The True Story Behind The TRD PRO 4th Gen 4runner Grilles




Trail Runner Customs TRD Pro grille

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The TRD Pro lineup of trucks has been a huge success for Toyota. Because of them, the Toyota brand went from being bland and boring to full of excitement, bright colors, and out-the-door adventure.

At times, I couldn’t help but wonder what a TRD Pro version of the 4th generation 4runner would have been like. It never existed by the way – while the 4runner’s sibling (the 2nd gen Tacoma) received the Pro treatment, there was no Pro 4runner until the 2015 model year.

Fortunately, the aftermarket has stepped up, allowing us to turn our visions into reality. There has been a flood of TRD Pro style grilles in the 4runner market in recent years and they continue to grow in popularity. It’s an easy, cost-effective way to modernize the front end of your beloved 4th gen 4runner.

Lifted Shadow Gray 4th gen 4runner

Where are all the 4runner TRD Pro grilles coming from?

You’ve probably seen them all over the interwebs, from small American stores to Ali Express. Guess what? They’re all coming from the exact same place. China.

As far as I know, none of the TRD Pro style grilles for the 4th gen 4runner are being made in North America. Many of them in fact, are being drop shipped directly from China (sometimes without the buyer even knowing).

Since these aesthetic chunks of ABS plastic are all identical, how do you decide where to buy them from?

The most important thing aside from the grille itself is the service the seller supplies you. I got the TRD Pro grille for my personal 4runner from Andrew at Trail Runner Customs. He’s got a great reputation in the 4runner community and he stocks them all and ships them himself from the USA.

Sellers like Trail Runner Customs serve as quality control middle men – if they receive damaged or blemished grilles from the manufacturer, they stop their journey then and there. They won’t allow them to get sent on to the buyer.

Shadow gray 4th gen 4runner

Andrew also includes perks like his own detailed instructions, raptor lights (with all the wiring required to install them), and excellent customer service.

So, I’m not saying you have to buy yours from Trail Runner Customs (but if you do, use code GEARHEAD for 10% off!). But it’s important that you buy from someone who’s actually stocking them and verifying their quality. Otherwise, you’re likely going to be helping some teenager get rich by purchasing items on Ali Express and drop shipping them to you for a massive profit.

Make sure you order the right grille to fit your model

The 4th gen 4runner received a facelift midway through its production run. That means that 2003-2005 models have different front end components than the 2006-2009 models. This includes the grille.

You’ll notice as you’re shopping that there are 2 different shape grilles available for the 4th gen 4runner so make sure you order the right one for your model year.

Some people have facelifted older models with the updated headlights and use the newer grille but it requires some modification and trimming.

4th Gen 4runner TRD Pro grille installation

If you buy your grille from Andrew, he includes detailed instructions with it so you don’t need me to explain it. So instead, I’ll share this video of how I installed mine. Keep in mind, some of the brackets on my front end were bent so I had to adjust the process a bit myself.

Easiest way to install Raptor lights on a 4th Gen 4runner

The factory 4runner grille doesn’t exactly make it super easy to mount a set of Raptor lights to it (if you’re into that sort of thing). It’ll require making custom brackets to hold them and the Toyota emblem makes it nearly impossible to mount one in the center. This means you’ll have to run 4 lights instead of 3 if you want it to be symmetrical and that just looks… weird.

Upgrading to one of these TRD Pro style grilles makes installing Raptor lights a breeze. The honeycomb design provides the perfect shape for the Raptor lights to snap into place. No extra brackets are required.

Simply pop them in, ground them, and run a wire to an add-a-fuse in the 10 amp cigarette lighter socket in the fuse box (under the driver’s side dash). Bingo, you’ll have Raptor lights that are wired in the same way that Ford has them installed on the Raptor. They’ll turn on with the ignition as running lights and don’t require a switch.

My review of the Trail Runner Customs TRD Pro grille:

It’s been roughly 8 months since I installed this grille on my 4runner and it’s holding up perfectly. Fit and finish was about an 8/10 but any fitment issues were surely due to my front end being a bit tweaked (I sure wish I had a dash cam installed to see who sat on my front bumper!).

I don’t have any gap around the grille but I attest that to my bug deflector filling in that space. Without one, you might need to put some weather stripping or something there to seal it up tightly.

Overall, the grille works great. No rattles, and the hood latch continues to function properly. Andrew is very easy to get in contact with if you have any questions and I’d definitely get one from him again.

As a matter of fact, I recommended that he start offering them for the 2nd gen Tacomas so I can put one on mine! We’ll see if he adds those to his site in the future.

My own personal choice was to paint match the outer surround of the grille the same way my OEM Limited grille was painted. I feel like this made it look more factory and less like an aftermarket addition. I actually painted it myself with spray paint from a local autobody supply store and it turned out decent.

I also chose to remove the raptor lights after a few months. In the end, they were just a bit too much for me and I prefer a clean looking front end. They functioned perfectly and I could easily hook them back up in 5 minutes if I wanted to but for now, I’ll keep my 4runner looking like a 4runner and not a Ford!

All in all, I think the styling of this grille suits the lines of the 4th gen 4runner really well. It’s a great way to pay homage to its Land Cruiser DNA with a retro, yet modern update.

2 responses to “The True Story Behind The TRD PRO 4th Gen 4runner Grilles”

  1. Kevin Lewis Avatar
    Kevin Lewis

    I followed your lead (er, YouTube) and did the exact same for my 4th gen. Andrew was super great and the grille looks fantastic! I’m 1 month in, but feel like I’ll keep the Raptor lights. It’s not “traditional” but I don’t mind being a bit of a rebel!

    Keep up the GREAT content!

    1. Tim Rempel Avatar

      Thanks for following along Kevin!


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