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
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
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:
- 1 1/2” Sheet of Plywood
- 2 1×4”x8’ Whiteboard Lumber (Supports)
- 2 1×3”x8’ Whiteboard Lumber (Drawer Frame)
- Wood Sealant
- Bed Liner
- 1 ¼” Wood Screws (~30)
- 2” Hole Saw Bit
- Drawer System Carpet
- Carpet Spray Glue
- Solid Grip Easy Liner 20” X 12Ft Shelf Liner
- Richelieu 2-Pack 20” Drawer Slider X2
- Dewalt Cordless Drill
- Ryobi 10” Miter Saw
- Blue Hawk ¼” Braided Polypropylene Rope
- Optional Handle Upgrade: Kayak Grab Handles
- Optional Handle Upgrade: Folding T Handle Latches
- Optional: Drawer Organizers
- Optional: Turnbuckles for tightening drawers down to factory tie-downs.
Step 1. Platform Assembly
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
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)
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
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
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
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.
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!