People often think of SUVs as an American phenomenon. And, yes, we do like to drive around the Land of the Free in big, four-wheel-drive trucks, filling our wide-open spaces with equally wide-open vehicles.
It's our automotive manifest destiny.
But did you know which brand has the biggest lineup of crossovers and SUVs? It's not Dodge, Chevy or even Ford.
This Japanese brand, which is better known for making dinky fuel-efficient cars like the Prius, actually offers seven different crossovers and SUVs in its 2011 lineup.
Count 'em: There's the Land Cruiser, Sequoia, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Highlander, Venza and RAV4.
That's some great trivia to know if you ever want people to dislike you at a cocktail party.
It also means Toyota has designed an SUV for pretty much everybody on the planet.
That's how we ended up with the newest 4Runner. It's not only designed for off-road driving — the FJ Cruiser, Sequoia and Land Cruiser can all do that, too — but to do it in its own style and with its own distinct driving personality.
Since the Land Cruiser and Sequoia are both significantly bigger and more expensive, you've essentially got to decide whether you'll whet your off-road appetite with the 4Runner or the FJ Cruiser, so the choice is simple.
If you want your SUV to look crazy, you buy the FJ. If not, you buy the 4Runner.
The 4Runner has a heavy, truck-like feeling because it's built just like an American-style truck — a body riding atop a thick frame — that gives it durability for surviving bumpy trails and climbing rocky terrain.
And let's be clear: this is definitely a truck meant for driving off the pavement. If you're going to spend most of your time driving on public roads, you'll be much better served with a RAV4, Venza, Highlander. They get better gas mileage and have a smoother ride.