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The $4K Toyota 4Runner: Part 2

Armor All Over Our Toyota

Harry WagnerPhotographer, Writer

In the May ’13 issue we added a new suspension and 33-inch tires to the $4K 4Runner without breaking our $4,000 budget. The 33s left the Toyota vulnerable on the trails though, so armor was next on the wish list to keep the abundant sheetmetal straight.

The name Budbuilt is synonymous with Toyota skidplates, so our first call was to Bud Rosenberger for his front IFS skidplate and full belly pan. These will allow us to slide over the rocks that our little 33-inch tires won’t quite clear and add more ground clearance than the stock stamped transfer case crossmember.

33s left the Toyota vulnerable on the trails, so armor was necessary

Trail-Gear has built its reputation supporting Toyotas on trails all over the nation. The Rock Defense front and rear bumpers and rock sliders are a smart investment to keep our sheetmetal straight before we are too tempted by the newfound capabilities. The Trail-Gear front bumper has a provision for a winch too, so we ordered up a waterproof Smittybilt X20 to get us out of any shenanigans we happen to find ourselves in.

We have blown through most of our budget before adding gears or lockers, but the low-slung body on the 4Runner is now protected on all sides with upgrades that we won’t have to abandon when we do more serious modifications in the future.

Approach Angle (°) Departure Angle (°) Ground Clearance (at rear diff, in)
Stock... 42 27 91⁄4
Lifted... 52 35 101⁄2
Armor... 59 44 101⁄2

Part........ Price
Part 1, suspension & tires, May ’13... $1,628
Trail-Gear front bumper... 425
Smittybilt X20 winch... 399
Slee aluminum fairlead... 25
Budbuilt skidplates... 625
Trail-Gear rock sliders... 197
Dr. Smash slider installation... 175
Trail-Gear rear bumper... 330
Total $3,804

The Smittybilt X20 winch uses a 5.5hp, series-wound motor and a three-stage planetary gear that is rated at 8,000 pounds for a single line pull. It also has a large, fully waterproof, 500-amp solenoid that required us to trim the grille to make fit. We found it necessary to mount the winch to the bumper before installation, so recruit a friend to help you position the bumper in place.