If you ever have a conversation with a car fanatic and the topic steers to off road driving, then I can guarantee that the Toyota 4Runner is going to come up!
It is a strong SUV, designed for the tough and tricky natural terrain of off road use. But it isn’t immune to the inevitable issues that come with the normal wear and tear of suspension.
Eventually, the shocks that the 4Runner embraces on your off roading trip will wear the suspension out.
This is when you get yourself a new 4Runner Lift Kit. Even if your suspension is brand new, an upgraded lift kit gives you better handling and performance, making your drive smoother and prevents those tricky nose dives.
The difficulty comes when you look at how many lift kits there are on the market and knowing what designs are right for you.
Why should I buy a Lift Kit?
Using a lift means you can raise your car’s body higher off the ground, which is really useful when you are off roading as it gives the driver a better view of their soundings and in turn the obstacles they might have otherwise missed.
Even if you don’t drive off road often, the upgraded suspension gives the driver a more controlled movement, making the handling of your SUV much easier.
For example, you’ll have fewer nose dives when you break, and the body of the car will roll less when you turn the corner.
What should I look for in 4Runner Lift Kits?
This all depends on what kind of driver you are. If you want a lift because of the aesthetic appeal, then you should be looking for different features than if you want something that can handle a sand dune.
But really the features it comes down to are these 4 things; your budget, your tire size, the type of driver you are, and how tall your garage is.
Lift Kits and Budget Size
The budget issue is kind of self explanatory. The most expensive lift kits are likely to have new technology that makes them either better at their job or last longer than the cheaper ones.
But if you can’t afford an expensive kit, or don’t want to spend too much money on it, then your budget will matter to you.
In my list, I’ve collected lower priced Lift Kits that are still really good. I’ve done this because I wanted to make sure that any kit I recommended was available when you wanted it, and some of the more expensive brands are hard to pin down.
Lift Kits and Tire Size
Before you pick your kit you should probably decide what size tires you want. The size will play a large role in how tall you want the lift to be.
Along the same lines as the tiers, you also need to know if you plan on adapting the bumpers, fenders, and mud flaps. This is because, if you want a bigger tire those areas will need a little trimming.
The size of your tires won’t affect the lift kits themselves, but they will affect how tall you want the lift to be, meaning how many inches higher they need to be at a minimum.
Terrain and Lift Kits
To help you out, I’ve narrowed down the types of terrain you might expect your 4Runner to go on as well as the uses which would affect the suspension.
I’ve narrowed it down to 4 topics; “Off Road”, “On Road”, “Towing” and “Armor or Accessories”. Everything seems to be coming in fours today, I’ve taken inspiration from the 4Runner itself!
If you plan on using the 4Runner for mostly off road use, then you need to think about the way in which you will be driving.
Will you be speedily jumping over hills or slow crawling over tricky woodland? If you are off roading but taking it slow, then a Drop Down Bracket would be a great fit for those large tires that you need.
If you are speeding up dunes, then you’ll want a Coil Spacer design, as they can give a real boost to your bounce.
If you are planning on driving your 4Runner on smooth ground, like pavements and roads, then you will want a shim or a spacer lift.
It will make your suspension feel a little looser, giving your ride to the grocery store a feeling of adventure, without actually affecting the navigation.
If you’re planning on towing with your 4Runner, then you want a suspension that doesn’t make your vehicle too tall.
This is to do with its center of gravity, the lower the car is the safer you and your cargo will be. A lower center of gravity gives you more control and stability as you turn corners and go up hills.
If you plan on adding accessories to your car, like a bike rack, then you want a lift kit that adds a heavy spring rate to balance out that extra weight.
This is so that your car doesn’t end up with too much weight in the area you have added that extra weight.
Normally this weight will be added to the back of your car, so a rear leveling lift kit might be the type you should be looking at.
Lift Kit vs Container
This one seems obvious, if you add too much height to your 4Runner, then you might not be able to get it back into your garage easily. You can always make your garage door taller, but this might be a problem which you would rather avoid.
The suspension could even affect any height clearances or restrictions of the areas you plan to drive through. The likelihood is that you won’t be having these types of problems, but it is always better to be smart.
Have the foresight to take measurements before you buy a lift kit, so these don’t become issues later.
So now that you know what to look for, let us have a look at my top 5 picks for 4Runner Lift Kits!
Our Best 4Runner Lift Kit Reviews
If you plan on going off roading through mud, rocks, and sand, then the Skull Off Road is a great choice! It adds an extra 3 inches to your 4Runner’s height which means you can put on the larger tires needed for those difficult terrains.
If you plan on adding a heavy accessory, like a winch, to your car then the Skull Off Road can level out the vehicle and put it back to the height it should be.
This is because the Skull Off Road uses its leveling technology to balance out the weight of that heavy accessory, improving an otherwise difficult steering problem due to the car being pushed up by the extra weight.
If you plan on using your 4Runner for on road use, then I wouldn’t recommend the Skull Off Road as the 4Runner is already designed roads. Added this leveling kit will equalize the suspension.
Without anything to bring down the front end of the suspension, the leveled car will have an increase in wind resistance. This means you’ll need to power more fuel to go at the same speed.
Essentially making the fuel more expensive for you. This won’t affect the price massively unless you use the 4Runner exclusively on the road or pavement.
- Great for Rough Terrain
- Adds 3 Inches
- Great for Heavy Accessories
- Not Recommended for Road or Pavement Use.
The Rough Country lift kit is designed for country use.
It has the highest ground clearance on my list, which means that if you are planning on diving down flat areas with large rocks, then you will be safe in the knowledge that the Rough Country will be making your car tall enough to drive over them.
Being so high means you can install large tires and know that the lift will give enough room between pieces.
It is also the easiest to install out of my five, with installation tutorials if you are really getting stuck. It has a Bolt On installation process, which means you can install it at home with common place DIY tools.
The only problem with the Rough Country is the height restrictions I talked about before.
If you are using the 4Runner in the country, then you might not come across this kind of issue, but if you move from city to open land, then you might have to plan ahead by elongating your travels to non height restricted roads.
You also might find that your garage cannot hold a car that tall. Before you buy (or even dismiss) the Rough Country, you should measure your garage to see if the additional height will be a problem.
- Highest Ground Clearance
- Great for Large Types
- Easy To Install
- Can it fit in your Garage?
If you are thinking of getting a lift kit, not for better suspension, but because you want your vehicle to simply be taller, then I would recommend the Daystar. You might raise your 4Runner simply because it has a nice aesthetic that way.
The Daystar is a Spacer Lift Kit which means that it doesn’t mess with your suspension, and simply makes the car taller.
For something so simple, you don’t want a complicated design. The Daystat has your back here, as it has a simple bolt design just like the Country Rough Lift Kit.
All you need are some common DIY tools which, if you don’t already have them at home, you can pick them up at any DIY store. There is no need to complicate your upgrade, so pick up this cheap and effective lift kit.
- Adds Height
- Easy to Install
- Not Good for Off Roading
The Supreme Suspension has a spring spacer which means that the spring rate of your 4Runner will remain the same as it was before the lift kit was installed.
This is great if you find the 4Runner already does a wonderful job keeping you balanced.
Adding the Supreme Suspension to your 4Runner is a great idea if you need something to stop your car from sagging or settling.
This is because the lift kit will change the height of the spring pad instead of changing the height or size of the spring itself.
In terms of how much lift you get with the Supreme Suspension, the spacer will lift the front of your car by 3 inches and the rear by 2 inches.
This nose up approach will make climbing up rocky terrain easier than if the car was completely leveled.
- Keeps the Same Spring Rate
- Stops Sagging or Settling
- Increased Lift of 3 inches
- Easy to Install
- Doesn’t Fit 4Runner 2018+ TRD Pro Model (but it does fit the other 2003-2019 models)
The Freedom Offroad is the cheapest lift kit on our list and is very similar to the Skull Off Road.
The main difference is that the Freedom Off Road is made specifically for the 1996 – 2002 4Runner model and the suspension lift is made for 3 inches on the front and 2 inches on the rear.
Other than that, it has the same ability to hold heavy accessories like winches or bike racks and is great at handling rough terrains like sand and mud.
If you own the 1996- 2002 Model, then I would recommend buying this lift kit over the Skull Off, as it is perfectly designed for that model.
But if you don’t have the 1996 – 2002 4Runner, then there is no point buying this kit as it probably won’t be compatible with your vehicle.
- Made for 1996 – 2002 4Runner
- Lift of 3 Inches
- Great for Heavy Accessories
- Great for rough terrain
- Only Fits 1996 – 2002 4Runner
Frequently Asked Questions
How many inches should I lift my 4Runner?
Most 4Runner owners chose to lift the body of their car around 1 to 1.25 inches in height. This is to create a larger ground clearance for the bumpers, steering, and headers.
If you have a heavy item to carry or a heavy accessory to attach, then you will want a larger lift to combat that weight.
Why should I lift my vehicle?
A lifted car or van gives the driver a better view when it comes to upcoming obstacles. This is especially true when you are driving fast or driving around sharp corners. The lift will give you more time to see and then react to those obstacles.
Can I keep my Original Tires when I Install a Lift Kit?
In terms of functionality, yes you can definitely use the tires your car originally came in. The only downside to doing that is how your car might look after. The original tires will look small with your vehicle’s new height but they will work just as well.
Where can I Lift my 4Runner?
The first place you should try, if you are raising from the front, is the center of the front cross member. Raise your truck from this spot, under where your motor is, as the cross member is strong enough to list up your car without damaging anything.
If you need to raise the rear of your truck, then pick the center of the rear axle housing to lift it up safely. Again this cross section will be strong enough to hold your car, so you don’t have to worry about damage.
How Much Do Lift Kits Cost?
Normally lift kits cost around $100 to $500 and this includes the most affordable brands on the market.
If you want more than just a lift though, then the price range you should be looking at is around $1,000 to $5,000. Of course, these super expensive kits also enhance the performance of your car.
When it comes to the 4Runner, these more expensive lift kits aren’t needed as the 4Runner is already equipped for off road diving.
So now you know what you need to look for in a Lift Kit and what great and affordable kits are currently available. Use my advice to help narrow down your search and soon your car will be handling all the twists and bumps that your off road driving can throw at you.