5th Gen 4Runner Performance Mods
5th Gen Toyota 4Runner Performance Mods
How to Increase Performance on your 4Runner. Everything you can do to hike up those HP Gains!
If you are looking to hike up those HP gains, there are only a few options for our 5th Gen 4Runner. This should serve as the go-to list of 4Runner performance mods. A few things come to mind when you think 4Runner performance and the biggest one is the Magnuson Supercharger.
If your budget isn’t quite at Magnuson level yet, don’t worry because there are a few affordable options out there. These other performance mods will give your 4Runner better horsepower, improve gas mileage, and give your 4Runner a meaner, deeper growl.
With a 5th Gen 4Runner Supercharger, you are sure to see some serious performance out of your 4Runner. This will give you the biggest gain in horsepower possible for your 4Runner. With a supercharger, you are looking at a 30% increase in performance. While some of the other performance mods may only yield 1-10% and maybe even a little less than 10%.
Recent 4Runner Performance Question:
Hi Brenan, I hope you are well and happy new year. Question for you based on your huge amount of experience. I have a 2018 4Runner TRD Off Road and have put 285 Toyo’s on it and a Bilstein 5100 kit on it. It is lifted 2.5″ in the front and 1.5″ in the rear. I came from Range Rovers with V8s. I feel like the 4Runner is super under-powered and slow, but maybe that is because of the big tires and whatnot. I live in Denver so going up to the mountains a lot, the truck seems to work really hard up the hills. I am hitting 3500rpm to a few minutes at a time getting up hills. Also, the truck is recording just about 15mpg.
Do you think this sounds right from a power standpoint? Other than supercharging, which is out of my budget, is there anything to do to get more power? I’m guessing TRD Intake and Exhaust would be your first choice? Thanks!
Our Quick Response: In short, yeah Intake and Exhaust for sure. Also, depending on Colorado laws, adding Headers would make a HUGE difference. Not legal in California but we are installing ours next month. But, you have to remove them for smog. This is a big pain in the ass. So, you have to make sure your laws allow headers or you will have to remove them every two years in order to pass smog.
Start running 91 fuel in your 4Runner on a regular basis. You will notice a difference after a few tanks. I will often run 91 after seeing the difference.
Also, the 4Runner Throttle Controller is BAD ASS! We just installed this on our 4Runner and WOW. Seriously, I was super impressed at what the Pedal Commander was able to do to our 4Runner. You do not see any actual HP gains, but the features it has that allow you to adjust your throttle response is amazing. You really feel like you are driving another well-tuned vehicle.
What to Cover with 4Runner Performance Mods?
Problems with Performance
- Bigger Tires means Less Horsepower?
- Overloading your 4Runner with weight?
- Magnuson Supercharger
- Cold Air Intake (CAI)
- Catback Exhaust
- Doug Thorley Headers
- Mid Pipes – Coming Soon
- Running 91 Octane Fuel
- MAF (Mass Airflow Sensor)
- Pedal Commander Throttle Controller
Bigger Tires means Less Horsepower?
Most might think that you have less horsepower when you throw on bigger tires. Try not to confuse larger tires with less horsepower. When you add larger tires on your 4Runner, you are not losing horsepower, you are adding extra rotating weight and a larger diameter tire. This causes your 4Runner to work harder for the same tire rotation as a stock 31″ tire.
The problem you are seeing is gearing (Increase in added weight and a larger rotation), not an actual loss of power. To set your 4Runner back to “normal” with bigger tires, you need to regear. Regearing can be costly and time-consuming, this will likely be something you would take to a shop. Once you regear your 4Runner, things should feel like they are back to normal with power.
Overloading your 4Runner with weight?
Overloading you 4Runner with weight will have an effect on your performance. If a 98 civic body was mounted on top of our frame, we would be kicking ass. The point is, don’t overload your 4Runner with a bunch of useless shit unless you need to.
If you are going on a camping trip and overloaded to the gills with equipment, things are going to move a bit slower. But again, this has no effect on actual horsepower, your 4Runner is just working harder to move all this extra weight.
The Magnuson Supercharger is hands-down, the best 4Runner performance mod. Boasting 30% of horsepower gains and a 27% torque increase, this is literally 10 times better than any gains you will see from a Catback Exhaust, a Cold Air Intake, Headers or a Chip. Headers for your 4Runner might come close coming in at about 20hp but you will never experience the 4Runner’s true potential without the Magnuson Supercharger.
The cold air intake is a key element in performance on your 4Runner. We have covered this topic a few times throughout the blog. TRD Performance Cold Air Intake Systems or any cold air intake for that matter, give your engine free-flowing, cold, oxygen-rich air for optimal performance.
Independent testing has shown that TRD air intake systems combined with TRD 4Runner Exhaust Systems and TRD 4Runner Air Filters give your vehicle more horsepower, torque, acceleration, and pulling power. Do your self a favor and start with a cold intake for your first 4Runner performance mod.
This was actually the first mod, that we threw on our 4Runner. This actually might have been the first step by step install on the website, the MagnaFlow 4Runner Exhaust. You can also grab a Borla Exhaust, which is also a great option for a 5th Gen 4Runner Catback exhaust. We did an article recently that compared the MagnaFlow, Borla and Gibson Exhaust. That would be a good place to start if you are looking for differences on these exhaust systems.
Catback exhaust systems work by increasing the airflow capacity of your 4Runner in order to produce more power. High-flow Catback exhaust systems increase power across the RPM range. Catback exhaust systems are more known for increasing the power in your lower RPM range. Catback exhaust systems deliver a boost to our 4Runner in both torque and horsepower.
We still have not installed our headers, but we do have them sitting in the office. These are well-known for the best 4Runner Headers out there. If you are unsure about what headers are, go check out that post by clicking one of these links. in short, headers make it easier for our 4Runner to push out exhaust gases from the cylinders in our engine. Headers work by eliminating the manifolds back-pressure. Instead of sharing a common manifold, each cylinder gets its own exhaust pipe.
Running 91 Octane Fuel
This one is a toss-up and all personal preference. If you go from running 87 to running 91 octane, you may or may not feel a difference. I started running 91 octane in the 4Runner for about a month and I felt like saw a difference for sure, but at what level?
If you stack up a 4Runner running 87 to a 4Runner running 91 on a dyno, you would likely see a couple of points in difference. The real question is whether or not, you will you feel it at the wheel. Try it out for yourself and see what you think.
MAF (Mass Airflow Sensor) – Cleaning & Spacer
Depending on how old your 4Runner is, you can always clean your MAF (Mass Airflow Sensor). By cleaning your MAF sensor, you are likely to see HP gains. Some people even say cleaning off the factory sensor will increase HP (I don’t know about that one, but who knows).
The next option with the MAF is a MAF Spacer. A MAF Spacer sets a different MAF sensor placement so that it tricks your 4Runner into running different fuel ratios. In certain areas of your throttle curve, the 4Runner will create a different fuel to air ratio, thus creating more horsepower.
There are people out there that swear by this and people out there who would laugh at you if you install one. The choice is up to you. We will eventually throw a MAF spacer on our 4Runner just to see what everyone is talking about and if it is really worth it or not. With the MAF spacer, you are expected to see better gas mileage and increased horsepower. For what it’s worth, why not just install one. It’s cheap, easy and can’t hurt anything. If anything, the Toyota 4Runner ECU is incredibly smart and would just reset itself back to original settings. It would basically adapt.
This is a new one for the blog. We just wrote a post on this the other day. This thing blew my mind. We saw this gadget about 6 months ago and breezed past it. I was thinking “how cool can this throttle response controller really be”?
Then, we had a guy email us on the website in all CAPS up in joy, bragging about how epic this product was. After reading the first two sentences of his email, I knew we had to have one. I bought it on the spot. I was so excited, I bought the PC38 and not the PC27, which is the correct model for our 5th Gen 4Runner. The PC38 is for the 4th Gen 4Runner. After we got the new PC27 Throttle Response Controller in the office, we installed it.
The throttle response controller gives you the ability to adjust your throttle response on the fly. If you want to increase your MPGs, drop it down to Eco mode by holding the yellow star. If you want to drive at somewhat of a stock level (with a little kick in umph’), kick it up to City-Mode.
If you are feeling froggish, then leap to Sport-Mode (this is seriously fun). It really is like driving a Range Rover Sport (not supercharged).
If you are in the mood to serious romp down the road, up a hill or smash on the freeway, bump it up to Sport+ Mode. At this point, you will feel like you are driving a Supercharged Range Rover Sport, V8. Driving on the freeway with the PC in Sport+ is awesome. You can mob through traffic and switch lanes like a true boss. Sometimes, I really feel like it’s Supercharged. And yes, we did test-drive the Magnuson Supercharger when we were in Ventura. It’s obviously nothing like a Supercharger but god damn, is this thing cool!
I am still in shock at what this $300 gadget can do to make driving the 4Runner so much fun.
What did we miss?
If we missed anything or if anyone out there has anything to add, please leave your comments below. What did you see out of your intake, exhaust, headers, or running bigger tires.. Let us know, comment below!