The 2016 Toyota 4Runner you see here was a three-year project. It’s a Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition with a 4.0 V6 engine and stock 4×4 transmission and differentials, but the majority of the remainder has been upgraded to various degrees. To call it a “tactical truck” or “survivor truck” would be unnecessarily theatrical, though it could certainly function that way. Though many of its modifications (like the Warn Winch and Rotopax) and offroad design would be acceptable bug out truck accessories, it was built mostly with truck camping, family-hauling, long road trips, and work-related large scale outings to ranges and training facilities.
To that end, some modifications might not be the same as those someone might choose for a dedicated rock-crawler. This rig has driven across the United States (and back) three times now, providing transportation as reliably in downtown Los Angeles as it did in Ouray, Colorado. The most fun we’ve had with it, however, is without a doubt in Moab, Utah. Unless you count the trip across Nevada in a blizzard pulling a 17 ft. Jayco trailer, of course — you know, the time I forgot to put non-freezing washer fluid in the window wash, and all the squeegees at the gas stations were frozen solid in a block of ice. That was a little exciting.
On to this range truck build.
2016 Toyota 4Runner
Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition
Speccing out the rig.
Thomas Carlson, The Basecamp Creative Group.
The truck’s suspension includes an Icon Vehicle Dynamics Stage 4 Coilover upper arms up front, Icon Stage 4 with reservoirs, and a heavy-duty 3 in. Overland coil in the rear. The steering has been upgraded with heavy-duty tie rods.
One of the advantages of this system (not the only one) is Icon’s Delta Joint, which provides a practicable combination of high-angle ball joint and traditional uniball (you can read the manufacturer’s explanation in more detail here).
+ RAM Mounts to Secure
Comms and redundant navigation (to the old school paper map and lensatic compass of course) come via a Kenwood TM-D710GA dual-band radio/GPS in a RAM mount. The GPS unit provides an APRS capability (Automatic Packet Reporting System) with waypoints, target points, a GPS logger, and automatic time correction.
This gives the driver lat/long position (with a grid square option), altitude, speed and direction, and the ability to share the information. You can also access weather information, broadcast beacon transmissions, and messaging between APRS-operating stations.
An Energizer AGM battery provides power.
• Warn Industries Zeon 10 winch with Factor 55 Hawse Fairlead.
Up in the front, the truck is equipped with a Warn Winch “Zeon 10”. It’s a 12-volt electric winch for vehicle recovery or other uses with a pull capacity of five tons on a 3/8 in. line that can be operated directly or remotely.
Factor 55 Flatlink
• Warn Winch is equipped with a Factor 55 Flatlink E winch shackle mount for closed winching.
You can stow it up against the Hawse Fairleads (see below) or up against the roller. As FActor 55 describes it, the Flatlink E “…provides a means to eliminate the conventional winch hook and replace it with a safer and more secure screw pin shackle resulting in a closed system winching operation. The large pear-shaped shackle mounting hole allows for attachment to either the pin or bow end of common screw pin shackles, as well as common OEM recovery points.”
“Conventional winch hooks can cut and fray recovery straps and often allow strap ends to escape during momentary slack cycles of a typical winching recovery. Screw pin shackles do not allow strap loops to escape due to their secure screw pin attachment. The FlatLink E does not require splicing and is compatible with steel cables or synthetic ropes up to 3/8 inches in diameter. The cable eye is retained in the FlatLink E by a 5/8 inch diameter 6Al4V Titanium double shear pin and internal snap ring.”
• Hawse Fairleads (also from Factor 55) are an integral part of the system.
The aluminum Hawse Fairlead is CNC machined much thicker than many other fairleads, using USA 6000 series aluminum bar. This provides a larger surface area for the rope to slide against, resulting in less stress on the rope and probably extending the life of the rope itself (depending on the rope and its use of course).
CBI Offroad bumpers, front and back
The front and rear bumper install was the most difficult part of the build-up, as there was a substantial amount of cutting of the stock bumpers to make them align properly with the body panels. Once complete, however, it was well worth the effort.
• Protecting the front is a CBI Bumpers 4Runner Classic Series front bumper. This secures the Warn Winch discussed above and provides a foundation for part of the light system (q.v.).
• Securing the rear (and mounting additional equipment) is a CBI Offroad Toyota 4Runner Swing Arm Series rear bumper.
Toyota 4Runner Trail, Topside
Front Runner Roof Rack
Up top, the rig has a Frontrunner Slimline 2 to stow additional gear, serve as a topside sleeping platform, and provide a solid base for rooftop surfing to the Uncompahgre Gorge.
Rotopax on Standby
Extra fuel for contingencies is available thanks to a mounted Rotopax gas can.
Toyota 4Runner Trail, Down Below
Rock slider options are frequently debated in off-road circles, but not as much as wheels and tires. The following were the choices made for this rig.
• Icon Alloy Alpha wheels
For rolling hard and rolling dirty. These Icon alloy wheels were designed to exploit a vehicle’s suspension, steering, and clearance features to maximum effect in offroad conditions. This rig is running on Icon Alloy Alphas in 17 in. satin black.
Kenda Klever RT
• Kenda Klever R/T tires, size 285/70/R17.
Klever tires from Kenda have a 3-ply sidewall with aggressive upper sidewall tread blocks. They’re good on the road and in the rough, and they’re not too damn loud. If we built a rig like this again, however, we’d probably drop back to a smaller tire size. The 285s are a bit much for it to pull and definitely slow it down.
• Shrockworks steel sliders
Shrockworks provides the rock sliders for this rig because they look really good without sacrificing durability. They’re stupid strong, make great jack lift points and will take extended beatings.
Lights, Guns, Looking Good
• Lightforce Nightfall 40 in. single row light bar
Good lighting is a must if you’re going to do any serious traveling away from good roads and urban areas. This rig’s first lighting addition was a 40 in. nightfall light bar (with dual wattage).
• Nightfall twin spot beams
The Nightfall ROK 40 Twin Pack – Spot Beam are a multi-purpose light option added for redundancy (and for use in those contingencies we might have failed to account for).
• IR Striker LED
The IR striker LEDs mounted up front make it so you can drive at night if you have the use of nightvision. It also provides endless entertainment when used to sneak up on your buddies at the campsite by night.
• Pelican Rifle Case
The exact model of Pelican case sometimes changes, but until a permanent weapon storage mechanism is installed, storage security is provided by Pelican cabled locked to the seats or frame.
3M Vinyl Wrap
• 3M topographic map by Beyond Wraps of Santa Ana, California.