the Limited adds an adjustable shock system, the hardcore Trail further complements its 4WD setup with a Multi-Terrain Select System as well as a five-setting Crawl Control (CRAWL) system that electronically and automatically regulates both throttle and brake inputs on rough terrain or steep inclines.

On sale next month, pricing for the new 4Runner will range from $28,300 for a rear-drive SR5 with a four-cylinder engine to $40,600 for a four-wheel drive Limited V6 model.

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