2011 Toyota 4Runner Performance

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Performance
Overall, the 2011 Toyota 4Runner drives much better—and more athletically—than its trail-crawling appearance might suggest. And for 2011, with the former base four-cylinder engine dropped, the only engine offered in the Toyota 4Runner is a 4.0-liter V-6 engine, making 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. V-6 SR5 models are offered either with rear-wheel drive or a part-time four-wheel-drive system, while Trail models are only offered with that 4WD system. Limited models get a separate full-time four-wheel-drive system that's more road-oriented.

There's no longer any V-8 engine offered in the 4Runner, but it feels plenty fast either off the line or at highway speeds with the V-6. The five-speed automatic also feels very responsive with the engine, showing quick downshifts for passing and smooth, early shifts when puttering around town. Steering feel and maneuverability are unexpected delights in the 4Runner; at low speeds especially, the 4Runner handles with better precision and control than you might expect from such a big, heavy model, and visibility isn't bad. But you'll be reminded you're in a tall vehicle with soft sidewalls and a safe suspension calibration if you attack corners too quickly.

On that matter, the 4Runner's suspension soaks up the major heaves better than most trucks, but with the standard setup, you're likely to find it quite busy, with an uncomfortable level of head toss on jiggly pavement surfaces or when off-roading. With the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) that's optional in the Trail model, that all changes for the better, thanks to a system of clever hydraulics. The system averts body motions on-road and actually increases off-road traction and riding comfort with more wheel travel in that situation.

The 2011 Toyota 4Runner is set up for the trail, but it performs reasonably well on the road.

Also in the Trail grade, the 4Runner includes a host of electronics and systems meant to complement its sturdy off-road hardward. Crawl Control uses electronics to maintain a slow, steady speed when in low range, while a Multi-Terrain Select system allows driver-selectable levels of electronically allowed wheel slip for terrains ranging from soft sand or snow to solid rock. Limited models get yet another setup: a so-called X-REAS system with electronically adjusting dampers, geared for flatter cornering and pavement surfaces.

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