The 5th generation 4Runner is a handsome vehicle already, perhaps one of the finest looking iterations of Toyotas most popular SUV. Of course a lift and some beefier tires not only add to its appearance but also aids in off road performance. With those modifications already done and covered in other posts on this blog, in this post I will cover two other off road and trail ready preparations that can be made to any vehicle but of course we are focusing our attention on our 2016 4Runner Trail Edition.
Let’s face it, in this day and age, most SUVs have gone soft. Off-road driving? For most of the posers, it’s out of the question. Not the 2015 Toyota TRD Pro 4Runner! It’s a body-on-frame SUV that can tackle the great outdoors, and with these TRD parts, it’s engineered and equipped for even greater off-road capability. (Trdusa.com)
Our 2016 TRDpro 4Runner is equipped with several self traction controls and 4wd editions like all TRDpro 4Runners are, including a locker. It also comes factory with front TRD skid plate that helps keep your 4Runner protected against damage from various types of road debris. It is crafted of 1/4-in.-thick silver powder-coated aluminum, and tested to ensure that it helps provide protection while preventing vibration stress and noise issues. Including a TRD shift nob, badging, and TRD PRO Bilstein Shocks with TRD-tuned Front Springs. The roads to the best destinations have the roughest terrain. These TRD Bilstein shocks take the edge off some of the intense abuse of hard landings. You’ll get additional wheel travel and a softer ride, with no compromise to on-road stability.
Everyone likes to think they are unstoppable, but the reality is that everyone is stoppable, and self extraction from tricky and sticky situations now made even more tricky and more sticky because you’ve upped the off road prowess of a vehicle that is not matched or exceeded by many. Unless you are traveling with a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, or another vehicle with lockers fore and aft, you will most likely be responsible for getting yourself out, which is why winches are an invaluable piece of kit. If you are like me and do a lot solo off roading and exploration, winches are simple ‘must have’. These days winch brands are as varied as their prices. There are the well known brands like the ones carrying the big red W on them, which are great and are among those on the top tier of winches. Through research we have come to find some of our top choices which are noted in another portion of the site.
As mentioned earlier, the 5th gen. 4Runner is handsome and to be honest, I didn’t like the thought of totally rearranging the appearance of such a great looking front end. Usually adding an aftermarket winch bumper/bull bar enhances to look of a vehicle, at least in my opinion. One complain that I have about the front end of the ’14-’16 5th gen 4Runner is that the great looking front facia is 80% bumper. It has bid plastic cheeks, that Toyota designers masked by adding fog lamps and contoured faux air intakes, easy to do with plastics but not so easy with metals. Those cheeks aren’t there just because, just behind them are important components that can’t be relocated just anywhere. As a result, aftermarket bumper designers and manufacturers have had a lot to try to work around and little to work with. This has led to some rather homely looking results from manufacturers who normally produce fantastic looking pieces. Although there are some decent looking examples of 5th gen aftermarket bumpers, they are generally huge and heavy. There are some aluminum options that save a bunch of weight but aluminum has a much higher fatigue rate than steel and it’s lifetime duty clock ticks a lot faster. Lastly, the cost of these bumpers has gone skyward, likely financing the cost of R&D. My first ARB bumper cost, $595 on a Christmas special and my most expensive one was under $900. I just didn’t like the idea of a $1500-$2000 expense for a big hulking chuck of metal that added gobs of weight and might be something that actually made the front end a little less attractive.
Another option was to just put in a hidden winch mount that sits behind the factory bumper keeping that great looking front end just as it is with no change in appearance other than a small cutout for the winch fairlead. A benefit from a full on winch bumper/ bull bar that hidden winch mount does not offer is crash/animal encounter/trail obstacle front end protection.
I have a great deal of trouble trying to decide on what to do until I discovered FARGO4x4 and the Southern Style Off Road Slimline Hybrid Winch Bumper. Their bumper design flows with the original factory lines of the 4Runner, nearly looking like a factory option rather than aftermarket. They also had an optional hoop for some extra front end protection. While it does not offer full frontal protection, I have no doubt about it’s ability to protect the vital bits of the 4runner in the event of an accident be it another vehicle, an animal or a trail obstacle and at half or in some cases 2/3rds the cost of other options.
Installation was not what I would call difficult but it was not a one man job either. SSS include pretty detailed instructions. Although I am very glad I have another Toyota guy there to help me. They also provide a template because you will be cutting your precious front end plastic.
**This will not be an installation guide. I’m only adding some hints.
For our YouTube video of the installation, click here
For a reasonably skilled person with some basic tools this job is within the realm of your ability, just pay attention to what you are doing. If you’ve never tackled anything like this before, there are some things that may seem a little unclear in the instructions. It could be because depending on model that the procedure may very slightly from model to model, so be alert and pay attention. There was a 10mm bolt holding the center of the grill on that the instructions did not mention and we didn’t notice it until we tried to wiggle to grill apart. Again, paying attention here will ensure that you don’t snap your plastic fasteners or other bits.
I like to keep as many things in place as those clever Toyota engineers put there, they were there for a reason.
Thankfully SSS had the foresight to add little tabs where you can hang the bumper off the factory frame horns while you bolt it in place. With a winch in the bumper it would be a bit of a bear to wrestle in place and bolt up without them. This enables you to make sure things line up to satisfaction before bolting anything up, which we did before bolting the winch and light bar into place.
Once done bolting in the winch and light bar, we set the bumper in place and bolted it up. I was very happy how it turned out.
Lastly we added a winch, 2 shackles and isolators, which just seemed to tie the whole front end together. The bumper fit perfectly with the TRDpro front bumper and skid plate, and we have slim to no issue with the installation. The rubber trim was huge as it pulled everything together making it clean and almost back to a factory style look. Safe to say we are not scared one bit using this bumper for what it is built to do.
Review in part by Nomadders.com