Top 5 Affordable Lift Kits for the 5th Gen 4Runner

Bilstein 6112 Lift Kit on 5th Gen 4Runner

Bilstein 6112 Lift Front 2.65″ + 5100 Shocks Rear and 1″ Rear Spacer on Factory Spring

Top 5 Entry-Level and Budget-Friendly Suspension Lift Kits You Should Consider When Lifting Your 5th Gen 4Runner

So, you just bought a 5th Gen 4Runner and plan to take it out on the trails. Wait, you just realized that where you plan on going has obstacles that are much too tall for your stock suspension to handle. You begin your search online for a new suspension lift kit and quickly realize how many brands and options are out there. After researching all these brands, and different lift kit options, you start running into all the part options; diff drops, extended brake lines, shock length, mid-travel, long travel, and so many other variables that just start making things confusing.

This is normal. We have all been there. Relax, I am going to make this super easy for you. If you’re looking to get an entry-level lift kit for around $700-$1200, this guide is for you. 

All you know is you don’t want to spend too much money and only want to gain a couple of inches of clearance out of your suspension all without spending $3000+ on the big boy kits. Well, it sounds to me like you’ve come to the right place to have all your questions answered about entry-level affordable 5th Gen 4Runner suspensions.

Most of these kits actually apply to the 3rd Gen/4th Gen 4Runners and 2nd Gen/3rd Gen Tacomas as well. YotaMafia and other companies offer the same shock package for many Toyota models. But for the sake of convenience, let keep it specific to the 4Runner platform referencing rear coil springs, not rear leaf springs. If you’re looking for a Tacoma lift kit, head over to this post on TrailTacoma.com.

In this article, we are going to be discussing all the ins and outs of the top affordable suspension kits out there. I’ll be giving my score for each kit based upon build quality, price, what comes with the kit, and how well each one handles. 1 would be the same as a totally blown out suspension and 10 will be on the high-end rebuildable-shock level equivalent.

From shock length to progressive/digressive valving; coil spring rates to spring length, you’ll walk away from this article knowing more about your suspension than you thought you ever would.

1. Bilstein Stage 1 Lift Kit

Bilstein 5100 Shocks for the 4Runner

Suspension Specs: 

  • Front Lift Height: 0-2.5”
  • Front Spring Options: 885 (medium duty)/887 (heavy duty)
  • Rear Spring Options: 889 (medium duty)/898 (heavy duty)
  • Recommended UCAs: JBA or SPC
  • Pre-assembled? (additional fee): Yes
  • Valving: digressive

Find it online: 

Typically when you do your first Google search for “5th Gen 4Runner Lift Kit”, you’re more than likely going to stumble across Bilstein 5100’s pretty fast and for a good reason: people love ‘em. For the price of the entire kit you really can’t go wrong. The 5100’s will not only lift your 4Runner, but they’ll also slightly improve your ride quality. Another cool feature of the 5100s is that they are ride height adjustable between 0-2.5”. When looking towards the bottom of the shock, you’ll see some lines etched into the wall of the shock itself. This is made for the coil mounting clip to move up and down to change ride height.

OME coils give you options

Most of the time, 5100s will be paired with Old Man Emu (OME) coil springs such as in the Stage 1 kit. OME offers a great variety of coil springs with different spring heights and rates. Now, how do spring height and spring rate affect lift height? Well, the harder the spring is to compress (spring rate), and the taller the spring is (spring height), the more lift you’re going to get out of your suspension. For example, the OME 885 has a spring rate of 590 lbs. and a height of 395mm, whereas the OME 887 has a spring rate of 590 lbs., but a height of 400mm. While these coil springs have the same spring rate, the extra height on the 887 makes the spring harder to compress (more distance to travel to reach full compression), thus making it a “heavy-duty” spring. When you add weight to the front or rear of your vehicle, you tend to need a stiffer suspension to prevent sagging and preserve your 4Runner’s handling integrity. However, if you’re running stock weight, you do not want a heavy-duty suspension setup such as the 887/898 because it will be much too stiff and create an uncomfortable ride.

Progressive Vs. Digressive 

For this kit, I’d recommend running the 885/889 coils on a stock weight 4Runner. The Bilstein 5100’s feature digressive valving, meaning small and bigger bumps are more noticeable (not compared to stock, just in general), but overall handling is improved. The contrary to this would be progessive valving, meaning your suspension handles great over bumpy roads, but overall handling takes a hit compared to digressive valving. If you dig deep enough into the forums, you’ll find people often complain about a stiff ride, or worsened ride quality from stock. However, you need to consider that 5100s aren’t made to handle like a baja truck, whereas some of the pricier brands like Fox, Icon, and Kings do because of their digressive/linear valving.

Ride height

As mentioned earlier, the 5100s are ride height adjustable between 0-2.5” so if you really wanted to, you could create the same handling characteristics with an 885 spring set at the 0.85” notch as an 887 set at the 0” notch. However, compressing the spring more than what it was meant for is going to give you a rougher ride. Sure, you may get more lift out of your springs if you set an 887 spring higher than the 0” mark, but the ride will be much worse than if it were to be left at 0”. This kit from YotaMafia also offers extended brake lines, but it isn’t necessary for a lift of this caliber. Typically once you get closer to 4” you’ll need them, but people just like to put them on for the additional peace of mind. If this is your first-ever suspension lift and plan to keep your 4Runner around 2.5” of lift or less, you can’t go wrong with it.

Score: 6/10

2. Bilstein 6112 + 5160s

Bilstein 6112 - The Best 4Runner Lift Kit for the Money

Suspension Specs: 

  • Lift Height: 0-2.5”
  • Front Spring Options: 885 (medium duty)/887 (heavy duty)
  • Rear Spring Options: 889 (medium duty)/898 (heavy duty)
  • Recommended UCAs: SPC (included with kit)
  • Diff Drop: not required, but recommended at 2.5”.
  • Valving: digressive

Find it online: 

Bilstein 6112 Vs. Bilstein 5100

Between the Bilstein Stage 1 and this kit, everything is similar except for the fact that the Stage 2 comes with Bilstein 6112 shocks, the 5100 rears have reservoirs which makes them a 5160, and the SPC upper control arms (UCA) are highly recommended. The 6112 shocks are a larger diameter shock sitting at 60mm wide and an 18mm rod vs. the 46mm diameter 5100 with a 14mm rod. It’s a larger shock body so it’s going to perform more efficiently when pushed harder/faster. The shock body contains more oil to keep it cool under harsh compressions and fast rebounds. The rear shocks (Bilstein 5160) feature the remote reservoirs which like the 6112s allow for more oil and better cooling. Again, this lets you push your suspension a little harder with better cooling offroad. The 6112 has 5 clip settings which allows you to run a height of up to 2.65″ vs. the 5100 3 clip settings which will net you 2.5″ of ride height.

The 6112 is great for the weekend warrior guys looking to get the highest ride height to clear 34″ tires while also looking to moderatly hammer their suspension off-road.

The 5100 is an awesome upgrade for daily drivers who are looking to increase that ride height, fit some 33″ tires, and occasionally hit some trails.

Upper Control Arms

As mentioned previously, any lift at 2.5” or under does not require aftermarket UCAs even though it is recommended whenever a lift is being installed. You might ask yourself if it’s really worth spending more for UCAs, and at that point, it’s really up to you. Let’s look at the SPC UCAs; a killer budget-friendly UCA that’s incredibly universal.

SPC (Specialty Products Company) is known for being the absolute best in the business when it comes to aftermarket UCAs for a ton of reasons. But first, let’s talk about why you even need aftermarket UCAs in the first place when installing a lift bigger than 2.5”. The main reason you’ll need new UCAs after lifting your 4Runner 2.5”+ is that your suspension geometry will be significantly out of spec. Sure, you can drive it around town short distances, and going slow is okay, but at that point why even own your rig in the first place?

UCAs such as SPCs will get your camber and caster back into spec, therefore allowing your tires to wear evenly. They also help at interstate speeds to help your 4Runner track well after a big lift. Furthermore, UCAs allow for more travel out of your suspension. The UCA essentially holds the spindle to the frame; at stock height, the spindle will sit straight up and down at a 90 degree angle when the vehicle is parked on a flat surface. After lifting your 4Runner, the spindle gets tilted in closer to the frame and the UCA angles down lower to your shocks. If you were to flex your suspension hard enough on stock UCAs, they would make contact with your coilovers which will put you at risk for bending your shocks out of shape and therefore breaking them.

As you can see, overall handling is improved with aftermarket UCAs and really becomes a necessity when lifting your 4Runner over 2.5”, but why choose SPC? The ball joints on these are greaseable allowing you to service them every 3-5k miles/oil change as opposed to OEM and other cheaper UCAs which are one-time use only parts. Furthermore, the caster can be adjusted in your own garage using simple tools which can be a huge advantage if you’re in a pickle and need to make a quick caster adjustment.

On top of all this, they are heavy duty and are meant to withstand the hardest obstacles you throw at your 4Runner. The SPC UCAs are superior quality products and for that reason, I’d recommend adding them to just about any suspension lift kit.

Score: 7/10

3. OME 2-3” Lift Kit

OME Nitrocharger Sport 5th Gen 4Runner

Suspension Specs: 

  • Lift Height: 2-3”
  • Front Spring Options: 884 (light duty), 885 (medium duty), 887 (heavy duty)
  • Rear Spring Options: 889 (medium duty), 898 (heavy duty), 899 (extra heavy duty)
  • Recommended UCAs: OME or SPC (available with kit)
  • Diff Drop: not required, but recommended at 2.5+”.
  • Valving: digressive

Find it online: 

Similar to the Bilstein Stage 2 Lift Kit, OME’s 2-3” kit also comes with UCAs, but these are from OME themselves. Their UCAs haven’t been on the market for very long, so it’s a little hard to tell whether these are worth purchasing or not in regard to longevity, but knowing OME’s reputation I’m sure you can’t go wrong with them.

These control arms feature a greaseable ball joint and maintenance-free bushings which could be a good or bad thing depending on the user. Some people would rather be able to grease their bushings, but to me, if OME says they’re maintenance-free and they wear out prematurely because of a bushing failure, it’s up to the company to replace them for you. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t mind running them on my 4Runner since OME has a great reputation for making quality products and I’m sure these UCAs aren’t any less than that.

If you decide you’d rather want SPC’s control arms, YotaMafia also offers them for this kit. In regards to the shocks, OME Nitrochargers are some of the best entry-level shocks for beginner off-roaders, and could even be considered a slight step up from Bilstein 5100s, and comparable to the 6112s.

Overall ride is greatly improved; not too soft, not too stiff. Similar to the Bilsteins we discussed earlier, the Nitrochargers are also digressively valved so you will feel some road imperfections, but the shocks do a great job of soaking up those washboard roads. The three options for coils in this kit are the 884/889 (light duty), 885/898 (medium duty), and the 887/899 (heavy duty). You’ll want the light-duty setup if you have no added weight, medium-duty for very little added weight, and heavy-duty if you’re running armor.

However, if you want 3” of front lift with the stock weight you’ll need to run 887s since the 884s only give 2” of lift. If you’re just wanting to fit 33’s you can manage with 2.5” of lift just fine. Most people will go with 885/889 on their stock weight 4Runner for a solid middle ground between light and heavy-duty springs. With this setup, you’ll sit just about level with maybe 0.5-1” of front rake which is just about perfect. Besides, if you’re reading this article you probably don’t have armor on your 4Runner so heavy-duty springs shouldn’t even be considered unless you like a rough ride. Overall, this kit is great, especially for the price of everything.

Score: 6.5/10

4. Dobinsons 3” Lift Kit

Dobinsons 3" Lift Kit on 4Runner - Entry Level Lift Kit

Suspension Specs: 

  • Lift Height: 3”
  • Front Spring Options: C59-302, C59-314, C59-352, C59-238, C59-300
  • Front Shock Options: GS59-700 (0-2.5”), GS59-574 (1-3.5”)
  • Rear Spring Options: C59-323, C59-599, C59-505, C59-325, C59-327, C59-329, C59-331, C59-675V, C59-677V, C59-701V
  • Rear Shock Options: GS59-701 (0-2”), GS59-705 (0-2” for stock weight), GS59-575 (long travel, 3”)
  • Recommended UCAs: SPC or Dobinsons (available with kit)
  • Diff Drop: not required, but recommended at 2.5+”.
  • Valving: digressive

Find it online: 

The most common set ups you’ll hear of on a 4Runner are the 5100s and the Dobinsons. 5100s are excellent for their cheap price point, but the Dobinsons handle like an expensive suspension system while being very reasonably priced. When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, look no further than Dobinsons suspensions.

Several 4Runner owners swear by them, and for a good reason. In fact, this lift kit is so popular that at the time this article is being written, the current lead time on YotaMafia is 8-10 weeks out (2-3 months!). Granted, you’ll be dumping about $1,000 into your suspension, but it will be very much worth it in the end. For the front coilover configurations, you have several spring options to pick from. However, you’ll want to go with the springs that fit your current weight specs even if you plan on getting a bumper in the future; YotaMafia even says this themselves. While this might seem wasteful, you’ll be riding rough all the way up until you get your bumper which isn’t recommended.

For front shocks, Dobinsons offers two options: one that is good for up to 2.5” of lift and one that is extended 1” to accommodate a 3” lift. If you do decide to go with the extended shock you will need to purchase UCAs. With this kit, you can choose to go with Dobinsons UCAs or SPCs. The ones made by Dobinsons have 3 degrees of caster already built-in so no adjusting is required. They are also constructed from High Strength Low Alloy steel and are about ¼” thick. The ball joints used are fully sealed meaning you will never need to maintain them. Overall a very solid option. The best of it all is the color options: coils come in either teal, red or black and the shocks come in either black or yellow. Out of all the lift kits on the list, Dobinsons takes the cake as the best entry-level setup. Ride comfort and handling are greatly improved and you’ll never have to worry about replacing your shocks again.

Score: 7.5/10

5. Eibach Lift Kit

Eibach Stage 1 Lift Kit for 5th Gen 4Runner

Suspension Specs: 

  • Lift Height: 2.75”
  • Recommended UCAs: SPC or JBA
  • Diff Drop: not required, but recommended at 2.5”.
  • Valving: digressive

Find it online: 

Last, but not least, we have the Eibach Pro-Truck Stage 1 Lift Kit. Eibach has a known reputation for making quality products, especially their coils since many other companies use them. In fact, Eibach actually makes the springs for the Wheeler’s Off-Road line of coil springs such as the T01 and MANY other coil springs on the market. Eibach has a massive factory in Southern California and provides white label/private label springs for many companies that are very well known.

Out of all the suspensions on the list, this one is the simplest one in regards to configurations.

From this kit you’ll get 2.75” in the front and 1” in the rear, leaving your 4Runner sitting practically level. Ride quality will be pretty similar to stock with slight improvements in handling and comfort. When out on the trails, you’ll never have to worry about your Eibach suspension failing you just as long as you don’t plan on jumping your 4Runner. Opinions on the 5100s vs the Pro Truck kit really all depend on the user; some will say Bilsteins are better while others say Eibach is superior. It’s still early for this kit as it was released a couple years ago but it’s Eibach… not much to complain about.

At the end of the day, they are both very solid budget lift kits and you cannot go wrong with either option.

Score: 7/10 (brand yields them a full extra point)

Final Thoughts

Bilstein 6112

When it comes down to it, any of these kits discussed will get you where you want to go and accomplish the look and performance you’re trying to accomplish. Some kits are for the people not looking to spend too much, and others are for the ones that don’t mind spending a few extra bucks.

To recap, Bilstein’s and OME’s kits are in a pretty similar playing field, Eibach’s kit is a slight step up, and Dobinson’s kit is considered to be the best overall. If when choosing your shock and coil configurations you get confused, don’t hesitate to comment below, I will be more than happy to help you out. All in all, you can run any of these kits and be very happy with your purchase and not have to worry about your suspension failing you. From Bilstein’s all the way up to Dobinson’s kit, you can’t go wrong when upgrading your 4Runner’s suspension.

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Lakota
Lakota
13 days ago

Bilstein 6112/5100 offer a great pairing at an affordable price. I also added larger 1″ rear coil springs to bring it level. No complaints here, much better than factory- which was too soft for my liking, parked on slight incline here.

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Dillon
Dillon
15 days ago

Great post!

It looks like there was some confusion about what the stage 2 bilstein kit is:

The image and what you’re talking about is generally for the 6112-5160 setup they also sell.

The stage 2 setup, according to the link you posted is simply stage 1 but with SPC UCAs.

D06A142B-F7AA-4CAE-9C64-100AF9950701.jpeg
Brenan Greene
Admin
Scout
15 days ago
Reply to  Dillon

Updated. Thanks!

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