Toyota hit the ball out of the park making the very capable SUV known as the Toyota 4Runner. It’s durable, reliable, and has most of the features that you need for success right from the factory. However, what comes from the factory still has to be what the overall customer wants so it’s financially feasible for Toyota to make the SUVs the way they do. When you start wanting specialty equipment like roof racks, you’ll have to look to the aftermarket, and thankfully the aftermarket does not disappoint.
While the 4Runner does not have as much aftermarket support compared to the Tundra and Tacoma, the 4Runner has a unique feature that neither of those trucks do... Substantial roof space! This means plenty of room for roof racks. While it is important to know that like most SUVs, the 4Runner has side rails on the roof. These can be used to tie things down, but you run the risk of damaging your roof with your load since there is no “floor” to this system.
What is a Roof Rack?
In the event you need some knowledge, let’s take a moment to learn about roof racks. It’s a rack that goes on your roof. No really! It’s as simple as that. A roof rack allows you to add extra storage space safely to your roof, especially in a way that you cannot with factory roof side rails. Some allow or come with lighting and other features as well.
Why do you need a Roof Rack?
“Need” is definitely a relative word. Roof racks do have plenty of benefits that could suit your needs. If you do a lot of off-roading or overlanding, a roof rack is a great place to put the stuff you don’t always need direct access to. Since the 4Runner has a very long roof line (even longer than pickup truck beds), you can make excellent use of the long and flat real estate. It’s perfect for gear, kayaks or canoes, roof top tents, or more!
You don’t need to be a weekend warrior to make use out of a roof rack. If you use your truck for work and make a lot of trips to the hardware store, a roof rack will give you extra places to tie down your wood and PVC pipes. An extra bonus is that it will keep the materials off your paint, which can be a costly fix, especially if rust develops.
While they can definitely be used to carry stuff around, you can also mount plenty of lights to them: front light bars, surround lights, flood lights, and so on. Since the design of a roof rack allows it to sit flat, you can potentially have the ability for a perfect 360 degrees of lighting, should you want. No extra drilling into or leveling of your roof required!
Important factors to keep in mind!
While a roof rack is helpful, there are some things you do need to keep in mind. The roof is not designed to hold massive amounts of weight, so you’re not going to be hauling an engine up there. Check the specifications with the rack and vehicle you get to find out the limit. You are also increasing the overall height of your 4Runner. While you’re not driving an 18-wheeler, you do want to be mindful about anything tall you might have strapped down there. Low tunnels and even tree branches could become a pain.
How are Roof Racks Installed?
Thankfully installing a roof rack on a 4Runner has the potential to be extremely easy depending on what you get. Since the iconic SUV already has side rails on it from the factory, you are normally just unbolting those, and bolting in the new rack.
If you end up getting one with more features such as lighting, there could be a bit more involved, but the concept is still the same.
Of course, if you don’t feel like doing something like this yourself, there are probably quite a few local shops near you that would be willing to help. The cost would probably be an hour of labor depending on the model. That rate will vary depending on the shop, but look around for either some off-road or specialty truck shops. You’d be surprised that generally specialty shops like this can have lower rates for something like this since they do these types of installations all of the time.
Top Roof Racks for the Toyota 4Runner
Now that we got all of the boring stuff out of the way, let’s get on to the stars of the article! Here are some of the top roof racks for your Toyota 4Runner. These top ones are what is popular on the Facebook groups, forums, and our customers. Keep in mind that not all of these may work for you. As I say with all our top product articles, take a look at each one to find out what works for your needs and your budget.
If you want to keep things all OEM and Toyota-like, the TRD Pro trim levels have a nice little roof rack. If you don’t want to spend the extra money to go all TRD, but want some of the TRD goodies, the roof rack is a great option.
This rack comes with walls on the sides and back keeping your load safe from hanging off the back and allowing full rear hatch use. The open front allows your over-sized gear to extend over the front of the 4Runner, but it is important to note that it stops before the sunroof. While that leaves an unobstructed view of the sky, you lose some very practical storage space.
While this design has its pluses, many people choose to mount front light bars to their roof rack, which is not really possible since it stops before the sunroof and has no front mounting locations. If you do want to keep that OEM look and feel for $800, make sure you are willing to deal with the trade-offs.
We have talked about these guys in almost every article relating to stuff like this, and for good reason. Not only are you getting a top quality rack at a reasonable price, they have been making roof racks for Toyotas for years.
This model shown is for 2010 to 2022 4Runners. Each rack is powder coated satin black, and includes noise reduction edge trim to help cut down on what you hear behind the wheel. The wind deflector option allows a cutouts for 40 lightbars, or no cutout at all.
The rack comes with nine crossbars, but it is completely up to you how many you install. The kit is $980, and it comes with a lifetime warranty, which is pretty hard to beat.
Cali Raised has made all sorts of products for 4Runners as well as Tacomas and Tundras over the years that focus around their main specialty: LED lighting. They offer two quality roof rack models. The Economy model is a low-profile, no frills roof rack that can be customized with LED lighting from the factory, or the ability to mount your own. The flush crossbars allow for great mounting options. It starts at $900.
The premium model starts at $1000 and includes extras right our of the box, such as an adjustable LED wind deflector, rear fairing options, and side options for lighting builds. The adjustable LED wind deflector is designed to protect your light bar when you’re not using it, and increase aerodynamics which will keep your MPGs up. That’s always a plus these days. You of course have the option of three different LED light bars (or none), a switch, and if you want a side and back lighting kit for 360 degrees of illumination.
KC is a name that has been associated with all types of off-road trucks, and much like Cali Raised, they are known for their lighting. This KC M-Rack for 2010 to 2020 4Runners comes with an integrated 50" KC Gravity LED 8-light Pro6 Light Bar, horizontal crossbars, and cargo track mounts. That’s going to blast out 19,616 lumens! Keep in mind that those “KC lights” are going to give your 4Runner a very off-road feel. Nothing subtle about these!
If that is not enough lighting, this kit also comes decked out with side flood lights as well to really make sure you don’t miss anything at night. If you’re worried about something going wrong with all of this, you’re backed by a 23 year warranty.
The extremely lightweight, aluminum construction gives a total weight of around 25 pounds. The horizontal cross bars can be adjusted to meet your needs for what you are carrying. While impressive, this kit will set you back about $3,546, making it the most expensive on our list by far.
These guys are one of the few that makes kits that either stop before the sunroof if you want to keep that view, or full length if you need the storage space. Starting at $674 and $944 respectively, you get a very well made roof rack that is up for any task. You can also add a 40 inch light bar cutout, and they made these for 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation Toyota 4Runners.
What sets Victory apart with this rack is the amount of available accessories. They have accessory mounts, roof top tent mounts, awning mounts, tie down rings, tire mounts, jerry can carriers, and more! While each comes at an additional cost, you know they will work well with this rack as they are designed to do so!
UpTop has a bit to offer for everyone. If you want options and a custom look, they have the Alpha model. If you want the same quality but can do without some of the extras, they have the Bravo model. Starting at $1529 and $979 respectively, they are not the cheapest, but you get some nifty options. Yes, I said nifty.
While the options do increase the cost even more, you can have no lighting cutout, or eight different options! These racks come painted black, or you can choose between thirteen Toyota 4Runner paint colors.
The Bravo model will only come in black with no paint options, but you can still choose between four different lighting cutouts. At $550 less, it could be worth it. You will have to source your own lights for each kit.
This lightweight, aluminum option from Front Runner is one of the flattest all around racks perfect for your utilitarian needs. These are a little more on the bulky side compared to others. There is a is full version to take up all the your roof real estate, or a shorter version to fit the footprint of the TRD model. The kits allow for no drill, or drilling, depending on how you want to mount the rack.
The wide and flat crossbars offer plenty of mounting real estate, and can be very supportive for a rooftop tent. The rack itself will cost you $1545 for the full length one, and $1125 for the shorter one. They also offer a number of other accessories you can add along to your purchase such as light bars, tie down rings, and more.
Not everything needs to be super expensive, which many on this list can be to some. Yes, you do get what you pay for, but if you want something cheaper just to get the job done from time to time and don’t need to carry anything series, this rack from n-FAB could be what you’re looking for.
At $654, you get a short (after the sunroof) rack that’s made of aluminum with a textured black finish. Most budget racks are made of steel, which while durable, are also heavy and prone to rust. The finish has a five year warranty, and there is a lifetime warranty on the workmanship.
It is important to note that while this is a roof rack, it is a cargo basket type. This means it has walls all around. This is great for hauling stuff, but not ideal for a rooftop tent.
A roof rack may be something that you need in your life! Be it overlanding, weekend camping, or work truck necessities, there is a roof rack for you. This is by no means a complete list, but it is one that I have found to be of some of the more popular models to help you keep you on top of things. Find one that works for you and your budget!
Genuine OEM Toyota - Courtesy of Marshall Goldman
Prinsu - Courtesy of Prinsu
Cali Raised - Courtesy of Trail4Runner
KC M-Rack - Courtesy of Stage 3 Motorsports
Victory 4x4 - Courtesy of Victory 4x4
UpTop Alpha and Bravo - Courtesy of UpTop
Front Runner Slimline II - Courtesy of Front Runner Outfitters
n-FAB - Courtesy of n-FAB Amazon Store