2010 Toyota 4Runner SR5Enlarge Photo
Although we sometimes find ourselves sampling vehicles out of their element—convertibles with summer performance tires in the snow, for instance—and that’s sometimes fun in itself, the conditions proved perfect for our first drive of the 2010 Toyota 4Runner last week as we headed out in a steady misting rain and barely 40-degree temperatures, from Portland up toward the foothills of Mt. St. Helens and the Washougal Motocross Park.
The park has a clay base, so things become a little…ehem…fun when the ground gets thoroughly soaked. Yep, very slippery—and, it turned out, perfect for testing out some of the features on the 2010 4Runner. For instance, Downhill Assist Control helped us keep a safe, steady speed down one of the steeper, mud-slicked slopes at Washougal in a 2010 Toyota 4Runner SR5 V-6, while a short time later we were back going uphill at the same run with the off-road-honed 4Runner Trail model, using its Crawl Control, which let us select one of five different speeds that the 4Runner would maintain until we pressed the accelerator or switched the feature off.
In an open, muddy field at the park, we also sampled the differences between the modes of the Trail model’s Multi-Terrain Select system, which electronically allows varying levels of slip to aid traction or stability in different types of terrain. On the soft side of the dial (for snow, mud, or sand), the four-wheel drive system allowed the tires to churn quite a bit for traction, while on the harder side of the dial (for rocky terrain), the system allowed virtually no slip to assure stability in cautious rock-crawling.
Those are a lot of features to potentially clutter up the 4Runner’s instrument panel, but Toyota has kept its interior neatly arranged. Off-road-focused controls are located up above in an overhead console, keeping the center stack of controls straightforward and accessible, with large buttons and knobs that have a great tactile feel. A secondary display sits atop the center stack, and redundant steering wheel controls access audio and Bluetooth functions. Our several test 4Runners had no rattles or cheap-feeling interiors, and the cabin is relatively free of wind and road noise.