Category Archives: Outdoor Vehicles and Accessories

Which New Toyota 4Runner Trim?

Our 2018 Toyota 4Runner TRD Offroad with KDSS and CVT Tent., on the drive home from the dealer, just North of Riggins, ID.

My wife’s Audi Q5, as perfectly reliable as it has been, was approaching 100k miles.  In addition, she was wanting something more rugged — something we could take out to the abundant forests nearby and explore and camp.  Since we already had the Werkz Ram 1500, we didn’t want another pickup.  We wanted something in the highly capable SUV realm.

We initially were looking at the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, 2012 and up.  The off road capabilities are great, especially with the Rubicon package.  However, we could never put together quite the deal we were looking for.  And to be honest, I don’t think either of us enjoyed the jeep that much.  Sure, taking the top off was fun, but it’s also a pain — how often would we really remove the top?

Getting discouraged, I asked my wife to drive a used FJ Cruiser at a local Toyota dealership.  She thought it was fine, but she prefers carpeting and nicer interiors.  The FJ Cruiser is a cool rig, but she couldn’t see driving it every day.  We also saw and drove a 2017 4Runner TRD Pro.  She liked the rig.  A lot.  If it had been in black or white or an exclusive 2017 color (it was Barcelona Red), we might have bought it.  It did lack two things we wanted — moonroof for her, and I wanted KDSS.  Those two options aren’t available for the TRD Pro.

The moonroof is self-exlpanatory, but KDSS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System) requires a little more explanation.  It allows a bigger sway bar in front for on-road handing, then acts as a disconnect for off-road performance.  Here is a video that explains it more:

Though I like the Pro front end a little better, the main thing that had us considering the Pro was the insane resale.   From the ads I saw online, someone could buy a new Pro at sticker, drive it for 2 years and 40k miles, and sell it for darn near sticker again.  However, since we didn’t plan on selling for many many years, we decided it was important to get exactly what we wanted.

We also considered a used Trail or used GX460.  For those who don’t know, the GX460 is much like the overseas Toyota Prado, and includes a “love it or hate it” side swing rear door and v8 power in the same exact chassis as the 4Runner.  And the earlier Trail is like the current TRD Off Road package.  The problem was that we only found 1 used earlier trail with low miles and in great shape — and the interior isn’t as nice as the newer ones.  We also loved the way the GX460 drove with the v8 and 6-speed automatic, but the styling was “meh” (for the early ones) to “ugh” (for the predator faced ones) and the GX460 has the Torsen center diff and no locking rear differential, limiting the off-road capabilities slightly.

As a result, we ended up buying this black 2018 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road Premium with KDSS and moonroof.  We also ended up buying the Cascadia Vehicle Tent (CVT) that is on the roof.  We’ve not had a chance to try the tent, but so far we love the 4Runner.  Future upgrades will likely include BFG KO2 tires, on some genuine TRD wheels.   We will probably upgrade to Bilsteins as well.

4Runner TRD Off Road with the CVT Tent

In summary, our comparison grid looked like this:

4Runner TRD Pro TRD Off Road TRD Off Road Premium Used Trail earlier than 2013 Used GX460
Resale Unbelievable Great Great OK OK
KDSS Not available Available Available Available Standard
Moonroof Not available Available Available Available Standard
Leather or Fake Leather Standard Not available Standard Not available Standard
Locking Rear Diff Standard Standard Standard Standard Not available
Modernized interior Standard Standard Standard Not available Standard
Warranty Yes Yes Yes Not likely Not likely
V8 Power Not available Not available Not available Not available Standard
Exterior Styling Good Good Good Good Meh to Ugh

315/70r17 Tires on a 2014 Ram 1500 with No Lift

2014 Ram 1500 with 315/70r17 at stock ride height

It was time to upgrade the tires on my 2014 Ram 1500.  With 21k miles, the stock tires were looking a little poor, and handled terribly last winter.  Living up a dirt road in Idaho, I wanted to put a more aggressive tire on the truck.

The first question I needed to answer was whether to keep the stock 20″ clad wheels, or go with something different.  After looking at tire prices, I investigated pricing for the 18 and 17 inch wheels on Tire Rack.  I decided that I wanted both the less expensive tire as well as the taller sidewall of a 17″ wheel.

The next question was what wheels I would get to run with the larger tires.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see many 17″ wheels that I liked at Tire Rack.  However, when searching Craigslist, I  found a set of Ram Rebel wheels with the Toyo tires that I liked.  I’m a fan of keeping my vehicles driving like stock — the factory engineers work hard to make for a good driving truck, and I don’t want to screw it up.  While those wheels sold before I was able to buy them, it gave me something to shoot for.

Earlier this month, I found a set of bare Ram Rebel wheel takeoffs.  I bought them for $500.  Finally, I had the wheels I wanted, but now I needed to determine what tires to run.

After looking at postings on Ramforumz.com and other sites, it appeared that the 315/70r17 tires (which are 34.5 inches tall) would fit on the truck.  It wasn’t clear whether a lift was needed for these to fit, many seemed to run the Bilstein front shocks with the front lift they provide.  As a result, I was thinking that the best course would be to run the Bilsteins with the 315/70r17 tires.

I called 4 Wheel Parts in Boise to find what my options would be for the 17″ wheels I had.  I priced the Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac and the BF Goodrich A/T KO2 tires.  Apparently, 4WP had a great bulk buy on 315/70r17 tires from BF Goodrich, so I went with them.  The tires were under $200 each!

After a few issues working with 4 Wheel Parts (separate review to be published later), they found a note that they couldn’t use the Bilstein lift with the stock control arms.  I didn’t have the Zone Control Arm solution installed, so it meant that they would only install at the stock height.  They offered to go with smaller tires, but I opted to stay with the 315s.

2014 Ram 1500 with 315/70r17 at stock ride height – Upper Control Arm Clearance

When picking up the truck, I was a bit worried about rubbing issues.  However, after 500+ miles, including some time on logging trails here in Idaho. I have had minimal rubbing.  The only time I get rubbing is when backing in to where I park.  A left turn while dropping the right front down a hill results in minor rubbing on the inner finder on the driver’s side.  I have noticed lower gas mileage and a bit slower acceleration.  Handling isn’t as sharp, but to be honest the ride is better.  Road manners are just as good as stock; it doesn’t pull in the ruts, and my wife still enjoys driving the truck.  That’s something.

2014 Ram 1500 with 315/70r17 at stock ride height – BF Goodrich A/T KO2 tires

So, what’s the lesson?  If you want 315/70r17 tires on your 4th gen Ram,  you can put them on at stock ride height.  i admit that this is tire specific, but I suspect it will work with most tire models.  This achieved my goals of having better off-road capability (did I mention these tires have the severe snow snowflake) plus a more aggressive look.

Will I eventually replace the control arms and lift the truck using the built-in capability of the Bilsteins?  At this point, I don’t think so.  The truck just drives so good with the 315s and it’s got a great look.  There is minimal rubbing.  I just don’t feel the need to lift it.

So… if you’re looking to get bigger tires for your Ram, but don’t want to lift it… I believe you can.