Toyota 4runners are undoubtedly one of the most versatile vehicles out there. You can do so much with them from driving off-road through the mountains or trails, towing almost anything you need, making long road trips, or even just owning them for their look. Whatever your reason for buying a 4runner, there is only so much a model right off the factory floor can do. That is where lift kits come in.
How Much Does It Cost to Lift a 4Runner?
Lift kits allow you to do a variety of things. You can increase the suspension, lift the trim, enable your 4runner to do high-speed driving over rough terrain, do high jumping, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.
Whatever you decide for why you want to get your 4runner lifted, there are a couple of things to consider before trying to budget exactly how much you need before you pay for that 4runner lift kit:
- The type of kit you want to buy
- The model of your particular 4runner
- The decreased fuel efficiency
- The increased insurance rates
Different Types of Kits Available
Because there is a wide range of things you can do with your 4runner, there are also a wide variety of prices and options for those different kits. Let’s start with one of the cheapest options: leveling kits.
Leveling kits are great if you do not intend to do a whole lot of off-road driving and just want the lifted look for pavement driving only. These kinds of kits involve placing spacers above the factory struts.
The spacers will give you added trim you desire but none of the added benefits of actually adjusting the suspension of your vehicle.
The kits typically run in the $100 to $300 range plus you have the option of adjusting either the front or back trim, which could cut cost, making these the most affordable kits out there.
The next type of basic kit is the suspension kit. One of the main things you are going to be paying for is the coilovers. The coilovers are essentially the front shocks and these will adjust depending on the kind of terrain you are riding over. These can vary widely in price from as little as 250 dollars to as much as 3,000 dollars.
The main benefit of the suspension kit is that this kit, unlike leveling kits, will actually help make a smoother drive no matter where you are which is great for those who do a lot of road and off-road driving. However, if you go with this kind of kit you need to be concerned about another crucial part: the upper control arms.
The upper control arms are what connect your new suspension system to the frame. If you decide to lift your suspension, you need to invest in some quality upper control arms because the factory ones usually do not work well with aftermarket kits.
This can result in an unsafe alignment. Beware though that 4runner models from 2003 onward were designed with people adding aftermarket upper control arms in mind and the older models are going to be a little more expensive since these are more specialized and harder to come by.
The last piece of suspension kits to consider is the rear shocks. The rear shocks are what determines how high the rear of your vehicle will travel and also what holds the oil reservoir for your suspension.
Since larger oil reservoirs can dissipate more heat generated from driving, this will determine how long and hard you can push your system. Of course, the bigger reservoir comes at a higher cost.
Another important consideration you need to make is what kind of suspension you want: non-rebuild able or rebuildable kits.
Non-rebuild able kits are ones that are set to a specific lift and cannot ever be adjusted without buying a new kit. Rebuildable kits can be readjusted to different trims so you do not have to settle right away if you are unsure.
However, these kits usually cost $1,000 to $2,000 more than non-rebuild able kits so if you are really sure about what you want you may opt for the non-rebuild able kits.
Make and Model Factors
Every year and model of 4Runner is unique and requires excellent knowledge about the particulars that year’s designs. Because of that, there is a wide variety in what suspension kits are available for your particular 4runner depending on the generation.
Before deciding what kind of kit you want, you need to really research the ins and outs of the generation of 4runner you own.
If you are lucky enough to find a first-generation 4runner from 1984-1989, then you will not have as many options as you would later generations.
Despite having a slower engine, these ultra-reliable rock crawlers are difficult to find a variety of kits for which surely would drive the price up since these kits, if you can find them, start around 1,500 dollars.
For those that own a second-generation 4runner from the years 1989-1995, you are in a similar situation as those that own a first-generation 4runner.
The support for these vehicles simply is not as common as it used to be and it is better to go to a specialty Toyota shop versus the run of the mill Jeep or SUV dealer.
These folks will more than likely know what they are doing more so than the others but will still cost about the same as the first generation lift kits.
The third generation 4runner owners for vehicles made from 1996-2002 have a much better outlook than those who own the older models.
Though there is nothing wrong with the older models, these simply have a lot more support and was truly the beginning of the wide range of kits available you will find on the market today.
These kits are slightly cheaper running in the $500 to 1,500 dollar range, but there are a lot more places to get them and replace them if you ever have any damage.
The fourth-generation 4runner is fairly similar to the third generation models, but the main difference is that this vehicle was primarily made for off-road driving.
Because of that, the models made during this time might come stock with some of the kits you are looking for if you are wanting to purchase a new vehicle. There is also an abundance of people who do work on these 4runners, and the cost is about the same as the third generation.
The newest 4runners are those of the fifth generation from 2007 to the present. These are the newest and most advanced models. Often times, they come straight from the factory with advanced suspensions like KDSS that has the large oil reservoir necessary to balance even the bumpiest rides.
If you are shopping for a new 4runner, you may want to buy one of these vehicles as is but if you decide not to there are literally dozens of kits available from as little as several hundred up to over 5,000 dollars depending on what you want.
Effect of Lift Kit on Gas Mileage
Depending on the height of the lift that you need, this can have a dramatic impact on the amount of fuel you use. Higher lifts mean that your vehicle now creates more drag. More drag equals more power to move the same speed as before.
The amount that your average miles per gallon decrease is solely dependent on how high you lift your 4runner. Higher lifts mean more fuel is consumed which means less money in your pocket for the long run. Some of the higher lifts can even decrease your MPG by up to two miles less!
Two miles per gallon might not seem like a lot right now, but if you add that up over the lifetime of a vehicle, especially if you live in a part of the country where fuel is more expensive, that can really add up. But if you do not intend to drive your 4runner that much, especially if you do not drive it every day, then it should not be too much of a concern.
Effect of Lift Kit on Insurance Rates
An important factor you need to consider before shelling out thousands of dollars for that top of the line suspension kit is your insurance rates. Most insurance plans will not cover damage to a lift kit without an additional endorsement on your policy.
That means if your insurance company does not specifically have your kit added to the policy any costs to repair or replace your kit falls on you, the owner.
You can work around having to pay extra money in the event you would ever need to replace your kit if ever in the event an accident happened that you could negotiate with the adjuster and repair shop to have the damage covered.
Some insurance companies may do this but some may not. The only way to know for sure is to let your insurance provider know as soon as you buy a really expensive kit you would hate to replace out of pocket if anything ever happened to it.
More 4Runner Resources
If you enjoyed reading about the Toyota 4Runner, you will surely appreciate my other related articles. These articles delve deeper into specific aspects of the 4Runner such as its off-road capabilities, interior design and technology features.
Additionally, I have compared the 4Runner to other popular SUVs in its class to help you make an informed decision about your next vehicle purchase. Give them a read; I am sure you will find them as interesting and informative as the first article.
Buying a lift kit for your 4runner requires a lot of homework and consulting with those who are specialists in the business. After you answer whether you need a suspension kit or a simple leveling kit, the next big question would be what kind of model vehicle you own.
The older generation 4runners are going to have more limited, expensive options compared to the newer ones. If you really like the nostalgia of these early models, no one can blame you but you do need to be realistic it is not going to be cheap.
If you are looking for lift kits more on a budget, seek out either newer or used third, fourth, and fifth-generation 4runners. These will usually have a lot more options to choose from and the prices are much more affordable.
Additionally, some newer models come stock with some of the top of the line lift kits that your local Toyota dealer would be able to give you more knowledge about.
Lastly, you need to consider that the higher and more expensive lifts are going to burn more gas and hike up your insurance rates.
Though seemingly small to some, this could make a big impact depending on how long and how hard you want to ride your 4runner.