Types & Styles of Front Bumpers: Hybrid Vs. Low Profile Vs. Full Plate

C4 Fabrication Hybrid Front Bumper for 5th Gen 4Runner

Full-Width Hybrid Vs. Low Profile Vs. Full Plate Bumper on 5th Gen 4Runner – What’s The Difference?

When it comes to choosing an aftermarket front bumper, you have a wide variety of options to choose from. You can go with a full plate steel bumper, a full-width tube-style design which is also referred to as a hybrid bumper, or a low-profile bumper.

Many factors go into choosing the right bumper for your application. From material type and general weight specs to unique features such as light and winch mounting options, the options out there are endless.

I wanted to break down why I am running a hybrid front bumper and why I think it’s the best for my specific build and intended application. I’ll also break down the differences between a full plate bumper, hybrid bumper, and low profile bumper. There are many builds that may see a huge benefit from a lower profile front bumper or even a full plate front bumper but I’m leaning pretty hard on the hybrid so this overview might be biased.

I can say that I ran the low profile bumper on 2014 white TEP 4Runner for about 3 years and it was awesome. Maybe I was just ready for a new look. In any case, let’s jump into it.

Full Plate

C4 Fabrication Overland Series Front Bumper

Pictured: @Mag4RNR Running the Overland Series Bumper from C4 Fabrication

Find it online: 

  • C4 Fabrication Overland Series: Check Price
  • Weight: 135lbs without bull bar, 140lbs with mid-height bull bar, 150lbs with full height bull bar, 155lbs with full height bull bar, and headlight hoops.
  • TSS Compatible: NO

Full plate front bumpers are designed for the most possible protection while also gaining the most tire clearance. They act as an enormous shield in front of your 4Runner and they cover everything; wiring, sheet metal, washer reservoirs, etc. An overland series bumper is nice if you are looking to cover everything behind the bumper.

If you’re looking for the most possible protection on the trail against rocks or on the road against animals, this is the option for you. With a plate bumper, you would destroy an animal doing 70 on the highway. Not that you want to do that, and not the best image, but you get the idea.

This style doesn’t allow for a ton of customization when it comes to aftermarket lighting as the slots and light cutouts are pre-configured, and oftentimes they only allow for certain brands.

Full plate designs are typically heavier because they contain more material. That means they add more weight to your overall GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) and can possibly be more challenging to install depending on the help you have. They look amazing but it’s the heaviest of front bumper offerings on the market, depending on the brand and general design. With this option, you can typically mount a winch, center light bar, and outside lights which are intended to use as fog lights.

C4 Fabrication makes an Overland Series bumper (pictured) that’s absolutely amazing but again; weight and pre-configured light options may steer you away.

If you’re debating between a full plate design and a hybrid, you can read the full comparison between the C4 Fabrication Hybrid and the Overland Series on their website.

With both the Overland Series and the Hybrid (tube style bumper), you should relocate the power steering line which does make the install a little more involved. You don’t “need” to do this but it might be recommended depending on the size winch you’re running. So either way; Overland, Hybrid, or even a LoPro, you might have to relocate the power steering line.

Low Profile Aka LoPro

Trail 4Runner Overland Build for Sale

Find it online: 

  • C4 Fabrication LoPro: Check Price
  • Weight: 75lbs
  • High Clearance Additional Weight: 35lbs
  • TSS Compatible: YES

Low-profile front bumper applications fit most owner’s needs both on and off the road. They fit perfectly in the lower center section of the 5th Gen 4Runner bumper. It’s almost like Toyota designed this section of the bumper for aftermarket replacement. Low-profile options not only look great, but they bring in a ton of practical functionally to the table. You retain your entire factory front bumper while running added protection on the road from oncoming traffic, animals, and off the road from a direct collision with big rocks.

The biggest selling point of a low-profile bumper over a full width is that you’re saving weight. Technically you’re adding weight but if you want an aftermarket front bumper with a winch and some accessories, sacrifices need to be made.

The downside of a low-profile bumper is that you don’t gain any additional tire clearance or approach angle as you’re still running the factory front bumper (more on this below). However, you can combat this with a factory bumper high clearance cut. Honestly, there are very few downsides to a low-profile bumper. It’s probably the most practical option for most drivers.

Low-profile bumpers provide you the ability to add a winch, increased protection, along with a center light bar. More protection, lights, and winch – all in a lightweight package – what more could you ask for?

Tube Bumper aka Hybrid

C4 Fabrication Hybrid Front Bumper for 5th Gen 4Runner

Find it online: 

  • C4 Fabrication Hybrid: Check Price
  • Weight: 120lbs without bull bar, 125lbs with mid height bull bar, 135lbs with full height bull bar.
  • TSS Compatible: NO

Now for the hybrid which sits right in the middle of the weight spectrum. A hybrid front bumper is lighter than a plate bumper but heavier than a low-profile bumper. This option still allows you to run a winch, center light bar, and fog lights but the difference is really in lighting configuration on the wings.

Since hybrids have a tube-constructed wing design, there are many light mount options that you can choose from. Welded onto the top tube of the wing, there are multiple holes and slots where you can hang lights from. Any shape, any size, and any brand. Whatever style light you are looking to run, you can figure it out with a hybrid bumper.

There are many things that stand out about a hybrid front bumper; looks, light customization, weight, tire clearance, and increase approach angle, along with the general on and off-road protection that front bumpers provide.

You can customize the living daylights out of a hybrid front bumper, they look great and they don’t weigh a lot (compared to other full-width plate-designed bumpers).

I think hybrids are gaining popularity because of looks, weight, and customization – and for the most part, that’s why I choose to run one.

One downside of the hybrid is if you have a white or light color build (white, cement, even red, etc.) it’s hard to blend a dark bumper on the inner fender paint. With a hybrid, you can see straight through so you want to make sure anything behind the bumper is blacked out to match your bumper.

Mounting Lights on Hybrid

Hybrid Tube Front Bumper on 5th Gen 4Runner

On most hybrid bumpers like the C4 Fabrication one pictured here, you will find plates with holes and slots that are welded to the inner tube. This universal light mounting system is what allowed me to run all of our KC Lights; KC FLEX ERA 4, FLEX ERA 3, FLEX Singles, and Cyclones – all covered in amber caps. The cool part about KC FLEX Lights by the way is that their caps just snap on so at any time I can run white or amber lighting by snapping on/off the caps.

Adding the lights to the bumper took a bit of time in making sure the housings were equally set at the same angle and distance apart but other than that you just bolt the lights into place and wire them up. I have some extension brackets on the C4 Fabrication bumper so that I can run the KC cyclones off to the side as well. This is really where the hybrids shine, you can really dial in your preferred lighting setup.

Tire Clearance & Approach Angle

Tire Clearance and Approach Angle on Hybrid Bumper

Hybrids offer similar tire clearance and approach angles as most full plate bumpers, depending on the brand. Although hybrids tend to be set up a bit higher as the bottom portion of the bumper is a single tube.

Low-profile bumpers don’t really give you a “better” approach angle, however, with a high clearance cut, you can tire up onto bigger rocks easier than with a factory front bumper. Low-profile bumpers don’t really assist in clearing bigger tires on the inner fender body plastics either but if you want to clear 35″ tires with a low-profile bumper, it’s actually pretty easy.

You can trim your factory fenders for 35s, or run fiberglass fenders and all of this can be done running the factory front bumper. Don’t let people try to tell you that you need to run an aftermarket bumper to clear bigger tires. Not true.


C4 Fabrication Overland Series Front Bumper

Pictured: @Mag4RNR Running the Overland Series Bumper from C4 Fabrication

As you can tell, most of the conversation is centered around weight. If you don’t know by now, weight is the enemy.

The more you can shed pounds, the easier it’s going to be on your drivetrain, chassis, brakes, and everything in between. Again, to me, it comes down to the low-profile bumpers and the hybrid/tube bumpers.

C4 Fabrication makes everything; a full-width plate, a full-width tube bumper, and a low profile bumper. The hybrid and the LoPro are going to be the lighter of the three with the LoPro being the lightest.

There are many other manufacturers and bumper options out there but in my honest opinion, C4 has some of the best-looking designs on the market. They fit the 4Runner so much cleaner than most of the other bumpers on the market. I’ve now run their Hybrid and LoPro and ironically enough, I have an Overland Series bumper in my garage that may be going on the next build. That’s if the prices of Toyotas can drop in our lifetime.

What bumper are you running? What’s for you? Full plate, Hybrid, or LoPro?

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1 year ago

Just send me the compete list of things I need for that hybrid bumper, lights, and roof rack set up! I have to have it!

2 years ago

My C4 hybrid bumper came shipped with a slightly unlevel top tube. I didn’t notice it until it was painted and installed. If you notice the first picture in this article that bumper has the same flaw. It bugs the crap out of me. Its so obvious once you notice it and hard to live with. Id maybe consider not getting the additional tubing if this would bother you

2 years ago

Some of the bumpers leave areas that are usually covered by the factory bumper exposed. (I’m assuming that) In areas of the country that get snow/ roads salted these types wouldn’t be recommended? If that’s the case, would a low pro bumper be the only safe bet choice for the rust belt region?

Agustin Gonzalez-Garza
Agustin Gonzalez-Garza
2 years ago

How about license plates… none of your images show it considering many states who require it. Comments?

A Ghost to Most
A Ghost to Most
2 years ago

I have a full plate bumper on my 2006 4Runner, and it makes a nice bow wake when crossing streams. Don’t expect that with tubular bumpers, although it is a small consideration.

2 years ago

works with tss needs to be a thing

Kimmy Severns
Kimmy Severns
2 years ago
Reply to  Brenan Greene

Looks like the full bull is compatible w the TSS per C4

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