Where to Start with your 5th Gen 4Runner Mods (Part 1)
First thing’s first, when you get a new 4Runner, you want some mods. Where do you start? There are hundreds of options when it comes to customizing your 4Runner.
It’s well known that our performance could be better out of the gates. If you are looking for performance, you might want to look at the quick overview of performance mods.
In the lighting department, we could also use some improvement. You can go with upgraded fog lights and a set of LED low beams and high beams.
If you are looking to lift your 4Runner, do your research. You can easily spend upwards of $10k on Kings with Total Chaos long-travel so before you get there, browse through our lift and leveling kit guide and then our top 10 lift kit options. If you are curious about wheel options and what the largest size tire you can run is, we also have complete guides on that as well.
The most important thing you can do before buying parts for your 4Runner is research. Research the companies and read the reviews on their parts. We have a pretty good job of reviewing many of the mods out there. Whatever mods you are interested in, just use the search bar above on this website to find what you are looking for. Budget is also an important area to consider although keep in mind in most cases you want to go for quality parts; buy once, cry once.
This post is about starting small and working our way up.
This is only my opinion and is not exactly how I modded my builds. You can start however you would like. I do think this is a good starting place for many owners, though.
Top 12 Basics Mods
- Floor Mats: Check Price
- Rear Cargo Mat: Check Price
- Rain Guards: Check Price
- Center Console Organizer: Check Price
- Center Console Tray: Check Price
- High Beam: 9005: Check Price
- Low Beam: H11: Check Price
- Fog Light Bulb Front: H16: Check Price
- TRD Pro Grille: Check Price
- Raptor Light Kit: Check Price
- Interior LED Light Kit: Check Price
- Pedal Commander Throttle Response Controller: Check Price
These are the basic interior and exterior mods that we would do right out of the gates that just need to be done to every 4Runner. We have run each of these parts and can verify that everything listed above is tried and tested.
These simple mods will help you get started with working on your 4Runner. Once you are comfortable with installing some of the smaller mods, you can jump into the bigger installs like roof racks, rock sliders, intakes, exhaust, bumpers suspensions, switch panels, and everything else.
What are your goals?
I think the most important question to ask yourself is what’s your end goal?
What are your 1-year, 3-year, and 10-year goals? Yes, you can have a 10-year goal, it’s a Toyota. Seriously think about this one for a minute. Take a look at the next 5-10 years of your 4Runner’s lifecycle.
- Where and how do you plan on driving?
- Fire roads or rock crawling?
- Do you have a 2wd or 4wd? Should you sell your 2wd now?
- Do you want to build a cool daily driver or overland/off-road build?
- Do you plan on light or deep exploring?
- Do you have a family or is it just you?
- Do you plan on adding to your family?
It’s easy for many drivers to think:
“I want 4″ of lift with +3″ long-travel, 35” tires, re-geared to 4.88s, full front/rear bumpers, and a roof rack with an RTT mounted, and an on-board air compressor for my tires and ARB air locker. Then after all that, why not go with a Goose Gear drawer system loaded with camping and recovery gear. Finally, let’s add a Dometic fridge set up in the rear cargo area wired to a solar system running off a second onboard AGM battery.
Keep in mind, this all adds weight (weight is the enemy) and it can get pretty damn expensive. Plus, three years down the road you might realize you could have gone without this or that really expensive add-on or accessory. My best advice is to buy what you need as the time comes, and try for the sake of life to not add weight! Buy it when you need it, not because it’s cool, trending on Instagram or that’s what everyone else is buying.
In any case, here is where I would start on some of the bigger, more important mods.
Top 5 Bigger Mods
- Window Tint
After years of experience in modding trucks, I would say the most important mods are tires and suspension – and most importantly tires. An upgraded suspension is important if you want to run bigger tires and it will allow you to clear a larger size, depending on the lift. If you have any goals of taking your 4Runner off-road, then you want rock sliders. Sliders are important because they will save your rocker panels, and doors from trail damage.
Wheels are completely subjective and likely the least functional part that goes into a build. The factory 17″ wheels Toyota supplies us with are actually very capable and work with many tires, so you don’t “need” to replace your wheels. It’s all about personal preference and looks here. The same goes for tint, you don’t need to tint your 4Runner, the windows just look so much better blacked out. Everyone is going to be a little bit different, so we would love to hear your comments at the bottom.
If you can wait for the 40k-60k miles it takes to wear down the stock OEM tires, then by all means wait. If you do wait, check out this winter tire tips article and try to not run your tread past 10%.
If you want some beefier, more capable tires sooner, then do your research and find a set of All-Terrain or Mud-Terrain tires that perform under the conditions you intend on putting them through. Understanding your goals first is super important. Deciding between HT, AT, and MT is something you should consider first. Budget is also a big item to consider so I am going to break down my top selection of AT (All-Terrain) Tires by price range.
Based on the stock tire size: 265/70r17
$50-$100/ per tire (265/70r17)
I personally do not recommend anything under $100 when buying tires. Either they will be made in China with some off-brand name or underperform when you need them the most. Try heading down to the next bracket. Your life and your cargo are too important to risk on cheap tires. Do yourself and your family a favor and buy really nice tires. Again, buy once cry once.
$100-$200/ per tire (265/70r17)
A perfect range for anyone looking for an affordable set of reliable tires. Any worthwhile tire is going to be in the $140-$180+ price range.
- Yokohama Geolandar A/T: $150
- General Grabber A/T: $120-$170
- Nitto Terra Grapplers A/T: $160
- Toyo Open Country A/T: $160
- Cooper Discoverer A/T 4S: $150
- Cooper Evolution M/T: $180+
$200-$500/ per tire (265/70r17)
In this price range, you get even higher quality tread patterns, ply options, and more. Whether you decide on an AT or MT tire, you can’t go wrong with any of the brand names below.
- Firestone Destination A/T: $200
- Yokohama Geolander M/T: $200
- Cooper Discoverer A/T XLT: $200+
- Nitto Trail Grappler M/T: $230+
- Goodyear Duratrac A/T: $230+
- Cooper Discoverer STT Pro M/T: $240+
As I mentioned above, a leveling kit, lift kit, or suspension system is important in order to clear larger tires, and it will also improve the off-road functionality of your 4Runner. If you have aftermarket coilovers, you will see extended travel and increased flex on the trail. You will also see additional ground clearance which will help with clearing obstacles on the trail. This is nice because the 5th Gen 4Runner does sit quite low off the lot.
You have lots of options when it comes to an upgraded suspension system. You can go with a simple leveling kit, a shim kit, or a complete lift kit with coilovers, UCA (Upper Control Arms), rear shocks, and rear springs. A full lift kit with coilovers is going to offer the most performance off-road, while a shim kit and a leveling kit are only going to get your body further off the ground as they are designed to sit on your factory struts. Those will provide little to no added value off-road.
- Supreme Suspensions Shim Front Leveling Kit (.5″ – 1″): Check Price
- ProComp Spacer Level Kit: Check Price
- Recommended Upper Control Arms (SPC): Check Price
- Eibach Pro-Truck Lift Kit: Check Price
- Bilstein 5100/5100 (add UCAs): Check Price
- Bilstein 6112/5160: Check Price
- Old Man Emu Nitrocharger Lift Kit: Check Price
- Falcon Sport Tow/ Haul Lift Kit: Check Price
- OME BP-51: Check Price
- Dobinsons MRR: Check Price
- Icon Stage 2: Check Price
- Fox 2.5 Lift Kit with DSC (Dual Speed Compression): Check Price
- Bilstein B8 8112 Performance Lift Kit: Check Price
3. Nerf Bars or Rock Sliders
If you don’t plan on taking your 4Runner off-road, then a set of Nerf Bars would suffice over Rock Sliders. Regardless of whether or not you go with sliders or nerf bars, anything is going to be better than the factory running boards. The OEM running boards scream “soccer mom”. And even if you are a soccer mom, it’s all good, but there are a bunch of cool options out there. If you want to know the difference between sliders, nerf bars, and running boards – check out this article.
If you plan on wheeling, skip the bars and research a set of rock sliders.
Best Options for Nerf Bars
Options for Rock Sliders
4. Window Tint
Not really a “mod” but it sure does help the look of your 4Runner.
- Front Window: 50%
- Front Side Windows: 35%
- Rear Windows: 3% over factory 20%
Tinting the 4Runner is a must.
The only thing I dislike about tinting the windows all the way around is looking in the rear view.
If you go with a 20% tint on the back window and all the way around, you will be fine. But, the 4Runner already comes with a factory window tint at 20%. If you are going to add another layer of 20% tint film over the factory tint, you would be at 10%.
Update: 20% tint means to let 20 percent of the light through. Putting 20% over 20% would be letting 4% of the light through ( 20% = 0.2 0.2 x 0.2 = .04 = 4% ) Thanks Steve for the addition to the article!
When it comes to wheels, the options are endless.
This is the fun part when it comes to changing the look of your 4Runner. Most 4Runners are coming off the lot and then buying the aftermarket TRD Wheels, which are awesome. The only problem with these wheels is that many drivers have them… kinda like a Gobi Rack and KO2s.
Throwing a set of TRD wheels on a stock SR5 would never be a bad thing, it’s just nice to know there are literally hundreds of options to choose from out there. For ideas on wheel inspiration, check out this wheel post and graphic or this updated overview on wheels we put together.
There are quite a few brands to choose from in this category.
Aftermarket Wheel Options
- TRD SEMA Wheels
- TRD Beadlock Wheels
- Stealth Custom Series
- Black Rhino Wheels
- VTX Wheels
- KMC Wheels
- Method Race Wheels
- Relations Race Wheels
- Enkei Wheels
- Rays Wheels
Or, just Amazon search 17×8.5 off-road wheels or 17×7 wheels depending on your tire
I could go on for hours about wheels. Another great place to check out wheel inspiration is throughout the forms.
So where should you start? I would start small and work your way up. Grab some small accessories and start modding the interior of your 4Runner first. Then you can move to some of the more important areas like your low beams, high beams, and definitely your fog lights. These are simple plug-and-play lightbulb swaps that you simply screw right into place. Adding new light bulbs into your factory headlight housing is incredibly simple.
One bit of advice is that you should always install a switch panel if you intend on adding any aftermarket off-road lights, a winch, an onboard air compressor, or anything else that needs to be controlled remotely. By installing a switch panel, you will keep all of the electrical wiring throughout your 4Runner clean, organized, and simple.
If you guys ever have any direct questions, feel free to reach out through our contact form at any time, but first, read our entire largest tire size guide (thank you). We’re happy to help answer any questions you might have.
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Hi! I have a 2gen 4Runner with zero mods. My daughters and I have taken it off road many times but I’d like to be able to do rougher and know we’re set up well enough to get there and back. We’re due for new tires and suspension and I’d like to get a lift. Is there somewhere in the Bay Area that does a great job and will make trustworthy recommendations for a 2G? Thanks!
Lokin air intake california legal
NEW to the thread. From my 97 4Runner to my new purchased 2021 SR5 Premium. So far simple mods with LED interior lighting upgrades, steering wheel emblem matte black overlay, ceramic coat and ceramic tints. Looking to purchase beefier tires and TRD rims and blacked out tail lights. Slowly but surely and will make major mods down to the rods. Any suggestions please send them my way. Mahalo.
Do people with Lexus GX 470 join your site, is the information transferable?
I don’t see why not, the frame is the same.
New to this forum and looking to pull the trigger on a 4Runner later this year and looking to get some advice on the Limited (AWD) vs OffRoad edition.
I live in Reno Tahoe area. Drive 95% on road, 5% on light to medium off road (dirt, gravel, gnarly rocks, washes, mud, whoops, washboards etc)
When I am on road during winter I drive to work or play on potentially windy roads with patches of snow/ice or just straight snow 1-3” and occasional 1-2ft in bad conditions if trying to drive over a pass.
would the Premium AWD be a better choice for me then the OffRoad edition? It looks like the Premium I won’t get the Crawl Control, multi terrain select and maybe tracs and locking rear differential?
Any advice would be appreciated, Thanks!
I own a 2015 4Runner Limited. Yes, “the soccer-mom” version…but I’m a single father. I’ve been reading several blogs and many of them of T4R. I haven’t been able to find any brave souls to admit (like me) that they have one, and the mods they’ve have accomplished and their satisfaction. I live near the OBX and have driven my luxury off-roader on the beach, but would like to begin the process of making my 4runner an extension of my personality – “cleans up nice, but built for rougher roads”. I have sent out a few emails to several companies for complete lighting kits, among other start-up upgrades. If anyone would be willing to share their 5th Gen Limited Mods, I’d greatly appreciate it. Looking forward to flexing in the future on my upgraded single dad urban/off-road family friendly assault vehicle…for now, here’s a pic though. Thanks!
I have a 2013 4Runner Trail with CBI Rocksliders and now want to add a 3” lift, CBI front & rear bumpers, Warn winch, 33” tires etc… the problem is, I’ll need heavy springs front and back as I add the bumpers but at least one site cautions running heavy springs not under load. All of this kit is to expensive to buy at once, (at least for me). Do I need to spend a year stockpiling hardware and then do the build at once or can you add suspension & tires one year, bumpers 6 months later? What is the downside to running light?
Thanks from the Teton Valley, Idaho
Stock pile the money and get that stuff all at once and install it that would be best. But, if your gonna piece it together I would do the front bumper and winch first then the rear bumper and then finally do the suspension. The extra weight is what you need for upgraded springs and if you do those first you will be driving a stiff ride which won’t be very comfortable and potentially not safe at speed. I have seen people do the bumpers first on stock suspension and its fine temporarily, maybe not ideal but it will work till you get the suspension done.
Hi, Which wheels are on this white 4Runner posted? Is this 4Runner a TRD Off-Road Premium model?
Those are Fuel Anza wheels.
What is a rule of thumb for airing down tires? We don’t do any high speed wheeling. Normal deep ruts and other normal trail issues. I run 15 psi in my 4 runner with 10 ply mud terrain tires. Some of my friends run only 10 psi but have had the tire break free from the rim. I know that there is not a set pressure for airing down but what is considered the lowest pressure that will get you by with minimal issues.
Tires. I have a 2018 TRD off road. with the TRD black rims. I would like some wider looking tires to give the truck a meaner look while keeping my TRD rims. What tires can u recommend that are thicker and wider , without affecting driving and not having to change my TRD wheeels
You might try some thin spacers as well to give the wider look you are after!
i have a 2013 4runner limited was curious if it was possible to switch to a 14 and up sr5 bumper?
Here is the 2014+ 4Runner Bumper Conversion article.
Love your site. Looking at purchasing a 4Runner and I’m getting great information on what to do, different options and who some good vendors are.
20% tint means to let 20 percent of the light through. Putting 20% over 20% would be letting 4% of the light through ( 20% = 0.2 0.2 x 0.2 = .04 = 4% )
Thanks for the clarification, we will change the information in the article to reflect this!
What does everyone use for leather clean up and care for interior? Thanks in advance
Thanks for the time and effort you put into the blog and comments!
I put a BILSTEIN adjustable shock into my 2008 Tundra, to level it. Got just under a 2″ on the front. With that I was able to put KO2s on the stock rim with a nice gain in height and no trimming. I just picked up a 2018 T4R ORP and I’m curious if something similar will work. I have a pair of Eibach front coil springs for the 4Runner sitting around. Any idea what tire size I can get away with on the stock rims without major trimming? What would I need to lift to get 33″ in there? And I do plan to air down… what’s the widest I can go before I need to upgrade the rims?
Good choice on the 2018 Off-Road Premium. Not sure if you saw this Bilstein 6112 post but it’s a pretty solid option for most drivers and sounds like a similar situation to what you might run? You are probably looking at 33″ tires being the largest option without much trimming. You need a lift to get 33″ tires inside the well.
A good all terrain 285/70R17 is a really popular choice in the 4Runner world. With this size tire and a 2.5″-3″ lift, you are looking at minimal rubbing. If you want little to no rubbing, go with a 275/70/17. For the largest tire width, you may not want to go over 295, although I have seen people run 305 and 315 tires on the 7″ wheel. Enter at your own risk here
Brenan, I’m really impressed with the comprehensive breakdown of everything TRD here. Great job. I’ve been looking to buy a new Toyota (I think it’s time to sell my T-100), and this site confirms what I’m looking for. After reading your section about TRD Pro vs. OR Premium, I’ve decided to look into buying a used TRD Premium… And as you suggest — using the extra savings, and taking some time to make my personal upgrades along the way. Forgive me if this was already addressed somewhere — but what is the standard lift height that comes stock with the Pro? I really like the look of the wheels and lift that comes ” stock” with the TRD Pro. I’m not looking for an aggressive lift and mean tires, since my typical commute involves only short city miles, with seasonal road trips to the snow, and fire roads to remote fishing locations. Basically — what would I need modify on the stock Premium to achieve the look that comes stock with the Pro? Advance thanks.
The Bilstein Shocks are 2.5″ in diameter and offer a stock lift height of 1″ with no options to adjust the height. I would buy an upgraded suspension for the Off-Road Premium, not a spacer kit. With a spacer, your ride quality will feel a bit more floaty. With a suspension, ride quality will get tighter. There are plenty of options to achieve the look of the Pro but the Bilstein 6112s are an affordable option. If money is no issue then ICON/KING/Radflo are good options as well. Most adjustable coilovers will range in adjustable height. Anywhere from 0″-3.5″. What do you need? Coilovers, Rear Springs, Rear Shocks, and maybe UCAs (upper control arms). If you stay at 1″ of lift, you do not need UCAs. If you reach 2.5″ – 3.5″ of lift, I would say buy UCAs.
I have a question will Magnuson SS work with the TRD CAI?
Esau, It will work but it will void your warranty. You want to follow up with Magnuson about this, though just in case.
Not to beat a dead horse but I’ve read a couple threads stating that tire manufactures don’t recommend running 285/70/17 on 17x7s (such as the TRD Pro wheels), and that it’s dangerous to lower the pressure with that setup.
I ask cause obviously if we did everything the manufactures recommended we’d all have stock 4Runners, so in your experience, what’s the negative impact with running this set up if any??
Thanks in advance!! Love the site and all the great info!!!
From everything I have read, you can run 285/70/17 on 17x7s and be fine. It really depends on how you intend to use your 4Runner, though. There are people out there that gone above the 285s have mounted 295s+ on 17x7s. These situations might be where the driver has not considered airing down or general offroad use. And, maybe they never intend on wheeling at all. Who knows. If someone were to mount 285-295+ on 17x7s, I would say just don’t off-road or take corners hard at all. The thinner rim will make the handling kind of floaty I would think. There’s going to be a big difference in the way the steering/sidewall reacts on a smaller rim. I personally would not go that route but to each their own. I have no personal experience with this set-up, though. These are just my thoughts and I would suggest everyone do their own research. Why not just buy a new wheel? Budget? Then find a new hobby.
Point taken. Thanks for the quick response, and keep up the great work!!!
what do you recommend for a hood protector?
We recently wrote a post on the AVS guards that included the bug deflector. You can find the overview here.
Hi. Love your site. I live in Truckee, great Castle Peak story. Buying a new 2018 4runner trd offroad. I have a question about wheels. I see a fair amount of info on the trd sema wheels that come on the pro (17×7 offset 4). The offroad comes with 17×7.5 offset 15. If I want to put 285/70/17 on, is the stock wheel going to work? (17×7.5 offset 15) Obviously will be adding leveling/lift. Or should I go with the 17×7 offset 4 (trd sema), or get yet another rim. Assuming looks are not considered.
For sure, the 285/70/17’s will fit the stock wheel for sure. Just make sure whatever tire shop you are ordering your 285s’ from that you give them your wheel specs. They will be able to match an exact 285 to those wheel specs. Also, a deeper offset is going to be much better. If I could have gone with a deeper offset, I would have.
I have a 2018 with the level kit installed. I just put fuel 17×10 rims with -16 offset and Nitto Ridge grapplers on. Had to adjest the wheel wells and a small bit of trimming on the under pinning. Rides great and sticks out about 2-2.5″ tires increase lift 1″ and it is noticable.
Love this post. This is exactly where I got started when I bought my truck new. Too many mods and don’t know where to dump my hard earned money! Before anything I took my truck out to drive on and off road for a few k miles with the stock set up to see which path of mods I wanted to take and how comfortable you feel with the stock set up. I feel that is the easiest way to decide while not spending money on mods you may potentially not use or need.
Any suggestion on the size of AT tire if you leave the stock rims on the vehicle? This is a 2018.
It’s not really the size of tire you can run on the wheel. It has to do with the size of tire you can run on what lift or level kit you have. If you want to run a larger tire, the clearance in your wheel well matters. If you are looking to run a bigger tire, you should look into a leveling kit or a complete suspension.
Please help me buy the supercharger for the 2017 4Runner. Thanks.
The Supercharger for the 5th Gen 4Runner can be found here: https://trail4runner.com/trd-4runner-superchargers-5th-gen/. The Supercharger is made by Magnuson. They released the pilot build a few months back. The official supercharger should be released to the public soon. Good luck!