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Our Cars: 2010 Toyota 4Runner SR5 is the newer family truckster

Kamil Kaluski June 23, 2015 Project 4Runner 15 Comments

After years of discussions, decision making, (sadly the hundreds of comments on these posts were lost) and shopping, I have finally purchased a replacement for my family hauler, the 2005 Acura MDX. The two finalists were:

  • 2010 Acura MDX with the Advance Package. I liked the MDX because the first one served us so well and the Advance Package meant that it has the collision mitigating system which stops or slows down the car when it senses a potential front-end collision. These systems work really well and it was high on my priority list. ’10 was the first year with that system, a six-speeds trans, and a minor facelift.
  • 2010 Toyota 4Runner Limited. The 4Runner Limited was there because I always wanted a Land Cruiser-like Toyota and the 4Runner was pretty much it for a reasonable amount of money. It’s also big, strong, and safe. I liked the Limited’s Lexus-like interior, full-time 4WD, and the almost rare now body-on-frame design. 2010 was the first year for the fifth-gen 4Runner.

But I did not buy either of these vehicles. Instead I bought a 2010 4Runner SR5 with cloth seats and part-time 4WD. It was a private party one-owner vehicle with 32,000 miles on the clock. It has the upgraded audio system with Bluetooth, USB, and SiriusXM, back-up camera, parking sensors, power seats, a wife-mandated third row seat, and a sunroof. I paid close to retail for it, but the owner was completly OCD; he had all the records, kept it very clean, and properly maintained. When he bought it, he swapped out the gawd-awful stock highway tires for a set of the awesome BFGoodrich All-Terrains, threw in WeatherTech mats all around, and installed a remote start. The low mileage and a good home is what did it for me, but I am still not sure if that’s the right choice.

You see, the biggest mechanical difference between the 4Runner SR5 and the Limited is the fact that the Limited comes with a full-time four-wheel-drive system, whereas the SR5 has a old-school-ish conventional part-time system. There are two ways to think of this age-old debate of full-time vs. part-time 4WD:

  • Full-time is better because you have power to all wheels, all the time. But that includes the times when you don’t need it, which is like 98.7% of the time. But, the power and traction is there at anytime it’s needed, which is likely crucial. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Land Rover and Land Cruisers uses such systems.
  • Part-time is better because you’re not constantly propelling all four wheels, killing the gas mileage and putting on extra wear. You know when roads are slippery or when you’re off road, just put the lever into 4WD High then. Simple. Jeep uses such systems.

Bearing in mind that my wife was to be the primary driver I was looking strictly for the Limited models. But finding a 4Runner Limited in 4WD (shockingly many are RWD) and with third row seats (shockingly few have that) has proven to be shockingly challenging. I have literally looked up and down the whole east coast and couldn’t find one vehicle that was 4WD, with third row, and reasonably priced. 4Runner sellers seem think that their vehicles don’t depreciate. At one point I actually considered buying brand new vehicle – blah!

Then I found this particular 4Runner. The whole time I was on the fence about buying it because of the part-time 4WD system. In the end, between the great tires, traction control and stability systems, I concluded that my wife should be okay with this. I’ll instruct her to just shift into 4WD at any possibility of snow. Further, shifting in 4WD High couldn’t be easier. You see, that typical lever does not seem to be actual lever connected to anything, it just looks and sort of feels line one. The truth is that the shifter is faux and it just sends a signal to the magical flux capacitor to engage the front axle. The vehicle can be shifted into 4WD at basically any speed without any effort.

Regarding the used car market, it still stinks. It seems as though no one is selling their late-model used cars, perhaps because much fewer people have purchased a brand new car between 2008 and 2012. A big local Toyota dealer wanted to buy this car from the seller and their offer was very solid. So solid in fact, that the seller only decided to sell it to me because he was super nice and he knew that I loved it. He made only an extra $1000 on it, but the transaction took much more time. Interesting, his replacement for the truck is a MINI Cooper GP!

After I bought the car I took it directly to my friends at . There it will get a few things:

  • New transmission, transfercase, and diff fluids.
  • Brake fluid flush and check.
  • Coolant check.
  • New Bilstein 5100 height adjustable front shocks. These will reduce the dive under breaking that all these Toyotas have and will raise the front a bit to level it out with the rear.
  • Alignment.
  • A set of rock sliders – pricey fuggers, but I got these not for their off-road prowess but rather as side-impact protection in minor accidents and a steps for the passengers.
  • Two-inch wheel spacers. Basically a visual mod. but forum dwellers say improves road manners, too. Quality hub-centric piece, supposedly.
  • Side window tints, light tint, 30% or 50%, whatever matches the back.

There are a few things that I might do at a later times, such as covering up all the chrome, hard-wiring a nav system, improving on the useless factory rearview-mirror mounted reverse camera, and installing a dash cam.

So far, kids love it and my wife doesn’t care.



  • Tamerlane’s Thoughts

    Congrats! We sometimes focus on one specific package, an even better one comes along and we don’t notice it.

  • engineerd

    You made the right choice. Unless you go barrelling onto an unplowed road in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the middle of March in 2WD, part time 4WD is just fine. Trust me. I have a Jeep. And went barrelling onto an unplowed road in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the middle of March in 2WD.

    Edit: Also, I’m a bit jealous. I do like the 4Runner, regardless of my general distaste for all things Toyota. Enjoy the heck out of it. Take it down that two-track you pass on the highway and always wonder where it heads.

    • Alff

      Agreed, on the part-time vs. full time issue. This is a learning opportunity for the Mrs.

  • Cameron Vanderhorst

    Nice truck, Kamil! Excellent choice. Sounds like it’s been well taken care of!

    • Me too! I’ve owned two Jeeps, a CJ and a TJ. But I needed a third-row seat and Jeep doesn’t have anything for me, and I like the GC a lot.
      This is my first Toyota.

  • The stresses on the drivetrain get lower the slicker the roads, but with a transfer case instead of a center diff, the 4WD is not for driving around on. It’s for when you get stuck.

    • I’d prefer it to use it before I get stuck, and don’t get stuck. Getting stuck is what I’m trying to avoid. 🙂

  • Sjalabais

    Massive truck – looks good! Why do you want to change the transmission? To a manual? Seems like you’re ready to invest a lot.

    Used Toyota prices are wild everywhere, it seems. Here in Norway, buying a Hiace instead of a PSA work horse (also available as Dodge now) can at times mean you have to take a 6-8 years older vehicle at the same price…it’s wild.

    • Ted

      He’s changing the transmission fluid, not the transmission. It was confusingly worded.

      • Sjalabais

        I see. It’s a list of fluids, d’oh. Thanks!

      • Indeed. I’m a horrible writer.

  • CraigSu

    “…installing a dash cam.” Does your wife know of your plans to move to Russia?

    • I told her we’re moving to St. Petersburg. She packed swimsuits for some reason.

  • Scubie

    Great choice. I visited the states recently – saw a lot of these, and was as ever interested in the obsession with petrol (gas) over diesel. We stopped getting these in New Zealand in the early 2000’s… But we have a proliferation of Toyota Landcruiser Prado’s – essentially the same running gear, but a different body. Diesel is the combustible of choice. We also have what I drive, the Mitsubishi Pajero (Montero) – not sold state-side, but equivalent to your 4Runner. Toyota’s, particularly with the slightly older 1KD diesel engines go forever – 400,000km is not uncommon over here. But I think you’ve made a good choice!

    • I’d give my right nut for a diesel.



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