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Lifted 4th gen 4runner

The Daily Grind: My 2007 Toyota 4runner

Boring vehicles aren’t worth driving. At least that’s how I feel, even when it comes to daily drivers. I’m not saying that everyone should be driving around in one-off Sema show cars. But putting in a little effort to make your vehicle suit your personality goes a long way. Having a car or truck that you look forward to driving makes the otherwise mundane moments in life a bit more exciting.

My 4runner might appear to be a custom rig at first glance, but it really isn’t. This is a great example of how some carefully chosen modifications can completely change a vehicles’ character. It’s mostly stock with a few important upgrades to make it reliable, capable, and fun to drive. Maybe it seems a bit mild to me because of the contrast with my highly modified MR2.

At any rate, it didn’t take much work to transform the 4runner into the perfect SUV for life in Canada. Despite its custom touches, it’s still a vehicle that I can use properly and rely on every day. Make sure to click on the photos to see the full size images!

Lifted 4th gen 4runner

The 4th generation Toyota 4runner was the perfect platform for me to start with. They have the ultimate combination of luxury and rugged capability. After owning a Jeep Grand Cherokee for 10 years before this, reliability and comfort were big factors in choosing my next vehicle. Toyota did a great job of engineering the 4runner and they’re known across the world as being virtually bulletproof in terms of dependability. In my mind, it just needed a few simple changes to take it to the next level.

Balance is an important aspect for any project car, but it’s an even bigger deal when it comes to daily drivers. I didn’t want to sacrifice anything that makes the Toyota 4runner so legendary in order to improve specific parts.

I need it to be:

  • Quiet, comfortable and classy looking, yet capable on muddy trails as well as in deep snow
  • Consistently reliable
  • Spacious enough to load up with mountain bikes and gear
  • Able to tow at least 5,000 lbs but still be nimble in tight areas
  • As fuel efficient as possible but still offer a decent amount of power
  • Able to start and run in any temperature or weather

I wanted a well rounded vehicle and the V8 4runner does it all without compromise.

Lifted 4th gen 4runner

My starting point was a 2007 Toyota 4runner Limited V8. I was able to find a clean example with decent mileage and full service records. It had all the bells and whistles aside from factory navigation. It didn’t hurt that Shadow Grey (or “Khaki” here in Canada) is one of the most sought after colors on the 4runner either. While it wasn’t necessarily in my idea of pristine condition, I could tell that I’d be able to polish it up and make the paint look incredible.

Mechanically, it had a couple flaws. It had the typical cracked exhaust manifold and leaking rear air suspension. These are the only two large failures known on this specific model of 4runner. Although both are fairly expensive to fix at a dealership, replacing them with aftermarket upgrades is a different story. I was able to buy this one at a great price because of this. After those upgrades, I now have one of the most reliable vehicles on the planet. I guess you could say it drives and looks ok, too.

Lifted 4th gen 4runner

You wouldn’t be alone in mistaking my 4runner for an ultra-low mileage SUV that’s never seen winter. In reality, it’s the exact opposite. It’s 11 years old with over 210,000 kms on the clock. It gets driven in the harshest winter conditions and sits parked outside year round. Proper protection and care is what keeps it looking the way it does.

Toyota 4runner Fox 2.0

The tired old X-REAS suspension has been replaced with Fox 2.0 IFP adjustable coilovers up front. They provide a very controlled yet smooth ride and are completely rebuildable.

Lifted 4th gen 4runner

The leaky factory rear air suspension was completely removed. Now a pair of ARB’s Old Man Emu 895 rear springs is accompanied by Fox 2.0 IFP rear shocks to match the front. A coil spring conversion kit from Metal Tech holds the springs in place.

Lifted 4th gen 4runner

Possibly the most noticeable change is the large wheels and tires. Gone are the factory 18″ limited wheels. The 4runner now proudly wears a set of matte black 17″ Method Standard wheels wrapped in 33″ Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs. These are much larger in both width and diameter than the original setup and while the rears fit without modification, some trimming was needed up front.

Thinking about buying a Toyota 4runner for yourself? Make sure to read my Ultimate 4th Gen 4runner Buyer’s Guide:

Lifted 4th gen 4runner

The running boards and mud flaps have been removed for extra clearance. The inner fender liners up front were also moved forward a few inches to make room for the tires.

I chose to go with a more stealth approach to auxiliary lighting. There’s a 32″ curved Philips LED light bar in the bumper and a 40″ Cree LED light bar mounted to the roof rack. Both are sitting on homemade mounts. These are barely noticeable during the daytime, but extremely effective at night.

The appearance of the 4runner might be slightly aggressive, but it rides like a Lexus. The suspension is smooth, the tires are quiet and the V8 has lots of power. A few hours on the highway can easily make you forget what this thing is capable of at lower speeds.

Lifted 4th gen 4runner

One of the best things you can do to make an average vehicle stand out from the crowd is a proper paint correction. My 4runner underwent multiple steps of compounding and polishing, followed by a ceramic coating from Gtechniq. As a matter of fact, most of the surfaces are ceramic coated. It allows for a quick cleanup after the abuse it sees occasionally.

Lifted 4th gen 4runner

Under the hood, there really isn’t much going on. A set of Doug Thorley short tube headers and a K&N filter (with hydrocarbon filter delete) are the only modifications. This isn’t a go-fast vehicle, so I don’t see any need to be chasing horsepower. The 4.7 liter V8 gives the 4runner lots of get up and go, even with the big heavy tires. The headers have increased fuel efficiency quite a bit along with the horsepower and torque gains. They would benefit from a complete matching high flow exhaust though. I kept the factory cats and exhaust system to keep it quiet and emissions compliant.

The badges have been blacked out by the previous owner, making it less obvious that this is in fact a Limited V8 model.

Lifted 4th gen 4runner

The Shadow Mica paint is a bit of a chameleon depending on the conditions. Usually, it’s a dark metallic grey but as you can see it changes with the lighting. The pearl really reflects the sunset, yet it looks black at night time.

4th gen 4runner interior

The interior is completely stock and will likely stay that way. Toyota already gave the Limited model 4runners features like heated leather seats, simulated granite trim, and a decent JBL Synthesis audio system. Aside from navigation and Bluetooth, it’s got everything I need. The head unit might be a future upgrade.

The only aftermarket feature in the interior is the switches for the light bars. I wanted to keep it just as stealth on the inside, so I found a pair of OEM style on/off buttons from MIC Tuning. They fit perfectly in the spots that used to hold the controls for the now vacant air suspension. No new holes, no exposed wires.

4runner led tail light

Toyota gave the later year facelifted model 4runners projector headlights and LED taillights. These did a great job of making the exterior look more modern. To take it one step further, I added some LED headlights and replaced the bulbs in the license plate and interior with LEDs.

If you’re interested in buying your own 4th gen 4runner, make sure to check out my Buyer’s Guide here. You can also read a more in-depth post on why I chose certain parts in my Ownership Journal over on T4r.org.

The Specs:

Fox 2.0 IFP adjustable front coilovers
Fox 2.0 IFP rear shocks
ARB Old Man Emu 895 rear springs
Metal Tech rear coil conversion kit
Method 301 The Standard wheels – 17×8.5″ with 0 offset and 4.75″ backspacing
Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires – LT285-70-17
Doug Thorley short tube headers 
K&N air filter with Hydrocarbon filter delete
AVS Window visors
Toyota bug deflector
32″ Philips curved dual row LED light bar
40″ Totron single row Cree LED light bar
MIC Tuning oem style light bar buttons

Detailing Products Used:

Complete paint correction and deep cleaning of the entire vehicle
Gtechniq Crystal Serum Light topped with Exov3 on the paint, headlights, and tail lights
Gtechniq C5 Wheel Armor on the wheels, lug nuts, suspension, and light bar housings
Gtechniq C4 Permanent Trim Restorer on black plastic exterior trim and fender liners 
Gtechniq G1 ClearVision Smart Glass on all windows including moonroof
Poorboys Bold N Bright Tire Gel on tires
Gtechniq L1 Leather Guard on seats
Gtechniq I1 Fabric Guard on carpet
Gtechniq C6 Matte Dash on interior plastic trim

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10 Comments

  • Jack

    April 20, 2018 at 11:39 am

    I have an ’04 V6 4Runner. I don’t think I need exhaust manifolds or anything. What was the total price of the wheels, suspension components and light bars?

    Reply
  • Kevin

    October 17, 2018 at 12:44 am

    Hey man the runner looks great! I recently picked up an 06 v6 and your feedback has been super helpful. I was wondering about tires however! I’m thinking of getting duratracs as well but I’m a little worried about the weight with it only being a v6. What do you think?

    Reply
    • Canadian Gearhead

      October 17, 2018 at 9:23 am

      Hey Kevin,

      The Duratracs are awesome tires, but I won’t lie – they’re heavy. That goes for any off-road tire though so that’s just the price we pay for the extra capability. I’ve driven both V6 and V8 model 4runners and the V6 really isn’t a slouch. I don’t think you’d have any problems. You won’t be winning any drag races, and your MPG will take a hit, but that’s just par for the course when replacing a street tire with something more aggressive.

      Tim

      Reply
  • Carter

    October 19, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Hey, I am looking into getting the light bar on the bumper. I know you created your own harness but are there any that you know of that you’d recommend?

    Reply
    • Canadian Gearhead

      October 20, 2018 at 12:06 am

      Hey Carter,

      I didn’t create the harness, I just used the cheap one that came with the light. All I did was replace the switch. I built my own mounting brackets for it which I’m still not 100% happy with. If you wanted to go with a prebuilt option it looks like Caliraisedled.com offers a nice solution for around $60.

      Tim

      Reply
  • Morten

    October 26, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    Hey man;

    excellent and very helpful write-up. Thank you! And truly a beauty of a 4Runner you have there!! Your info is exactly what I’ve been looking for, as I am myself considering a V8 4Runner. Your description of what you wanted in your vehicle is as though taken straight out of my mind. I kid you not. Amazing! But seeing as you likely aren’t interested in selling your 4Runner anytime soon, I’ll prob just have to find my own and go through the same mods you have. I currently have a ’99 3rd gen Limited, which I love – except for one thing: it’s just under-powered. I use it for long road trips (incl. camping and some logging roads), usually including driving through the BC/AB Rockies, and I could really use a V8.

    Sorry for my ramblings. Here are my questions:
    (1) would you mind sharing a sum total estimate of what you have spent on your upgrades, so I have an idea what kind of $$ I’d be looking at? (Apologies if you already mentioned this in the above.)
    (2) have you ever wished you had a rear diff lock? (I have used mine a couple times.)

    Thanks much for your help!
    Morten.

    Reply
    • Canadian Gearhead

      October 26, 2018 at 8:28 pm

      Hey Morten,

      I occasionally think about switching to a pickup truck, but that would require selling the 4runner for a pretty penny. Likely more than someone would be willing to pay for it.

      Off the top of my head, I’d estimate the cost of the mods to be around $5k CAD. I think I’m going to break the numbers down in a video for the Youtube channel in the future. People seem interested in that.

      To be honest, there really isn’t enough hardcore wheeling available near me, so I haven’t really felt the need for a rear diff lock. That doesn’t mean I don’t want one though. I’m sure there’s a lot of cases where a rear locker would be the difference between getting stuck or not, I just haven’t been in that situation. Toyota’s ATRAC system does fairly well if you give it enough wheel speed to sort itself out, but a locker would definitely do a better job. If you felt you absolutely needed one, you could always turn to the aftermarket for that.

      Thanks for reading,

      Tim

      Reply
  • Tyler

    November 18, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Hey man,
    I was wondering, will I need the Metal Tech rear coil conversion kit if I’m lifting an 06 SR5 V8? I’d like to have a similar rig, I just didn’t know if I’d have to do anything differently since yours is a limited trim.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Canadian Gearhead

      November 18, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      Hey Tyler,

      If you have the factory rear air suspension, you’ll need the Metal Tech kit (or build your own) to convert to coil springs. Being an SR5 model, you should already have springs in the rear – so you’re free to switch to whatever lift springs you want.

      Tim

      Reply

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