Rock sliders and steps are something you may have been debating about getting for your 4Runner. However, each has a different purpose, and you need to know what your needs are before you make your purchase. Let’s dive into what the differences are, what each one is better at, and what are some options for your Toyota 4Runner.
WHAT ARE STEPS?
Steps accomplish just what they are called: they are steps. Generally, these will bolt to the body of your truck to give you easier access to climbing into your 4Runner. They are great if your SUV is lifted, if you have a harder time getting into vehicles, or if you simply want a more aggressive look.
WHAT ARE ROCK SLIDERS?
Rock sliders are for the more serious off-roaders and overlanders who need some extra protection. Generally, rock sliders will bolt to the frame of your 4Runner, and are designed to take the impact of your SUV falling down onto rocks during your crawling expedition, and distribute the force evenly to protect your 4Runner’s body from damage. As the name suggests, they are normally smooth and snag free to help your 4Runner slide off rocks and obstacles.
CAN THEY BE THE SAME?
While they may look similar to the untrained eye, there is a big difference. Rocker sliders can have built in steps, which will make them steps as well. However, steps cannot be rock sliders. Sort of like the ol’ “a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t a square.”
Mounting location and build quality make a big difference as well. Steps do not need to be made of the most durable materials because they are not designed for taking impacts. They just need to hold you. This can allow them to also be bolted to the body of your 4Runner, making them easier to make and install, but your SUV’s body should not be taking impacts. Steps that hang low can also get caught on rocks and obstacles.
Sliders are usually made of higher grade materials with more durable finishes. With the frame being the most durable part of any vehicle, mounting the sliders to them keeps your 4Runner safest if you are to hit a rock. The smooth bottom design accomplishes the “sliding.”
STEPS - TYPES AND EXAMPLES
Now that you have the terms and the basic idea down, let’s go over some types and examples that work for your 4Runner. This is not an exhaustive list. These are just some ideas based on what people are liking on Facebook groups, forums, and even our customers.
Hoops Steps and Nerf Bars
These terms are generally interchangeable. These are one of your more common types of steps. Hoops can come double or single, depending on your cab or which kit you purchase. In simple terms, they are a “hoop” that is a few inches shorter than your cab to act as a step. Single hoops may require drilling to fit depending on the kit. Double hoops are generally attached to one long bar that attaches to your 4Runner. Since they extend a bit lower, they are great for an aggressive look!
Rough Country has been making all sorts of truck and SUV gear for years. These single piece steps come with two steps on each side made of heavy duty three inch steel. They are finished with a black powder coating with a zinc base for long lasting durability. If you have any doubts, they come with a lifetime warranty. They are definitely on the high end of steps for your 4Runner, and all for $450.
If you want something with a little more shine and flash, these steps by N-Fab come with a gloss black finish and an aggressive texture on the steps themselves for dependable traction. They are easy to install and come with a five year warranty on the finish, and a lifetime warranty on the craftsmanship. The steps will run you $423.
If you want a sleek, and almost CIA/FBI style look, running boards are something you want to look into. These are basically one long step that extends the length of the doors. However, unlike nerf bars/steps, these don’t generally drop down much. They are designed to allow passengers to hang on to the outside of the SUV (generally while holding onto the roof bars). Since most people will not be doing this, we can just chalk it up to they look great! Due to the nature of the construction, it’s not uncommon to find the “board” made out of plastic.
If you have a 2020 to 2022 4Runner and want to keep things more factory, these OEM running boards are found on certain trim levels like the Trail Edition. Since they are Toyota, you can be sure they will fit well. The sleek design flows with the SUV they way the engineers intended. They feature skid-resistant step pads to give you great traction. These will only set you back $324.
The company TAC is known for making more affordable solutions for modifying vehicles. This does not mean quality is sacrificed. To assure that, these come with a five year warranty. Being made of stainless steel and aluminum, they are made a little more for the looks department. They will cost you $300. Keep in mind that these only fit on certain trim levels and certain years. Read before you buy!
Retractable boards are going to be your most expensive option, but if you want to add some luxury and class to your 4Runner, here you go. When you open or unlock your door (depending on the manufacturer), these will lower to allow you to use them as a step. When you close or lock your doors, they will retract back up out of the way. These will of course take a little extra time and skill to install since there is an electronic component. While you will never want to use these as sliders or any type of protection, they will surely add to the luxurious feel.
These running boards are designed to extend when you open your door, and retract when you close your door. They come with built-in LED lighting that shines down on the boards for visibility in any conditions. It’s American designed and engineered, and backed by a five year, 60,000 mile warranty. The model linked is for 2010 to 2021 Toyota 4Runner, but it will cost you. This kit costs $1,649, but that is a pretty typical price for retractable running boards.
Unlike steps, there are not really different “types” of sliders. Of course each one may look different, but they accomplish the same thing: protect your 4Runner. If you do see any with built in steps, they will resemble running boards. Keep in mind that “side” is in the name. They are to help your truck slide off rocks, so hoop/nerf bar style of steps would do the complete opposite and get you stuck. Here are some options to consider.
These bolt-on sliders are made by a company that has been making all sorts of high quality off-road accessories for 4Runners for years now. You can choose an optional kick out at no additional cost, and you can choose a black powdercoated finish, bedliner finish, or a raw finish for you to finish them as you please. Prices start at $749.
I have featured Victory 4x4 on here before for some of their unique products. These sliders take into consideration daily drivers. You might not want something “super off-road looking” on your commutes to work, but love rock crawling on the weekends. These sliders offer the protection of sliders, but look like running boards. They are made in the USA, and do require some drilling for off-road use. Prices start at $799.
If you want something with a bit more customization, 4x Innovations offers this kit. While from the start a pretty simple yet very durable tube slider, you can choose between a step plate with or without their logo (or plate at all), or a full length step plate with or without the TRD logo. You also can choose which trim level your 4Runner is and what options your 4Runner has to ensure expert fitment. Prices start at $799, but will go up from there with options.
Sliders and steps are definitely two different things. They both serve a purpose, and it’s up to you to figure out what you need on your Toyota 4Runner and what your budget is. Hopefully this list was able to help you make your decision, or at least point you in the right direction. Now, get out there, and step up your 4Runner’s game. Get it?
Rough Country Nerf Steps - Courtesy of Rough Country Amazon Store
N-Fab Nerf Steps - Courtesy of N-Fab
OEM Running Boards - Courtesy of Autotrader
TAC Running Boards - Courtesy of TAC Amazon Store
AMP Research Running Boards - Courtesy of T4R user “ForRun”
Cali Raised Sliders - Right here at Emype Off-Road!
Victory 4x4 Sliders - Courtesy of Victory 4x4
4x Innovations Sliders - Courtesy of 4x Innovations