5th Gen 4Runner Mods (Part 3) Lift Kits

 In 5th Gen Mods, Accessories, Install, TRD

Suspension Upgrades, Lift Kits and Leveling Kits

Lifted 5th Gen 4Runner (Suspension Lift)

A basic overview of lift kits, leveling kits, and suspension lifts for the 4Runner

When it comes to a 4Runner, it only looks right with a lift or leveling kit. There are a few different options available. Deciding on a suspension or leveling kit is a big decision because there are so many options. In the details below, we only cover the top or most popular options. This is not every option out there. If you know of a kit that needs to be mentioned below, please comment and let us know.

One of the most important factors when lifting is wheels and tires. We get questions almost weekly on “What is the biggest tire size I can fit on my 4Runner” along with trimming areas in your wheel well. So, please read those posts before asking that question, please.

Some of the main questions you will face

  • Difference between level and suspension lift?
  • Stock wheels/tires and new suspension?
  • Running larger tires than stock?
  • Chopping away at your body, fender liners, and wheel well?

If you have stock wheels and tires and you are looking to upgrade your suspension, you should probably look into getting a new set to match your lift. If you add a leveling kit or lift kit with stock wheels and tires, your set-up might not look balanced.

With a 1.5″ front leveling kit only, your 4Runner will look somewhat normal with stock wheels and tires. If you go any higher in the front, for example, a 3.5″ in the front and 2″ in the back, then you might want to buy new tires to balance the look.

Depending on the kit, your wheels and tires may look pretty small with the added height, so this is something to consider.

Suspension Upgrade Vs. Lift Kits Vs. Leveling Kits Vs. Body Lifts

The most common set-ups will be the six items below.

  1. Front Spacer
  2. Front and Rear Spacer
  3. Suspension
  4. Long Travel Suspension
  5. Full Lift Kit
  6. Body Lift

You have front spacer kits (front spacer only), front and rear spacer kits (front and rear spacer), and then you have a suspension kit (Coilovers, Upper Control Arms “UCAs”, rear springs, and rear shocks). The height of these kits range from 1″ – 3.5+” but can be adjusted with adjustable Coilovers.

The next level would be a little more involved. To start, you have your Long Travel Suspension which includes a wide variety of upgraded parts (usually between 3″ – 5″ of height). Then, you have full lift kits (FabTech & ProComp) which are 6″ kits.

Then, you can add a body lift (usually 1″) which separates the body from the frame. Body lifts are a touchy subject among many people in every automotive circle. Enter into a body lift at your own risk.

Suspension

A really good option out there would be to upgrade your suspension. This is going to include upgraded Coilovers, Upper Control Arms (UCAs), rear springs, and rear shocks.

Front and Rear Spacer Kit

The next option is going to be your leveling kit. Leveling kits are great for people who want a lifted look without enhanced off-road functionality and performance of an upgraded suspension system.

Front Leveling Kit

You really just want to level the front. If you do not like the raked look (slanted from back to front) and want to level everything out, you want a front leveling kit.

Level and Suspension Kit Options

ProComp Leveling Kit

  • Pro Comp Front/ Rear Spacer Kit: (Check Price)
  • Height: 3″ Front, 2″ Rear

Bilstein 2.5″ front and 1″ rear

Check Dobinsons PDF for fitment on rear springs

Icon 3.5″ front and 2″ rear – Stage 2

These are the parts that make a stage 2 Icon. If you buy all the parts separately, you will save almost $200 (depending on state tax) as opposed to buying from Icon directly. I wish I would have known this before we bought ours. We paid almost $3000 after tax buying directly. Parting these options together will get you closer to $2500.

Limited Edition XREAS front level only

  • 1.5″ Spacer = Exactly Level: Price
  • 2.0″ Spacer = 1/8″ Higher in the front: Price

Difference Between Leveling Kit and Suspension Kit

  • Mod #1 – Leveling Kit
  • Mod #2 – Lift Kit

Below we are going to look at the lift and leveling option as well as suspension options.

#1 – Leveling Kit – Pro Comp Level Kit – $350

Pro Comp Level Kit - 5th Gen 4Runner

A leveling kit is typically done through a set of spacers on top of your factory struts and springs. Spacers are made of metal, rubber or a wide variety of other materials. Spacer kits offer a good introductory solution to getting your truck off the ground. Spacers come with benefits and downsides.

The reason why most owners install a leveling kit (front only) or a leveling-lift kit (front and rear) is cost. Spacer kits are cheap. With an average range of $100-$300, spacers offer an affordable solution to lifting your truck. Some owners might also install a leveling kit because that might be all they need.

With a leveling kit, you are not going to see an increase in on-road or off-road performance. If you buy a leveling kit, do not expect your 4Runner to handle any better (body roll, nose dive, etc.). This might actually get worse with a spacer kit. With the addition of a spacer kit, you may experience a more floaty feel, more body roll and even more nose dive than stock. But, this all depends on what leveling kit you buy. Not all leveling kits are made the same.

For the most part, leveling kits and leveling-lift kits serve as an affordable alternative to a suspension lift but with very few of the important features of a true suspension (coilovers, rear springs, rear shocks, and UCAs).

#2 – Suspension – Icon Stage 2 Suspension Kit – $3000

Icon Stage 2 Suspension Lift Kit - 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner

A complete suspension upgrade is going to offer better on-road and off-road performance.

In the picture above, you see a set of coilovers (coil spring over shock). These specific coilovers are adjustable which means you can adjust your ride height in the front. This is also known as preload (adjusting the height on your coilovers). In this case with the Icons, we can adjust our preload from 0-3.5″.

Adjustable and non-adjustable suspension systems typically perform much better than factory struts and springs. With an aftermarket coilover, you will often see an increased ride-quality on-road (stiffer rider) and off-road (looser, more flex ride). This is why most owners prefer an aftermarket suspension system. It offers benefits both on and off-road.

Then you have upper control arms (UCAs). UCAs are are a part that connects your suspension system to the frame. This articulating part manages the up and down range of motion that your wheels go through. Depending on the height/ preload on your coilovers, you may need UCAs. With a height of 3″ on your front coilovers, most companies recommend aftermarket UCAs.

In the back, you have rear shocks and rear springs. Springs handle your actual lift and can range in levels of load rate capacity. You have multi-rate springs, progressive-rate, dual-rate springs, and linear-rate springs. Each of these springs have their place in different suspension systems. Depending on the type of system you are going for will depend on the type of spring you will want.

Rear shocks are simple, they range in motion depending on the ride height of your rear springs.

Understand the Types of Suspensions

  • Stock or Shocks and Springs: You have a coil-spring, independent double-wishbone front suspension with stabilizer bar in the front. For the rear, you have a coil-spring 4 link with lateral rod rear suspension with stabilizer bar in the rear. (Comes on most SR5s) – Check out our post on the strut spacer leveling kit install for the SR5 for more information.
  • X-REAS Independent Counterpart Shocks: (Connects the Passenger Rear right to Driver Front Left and Vice Versa). X-REAS helps lessen body sway, pitch, and roll.
  • K.D.S.S. Great for On and Off Road: OFF-ROAD: Hydraulic Oil flows in loops from the front and rear cylinder which means the cylinder is not locked. ON-ROAD: Hydraulic Oil flow against each other from the front and rear cylinder which means the cylinder is locked. (Comes on Trail and TRD Off-Road models).

Top Brands for Lifts & Leveling Kits

  • Daystar
  • Revtek
  • Readylift SST
  • Truxxx
  • Toytec
  • Total Chaos
  • Fox
  • Icon
  • Rough Country
  • Radflo
  • Procomp
  • Bilstein
  • Old Man Emu (OME)

Different Options for Suspension Kits & Leveling Kits

  • TRD PRO Bilstein Shocks w/ TRD-tuned Front Springs – $1500+
  • Leveling Kit: Daystar – $150
  • Leveling Kit: Toytec – $250
  • Lift/Leveling Kit: Pro Comp Nitro – $350
  • Spacer Kit With Coils: Rough County – $200
  • Spacer Kit with Coils: Toytec – $320
  • Non-Rebuildable Coilovers & Shocks: Bilstein 5100 – $400
  • Non-Rebuildable Coilovers & Shocks: OME – $900-$1200 with Options
  • Non-Rebuildable Coilovers & Shocks: Pro Comp – $600
  • Rebuildable/Adjustable: Icon – $1800-$6000 (Multiple Stages)
  • Rebuildable/Adjustable: Total Chaos Long Travel – $3000+

How to decide which is right for you?

Deciding which of these is for you will depend on how you drive.

If your 4Runner is a street princess, you might want to buy a basic leveling kit. But a leveling kit might also make your on-road driving a bit more floaty than stock. A leveling kit is just a means to an end. Leveling kits typically do not solve common issues like body roll and nose dive that are common with the stock suspension.

If you go on the occasional off-road adventure, you should probably look into a mid-level suspension kit with coilovers as this will have the most flexibility off-road. This would be the Bilstein 6112 front coils and a 5100 rear shock. You would also need a rear spring like the Dobinsons spring.

If you plan to hit some serious trails or go on a week-long adventure through rough terrain, you might want to look into an OME, Icon, KING, Fox, Radflo, or Total Chaos Long Travel set-up.

Common lift and level kits

  • Spacer front: Toytec 2″ Level Kit
  • Spacer front and rear: Pro Comp 3″ Nitro Level
  • Mid-Level suspension: Bilstein 6112 front, 5100 rear and 1″ spring
  • Mid-Level/advanced suspension: Old Man Emu (OME)
  • Advanced suspension: Icon or KING
  • Long Travel: Total Chaos Long Travel

This is all completely subjective and heavily relies on your knowledge of your suspension needs. Again, check out Icon, KING, FOX, OME, Radflo, Bilstein, ProComp, ToyTech, or many others before making your choice.

If you need a solid company that you can call anytime, call Metal Tech 4×4. They are super cool, incredibly helpful and always around to answer any of your questions. Whether you are just getting started or looking to upgrade your current system, they make it all pretty simple and easy.

Conclusion

FIRST: Before buying any of these, understand which suspension you have. If you have an SR5, the options are going to much different than if you have X-REAS. Alternatively, if you have KDSS on your Trail 4Runner or TRD Off-Road, your options are going to be, somewhat similar compared to the SR5. X-REAS is really the only thorn in your side. Most websites and manufacturers do a good job of categorizing their products so you will know for sure if the kit fits. You can always rip off your X-REAS system if you want, but do your research before you go pulling parts apart.

SECOND: Do your research and understand what you are buying. If you purchase a $3000 and plan on doing it yourself, you should plan on having the right tools for the job. If you are buying a $300 spacer kit, it probably won’t last for that long, you might not like the new feel and it might not perform the way you want it to off-road.

THIRD: You don’t need a full suspension kit if you intend on rolling around the business parks or your local mall. A mid-grade leveling kit should be fine. The Pro Comp 3″ Spacer Kit is a nice in-between kit that should suffice for all street driving and mild off-roading here and there.

FOURTH: If you are spending $6000 on an Icon stage 7 or big money on a Long Travel system… have fun!!

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Showing 22 comments
  • David
    Reply

    So on the OME website, it doesn’t offer lift kits available for 5th Gen 4runners. Could someone help me find a lift kit by them for a 2011 5th gen 4runner trail?

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      Does the lift kit need to be an OME lift kit? If you are really looking to stick with the OME brand of lift kits, there are plenty of options out there for your 5th gen 4Runner (Specifically your 2011). There is a really nice OME 2.5″-3″ Lift Kit which is compatible with the 2010-2014 FJ Cruiser as well as the 10-17 4Runner. The part number is OME-FJBP51. The OME-FJBP51 is a relatively new suspension kit and was initially released for the FJ but it does fit on the 5th Gen 4Runner as well.

  • Kayla
    Reply

    I have a 2017 Toyota 4Runner Limited. I have been looking for a leveling kit to fit mine. I have been have trouble because they are saying that it would make my tire sensors would go off.. or be faulty and cause issues. Do you have any suggestions? Or know if a leveling kit?

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      Kayla,
      From what I know of, you will not have a problem with sensors going off. This Leveling kit will work for your 2017 4Runner. Who was telling you that sensors would go off? And what sensors were they referring to? There are guys out there who have confirmed that this leveling will work on 2010+ 4Runners (and your 2017) with XREAS suspension in both 2wd and 4wd.
      Cheers!

  • Shaf
    Reply

    I have a 2017 SR5 base and i am interested in putting the complete TRD Pro suspension system pictured on this page: https://trail4runner.com/trd-5th-gen-4runner-lift-kits-suspension/. I have gone to various links that sell the TRD suspension but I am not sure if it is all I need. The article on that page also references other parts that make up the complete TRD suspension system. Can you please direct me to the exact TRD Pro suspension system I need for my 2017 SR5? I want to to make sure I am getting it all and the proper parts. Thanks.

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      Shaf,
      The TRD Pro suspension is a bit overrated. The TRD Pro kit is composed of Eibach Springs and Bilstein shocks that are packaged and “tuned” as a TRD kit. You can get an Eibach kit as a stand-alone kit or a Bilstein kit as a stand-alone kit. Both of these kits as a stand-alone kit (not branded TRD) are going to be damn near the exact same kit minus the TRD branding. I guess my question would be “do you need TRD branding on your shocks”? If you are spending that much money on a kit, why not grab a set of Icons or KINGS? For the exact parts on the system, it would again be Eibach Springs and Bilstein shocks with the remote Bilstein Reservoirs. Both the front and back will be Bilstein shocks with the remote Bilstein Reservoirs. The TRD kit does not cover aftermarket upper control arms, lower control arms, upper-end links, lower-end links, adjustable track bar, extended brake lines, or anything that really covers a complete suspension system. The TRD suspension kit is merely a Bilstein 5100 suspension system that you can get for a fraction of the price.

      • Shaf
        Reply

        Thank you for the info.

        • Brian
          Reply

          I went through the same decision on mine and ended up with the ICON. My buddy was the trd pro with the bilistiens. Could be me making it up in m6 head but my stage 2 ICON feels better and I can upgrade it when freed up $$ allows or I ge5 more and more into this….

  • Kale
    Reply

    So I just bought a 2018 4runner TRD Off-road Premium in Super White. I know you have lift options posted on here (the pro comp I believe) but, if I’m reading it correctly, when I go to the product, it says it either doesn’t fit my 18 or that they don’t make it anymore. I have found couple of other ones out there which leads to my second question. If I do a leveling kit, they have options with or without replacing the inner shocks. What is your advice on that? Should I get just the spacers for a couple hundred or should I do the combo? If so, do you have any recommendations on either one for my 18? Also, I don’t have KDSS. This would be my very first mod as ive only had it for about 2 weeks. Figured this was a good place to start. If not, where would you start?

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      Kale,
      I always recommend going with aftermarket shocks, especially if you do not have KDSS. If those products are not showing correct fitment on your 4Runner, just call the company and confirm. Most of the leveling kits and lifts out there for 2017 4Runners will fit 2018 4Runners. Not a whole lot has changed but always double check and call the company. It also really depends on how you intend on using your 4Runner. If you plan on frequent off-road trips, for sure buy a set of coilovers (shocks). If you plan on lots of highway miles and everyday driving, with little to no off-road trips, then a leveling kit should be fine. It really all depends on your goals, though.

      • Nicholas Sorrentino
        Reply

        I have a 2018 as well, I think its just that some of the companys have not updated their info for 2018 models, so they’re just not in the system yet. If you look for 2017 parts you might have more success

  • Brian
    Reply

    Brenan,
    2017 LTD 4wd here, 80% of highway and 20% city drivings and I am planning to hit on some trails on weekends and I also plan to do some mild off-roading(gravel, sands) in the future.
    What suspension lift kit would you recommend? The reason why I don’t want leveling kit is that I am a firm believer of you get what you pay for and according to guys who have used spacers, then replaced them with the suspension lifts on their 4runners and Tacomas, they only enhance the appearance of the truck and serve no true uses, so I decided to “do things right the first time.” So I don’t need to invest in more advanced parts later.
    So far I have found OME,Toytec,Icon stage 2 and Dobisons to be quite popular on the market for my needs. What do you think?

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      If money is an object, buy the stage 2 Icon. If you are wheelin’ on a budget, get the OME.

  • Gage
    Reply

    Brenan,
    2018 SR5 Premium here. Looking for the best suspension kit that has the most value. I live by the rule of buy nice or buy twice. 1st goal is to achieve 3″ of lift and outfit my rig with 285 Nitto Trail Grapplers. 2nd Goal is to have a plush highway ride that also can handle MOST of what I throw at it offroad. I would classify myself as a noob when it comes to off-roading, but as my skill level progresses, I want my 4runner to be able to handle well. After doing much research, I’ve been leaning towards an Icon Stage 2 kit, but I also have been holding out on pressing the buy button as part of me wants resi’s. Any suggestions? I also may add that King has been catching my attention…

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      Icon or King, good to go. As for the resis, they might be a little much for your application. Reservoirs contain a larger volume of oil which helps prevent the shock from overheating. If you are punishing your shocks at speed on rough terrain, then definitely go with reservoir over monotube. If you are the occasional wheeler like most owners, just stick with a single shock and if you notice you are on rough terrain (consistent washboards or something), stop and lightly feel the shock body. If it burns your fingers, then you might want to add remotes to allow the single to dissipate heat better when stressed. The Icon stage 2 is usually more than enough for most of us. It all depends on how you wheel, though. As for plush highway ride, I don’t know what that means to you, but I have no complaints about the Icon stage 2 on the highway.

      • Gage
        Reply

        Thanks so much man! Have any suggestions on where to buy the kit from??

        • Brenan - Trail4R
          Reply

          Metal Tech 4×4, Directly from Icon, Amazon has a complete stage 1 as of now or you can piece together a stage 2 cheaper with links on this page. If you want actual phone support and someone to call, Metal Tech 4×4.

  • Travis
    Reply

    Bilstein 5100’s all the way around with factory springs (for now). Trying to decide on settings for the front. Ive looked at photos, but nothing in person. Either 0.85″ or 1.75″ in the front and no spacers, or would you do 1.75″ in the front and a spacer? Offroad shop said 1.75″ no spacer. Sticking with 265 70 17 tires. Probably a nitto G2.

  • Ivan Cruz
    Reply

    Have a 2016 trail 4Runner. Wondering if the rough country lift will work with this model. The website says if you have the X-REAS it will not. And tried to call and they don’t even know. So if anyone has used that lift for any trails please let me know.

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      Ivan, you have a 2016 Trail but you are checking XREAS? Did you mean KDSS? TE (Trail Edition) has an option for KDSS so you may be thinking of KDSS, not XREAS which is on the limited 4R.

  • Mark
    Reply

    I have Bilstein 5100 ready to install on my 2016 sr5 and plan on the 2.5 lift in front. Original idea to put 1.5 spacer in back for the level. Since most 1.5 rear springs seem to really be more like a 2 inch lift, I just figured on the spacer to get level. This will be mostly daily driver with some very light off road. I just noticed the Dobinsons 1 inch spring which claims to be more like a 1.25 – 1.5 rear lift. Do you think that would be a better way to go?

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      Mark, Dobinsons makes many different load rating coils for the rear. I would encourage coils over the spacer. Check out the Dobinsons PDF for fitment on rear springs. This might help you determine which spring is right for your lift. Were you going with the Bilstein 6112 in the front? If so, I would go with the Dobinson 30mm springs 1.1″. You may want to call Dobinsons and have them explain the difference in the constant load coils and comfort coils. That may also help you get closer to the end goal. It sounds like 2.5″ front and 1″ rear.

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