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.
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 10 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
- Blackout Emblem Kit: Check Price
- Interior LED Light Kit: 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 questions to ask yourself relates to 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.
- Falken Wildpeak AT3W: $140
- 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+
- BF Goodrich KO2 A/T: $250+
- Toyo Open Country A/T 2: $260
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
- King Performance Lift Kit: 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%
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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