Part 2: Geared & Locked 4Runner
Over the past few months we've used our '92 Toyota 4Runner to explore the vast desert trails and rolling countryside of Southern California. With nothing more than a 5-inch Rough Country suspension lift and a set of 33-inch Goodyear DuraTracs, the V-6 Runner has done surprisingly well. Though we've been able to cruise most of the trails that we've wanted, the lack of traction aids has hindered the Toyota's true off-road potential.
We decided early on that the 4Runner's IFS frontend would live longer if we kept the stock differential carrier open. This meant we needed a quality locking rear differential upgrade that could pick up the slack. After talking with the gear experts at G2 Axle & Gear, we decided to go with a complete third member replacement for the Toyota 8-inch rear. Packed inside the bolt-in third member is a fully automatic Detroit Locker that's paired with a numerically higher 5.29 G2 performance gearset. The addition of the rear locker will increase the 4Runner's traction, while the new gearset will help to rotate the 33-inch-tall cleats.
To install our new G2 setup, we went to the installation experts at 4Wheel Parts in Thousand Oaks, California. Though replacing a third member is relatively easy, installing the 5.29 gearset in our Toyota's 7 1/2-inch IFS differential was a very labor-intensive and precise process that we're glad we left to the pros.
While the jump from 4.88 to 5.29 gears was noticeable, the V-6 and auto transmission keep the 4Runner from being a real powerhouse. Without question the most apparent off-road performance gain came from adding the rear Detroit Locker. While on-road the locker offers a few handling quirks every now and again, off-road it helps tremendously with getting the Toyota down the trail. Overall, the entire setup continues to amaze us, and we look forward to seeing what else our budget-built IFS 4Runner can do.
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