Why purchase a Toyota 4Runner? I live in Colorado! That’s why! I have only ever owned 4Runners, only selling them to upgrade to a much nicer model; Off-roading in Colorado is a popular activity; The weather can turn from sunny and 70 degrees to snowing and 30 in the amount of time you need to make a sandwich; And with all the fun outdoor activities, I need to be able to haul all my toys to the mountains! Needless to say, a 4Runner purchase was necessary for living in this beautiful state.
I fell in love with the Gen 5 4Runner at the 2014 Denver Autoshow (where coincidentally I met my wife, Megan, and first thought of my proposal plan to her). The Inferno Red of the TRD Pro caught my eye and my heart was set. This thing was badass! Everything from the rims of the tires, the leather seats, the upgraded front bumper, and the off-road capabilities pushed it above the rest.
Limited edition color for each year’s TRD Pro.
2015 TRD Pro: Inferno Red (orange)
2016 TRD Pro: Quicksand
2017 TRD Pro: Cement
2018 TRD Pro: Cavalry Blue
I began my search in the spring of 2016 (March) on Craigslist and checked out an inferno TRD Pro that was listed for $43,000 and 10,000 miles. Talked the seller down to $41,000 but still couldn’t pull the trigger as I was worried about the KBB price range. These vehicles hold their value much higher than KBB estimates, so don’t listen to that bologna. As I write this article, I’m still finding online that 2015 TRD Pro’s are going for $40,000+ with many more miles. Should I have pulled the trigger on the Inferno? Maybe, but at the time I was not knowledgeable enough about the vehicle I was looking to purchase to know that 41 was a great deal.
That being said, over the next year and a half I continued my search. I test drove vehicles at dealerships, from private party Craigslist sellers, and checked out friends rigs. Dealers prices are as expected higher, but they are also able to make the transactions smooth. I was determined to find something Private Party and pretty soon had a good method to check my search radius pretty quick. I started by searching “TRD Pro” under “cars+truck” on Craigslist for Denver. Quickly scanned the current listings before jumping to the next location drop down to move around the search radius.
Denver⇒Western Slope⇒Salt Lake City⇒Elko⇒Reno⇒Fresno⇒Los Angeles⇒San Diego⇒Yuma⇒Phoenix⇒Show Low⇒Albuquerque⇒Clovis Portales⇒Lubbock⇒Abilene⇒Dallas⇒Austin⇒Houston⇒Shreveport⇒Little Rock⇒Southeast MO⇒St Louis⇒Indianapolis⇒Chicago⇒Iowa City⇒Des Moines⇒ Lincoln⇒North Platte⇒ Wyoming
Eventually, I found one! Chicago! … well really Valparaiso Indiana. But advertised on the Chicago Craigslist page! So I got in contact with the guy, called him to verify I was real and very interested, and bought a one way ticket on Southwest Airlines ($120) to Chicago to go buy this beautiful Barcelona Red “Trail Off-Road Premium” and drive her back to Colorado!
WAIT! I thought I was buying a TRD Pro?! Why the change?!
Ok, the TRD Pro looks badass, but is all cosmetic upgrades and can be added with after market parts. The TORP has the same capabilities with locking differentials, missing the bilstein suspension, but has a sunroof. Essentially, I traded sunroof for suspension with the knowledge that I can always upgrade the vehicle to become a TRD Pro. Unless I roll the TRD Pro while 4-wheeling there is no way I can get a sunroof. Good trade off? Yep, I’m happy!
So I purchased a Trail OFf-Road Premium that has already had a bit of work done toward the TRD Pro status. It came with the TRD rims w/ upgraded General Grabber tires. The emblems had already been plasti-dipped. The tint was darker. WeatherTech TRD Pro floor mats. All for under $40,000 and with only 5,000 miles! I put another 1,000 miles on it to return to Colorado, but well worth it! Now I am in full build mode and making the purchases to build her up to the off-road machine I want her to be.
First modification I made was during my vehicle registration. I attended Colorado State University for my engineering degree and wanted to get personal plates. I went to Colorado DMV website to find out more information. I then found the Personalized Plates Application and filled it out for my very own personalized license plates. Fairly simple process that required a donation to CSU, but still required a bit of wait time from the DMV to receive the plates.
I have a good friend that decided to get married on a jeep trail in Moab, UT. I wanted to be able to take my 4Runner out on the trail and not worry about damaging her. I started by ordering Rock Sliders. Tube steps are ok, but hang lower off the frame and decrease clearance. C4 Fabrication seemed to do the trick. I noticed that after my order request that the time frame for fabrication would have the rock sliders coming in the week AFTER the wedding! I immediately contacted C4 and they were able to help expedite my order. I picked up the sliders the morning I left for Moab, installed them in 2 hours, and hit the road… Couldn’t have cut it much closer. One note, C4 Fabrication doesn’t powder coat their products and ships the raw steel Sliders. You need to get powder coating afterwards. I went to Pristine Powder Coating in Sheridan, CO and Lee did a fantastic job giving it a Satin textured black powder coat. These Rock Sliders look amazing with the red and black theme of this 4Runner!
ROCK SLIDER IMAGES TO COME
As I was looking on Craigslist for quite some time, I became aware of the awesome, sleek look of the Gobi Roof Racks w/ ladder. I went ahead and ordered the Gobi Rack at the same time I ordered the C4 Rock Sliders knowing that the Racks have a 12 week lead time and I wouldn’t be able to use it in Moab… boo. Oh well! Gobi has several styles of Roof Rack available on their website and I chose a lower profile one that allowed an LED Lightbar setup on the front.
I plan to use a ReadyLift Lift Kit with 3″ lift in front and 2″ lift in back. Daystar makes a good 2.5″/1.5″ kit as well, but in discussion with installers I was able to find out that Daystar uses a urethane spacer that wears out and erodes, whereas ReadyLift uses a metal spacer that will last much longer.
As I began to research “how to wire LED Lightbars” it occurred to me that
Grill LED Lightbar / Hidden Bracket
Grill LED Lightbar purchased from Amazon
Rago Fabrication Hidden Bumper Bracket
Check out Rago Fabrication for some great offroading gear for 4runners! If you are not in a time crunch, keep an eye on the Rago Garage Sales to see about scoring awesome stuff at discounted prices. I was able to snag the universal hidden bumper bracket through the online sale.
Grill Amber LEDs
Roof Rack LED Lightbar
Lightbar purchased from Amazon
Rock Lights purchased from Amazon
Rago Fabrication Modular Storage System
Seat Gap Fillers
I was so tired of putting my phone on my lap and going around a curve to have it shoot across and down beneath the seat. These seat gap fillers look similar to the leather of the premium and are super functional with phone pockets so you can actually use your cup holders.
OCD Console Tray
I think this speaks for itself. I have OCD about stuff being everywhere. The 4Runner has a large center console, but ridiculously doesn’t have anywhere to put your things. I had a pile of sunglasses and random objects in there with no organization. Purchasing the Tray allowed me to get organized easily.
Bumper License Plate Mount
Some states don’t require a front license plate. In Colorado, we do… So I snagged this one from amazon.