skip to content
Driving Line Mark Logo

Daily Driver Meets Weekend Warrior: Inside a Trail-Ready 5th Gen 4Runner

One of the biggest reasons we tend to love our vehicles are the relationships they can lead us to and the friendships they can create. This can be said about all corners of the enthusiast world, but the off-roading scene is especially community driven. Yes, hitting the trail alone can be fun, but it’s so much better doing it with friends new and old.

5th Gen 4Runner on Nitto Ridge Grappler tires

When Jonathan Hong walked into a Southern California Toyota dealer in 2019 and came hone with a brand new 4Runner, he had no idea the kind of friends he’d make or the journey he was embarking on.

Toyota 4Runner Stickers

Coming from the sport compact side of the hobby and previously driving an Acura RSX Type S, the 4Runner was an entirely new experience for Jonathan — it is his first 4x4 and first vehicle with an automatic transmission.

Blazing New Trails

Finding that he was spending a lot more time outdoors, Jonathan wanted a practical and reliable rig that could get him off the beaten path. And less than a week after purchasing it he was already venturing in the mountains of SoCal amidst a wet, winter storm.

5th Gen 4Runner on Nitto Ridge Grappler rear 3/4 photo

Though plenty capable out of the box, like many 4Runner owners, he fitted the familiar and easy modifications. Things like new wheels, tires and a lift —  and that was it. Or so he thought.

Fifth Gen 4Runner Overland Storage and tire carrier

Jonathan began to spend more of his weekends off-roading with friends and meeting members of the 4x4 community. And after taking both advice and inspiration from fellow enthusiasts, he continued on with the upgrades.

Today, more than four years after leaving the showroom, the 4Runner has evolved into the highly capable and versatile weekend warrior you see here.

5th Gen 4Runner on Nitto Ridge Grappler

Do-it-All 'Runner

Even in stock form the fifth-gen 4Runner is a great off-road platform, but Jonathan has taken things further with suspension upgrades that include King Off-Road shocks and adjusters, and the truck now sits about 2.5-inches higher than stock.

Fifth Gen 4Runner with King Shocks

On the other hand modern V6-powered 4Runner isn't known for being a powerhouse even in stock trim, so a Nitro 4.88 regear for the front and rear differentials allow Jonathan's rig to better handle its larger tires and extra weight.

5th Gen 4Runner Undercarriage

And those larger tires are Nitto Ridge Grappler hybrid terrains, another choice that was made easy for Jonathan after seeing their capability on friends' rigs during desert and mountain adventures.

Nitto Ridge Grappler on Toyota 4Runner

The 305/70/R17 Ridge Grapplers have an overall diameter just under 34 inches, and they are mounted on a set of 17"x9" Stealth Custom Series Ray10 wheels.

Nitto Ridge Grappler on Toyota 4Runner

Besides their obvious benefits on the trail, the wheels and tires give Jonathan's 4Runner a properly rugged look, especially when combined with his Outgear Solutions Low Key front bumper and roof rack, and his Nguyen Works swing-out spare tire rear bumper.

Modified 5th Gen 4Runner Rear View

The Journey Continues

Finally, there are the interior and exterior storage upgrades—which include Rago Fabrication storage panels, Overlander Woodworks drawers and other small touches that have helped turn the Toyota into Jonathan's "home away from home" while he's on the trail with friends.

Toyota 4Runner Drawer System

Though the list of modifications and added equipment is substantial, the 4Runner is still Jonathan’s daily driver and a vehicle that easily handles the weekday freeway commute while it waits to hit the mountains.

Toyota 4Runner Shelf Rack

Though he generally sees his rig as being complete right now, Jonathan admits he always finds something new to add after his latest adventure.

5th Gen 4Runner on Nitto Ridge Grappler

Just as his 4Runner has been improved over the years, Jonathan has met new people, made new friends and grown to be an active member in the local off-road community. And when it comes down it, it’s hard to ask for anything more from the enthusiast experience.

Return to beginning of article

Recommended For You

Loading ...