5th Gen 4Runner Performance

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5th Gen Toyota 4Runner Performance Mods

Magnuson Supercharger - 5th Gen 4Runner

How to Increase Performance on your 4Runner. Everything you can do to hike up those HP Gains!

If you are looking to hike up those HP gains, there are only a few options. This should serve as the go-to list of performance mods. A few things come to mind when you think of a powerful 4Runner and the biggest one is the Magnuson Supercharger (SC).

If your budget isn’t quite at Magnuson level yet, don’t worry because there are a few affordable options out there. These other mods will give you better horsepower, improve gas mileage, and give your truck a meaner, deeper, more throaty growl.

With a supercharged 4R, you are sure to see some serious HP gains. This will give you the biggest gain in horsepower possible. With a supercharger, you are looking at a 30% increase in HP. While some of the other mods may only yield 1-10% and maybe even a little less than 10%.

After reading our post on Mods Part 1, you may be thinking about what’s next. After the basic mods in our first post; tint, nerf bars or rock sliders, tires, wheels and some other basics, there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Today we are going to talk about adding a few basic performance parts that will increase both HP (Horse Power) and fuel efficiency. For an increase in performance, we are going to look at installing an exhaust, Cold Air Intake (CAI), headers, and a few others.

Recent Question:

I have a 2018 4R TRD Off Road and have put 285 Toyo’s on it and a Bilstein 5100 kit on it. It is lifted 2.5″ in the front and 1.5″ in the rear. I came from Range Rovers with V8s. I feel like the 4R is super under-powered and slow, but maybe that is because of the big tires and whatnot. I live in Denver so going up to the mountains a lot, the truck seems to work really hard up the hills. I am hitting 3500rpm to a few minutes at a time getting up hills. Also, the truck is recording just about 15mpg.

Do you think this sounds right from a power standpoint? Other than supercharging, which is out of my budget, is there anything to do to get more power? I’m guessing TRD Intake and Exhaust would be your first choice? Thanks!

Our Quick Response: In short, intake and exhaust for sure. Also, depending on Colorado laws, adding headers would make a HUGE difference. Not street legal in California but we are installing a set. If you install them, you may have to remove for smog which would be quite the hassle. Make sure your laws allow headers or you will have to remove them every two years in order to pass smog.

Start running 91 fuel in your 4R on a regular basis. You might notice a difference after a few tanks. I run 91 often for cleaner fuel and I think I convinced myself it helps with power. To each their own on this one.

Also, the throttle controller is pretty cool. We just installed this on our 4R. I was pretty impressed at what the Pedal Commander was able to do. You do not see any actual HP gains, but the features allow you to adjust your throttle response which provides a new experience, its faux performance. You feel like you are driving a different well-tuned vehicle. Also, you can get a MAF spacer or a throttle body spacer, but these are hit and miss. You may not feel anything here but they claim to help out.

What to Cover with 4Runner Performance Mods?

Problems with Power

  1. Bigger Tires means Less Horsepower?
  2. Overloaded weight?

Increasing Power

  1. Magnuson Supercharger
  2. Cold Air Intake (CAI)
  3. Catback Exhaust
  4. Doug Thorley Headers
  5. Pedal Commander Throttle Controller
  6. Mid Pipes
  7. Throttle Body Spacer
  8. MAF (Mass Airflow Sensor) Spacer
  9. Running 91 Octane Fuel

Bigger Tires means Less Horsepower?

Most might think that you have less horsepower when you throw on bigger tires. Try not to confuse larger tires with less horsepower. When you add larger tires on your 4Runner, you are not losing horsepower, you are adding extra rotating weight and a larger diameter tire. This causes your 4Runner to work harder for the same tire rotation as a stock 31″ tire.

The problem you are seeing is gearing (Increase in added weight and a larger rotation), not an actual loss of power. To get back to “normal” with bigger tires, you need to change your gear ratio (regear). Regearing can be costly and time-consuming, this will likely be something you would take to a shop. Once you regear your 4Runner, things should feel like they are back to normal with power.

Overloaded with weight?

Being overloaded with weight will have an effect on your performance. If a 98 civic body was mounted on top of our frame, we would be kicking ass. The point is, don’t overload your 4Runner with a bunch of useless stuff unless you need to.

If you are going on a camping trip and overloaded to the gills with equipment, things are going to move a bit slower. But again, this has no effect on actual horsepower, your 4Runner is just working harder to move all this extra weight.

Magnuson Supercharger

4Runner Supercharger - Magnuson 4Runner Supercharger

The Magnuson Supercharger is hands-down, the best performance mod. Boasting 30% of horsepower gains and a 27% torque increase, this is literally 10 times better than any gains you will see from a Catback Exhaust, a Cold Air Intake, Headers or a Chip. Headers might come close at about 20hp but you will never experience the true potential without the Magnuson Supercharger.

Cold Air Intake (CAI)

TRD Cold Air Intake (CAI) 5th Gen 4Runner

The cold air intake is a key element for increasing airflow in your engine. We have covered this topic a few times throughout the blog. TRD Cold Air Intake systems or any cold air intake for that matter, give your engine free-flowing, cold, oxygen-rich air for optimal performance.

Independent testing has shown that TRD air intake systems combined with an exhaust and performance filters give your vehicle more horsepower, torque, acceleration, and pulling power. Do your self a favor and start with a cold intake for your first mod.

Catback Exhaust

5th Gen 4Runner Magnaflow Exhaust

This was actually the first mod, that we threw on our 4R. This actually might have been the first step by step install on the website, the MagnaFlow Exhaust. You can also grab a Borla Exhaust, which is also a great option for a Catback exhaust. We did an article recently that compared the MagnaFlow, Borla and Gibson Exhaust. That would be a good place to start if you are looking for differences on these exhaust systems.

Catback exhaust systems work by increasing the airflow capacity in order to produce more power. High-flow Catback exhaust systems increase power across the RPM range. Catback exhaust systems are more known for increasing the power in your lower RPM range. Catback exhaust systems deliver a boost to our 4Runner in both torque and horsepower.

Doug Thorley Headers

Doug Thorley Headers for 5th Gen 4Runner

We still have not installed our headers, but we do have them sitting in the office. These are well-known for the best Headers out there. If you are unsure about what headers are, go check out that post. in short, headers make it easier to push out exhaust gases from the cylinders in our engine. Headers work by eliminating the manifolds back-pressure. Instead of sharing a common manifold, each cylinder gets its own exhaust pipe.

Running 91 Octane Fuel

This one is a toss-up and all personal preference. If you go from running 87 to running 91 octane, you may or may not feel a difference. I started running 91 octane in the 4Runner for about a month and I felt like saw a difference for sure, but at what level?

If you compare running 87 to running 91 on a dyno, you would likely see a couple of points in difference. The real question is whether or not, you will you feel it at the wheel. Try it out for yourself and see what you think.

MAF (Mass Airflow Sensor) – Cleaning & Spacer

Install OEM MAF (Mass Airflow) Sensor on Air Inlet Tube

Depending on how old your 4Runner is, you can always clean your MAF (Mass Airflow Sensor). By cleaning your MAF sensor, you are likely to see HP gains. Some people even say cleaning off the factory sensor will increase HP (I don’t know about that one, but who knows).

The next option with the MAF is a MAF Spacer. A MAF Spacer sets a different MAF sensor placement so that it tricks your engine into running different fuel ratios. In certain areas of your throttle curve, the engine will create a different fuel to air ratio, thus creating more horsepower.

There are people out there that swear by this and people out there who would laugh at you if you install one. The choice is up to you. We will eventually throw a MAF spacer on just to see what everyone is talking about and if it is really worth it or not. With the MAF spacer, you are expected to see better gas mileage and increased horsepower. For what it’s worth, why not just install one. It’s cheap, easy and can’t hurt anything. If anything, the Toyota ECU is incredibly smart and would just reset itself back to original settings. It would basically adapt.

Pedal Commander Throttle Controller

Throttle Response Controller 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner

This is a new one for the blog. We wrote a post on this recently. This thing blew my mind. We saw this gadget about 6 months ago and breezed past it. I was thinking “how cool can this throttle response controller really be”?

Then, we had a guy email us on the website in all CAPS up in joy, bragging about how epic this product was. After reading the first two sentences of his email, I bought one. I was so excited, I bought the PC38 and not the PC27, which is the correct model for our 5th Gen. The PC38 is for the 4th Gen 4Runner.

The throttle response controller gives you the ability to adjust your throttle response on the fly. If you want to increase your MPGs, drop it down to Eco mode by holding the yellow star. If you want to drive at somewhat of a stock level (with a little kick in umph’), kick it up to City-Mode.

If you are feeling froggish, then leap to Sport-Mode (this is seriously fun). It really is like driving a Range Rover Sport (not supercharged).

If you are in the mood to serious romp down the road, up a hill or smash on the freeway, bump it up to Sport+ Mode. At this point, you will FEEL like you are driving a Supercharged Range Rover Sport, V8. Driving on the freeway with the PC in Sport+ is awesome. You can mob through traffic and switch lanes like a true boss. Sometimes, I really feel like it’s Supercharged. And yes, we did test-drive the Magnuson Supercharger when we were in Ventura. It’s obviously nothing like a Supercharger but god damn, is this thing cool!

I am still in shock at what this $300 gadget can do.

What did we miss?

If we missed anything or if anyone out there has anything to add, please leave your comments below. What did you see out of your intake, exhaust, headers, or running bigger tires.. Let us know, comment below!

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Recent Posts
Showing 11 comments
  • Bart
    Reply

    I have a 2018 4Runner limited, 3” lift, 275/55/20 tires. I’ve always felt sluggish and underpowered so I’m always looking to improve. So far, I’ve installed a K&N cold air intake. I don’t notice a lot of difference in slower speeds but at highway speeds, I fell like it has a better get-up-and-go when I hit the gas. Also, it has a very loud muscle car rumble inside the cab when I do hit this gas. Anyway, I was reading your list of upgrades and the supercharger and pedal tuner intrigued me. Are there any reasons not to install either one of these on a limited edition with AWD?

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      Bart,
      I don’t see why not. A supercharger would turn your 4R into something special. If you can afford one, buy a supercharger. The Pedal Commander will work on your limited and makes driving a little more interesting. Having the ability to adjust your throttle response is pretty cool.

  • Geoff
    Reply

    Hi, I’ve always been intrigued by the addition of a super charger to a stock vehicle. I have a 2016 Trail Premium. What I’ve always wondered about is whether or not this addition can cause damage to a stock transmission.

    Your thoughts ??

  • Adam
    Reply

    Hello,
    I recently emailed Magnuson about their supercharger prior to purchasing one and asked them if I should do any additional mods such as an aftermarket CAI and Cat-back exhaust. I even asked them about installing a Pedal Commander. In short, they recommended that I leave everything stock, minus the supercharger of course, due to any other mods potentially effecting the “tune” of the SC. Do you have any thoughts or experiences on this? I was prepared to add both a CAI and Cat-back but now I am not so sure.

  • Josh
    Reply

    Where did you find the MAF Spacer?

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      Josh,
      Crawford Performance has them. They say you can see 8% on average of both HP and Fuel Mileage. I have heard of larger gains with the trucks.
      They do not recommend you use or install it with an aftermarket intake. It is meant to be a substitute with the idea of flying under the radar and saving folks money. All of their verbiage states that it is meant for a stock intake, stock tune. You can find the Eco-Blocks here.

  • Mitchell Wiese
    Reply

    Which is the correct Pedal Commander? PC38 or PC27?

  • Robert
    Reply

    Concerning cat-back exhaust, I installed a Magnaflow system on my Nissan Exterra with poor results. The exhaust drone at 1500 to 2500 rpm was irritating and sounded awful. It’s like it needed a resonator downstream. Sound at 3000 rpm and higher was great. but not practical for typical daily driving.
    Just wondering if a Magnaflow or Borla system works better on the 4Runner.

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      Works better would be relative. The MagnaFlow does drone out but nothing that I have been unhappy with. Everyone’s taste for exhaust is a little different. I also have a Borla in my other 4Runner and it does not drone at all. But, it’s not aggressive enough for me. Daily driving, I love the MagnaFlow. Did you read our post on Borla, MagnaFlow or Gibson? Also, aFe makes an exhaust system for the 5th gen now. You may want to check that out.

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34" Toyo Open County AT 2 Tires (285/75R17)Blackout 5th Gen 4Runner Front Bumper Valance