Project 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner: Part 1 - Suspension, Tires and Wheels

by Emily and Brandon Campbell

photos courtesy of Brandon Campbell and Jonathan McWhorter

This 4Runner is a long time dream made true. It all started in 2007 when we sold my beloved ’99 SR5 4Runner to get two new cars – with the best of intentions.  While Brandon has always had a love for all things automotive, he began with building off road trucks, then on to drifting.  However, my passions were different, but crossed in some paths.  I enjoy being in beautiful places, travelling and appreciate a powerful looking SUV.  We discovered a place where out interests intersect - building an off road vehicle together and going on adventures to those said beautiful places.  

Our first off roading experiences together were in a 2000 Ford Excursion Diesel with an ICON 3’ Shackle Kit.  These took us to places nearby like the George Washington National Forest and the Outer Banks.  While the Excursion was capable off road, it was meant to just be our towing vehicle.  Well…we solved that in March, when we traded in the Excursion and came home with a 2013 SR5 White 4Runner 4WD. While this truck looks sharp and is quite capable stock, there was already a vision for it: to build a technically proficient off road truck while maintaining on road performance. We opted for the SR5 for the 3rd row seat as well as the lower cost.  Follow us now as we embark on Part 1 of this journey.


The Excursion off to the left.

We started with the suspension, tires and wheels.  We reached out to  ICON Vehicle Dynamics, Toyota Racing Development (TRD) and Nitto Tires.

Straight from the mouth of ICON - The ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage 4 suspension system for the 2010 + Toyota 4Runner is the best overall handling bolt on suspension system you can install. This system can handle any terrain you throw at it and gives you unsurpassed ride quality on the street and the performance offroad is incredible. The rear springs in this system give the 4Runner 2" of lift, and the rear billet lower links help manage the rear axle so that it can cycle smoothly without bind. ICON's V.S. Series 2.5" Diameter Rear Piggyback Shocks make vast improvements compared to other systems for the people that use their vehicles in various on and offroad situations. These shocks are tuned specifically to give your Toyota 4Runner a balanced and smooth ride quality, along with extended length shock cooling from the increased oil volume and piggyback reservoir. 57710 4Runner 2.5" rear shocks have a built in bump zone to increase your compression valving in the final two inches of compression travel, which prevents a harsh bottoming out sensation, and gives the vehicle a much more controlled ride quality. 

ICON Vehicle Dynamics Suspension.

Beginning the installation with removing the stock upper control arms.

The installation was simple and straightforward iff (if and only if for the non-nerds out there) you followed the instructions.  I, being a bit over confident, created quite a bit of extra work for myself by assuming that I, of course, knew all.  All of us here know how to remove a bolt, take out the old and replace with the new.  ICON, in their wisdom, took the typical “old parts out, new parts in” and used a bit of engineering to construct a process that works rather smoothly - when followed. We commend them for this effort because it is time consuming  and does not directly generate revenue.  It is, however, indicative of ICON’s commitment to excellence and thus creates extremely loyal and grateful consumers.  Furthermore, I’m not exaggerating when I claim that every bit of this kit is built as a complement to the whole.  It is clean, simple and wildly impressive.  We cannot wait to introduce some abuse.

TRD 17x8 forged wheels

Look at these beauties.  TRD manufactures these 17x8 forged wheels that will bear the impact of Project T4Rs chosen path.  Forged wheels are lighter and stronger than cast components as they are subjected to intense heat and pressure that transforms a solid chunk of aluminum material into what you see here.  The disadvantage is they are typically more expensive.  In the world of performance wheels, we believe that TRD has effectively blended monetary expense with ultimate strength to weight ratio.  Reduced unsprung weight improves performance in both handling and steering response. For the potential or current owners of 5th Generation 4Runners, know that these wheels are made to work with the stock wheel studs as well as OE hub bosses without the need for a centering ring.


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Wednesday, October 30, 2013 11:17 PM
Please contact URDUSA for their y pipes and supercharger kit
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 11:58 PM
Those TRD wheels are a bitch to keep clean, the beadlock traps water which corrodes everything, fills up with crap and brake dust sticks to them like no tomorrow. Even cleaning them every week left them looking awful after a year and a half. That was one of the main reasons why I got rid of them on Project Tundra.
Thursday, October 31, 2013 1:02 AM
How about working on the transfer case and pinion and ring? With the added weight from those tires, I would think re-gearing it, it would help a bit.
Also, how about brakes?
Thursday, October 31, 2013 6:04 AM
@b1ackstar187 that sounds interesting

@mike Thanks for the information. We will keep our eyes open.

@JDMized You nailed it. Gearing and air lockers would be quite the addition. That said, the impact was rather unnoticeable. Without getting specific, there wasn't an impact to acceleration, gas mileage hasn't changed (city), and speedometer still reports the correct mph. That suspension though......man, she's fun to drive.
Thursday, October 31, 2013 6:17 AM
I typically keep a coat of car wax on my wheels as it makes them easier to keep clean. Dirt and brake dust washes off more easily. Sounds like it could help with these wheels.
Thursday, October 31, 2013 7:56 AM
Baller build. Let's see some flex and how much those tires rub on those fenders
Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:01 AM
Oh, they rub...particularly in the rear. Stay tuned for flex. ;)
Wes Dumalski
Wes Dumalskilink
Thursday, October 31, 2013 10:21 AM
I love the latest 4 runner. Does it use the same brakes as the Tundra? Any plans to tow with this beast?
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Thursday, October 31, 2013 10:35 AM
You'll probably want to cut those front fenders slightly on the Distal to rid the front scrub, seems like all new rigs build the front fender arch too small.

If you're going to somewhat off road this, I still like good approach and departure angles. Shrockworks makes something pretty nice. I'd be really tempted to modify their front and rear bumpers to get a nicer aesthetic, or it might be just as inexpensive or expensive to have someone build exactly what you want.

This looks too nice to see too much wheeling time but just a selectable locker for the rear should give you all the wheeling grip you'd want while still being able to give you the on road feel you're looking for.

Anyway, enough input from me. I'll keep an eye out.

Wes - Unless Toyota dropped in a V8 I don't know about, I would call the 4.0 V6 much of a Tow Rig.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Thursday, October 31, 2013 10:36 AM
Sorry - Would NOT call the v6 a towing motor.
Emily Campbell
Emily Campbelllink
Thursday, October 31, 2013 11:02 AM
@wes - it has towed our 24 foot pontoon boat, but the gas mileage was terrible. Need that supercharger. :)

@der bruce - Yes, the next article will be about solving the scrubbing. While it does look pretty, I have agreed that this will not be an "urban" off road vehicle - meaning it can get dirty. Thanks for the input - it's all appreciated!
Thursday, October 31, 2013 3:49 PM
@der bruce Great thoughts! Thanks! We do intend on replacing the front and rear bumpers, full armor and lockers so please....have at it! Give us all ya got!
Thursday, October 31, 2013 11:57 PM
Embroidered coilovers, eh? :P
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Friday, November 01, 2013 7:31 AM
Check out the Metal Tech sliders from my home state but I really think if you guys check out Budbuilt, you'll probably try to get a bulk package because I think I liked every thing they had(superior looks to the Shrokworks stuff too!). Still think one rear ARB will be all you need.

There Brandon, that's all I got for now!
Friday, November 01, 2013 8:45 AM
Thank you for your input sir
Friday, November 01, 2013 4:05 PM
Omega bypass shocks, Budbuilt bump out beefy, Gobi rack/ladder... more importantly I am glad to have a capable ICON installer in metro Atlanta!! Previously the closest ICON stage 5/6 installer I can trust was located up in NoVA/DC area. I will look out for you when I trade in for a '14 T4R Trail.
Sunday, November 03, 2013 3:37 PM
@nrgpill LMK always happy to help!
Anonymous User
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013 9:18 PM
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