Building The Better Toyota 4Runner
We introduced our latest project platform, an '03 Toyota 4Runner, in last month's issue of 4WD&SU, and we can't begin to tell you how much we love this vehicle. We've been testing the 4Runner in factory form for the last few months, and we give it nothing short of our highest ratings for ride, comfort, dependability, and fuel economy. However, if for some reason you haven't figured it out yet, our job here at the magazine is to modify vehicles for four-wheel adventure!
Options for suspension modifications on the '03 4Runner were somewhat limited until recently. We think the reason for this is that owners have been hesitant to modify this vehicle because of its initial sticker price (the Limited edition sold for just under $40,000 new), thus the demand for aftermarket parts has been relatively low. Now that these vehicles are coming down in value, major aftermarket accessories like suspension systems are becoming more prevalent. Also helping the availability of suspensions for this generation of 4Runner is the fact that the new '06 FJ Cruiser is almost the exact same platform.
As you may have read in past issues of 4WD&SU, we enjoy working with the folks at All-Pro Off-Road because they build quality suspensions and vehicle accessories. While speaking with owner Jon Bundrant, he told us that his new FJ Cruiser suspension would fit the 4Runner perfectly.
The All-Pro suspension system comes with custom-built, 12-way-adjustable, compression-damping Walker Evans coilover shocks for the front. The front kit also includes new chrome-moly upper A-arms and upper shock mounting plates. The rear suspension includes 12-way, specifically valved, adjustable shocks; new coil springs; tough upper and lower control arms with high-quality Currie Johnny Joint rod ends; and extended brake lines. The front kit raises the vehicle 3 inches, and the rear kit raises it 2 inches. This will actually level the vehicle, since in factory form it sits a little low in the front. The front coilovers are adjustable for fine-tuning from 0 to 3 inches.
With the installation of our new kit, we were able to get Nitto's new Dune Grappler tires under the 4Runner. The size of the tires is 285/70R17, or 32 inches tall. The addition of the suspension and the taller tires raised the approach angle of the front bumper from 16 inches to 21 inches - a total increase of 5 inches. The lowest point of the front skidplate is now 14-3/4 inches off the ground. That's a whole lot more ground clearance over factory height for trailblazing and exploration.