Dobinsons MRR/MRA Suspension: 5000-Mile Onroad & Offroad Review for 5th Gen 4Runner
My lift kit was one of the biggest decisions for my build. Since I’m newer to the scene, I did tons of research upfront. There are some clear benefits to an aftermarket 4Runner lift, including increased ground clearance, suspension travel, and increased ride performance. My priorities for my suspension were focused on ride quality, value, and adjustability – and the Dobinsons MRR/MRA Suspension fit the bill.
Originally called the monotube remote reservoir (MRR), the newly named monotube remote reservoir adjustable (MRA) suspension now offers a 3-way damping adjustment.
Although this is one of Dobinsons’ newer products (early 2020), the company as a whole is by no means new to building quality, aftermarket suspensions.
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What Is The Dobinsons MRR/MRA Kit?
The most notable features that sold me on the MRA suspension are build quality, serviceability, and a full range of customization with their 3-way adjusters. To top it off, they’re Australian-made shocks which brings a level of quality to the table that many different shock companies cannot.
- Progressive valving
- Heavy-duty 56mm shock body/50mm pistons
- 60mm remote reservoir
- Upgraded sealing system for better reliability
- Single piece lower leg for added strength
- 0-3″ lift and long travel options available
- Fully threaded shock body for easy preload adjustment
- Fully rebuildable
- 3-way compression adjustments
- High-speed compression – 10 stage
- Low-speed compression – 20 stage
- Rebound – 15 stage
I went with Front 2.5″/ Rear 1.5″ coil springs so that with the additional weight, my rig would sit at about 2″/1″ with no squat. The reservoir setup provides more heat dissipation, which allows me to drive faster on rough trails without worrying about damaging the suspension components.
Is it overkill? Probably. Ultimately, I splurged because, with the right maintenance and servicing, this setup should last the life of the 4Runner.
My Parts List:
- Front coils: C59-302 – 2.5″ lift with stock weight | 2″ lift with additional 110-150lbs
- Front struts: MRA59-A700 – MRA 3-way adjustable w/ reservoir monotube (0-2″ lifts)
- Rear coils: C59-505 – 1.5″ lift with stock weight
- Rear struts: MRA59-A701 – MRA 3-way adjustable w/ reservoir monotube (0-3″ lifts)
Total cost: $2600 excluding assembly/installation.
Assembling The Coilovers
If you’re not experienced with a spring compressor or not mechanically inclined, just pay the extra $100+ to get the coilovers assembled. I wanted to learn how to do it myself and boy, did I learn.
I was too focused on the installation to capture any photos or videos of this, but this video install by Dobinsons will clearly show everything I’m about to describe below. This video captures the full end-to-end coilover assembly process so I definitely recommend watching it.
In order to tighten the bushings to the top mount assembly, you need to remove the rebound adjuster bolt. This is so you use an Allen wrench to hold the shock body in place while tightening the nut and not damage the shock internals by letting the body rotate around.
Inside the threaded body, there’s a grub screw held in place by a tiny spring-loaded ball bearing. Both the spring and ball bearing will come flying out and disappear on your garage floor forever if you’re not careful. Fortunately, the kit comes with extras for each strut if you lose them.
Bottom line, if you don’t want to go through the hassle, get the coilovers assembled by a professional for peace of mind.
Mounting The Reservoirs
Note: Front reservoir tucked behind the splash guard
To mount the front reservoirs in their most optimal location, you will need to drill into the frame. Dobinsons includes diagrams and the required brackets/hardware to properly install the reservoirs. If you’re not prepared or willing to do this, be ready to get creative mounting the brackets to factory holes. The recommended placement prevents any potential rubbing and routes the reservoir hose to avoid pinching or snagging on other suspension components.
The nice thing about the placement of the front reservoirs is that they can hide behind the splash guards. The downside, however, is that it’s a little more awkward to reach the adjusters. This can be mitigated by using the adjuster tool that comes with the kit.
Note: The fuel tank skid bracket is bent back to accommodate the compression adjuster knobs
The rear reservoirs were much easier to mount, with the exception of the driver-side reservoir that wouldn’t clear the fuel tank skid bracket.
If you have aftermarket skid plates, you may not run into this issue. I had to bend the bracket back quite a bit just for the adjuster knobs to clear and spin freely. In hindsight, it would have probably been better to take an angle grinder to it and trim it down.
Installing the front struts is a tight squeeze. The rebound adjuster barely clears the captive nut for the body mount on the top of the wheel well. If you forget to reinstall the rebound adjuster before getting the strut mounted, you’re going to have a bad time (ask me how I know).
Dobinsons recommends shaving down the nut to allow for full clearance. I haven’t found the need to do it yet but may do so in the future.
Using The Adjusters
Note: Once your reservoir is mounted, the adjuster knobs will be hard to reach. Use the adjuster tool to make your life easier.
Using the adjusters is simple. The high and low-speed knobs are located on the reservoir. You can adjust by hand or use the all-in-one adjuster tool that comes with the kit.
Note: Rear shock rebound adjusters face inward from the wheel.
To adjust the rebound on the front, twist the knob on the top of the strut mount. However, the rear rebound adjuster is found at the bottom of the shock and requires the adjuster tool or flathead to turn. Additionally, the dust boot on the rear shocks covers the adjuster and becomes inaccessible if you zip tie the boot down.
I would suggest loosely securing the zip tie over the dust boot so you can easily move it out of the way for future adjustments.
Dobinsons MRA Adjuster specs:
- LSC – 3
- HSC – 5
- Rebound – 10
- LSC – 1
- HSC – 1
- Rebound – 7
These were the suggested “comfort” settings from Dobinsons with no load. I kept the same settings with a fully loaded rig, and it was still quite comfortable.
Since my last overlanding trip, I’ve reduced the front rebound to 8 and increased the front LSC to 4. Even with adding another 100+ lbs with my drawer system, the springs did not seem to settle much, if at all.
5000-mile Driving Review
The first and most obvious change is that this setup is noticeably stiffer than stock. This is because the Dobinsons stock weight springs can still carry more weight than OEM springs. Thus, if you don’t have additional constant weight, then you’ll feel the stiffness as well. It was by no means harsh, but it took some adjusting.
The main reason most people change out their stock suspension on the 4runner, besides clearance and looks, is to reduce or eliminate body roll and nose dive. This kit did that, and still allows for a full range of adjustability if anything feels too stiff.
Another noticeable change was with high-speed compression damping. I drove on both forest roads and washed-out roads, and this setup seemed to just float over all of it with no issue.
My rig is not being built to be a rock crawler. Before I upgraded to the Dobinsons, I drove on some mild off-road trails in Utah and Washington on stock suspension. The first trail I did with the new setup was moderate difficulty and quite a step up from anything I’d done previously. We drove up steep and muddy switchbacks with some off-camber rocky sections to reach an alpine lake. The before and after comparisons were pretty night and day in my opinion.
Driving over gravel and small rock sections were a breeze and way less jarring. Over rutted sections with large rocks, I was fully flexed yet planted. I rarely had a tire leave the ground despite taking a bad line. The added travel gave me total confidence. I didn’t adjust any of the damping settings because I didn’t think the trail would be that technical. However, I definitely will next time so the ride is more compliant over larger obstacles. Ultimately, the suspension took everything like a champ!
I think this lift kit checks all of the boxes I was looking for: quality, value, and adjustability.
My only gripe about the MRA kit is that it was made for universal fitment. Thus, the reservoir hoses for the front shocks are excessively long at 2 feet. Make sure you’re careful about how you’re routing the hoses to prevent damage or obstruction to the other suspension components.
Something to note is that Dobinsons does not have a set rebuild mileage or timeframe. Your driving habits will play a large role in terms of lifespan. If you are hitting moderate to difficult trails frequently, your shocks will obviously need to be rebuilt far sooner than a daily commuter. However, Dobinsons uses the best possible seals and fittings for longevity. I’ll see if this statement stands up to the test of time.
Compared to other competitors such as Icon, Kings, OME, and Elka, the Dobinsons’ price point is hard to beat. They also seem to be much more readily available with little to no lead times. If you’re itching to get your suspension upgraded quickly, this might be your answer.