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The 2010 Toyota 4Runner is a big car.. a very big car. We passed quite a few previous generation 4Runners while driving the 2010 one, and the increase is size is phenomenal. In comparison one might wonder if the car grew with its core buyers of if it actually went up-market and lost those same buyers.
Being so big, and us coming from driving the Toyota Prius, the fuel consumption of the 4Runner gave us a small heart attack of course, but then, the 4Runner never pretended to be aimed at the fuel consumption minded people. It would have been nice, and would certainly have made for a very interesting car, maybe even something ground breaking.
The exterior design of the 4Runner is bulky. It is aimed at displaying its rough and ruggedness, but the designers have not succeeded in conveying this message in one single overlapping, homogeneous design theme. Instead, the 4Runner seems to have a lot of well designed details all stacked together on a big rectangular pile of sheet metal. As said, each element taken separately actually is very nicely designed, well detailed and finished, but seems to have been created in isolation of the rest of the car. In the end all these hundreds of items were taken and just thrown in place, and whatever was created was the result.
What the 4Runner would have benefited from would have been 1 single design manager in charge of ensuring there was 1 design theme that was kept all through the design process, someone who made sure all that design talent now used to create these separate items were actually doing the same effort and using the same talent, but all in 1 single direction. That way the car would have been both rugged, and rough, but also a homogeneous design statement.
The same chaos is sadly true for the interior as much as for the exterior. There are quite a lot of very good details in the 4Runner interior, things that people clearly thought well about and found good solutions for, yet, overall it is a chaotic total that does not provide the eye any comfort and rest. Instead your eyes keep wandering all over to discover what is where, and find new, interesting things. The harmony of for instance the interior design of the Toyota Prius is very sadly missing.
We hope that the next generation of 4Runner stays in thsi size. There really is no need for bigger with the current Toyota product line up. And in doing so, we hope that Toyota finds someone who can get the design project some overall balance, keep it tough and rugged, but adhere to 1 single common theme. Then, that car would be a very nice complete package where the design actually enhance the Toyota quality.