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

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 17×8 forged wheels

Look at these beauties.  TRD manufactures these 17×8 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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