When we last discussed Toyota's 2010 4Runner, I was nitpicking a very silly gimmick called "Party Mode." Since then, the new model has been released and is available.
Starting with the basic SR5 model, the 4Runner's upper trim levels (Limited and Trail) head in two very different directions with two very different sets of suspension technologies.
The Limited features X-REAS, a sort of pneumatic sway bar system that links the dampers of each front wheel with the rear wheel on the opposite side of the vehicle. When the left side of the vehicle is compressed during, for example, a hard right turn, the X-REAS system exerts a downward force on the right wheels, keeping them in contact with the pavement and increasing overall traction. Because this is a cross-vehicle system, X-REAS also works to counteract lift and dive weight transfer during hard acceleration and braking.
Instead of the on-road only X-REAS technology, the off-road capable Trail-trim level gets a very different suspension tech cocktail. In addition to a lever-actuated 4x4 system, front and rear skid plates, and a rocker panel deletion that increases center ground clearance, the 4Runner Trail is the only trim level that features the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS). Essentially, KDSS replaces the vehicle's standard sway bars with beefier units that are pneumatically linked on one end.
During regular on-road driving, the KDSS works like a regular sway bar, linking the left and right suspension components and increasing traction. However, when driving off-road, the pneumatic link of the KDSS loosens up, allowing the wheels to move more independently. This increased wheel articulation allows the wheels to maintain better contact with uneven surfaces encountered during, for example, rock crawling, where a vehicle with a fixed sway bar would lose contact with the ground.
Other new features that cross trim levels include available third-row seating, DVD-based navigation with XM satellite radio and traffic, and available iPod and Bluetooth connectivity. Check out our gallery for more photos and details.