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 |  Sep 25 2009, 8:33 AM

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Toyota chose the Texas State Fair and its truck friendly audience as the venue to debut its latest 4Runner model. For 2010 this body-on-frame SUV is both wider and longer, further differentiating it from the Highlander crossover.

Toyota has opted to drop the V8 engine for the new model, instead offering a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 270 horsepower and 278- ft-lbs of torque. That’s a total of 36 more horsepower than the old V6 engine, and 10 more ponies than the old V8. Fuel economy has been improved, but isn’t exactly stellar, with 17/23 mpg (city/highway) for the 4×2 and 17/22 mpg for the 4×4 model. The tow rating for V6 models is 5,000 lbs.

Also new for 2010 is the addition of an entry level 2.7-liter four cylinder engine with 157-hp and 178 ft-lbs of torque. The four-banger is only available on the 4×2 SR5 model and, oddly, doesn’t offer much improvement in fuel-economy with a rating of just 18/23 mpg.

Three model choices will be offered, including the SR5 model, an on-road-friendly Limited model with added creature comforts and 20-inch wheels and a Trail grade model that offers true off-road capability with higher approach and departure angles, more ground clearance and a standard locking rear differential.

Additional off-road features include Toyota’s A-TRAC system on all 4×4 models, that can send power to any one wheel. Trail grade models get the CRAWL feature with five low-speed settings for different terrain. A Multi-Terrain Select system also lets the driver choose how much wheel slip is needed. All 4×4 models get Downhill Assist control, while all V6 models get Hill-start Assist Control.

The market for real SUVs like the 4Runner has all but dried up in North America as consumers switch to car based crossovers. That being said, Toyota seems to be taking the right approach by catering more to the off-road crowd than to soccer moms who are more likely to find themselves in a Venza.

GALLERY: 2010 Toyota 4Runner

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Official release after the jump:

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