If you’ve been contemplating an upgrade to beefy 285 tires on your Tacoma or 4runner, you’re certainly not alone. This is a really popular tire size among Toyota truck fans but the advantages don’t come without their share of sacrifices.
Running a 285/70/17 size tire on your 4runner or Tacoma will definitely improve its off-road performance and transform its appearance. It will also negatively affect things like MPG, braking, and acceleration. This size will not fit on a completely stock truck so modification is required.
The pros of running 285 tires on your 4runner or Tacoma
Let’s start with some advantages of this tire size:
Better traction off-road
Simply put, a wider/longer contact patch with the ground is going to provide better traction in slippery situations. In deep snow and mud, a wide tire will often allow you to float over top rather than sink in. Less chances of getting stuck are always a good thing!
This is an advantage in most cases but can be considered a downside when it comes to driving in winter conditions.
More ground clearance
The additional ground clearance you gain from running a set of 285s can make a big difference in your ability to crawl over large objects. Suspension lifts are great and all, but they don’t offer you any more ground clearance at your axles (which is typically the lowest part of your vehicle).
Increasing the height of your tires WILL gain more clearance. So think of the tires as a way to gain ground clearance, and a suspension lift as a way to make room for them.
The ability to air down
Many people swear by airing down their tires before going off-road, especially in deep sand. There are a few benefits to this: it increases their floatation in deep sand or snow, which capitalizes on their added width even more. It also helps the tire to wrap around rocks and other objects in order to “claw” its way up and over them.
Finally, it can decrease vibrations from washboard roads. If you’re going to be spending full days driving far away from the nearest pavement, your spine and your truck will thank you for dropping a few psi out of your tires.
Check out this article for more of the benefits of airing down your tires:
285/70/17 tires have a nice tall sidewall that allows you to air them down when off-road. The standard tires that come on your 4runner or Tacoma tend to be lower profile and while that will help their road manners, it will limit your ability to air down.
They look cool
Let’s be honest – if getting likes on Instagram is your goal, a small tire size just isn’t going to cut it. I think one of the easiest ways to make your rig look far more aggressive than the ones at the dealership is to upgrade to a larger and more aggressive style tire.
I’ve had great experiences with the Goodyear Duratrac on mine – they have the beefy appearance of a mud tire but are much more liveable day to day like an all-terrain tire.
The cons of running 285s on your 4runner or Tacoma
Now it’s time for reality to set in and unfortunately, you might be about to decide that 285s aren’t for you. There are some undeniable downsides to this tire size on a small vehicle like the 4runner or Tacoma so you really have to consider what life will be like with them.
Keep in mind, this is the tire size that comes on the massive Ram Power Wagon. That should help put things in perspective!
Decreased fuel economy
In theory, you’d probably expect your MPG to drop down. In real life, that is definitely the case. It’s unavoidable. Unless you have a super torquey diesel engine, your Toyota is going to be very aware that it’s wearing larger, heavier tires.
By the way, these things are HEAVY compared to the stock tires! It takes energy to spin them so you’ll definitely notice your fuel economy suffer, particularly in the city where you’re doing more stop-and-go driving. On the highway, the decrease isn’t as noticeable – once you get these puppies rolling, they tend to want to keep their momentum!
Require trimming to fit
Unfortunately, a 285/70/17 tire is not going to fit a stock Tacoma or 4runner without some rubbing. In some cases, the rubbing isn’t very bad and can be fixed with minor trimming. In other cases, it’ll require a lift, removing mud flaps, relocating fender liners, trimming the front bumper, and possibly even chopping the body mount.
The amount of work you need to do to make these fit greatly depends on your specific vehicle and your setup. Keep in mind your wheel size/offset and alignment specs will play a role in how much rubbing you experience as well. I share everything I had to trim in this article as well as the video below:
Decreased handling and braking
There’s no surprise here – these big heavy tires aren’t just going to hurt your fuel economy. They’ll dampen your handling and braking as well, for the same reason. Their weight can be noticed when braking hard (unless you’ve upgraded your brakes too).
The extra force required to slow the rig down can also cause them to overheat quicker or easier when driving in the mountains or pulling a heavy trailer.
Think your Toyota is going to handle highway on-ramps at the same speed as its OEM low profile tires? Think again. While it’s not necessarily awful, I can definitely notice a difference in the cornering ability of my 4runner with 285s and my Tacoma with 265s.
It’s worth noting that the Tacoma has OEM suspension and it still feels more confident in fast corners than the Fox-equipped 4runner! Those same tall sidewalls that give you a smoother ride and the ability to air down are more likely to give you a “folding over” feeling if you’re hitting a corner too fast.
Are you pumped about the 5 extra hp your K&N air filter gave you? Well, you’re about to lose that feeling as soon as you up-size your tires to 285s. In my case, the 4runner is equipped with a V8 that has plenty of low end torque.
I still found the decrease in acceleration somewhat noticeable, but not nearly as bad as it would be had I owned a V6 model. You 4-cyl Tacoma guys might want to look elsewhere!
They’re more expensive
You might not complain about the price of this tire size until you cross-shop something smaller like a 265. Big tires cost big money, that’s just the long and short of it. It could be worse though – stepping up to an 18” wheel size or bigger tends to be an even more drastic jump in price, making the 285/70/17 suddenly seem like a bargain.
Difficulty fitting a spare tire
The spare tire location in the 4runner and Tacoma (under the body/bed) doesn’t offer a whole lot of extra room. That leaves you with 3 choices – find another tire size with a similar outer diameter (that’s what I did), mount your spare on an aftermarket tire carrier, roof rack, or your interior, or ignore it altogether and simply hope for the best.
Some people have claimed they were able to fit a 285 in the factory spare location with lower tire pressure (or worn out tread) but in general, this size won’t fit there easily.
Extra wear and tear on components
I don’t have any proof of this one myself, but in theory, it’s believable. Heavier rotational weight and more leverage on components creates the possibility of drivetrain and suspension components wearing out quicker.
I don’t think this is too big of a concern in reality because these Tacomas and 4runners are built pretty tough from the factory. Bigger tires likely won’t wear out your transmission or differentials. But could it cause your wheel bearings not to last as long? I’d say it’s possible.
Other popular tire sizes
If the above mentioned downsides have scared you off from running 285s, don’t worry! You can still upgrade the tires on your Yota without many of these cons. Here are a few really popular (yet smaller) tire sizes in the 4runner and Tacoma communities:
- 265/70/17 (Stock size)
- 255/75/17 (Slightly narrower and taller)
- 255/80/17 (Slightly narrower and much taller)
- 275/70/17 (Wider and taller – probably the most popular upsize)
So, are 285s on your 4runner worth it?
I’ve been running a set of 285/70/17 tires on my 4th gen 4runner for over 5 years now. I think they suit this rig really well.
I can’t deny that the downsides exist though – sometimes I wonder what my MPG would be like with a narrower size. But in the end, I’ve been very happy with these, whether I’m in the mud, towing a trailer, or trying to impress all the stay at home dads at the grocery store parking lot!
Tim is the creator of Canadian Gearhead. His experience with auto detailing and working for Toyota shows through all of the articles posted here. He runs the Canadian Gearhead site and YouTube channel full-time now and currently owns a 2007 4runner, 2006 Tacoma, and 1991 MR2. Read more about Tim: