The Adventure Vehicle “Riley”

We purchased “Riley” about a week or two before Thanksgiving 2014. At the time I was driving a less than year old Subaru Outback 5spd, but was having some major issues with the engine burning oil. There didn’t seem to be a good fix and I wasn’t game for having a dealer tear down and rebuild a brand new engine. So at that point I was in the market for a new vehicle. I knew I wanted to goRileyBorn back to a trusty Toyota after that experience, and I had to have 4×4 or a true AWD. We really wanted to get into a good used vehicle and heavily considered 4th gen 4Runners, 1st gen Tundras, and 2nd gen Tacomas. We found those vehicles to have such good resale vales that it made much more sense to look at new vehicles. So we narrowed it down to the Tacoma and 4Runner. We have another little 2wd T100 at home so we finally settled on the 5th gen 4Runner.

That is when Riley was born. I have to be honest here. When we purchased Riley we had no idea the extend of overland travel we would be doing with her. We simply went with the SR5 4×4 trim level out of sheer cost and availability of the third row. I have to figure I will be keeping and using this vehicle for the next 20 years. I had to imagine all the different roles it might play between now and then.

Now its was time for the fun stuff. In the first 1000 miles Riley was given new shoes. We originally went with Cooper Discover AT3 tires. That was the only real upgrade we did for the first year of her life. RileyCaryvilleFlatsKeeping her stock for the main part still allowed us to get out and adventure where we wanted to go. These 5th gen 4runners with ATRAC really are quite capable on their own even in just the base SR5 trim.

Then came the major upgrades starting around October 2015. We first added a 3″/2″ suspension lift from Sonoran Steel and sliders from C4 Fabrications. After that we wound up falling down the rabbit hole faster than expected. Which included upgrading the wheels, tires, roof rack, rear lift springs, cargo tie down system, roof top tent, and awning all in preparations for our big 900 mile Kentucky Adventure Tour in June of 2016. Since that trip we have found a few more little things we’ve wanted to upgrade or change.

Below you will find a complete list of upgrade we have done to Riley. There are also plans to do a little blog series on our favorite upgrades and give you all a little more insight into what makes Riley tick.

BrokenSpokeNight-WEBCompleted Modifications:


  • ARB Old Man Emu BP-51 internal bypass suspension and coils
  • Camburg UCAs w/ Moog ball joints
  • Sonoran Steel 5th gen track bar


  • C4 Fabrication Rock Sliders.
  • Southern Style Offroad Hybrid Front Bumper
  • RCI Offroad Front Aluminum Skid Plate
  • RCI Offroad Transmission Aluminum Skid Plate

Wheels & Tires:

  • SCS Wheels SR8 Matte Gunmetal/Black Rim 17×8.5 wheels.
  • Cooper Discoverer S/T MAXX 285/70r17

Electrical Systems:

  • X2 Power Group 31 Marine/RV starting/deep cycle battery
  • Pelfreybilt group 31 battery cage
  • Blue Sea 100A circut breaker
  • Blue Sea aux 12 circuit fuse block


  • Baja Lights Squadron-R Pro wide conering fog light replacement kit
  • Baja Lights XL-80R Driving Combo pods on front bumper


  • Smittybilt Gen2 X20-10 Comp Winch
  • Gzila Designs custom engraved Fairlead
  • Factor55 Flatlink E

Radio Communications:

  • TYT TH-9800 HAM radio
  • Larsen 2/70B antenna using the Diamond K400SNMO mount on hood gap
  • Midland 75-822 CB radio
  • 4′ Firefly antenna using the Diamond K400 mount on rear hatch


  • Eezi-Awn 2.2 meter K9 rack
  • ARB 50 QT. Fridge/Freezer
  • ARB 2000 Awning
  • Differential breather relocation mod.
  • WeatherTech Floor mats front, middle, and cargo.
  • Front Passenger and Driver window tint
  • 6 custom installed tie down points in rear floor on top of third row.

5 thoughts on “The Adventure Vehicle “Riley”

  • Nice rig! I can’t wait to read more detailed posts about the upgrades as I will hopefully be buying a 4runner in the next 1-2 years. My neighbor just bought a trail premium and already put icon stage 4 suspensions, new shoes and rims. Looking back, would you still have bought an SR5 or would you have opted for the trail edition? I like the added off road capabilities of the trail but the option of having a third row for an extended family are also appealing. (right now it’s just my wife and I, but if the family grows then the third row would be useful…although we would have less cargo space).

    • Carlo,

      To answer your questions. I think the one thing I would change looking back is picking up a Trail over a SR5. We do like having the 3rd row though planning for later in life. This is hopefully going to be a 20yr vehicle for us. The one advantage I see to the Trail over the SR5 is the rear locking differential. I Don’t see any huge benefits to having crawl control. I will say also I have not needed a rear locker yet with having my winch, but I am looking at the cost to have ARB lockers installed both front and back.

  • That’s an awesome build out! Anything you’d change or do differently? I live in Old Hickory and I’m looking for people to get into the woods and explore with. Do you have a group that you wheel with? I have a JKU that I’ve been working on.

    • Hey,

      We really love the direction we’ve taken this build. I’d say there are only a couple little things we would have done differently if looking back. First, we would have bought the Trail trim package with the factory rear locker had we known what we’d really be getting into. Second I think we’ve reached the limits of what our suspension will take. Be looking for that to change very soon. As for everything else we’ve done we love it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *