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DIY Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution – 5th Gen 4Runner

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Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating For 5th Gen 4Runner Models

I bought my 5th Gen 4Runner in 2015.

I was upgrading from a 2011 Subaru Forester and spent many hours on Toyota.com building my dream set-up. The rear sliding deck was always an afterthought. I opted to forgo it to save some money (unaware it could not be added afterward as a plug and play kit) and unfortunately, that decision has haunted me ever since.

There are guys in the forums who were able to convert the SR5 cargo area into a Trail Edition Premium or TRD Off-Road/Pro but that requires drilling through your floorboard in order to access the factory bolt threads on the 4Runner. Not that this is necessarily a difficult mod, the general process is not for me. If you are interested in converting the SR5 cargo area into a TEP or TRD cargo area with the slide tray, take a look at this post in the forum.

The Problem With 5th Gen 4Runner’s Rear Cargo Area

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

When the back seats are down, there is a 5” downward slope from the flat seatbacks to the cargo area. This can be incredibly frustrating when you’re packing the truck or if you need a flat surface for sleeping.

I was determined to come up with a solution and started to research pre-made drawer systems along with drawer plans and options currently available on the market. I found that they were all much taller than I wanted and way more than I was willing to invest.

My 4Runner is my daily driver/mobile office and did not want to sacrifice too much of the current height of the cargo area. I also had promised my fiancé that I wouldn’t start any pricey mods until the 4Runner was officially paid off.

In a perfect world of low profile drawer systems, take a look at the systems made by Truck Vault. They are known to make one of the highest quality low-profile drawer systems for the 5th Generation 4Runner on the market. They can be customized and fully optioned with power, slide tables, multiple drawer configurations, gun organizers, high-end security locks, and so much more. Take a look at Truck Vault for a wide variety of drawer systems and custom rear cargo applications for the 5th Gen 4Runner. If you can afford it then I would highly recommend looking at the truck Vault drawer system.

For my personal build, I decided to DIY my own platform/drawer set up. Below you’ll find my supply list and step-by-step instructions to create your own

Let’s get started! 

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution Install Overview

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

The photo above shows the starting dimensions for the area:

38 ½” deep (to hinge of rear seats) x 43 5/8” wide (wheel-well to wheel-well) x 3” high (bottom to level with rear seats)

Tools & Materials:

Step 1. Platform Assembly

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

I started with a 1/2” sheet of plywood. I’m still in the process of setting up a proper woodshop at the house and had to rely on the local Lowe’s for the longer cuts that my miter saw couldn’t handle.

Once I had the entire platform cut to size (38 ½” L x 43 5/8” W), I measured for the factory mounting points directly behind the rear seats. I wanted to ensure that I wasn’t limiting any of the functionality of the cargo area.

Using 2” hole saw bit, I made two holes in the rear of the platform, 7 ½” in from the sides in order to retain the functionality of the factory tie-down points that are provided in the cargo area.

Cut Platform Legs

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

Next, using 2 pieces of 1”x 4”x 8’ lumber, I cut the platform legs.

I cut 3 legs measuring 33” long and mounted them to the bottom of the platform using the 1 ¼” wood screws. The outside legs sit 1 ½” inside of the outer edge. The center leg sits 21 ¾” to the center from the outsides edge.

Add Carpet & Mount D-Rings (Optional)

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

Now you have the main structure for the project.

The 1×4” supports are vital to give enough room to incorporate a drawer and allow for clearance of the gear being stored.

The last thing to do is to add the carpet to the top. I wanted something that resembled the factory carpet and at Lowe’s, I found that the marine/boat carpet was the best.

Lastly, to add even more functionality, I added surface mounted D-rings at all four corners.

Step 2. Drawer Build

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

Throughout the years I’ve put together my fair share of IKEA furniture. I used that experience to build the drawers. Using the 1×3” lumber, I cut the frame for the drawers and used the 1×4” lumber for the face of the drawers. Then attached the 20” drawer slider.

Choose Your Handles For Sliding Drawers

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

For the handles, I was originally thinking of using metal handles but decided to use the rope for a more nautical look and feel. I drilled two holes into the face using a 5/8” drill bit, cut the rope to length, burned the ends to prevent fraying, and knotted them at the end.

Add Some Lining To Your Drawers

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

Lastly, for the lining of the drawers, I wanted something that would keep items in the drawers from sliding around but allow for easy cleaning of sand or dirt. I landed on the Duck Solid Grip Easy Liner from Lowes.

Final Thoughts

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

I’m really stoked on how this project turned out. I was able to flatten out the rear of the truck, create storage, maintain a clean look, and maximize the usability of the cargo space. The items in the drawers might evolve over time but for now, this will be a perfect place to store my off-road recovery gear, while still allowing me to keep my essentials for work on top of the platform.

Eventually, my hope is to convert the rig from a daily driver/mobile office to a full adventure set up. Stay tuned!

Comments or Questions? Leave them below!

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Alex
Alex
August 2, 2020 1:20 pm

Quick question on the draw bottoms. What wood did you use? Thanks.

Rayne
Rayne
August 1, 2020 2:16 pm

SO this provides you with obvious storage, but a level sleeping platform as well? Looking to do this with mine. I want storage and a level sleeping platform so i can throw an air mattress in back for an upcoming camping trip.

Tim W
Tim W
July 31, 2020 9:46 am

How much space between drawers and the hatch when the hatch is closed?

Jason
Jason
July 31, 2020 6:10 am

Very nice, I have been looking at doing this in my 4Runner Trail ever since I got it. This is a great jumping off point for a basic setup. Very cost effective way to boost organized storage without loosing everyday flexible cargo space.

BlakeA
BlakeA
July 30, 2020 3:39 pm

Hope you’re strapping that thing down somehow. You don’t want it in the back of your head in the event of a collision or rollover. Otherwise, nice economical build!

Charles
Charles
July 30, 2020 9:54 am

Nice build! I have long contemplated going for the low profile storage / sleeper conversion, but decided that I wanted to keep it simple and level for now. For your drawer bottoms did you just brad nail them from the bottom or do you have a table saw that you can cut dados?

Ryan - @gibburnz
Ryan - @gibburnz
July 30, 2020 6:39 am

Nice work!

Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith
July 29, 2020 3:52 pm

You certainly want locking slide latches on the drawers. Otherwise the drawers will bang against the hatch. Know this from unfortunate experience

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