Top Lift Kits for 2nd & 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma – Complete Buyer’s Guide

Lifted 3rd Gen Tacoma Voodoo Blue Tacoma with Drop Bracket Lift Kit & 35" Tires

Pictured: @itzbran808

Most Popular Lift Kits for 2nd & 3rd Gen (2005+) Toyota Tacoma – Detailed Suspension Buying Guide, What to Consider & Expect When Lifting Your Truck

A lift kit for your Tacoma should be a priority when it comes to mods. The added ground clearance, better ride quality, and the ability to fit bigger tires should be more than enough to convince anyone looking to get off the beaten path into buying a lift.

This is especially true if the goal is to off-road or overland. Nowadays, finding a good lift kit can be a little challenging, since the market is so saturated with many different brands and varieties to choose from. All the different choices can make your decisions more complicated.

Lifted MGM 3rd Gen Tacoma with AL Offroad Roof Rack & TRD Pro Grille

Pictured: @mgmcoma

Each kit on the market can be expected to perform a little bit differently than its competitors which is why it’s important to consider a couple of things before you go and spend thousands of dollars on a lift kit.

What kind of driving do you do the most? What kind of trails are you going to take your truck on? What’s your budget?

All of these questions, and a few others, should be considered before buying a lift.

Why Do You Need a Lift Kit?

Lifted Cement 3rd Gen Tacoma with Eibach Lift Kit, Stealth Custom Series Ray 10 Wheels & RIGd Ultraswing

Pictured: @kingsyota

Believe it or not, a lift kit does more than just raise your truck higher off of the ground. While the added ground clearance is nice, a majority of the time (depending on which kit you buy), you’re going to be improving the ride quality of your Tacoma as well.

Suspension lift kits, which are the focus of this article, should not be confused with body lift kits. Simply put, a “body lift” consists of a few spacers that literally elevate your truck’s body away from the frame. They aren’t very common because they drastically increase the center of gravity. On occasion, and this is usually on SUVs, someone might add a small 1/2″ body lift to help clear tires. The other issue with body lifts is that many components, like your bumpers, are attached to the frame. If you lift the body, you will start to create gaps that will need custom brackets/mounts to fix them.

A complete suspension-based lift kit will raise the frame of your truck off the ground, giving you more clearance on your bumpers, radiator, exposed components, and so on. This is the preferred method for lifting your truck.

Lifted Long Travel 2nd Gen Tacoma with Fiberglass Fenders & FrontRunner Roof Rack

Pictured: @echelon_unknwn

Adding larger tires is something you’ll want to consider when you lift your truck. You wouldn’t want your truck to look like it skipped leg day. Depending on what size tire you go with, your suspension lift isn’t going to clear them without some additional modifications like a cab mount chop and fender liner trimming. A lift will however get you moving in the right direction when it comes to clearing for bigger tires.

Depending on what type of lift you go with, you can expect the ride quality to improve. Suspension lift and coilovers will have the best ride quality and handling, whereas a spacer lift tends to ride worse than the factory setup. This is due to changing the loading of the shock, which harms drivability. A spacer lift should be the last thing you consider.

What to Consider When Lifting Your Tacoma

3rd Gen Tacoma TRD Off-Road on 35s with Snorkel and TRD Pro Grille with LED Raptor Lights

Pictured: @buzzedbeerxtaco 

There are numerous things to consider before buying a lift, and a lot of it comes down to what you’re going to be using your truck for. With so many different brands and styles of lifts out there, finding the right one for you can be a challenge. Whether you want more of an overland build or a full-blown rock crawler, the type of suspension you throw under your Tacoma is going to play a big role in the truck’s performance.

Trail Riding

If you find yourself doing a lot of moderate to technical trails, then it’s definitely preferable to have a setup that is built for abuse. Higher tier lift kits include Fox, King, the OME BP-51, Icon, Radflo, and really any 2.5″+ adjustable coilover.

Another thing to consider, that is often overlooked, is how much weight you intend to add to your Tacoma. Some of these companies like King or OME offer different spring rates for varying amounts of weight. Other companies offered only one set spring rate which (if you don’t plan on adding a bunch of weight with aftermarket parts like bumpers and skid plates) could work for you.

Price

Like most things with this hobby, price plays a big role in what you buy. When it comes to suspension, a lot of the time, you get what you pay for. Cheap doesn’t necessarily mean bad though, especially if you don’t plan on going off the pavement as often. But technically speaking, the more expensive options have more adjustability and can handle more abuse.

Less expensive options include spacers and shims, and even though the ride quality may not be there, these options will still get your truck off the ground without breaking the bank. Might be a good idea if you’re itching to get on the trails while you shop around for a more permanent setup. Options like adjustable coilovers are going to cost a bit more because you get more out of them such as remote reservoirs and the ability to adjust things like dampening, compression, and rebound on the fly.

What to Expect After Lifting Your Truck

Lifted Super White 3rd Gen Tacoma with Hutch Tents Daly 2 & C4 Fabrication Swing Away Rear Bumper

You should absolutely notice a few differences after you lift your Tacoma.

For starters, your center of gravity is going to be raised. Depending on what size tires you are running and however much weight you have on your Taco, you’ll have more body roll. Based upon what lift setup you go with, your ride quality should feel a lot better. You should feel more control while taking corners, and those speed bumps at the mall will feel like you’re floating over clouds.

Some people experience vibrations from their driveline after lifting their trucks. This part is hit and miss, but worth mentioning. The most common fixes are solid needle bearing bushings, carrier bearing drop kits and custom driveshafts. Don’t sweat too much though, minor vibrations are fairly easily addressed.

Lifted 3rd Gen Tacoma with AL Offroad Aluminum Roof Rack & High Clearance Front Bumper Viper Cut

Pictured: @mgmcoma

Your truck will definitely look a lot meaner with a lift kit and some decent tires. The added clearance will also help you off-road as you won’t be damaging your body or frame on every obstacle due to the added clearance. Not to mention, depending on what kit you choose, your truck’s suspension should also flex and articulate much better.

Spacer lifts and shims will not do a whole lot to benefit you when it comes to off-road, since you’re still using stock suspension components. The upside is that this option will hurt your mpg the least depending on what size spacers you go with, and they are much less expensive than full replacement suspension lift kits.

Different Kinds of Lift Kits

Lifted 3rd Gen TRD Pro Tacoma with CBI Offroad Fabrication Front Bumper & Safari Snorkel

Pictured: @jaumenarro09

Shims

Shims are a great way to level out the front of your truck without spending thousands of dollars. The cool thing about shims is that they have more than one use. You could buy a pair and level out your truck, buy one and fix driver-side lean, and even use them on top of your coilovers to prevent maxing out the preload to squeeze out some additional lift.

Some shims sit right on top of the strut and get bolted in between the shock tower. Others are part of the strut assembly, meaning you’ll need a spring compressor to install these if they didn’t come pre-assembled.

Although you most likely won’t notice a difference in ride quality, shims may produce more of a stiffer ride than stock. Overall, this is a great way to raise the front of your truck only a little without breaking the bank.

Spacers

Similar to shims, spacers are another alternative to lifting your truck without spending a ton of money. This style of lift kit generally offers more height than shims; anywhere from the 2″ to 6″ (many obstacles to overcome at more than 2-3″ of lift) range depending on which kit you buy.

Many spacers require a spring compressor to be installed into the strut assembly, but there are some out there that just mount in between the strut and the shock tower.

This is the perfect kind of lift for anyone who doesn’t plan on doing much off-roading. Since the spacers utilize the stock suspension components, the ride quality may not be the best. On bumpy roads, or off-road, you will definitely feel those bumps more than a coilover setup. Not to mention, you won’t get any additional travel since you’re still using the stock suspension components.

Basic Suspension Lifts

An example of a suspension lift is the Bilstein 5100 and OME combo. This style of lift is similar to coilovers but without on-the-fly adjustability. Although you can adjust 5100s and 6112s, it is not a threaded shock body – so to do so, you need to use a spring compressor to take apart the assembly.

Suspension lifts are great for anyone who does some easier-to-moderate wheeling every once in a while. While they are a little more expensive than a spacer lift, but they are definitely less than high-end coilovers. As far as ride quality goes, this type of lift will definitely ride better than spacers or shims, especially off the road. On the road, the drivability could be compared to coilovers, but off the road, coilovers will outperform.

Coilovers

Coilovers are definitely top of the line when it comes to lift kits. The adjustability and different damping options really allow you to fine-tune your coilover to perform like how you want it to perform. However, this option may not be for you if you don’t find yourself doing much off-roading because they are on the pricier side.

If you off-road frequently and enjoy moderate to harder trails, then you definitely want a set of coilovers. The bumpy dirt roads will feel much better, you can soak up big bumps, and you’ll get more articulation.

Types of Driving

MGM 3rd Gen Tacoma TRD Off-Road on 32-Inch Tires with Amber Ditch Lights & Low Profile Roof Rack

Pictured: @mgmcoma

The type of driving you’ll spend the most time doing should influence your decision-making when it comes to which lift kit to buy.

Daily Driving

There’s nothing wrong with keeping your Tacoma on the road. With that being said, maybe you still want to upgrade the appearance or ride quality of your truck. If you don’t plan on hitting any trails any time soon, then you could stick with shims or a spacer lift. On pavement, the ride quality will be similar to stock, but you’ll still have that aggressive look.

Another option would be a basic suspension lift, the ride quality will be better than a spacer, but not as pricey as coilovers.

Light – Moderate Off-Roading

If you enjoy cruising fire roads or taking the road less traveled to find the perfect camps spot, then you might want to invest in some type of suspension lift. These are a great middle-ground kit that won’t break the bank yet outperform spacers and shims. While a spacer lift will get you down rough roads and fire roads, a suspension lift will be able to do it much smoother.

Advanced Off-Roading

When it comes to more technical trails, you definitely do not want a spacer lift. You’re going to want a suspension setup or coilover that provides more travel (flex) than stock suspension components. Not to mention the road leading to the trail will be much more enjoyable.

Fast & Hard Off-Roading

For this type of off-roading, if you don’t have a coilover, you’re going to have a bad time. Most coilovers come standard with 2.5″ – 3″ shock diameters and some even come with remote reservoirs. Reservoirs are designed to keep the shock cool during compression cycles. For anyone who plans on hitting the whoops in their Tacoma, this is a must.

Coilovers are designed to take this kind of wear and tear, whereas suspension lifts are not. If you had a suspension lift and took your truck through a whoop section, the shocks would not be able to compress and decompress fast enough, yielding a very bumpy ride. On the other hand, coilovers are designed to soak up these bumps and provide a much smoother, controlled ride throughout.

Valving Breakdown: Progressive, Digressive & Linear

Lifted 3rd Gen Tacoma with BAMF Hybrid Front Bumper & Dark Defense LED Roof Lights on Prinsu Roof Rack

Pictured: @the_dark_yota

The terms progressive, linear, and digressive all refer to the shape of the damping curve you would see on a graph as produced by a particular shock. Damping is a term that is used to describe how the suspension system controls the oscillation when working under load. Differences in damping can be achieved in a variety of ways. Different sizes and shapes of ports, shims, bypasses, or reservoirs can all alter the damping response of your suspension.

As I mentioned before, a lot of these lift kits are going to perform differently from one another and a lot of the differences can be found in the internal design of each shock. The internal design and tune of each shock, are directly related to how they are going to perform, whether the final curve is progressive, digressive, or linear.

Lifted Cement 3rd Gen Tacoma with upTOP Overland Roof Rack & Stealth Custom Series Wheels on Yokohama Geolandar M/T

Pictured: @kingsyota

Progressive

Progressively tuned shocks are made to handle larger-sized bumps at higher speeds. This damping curve is designed to have a very little load at low speeds, and a higher load at high speeds that builds up fast. In other words, progressive shocks soak up small/medium-sized bumps at lower speeds; then as you go faster, they will feel stiffer to give you more control.

A majority of Old Man Emu’s lineup tends to be more progressive including their Nitrochargers, and BP-51s. King and Fox also tend to be progressive but a vast majority of their OE replacement shocks tend to be more linear. A unique feature with high-end coilovers, like King and Fox, is that they offer a tuneable bypass which means you can adjust the damping on the fly. Radflo is also another well-known company that offers a progressive shock.

One of the downsides to progressively tuned shocks is that the handling may be lacking. This is why this style of damping is best for anyone who is serious about off-roading and goes wheeling pretty frequently.

Digressive

Digressive shocks are made to give you a ton of control at lower speeds, and a little bit less control at higher speeds. This piston design has a lot of low-speed loads, meaning you’ll feel a lot more bumps at lower speeds. A lot of this load blows off at a higher speed, which might sound like a good thing, but it actually causes you to lose a bit of control.

Shocks like this include Icon and Bilstein. They offer a lot more control while driving on the road which makes this style of damping perfect for daily drivers and someone who goes off-road occasionally.

Linear

Linear shocks are the best of both worlds. A majority of coilovers with adjustable bypass allow you to adjust the shock exactly how you want it which means you can make your adjustable shock perform linearly. This setup is perfect for someone who daily drives their truck, but also goes up to the trails often.

Some companies that make linear shocks include, but are not limited to King, Fox, and Bilstein.

Types of Adjustable Coilovers & Shocks

Lifted Barcelona Red Metallic 3rd Gen Tacoma TRD Off-Road with Low Profile Front Winch Bumper

Pictured: @trd_leo

Similar to the multiple piston designs and valving for your shocks, there is more than one style of adjustable shock. Why are adjustable coilovers nice to have? You can essentially choose how much lift the coilovers give you. This is typically anywhere from stock ride height to ~3″ of lift. You also adjust one side or the other to combat driver-side lean and compensate for added weight.

The following is just a basic outline. There is quite a bit more technical information that can be discussed around this topic.

Lifted 3rd Gen Tacoma with Seibon Carbon Fiber Hood & Custom Front Grille

Pictured: @eighteen_taco

Single Speed Compression Adjustment

Single-speed compression adjustment is adjusting how soft or hard the shock feels under load when it is being compressed in size. Companies that offer this kind of adjustment include Fox, King, and Icon.

Dual Speed Compression Adjustment

Dual-speed compression adjustment is designed for higher performance trucks. This allows you to adjust the shock for high and low speeds which comes in handy for trucks traversing different terrain at different speeds. We see this type of adjustment in Fox’s DSC line of coilovers.

Rebound Adjustment

If daily driveability is important to you, you should look into getting a shock that has rebound adjustment. This adjustment allows you to essentially change how soft the shock is to improve handling. Rebound accounts for how quickly the shock extends after being compressed. Companies that produce shocks like this include Bilstein and OME.

Upper Control Arms (UCAs) – Important Lift Kit Component

Dirt King Fabrication UCA for 2nd & 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma

Upper control arms are an important part of your front suspension components that should not be overlooked. After you lift your truck, you’re going to have altered the angles and geometry of your ball joints (depending on how much it’s lifted) and the ball joints will be subject to much greater forces and suspension travel. The best, and really the only fix for this is aftermarket upper control arms.

Do you absolutely need these? Depends on who you ask. If you’re just going to do a small leveling lift or a simple suspension lift for street driving, you don’t necessarily need them. If you’re planning to spend a lot of time off-road (and you’re looking to dial in an effective setup) you absolutely need to upgrade your UCAs.

Lifted 3rd Gen Tacoma with TRD Pro Grille, Baja Designs Fogs & upTOP Overland Roof Rack

Ball Joint UCAs

One of the well-known companies that make aftermarket control arms that utilize a ball joint is Specialty Products Company (SPC). Why would anyone spend $600 on a set of upper control arms that still use a ball joint design? The unique thing about the SPC upper control arms is that they’re adjustable. This allows you to push your caster forward as much as +4 degrees which helps clear bigger tires and they have additional camber adjustment. Their balljoint is also much stronger than the OEM ball joint and they are greaseable. Dirt King also makes a great ball joint UCA.

Uni-Ball UCAs

Control arms that feature a uni-ball design generally offer more travel and can be stronger than their ball joint counterparts. The downside is that uni-balls tend to require more maintenance and they don’t last as long as ball joints. So it might not be a good idea to buy a uni-ball if you live in more extreme conditions and don’t see yourself spending more time maintaining your joints. Total Chaos has an excellent choice when it comes to uniballs.

Delta Joint UCAs

Delta Joints are Icon’s patented joints used on their upper control arms. If uni-balls and ball joints had a baby, the result would be a delta joint. Icon claims they have the performance of a uni-ball, and the longevity of a balljoint. Icon also offers a kit to convert your uni-ball control arms into delta joint control arms. This is just one other option to consider.

Lifting the Rear of Your Truck: Blocks, Add-A-Leafs, Complete Replacement

Lifted 2nd Gen Tacoma BP-51s

Pictured: ARB OME BP-51 Suspension Lift Kit with HD Dakar Leaf Pack

When it comes to lifting the rear of your Tacoma, you have a couple of different options. This concept is similar to the front when it comes to the ride quality and off-road performance.

Rear Lift Blocks

Adding a block to your leaf spring is the equivalent of adding a spacer to your stock coilover. You are still utilizing your stock components in the rear, just adding a spacer between the axle and leafs. This method of lift is definitely one of the cheaper options out there, which trades ride quality for lift height. Since you can use your stock shocks and leafs, you will not gain any added performance, just lift.

Add-A-Leaf

This option is another cost-friendly one. Adding a leaf is exactly what the name says, adding an additional leaf to your leaf springs. You can use an add a leaf setup with your factory leaf springs – which is why this method is pretty popular. It will ride much better than adding a block and it is not as expensive as buying a whole new set of leaf springs.

Full Replacement

Several companies offer full replacement leaf spring kits for your Tacoma. Some of these companies include Old Man Emu, Deaver, and Dobinson. This is the best way to lift the rear of your Tacoma since you’ll gain more travel, better ride quality, and the rear end won’t squat as bad when it’s loaded up.

Wheels & Tires

Lifted 2nd Gen Tacoma with Smittybuilt XRC Winch, Snorkel & Supercharger

After you lift your Tacoma, you are definitely going to want to put some bigger tires on for a more aggressive look and added ground clearance. However, with a suspension lift, you’re just changing your truck’s static ride height. Meaning your bump stops are going to be in the same place. By way of explanation, the compression cycle of your tire is going to remain the same.

In other words, your tires and suspension are relatively in the same place as they were with stock suspension. However, a lift kit will definitely set you on the right track when it comes to fitting larger tires. Just keep in mind you still may need to cut your fenders, flares and liners, and sometimes tub the wheel well (in cases of very large tires), to not rub at all at full flex or full lock.

We’ve covered some great tires in previous posts. Check out the reviews for the Nitto Ridge Grapplers, the Toyo Open Country R/T, and the Toyo Open Country AT3.

Additional Add-Ons for Lifts

OME Lift Kit on 2nd Gen Tacoma - White Lifted Tacoma 35" Tires

Pictured: Ekstrom Shims on Coilovers and 1″ Preload

When you lift your truck, you change a lot of the stock geometry. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if not addressed, skipping out on some of these add-ons can lead to issues down the road.

Extended Brake Lines

With more travel comes great responsibility. The last thing you want to happen in the middle of the trail is over-flexing your stock brake lines. The next thing you know there’s brake fluid all over the rocks and now you can’t stop your truck.

Many companies make extended brake lines that don’t break the bank. A little piece of mind that will take about 20-30 minutes to swap out.

Front Differential Drop

Differential drops are a bit of a controversial topic in the off-road world. Some say they are a necessity, others say it’s just an expensive paperweight. With that being said, is it even worth it to buy one?

The purpose of a differential drop is to help flatten the angle on your cv axles after you lift your truck. One of the obvious pros to a diff drop is the angle on your CV axle is decreased which helps prolong the life of your axles especially if you wheel often, at least, that’s the intention. The downside that not a lot of people talk about, is the angle on your driveshaft is altered.

While I haven’t heard of any bad things happening to the front driveshaft after installing a diff drop, I know people who have never installed one and have noticed no difference whatsoever.

Upper Control Arms

Upper control arms aren’t a complete necessity when it comes to lifting your truck, but they are not a bad idea. When you lift your truck, you’ll notice a pretty nasty angle on the stock upper balljoint. While this isn’t a huge safety hazard, it will definitely limit your travel and increase ball joint wear.

Aftermarket control arms allow you to choose from uni-ball or stronger ball joints and will give you more travel while providing better geometry between the upper control arms and spindle. We touched on this component earlier.

Lower Control Arms

If you’re really looking to go the length, and get the most out of your factory geometry (non long-travel) suspension, adding some lower control arms is the way to go. Aftermarket control arms are beneficial for a multitude of reasons.

The Trail 3rd Gen is running a set of Dirt King Fabrication Performance Lower Control Arms. Check out the complete review, overview and install guide here.

Carrier Bearing Drop Kit

Due to the type of driveshaft we see in the Tacoma, lifting the truck can also have negative consequences on driveshaft angles, which can ultimately lead to vibrations in your driveline.

Unless you decide to add custom driveshafts, a carrier bearing drop is a good place to start, and preemptively address the changes in driveline geometry. Some companies suggest shim kits for the rear leaf springs that can help with geometry issues as well. These should not be confused with shims for the front coilover/strut assembly.

Front Differential Needle Bearing

Due to the way the driver’s side CV axle sits inside the carrier in the front differential, the needle bearing supports the shaft in a similar manner as the spider gear. When you lift a truck, you change the geometry of many components and the increased stress causes more movement because of the pressure on the bearing.

The solution? Preemptively replace your needle bearing with the solid one from East Coast Gear Supply (ECGS). To learn more, check out this post on the bearing and vibrations after lifting your Tacoma.

1. Front End Shims

Front Lift Kit Shim for Toyota Tacoma

Typically made from lightweight aluminum or durable composite, shims are the perfect way to level your truck. Whether you are trying to get rid of driver-side lean, or the factory rake, shims are the way to go. I have found them extremely helpful on coilovers as they allow you to add another .5″ or so without maxing out your preload.

The ride quality with shims will hardly be noticeable on the pavement, maybe a little more stiff/bumpy on dirt roads. Companies that make quality shims include Ekstrom Designs and Supreme Suspensions.

Aftermarket differential drops and upper control arms are not necessarily required for this stage.

Find It Online

While not technically a shim, Westcott Designs offer a preload collar for the TRD Pro suspension. This is not a spacer lift or necessarily a shim, but a collar that more safely increases the preload, and therefore the lift, on your front suspension. Check out the review we did here.

2. Pro Comp Nitro 3″ Leveling Lift Kit

Toyota Tacoma Pro Comp 3-Inch Leveling Lift Kit with Spacers & Lift Blocks

The Pro Comp Nitro 3″ lift kit is a great way to lift and level your truck without breaking the bank. This kit comes with front and rear components that provide around 3″ of lift all around and they help to level the truck out. If you plan on sticking to the pavement, this is a very affordable way to get that aggressive look.

The ride quality on pavement may be a little bit stiffer, but not much. The off-road ride quality will feel pretty bumpy since you’re still using the stock suspension components.

Aftermarket differential drops and upper control arms are not required but definitely would not hurt.

Find It Online

3. Eibach Stage 1 Pro Truck Lift Kit

2nd & 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma 3-Inch Lift Kit - Eibach Pro Stage 1

One of the most popular budget-friendly lift kits is the Eibach Pro kit. Not only is this kit a great bang for your buck but Eibach offers a million-mile warranty on a majority of their suspension products (this kit included). This kit also allows you to adjust the ride height anywhere from 1″ to 3″ allowing you to dial in your build to where you want it. Check out the install guide here, and the long-term review here.

Eibach uses a digressive piston that is designed to feel more linear at higher speeds. In other words, these shocks are designed to handle really well on the road, giving you a lot of control during taking corners. But when you put them through their paces off-road, they’re definitely going to keep up.

You’ll need to add some sort of solution for the rear axle, as only the front portion of this kit provides lift. For the rear leaf springs, you’ll need a spacer, an add-a-leaf, or a new leaf pack to lift the rear end. The Icon Add-A-Leaf would work really well here.

Aftermarket differential drops and upper control arms are not required but definitely would not hurt.

Find It Online

  • Eibach 2nd Gen Pro Truck Lift Kit (Stage 1): Check Price
  • Eibach 3rd Gen Pro Truck Lift Kit (Stage 1): Check Price

4. Bilstein Lift Kit

Bilstein 6112/5160 Combo Lift Kit for 2nd & 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma

For one of the ultimate in-budget performance lift kits, you can’t go wrong with the Bilstein 5100s. These aren’t the most incredible shocks you’ll ever get your hands on, but the Bilstein brand stands behind this setup and many swear by it. You can customize this setup to your needs by adding things like control arms and rear leaf springs. You can also choose the best spring rates for your build.

For the next step up, the Bilstein 6112 shock features a massive 60mm digressive piston as well as adjustable ride height. This ensures that your on-road driving experience is going to be top of the line, all without breaking the budget. This lift kit is perfect for anyone who daily drives their Tacoma but finds themself on a dirt road fairly often.

Although the 5160s for the rear are not as big as the 6112s, they make up for size with a remote reservoir. This ensures that those rear shocks are going to last a lot longer due to better heat dissipation. This option is for the 3rd Gen Tacoma. For the 2nd Gen, a 5100 3″ lift kit, which is a bit cheaper, but still a good choice, is a great way to go.

Aftermarket differential drops and upper control arms are not required but definitely would not hurt.

Find It Online

  • 2nd Gen Tacoma 5100 3″ Lift Kit: Check Price
  • 3rd Gen Tacoma 5100 3″ Lift Kit: Check Price
  • 3rd Gen Tacoma 6112/5160 Combo Lift Kit w/ Icon Add-A-Leaf: Check Price

Worth Mentioning: Bilstein B8 8112 Series

Bilstein B8 8112 Lift Kit for 2nd & 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma

The B8 8112 series is seriously next level. These shocks come standard with sensitive position damping of three compression zones and two rebound zones, which are controlled by three independent pistons. My favorite feature is the telescopic internal bump stop, which eliminates the need for an external hydraulic bump stop.

The 2.5″ B8 8112 also features a secondary rebound stop which eliminates the need for a limit strap. As you can see this shock has everything you need to comfortably take your truck through some rough terrain. Perfect for anyone serious about wheeling on more difficult trails.

Aftermarket differential drops and upper control arms are highly recommended for this kit.

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5. Old Man Emu Lift Kit

Old Man Emu (OME) Complete Suspension Lift Kit for 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma

Old Man Emu has tested all of their products in the harsh Australian Outback, so you know they’re built to last. One of the unique features of this kit is the fact that OME offers many different spring rates. This allows you to dial in your front end and to accommodate an extra weight you might have.

OME uses a progressive piston design that is sure to ride well on any dirt road. This is a great lift kit for anyone who off-roads frequently on easier to moderate trails. Although, we’ve tested these shocks on a variety of tough terrains and they have held up great! You have options to add rear leaf springs in various load ratings and upper control arms as well.

Aftermarket differential drops and upper control arms are not required but definitely would not hurt.

Find It Online

  • 2nd Gen Tacoma Old Man Emu 2-3″ Lift Kit: Check Price
  • 3rd Gen Tacoma Old Man Emu 2-3″ Lift Kit: Check Price

Worth Mentioning: Old Man Emu BP51 Lift Kit

ARB Old Man Emu (OME) BP51 Full Suspension Lift Kit for 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma

Old Man Emu absolutely killed it with the ARB BP-51 suspension lift kit. The all-new BP-51 not only offers compression adjustment but rebound adjustment as well; something not a lot of other manufacturers offer. They also come standard with an internal bypass as well as a remote reservoir.

The 51mm shock uses a progressive piston design that rides great on and off the road. The compression and rebound adjustment really allow you to dial in your suspension without taking your truck to a shop.

This is a great kit for someone who is serious about getting into off-roading but doesn’t want to break the bank as they are pretty reasonably priced compared to King and Icon.

Aftermarket differential drops and upper control arms are highly recommended for this kit.

Find it Online: 

  • 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma ARB OME BP-51 Lift Kit: Check Price

6. Dobinsons Lift Kit

Quick Lift Kit from Dobinsons for 2nd & 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma

Another tried and true lift kit option for your Tacoma is the kit from Dobinsons. Similar to OME, Dobinson was born in the outback. Dobinson offers a wide variety of spring rates and different color options for shocks and coils.

One of the cool features of Dobinson shocks is they use a more digressive piston design that has a progressive feel at lower speeds. This means you will have a ton of control while daily driving, but those bumpy dirt roads and even speed bumps will feel a lot better.

The basic quick lift kit will work great for those just getting started, but if you’re serious about lifting your truck, and you want the absolute most out of your suspension, the MRR kit might be the way to go. This is the best kit that Dobinson offers for the Tacoma. We have only heard awesome things! They also offer a mid-range kit. All of these kits allow you to choose spring rates as well.

Aftermarket differential drops and upper control arms are not required for the more basic kits, but would definitely not hurt.

Find It Online

  • Dobinsons 1.5″-3.0″ Quick Ride Lift Kit for 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma: Check Price
  • Dobinsons 1.5″-3.0″ Complete Mid-Range Lift Kit for 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma: Check Price
  • Dobinsons 1.5″-3.0″ MRR 3-Way Adjustable Lift Kit for 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma: Check Price

7. Icon Vehicle Dynamics Lift Kit

Icon Vehicle Dynamics Lift Kit for 2nd & 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma

Icon Vehicle Dynamics is one of the bigger names in the off-road industry. Their 2.5 adjustable coilover can give you up to 3″ of lift, or keep you at stock ride height depending on how much you choose to adjust them.

Using a digressive piston, Icon is known for riding a bit stiff at slower speeds. This includes on-road and off-road driving, but in return gives you a lot of control during cornering and g-outs. At higher speeds, Icons start to feel a lot better while retaining a good amount of handling. Regardless you can expect to see more travel out of your suspension set up with a set of Icons.

One of the things that I love about Icon, is the wide variety of suspension products they produce. And to make it less confusing for consumers, they categorized complete kits. Their stages range from 1-10 where Stage 1 is just coilovers and rear shocks, and Stage 10 includes coilovers and rear shocks with remote reservoirs, billeted upper control arms, and leaf springs.

As I mentioned before, Icon has its own line of upper control arms. These are designed to help you gain a little bit more travel, supply you with a stronger balljoint, and help dial in your alignment. Icon uses their very own Delta Joint, which provides the functionality of both a uniball and durability of a standard balljoint all in one. The link below is to their Stage 2 setup, which is a more complete kit that won’t leave you looking for additional parts to complete it.

Aftermarket differential drops and upper control arms are highly recommended for this kit.

  • Icon Stage 2 Lift Kit for 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma: Check Price

8. Radflo Lift Kit

Radflo Stage 1 Lift Kit for 2nd & 2rd Gen Tacoma

Radflo is similar to Icon except it offers a progressive feel rather than digressive. In other words, on-the-road handling might be a little latent, but the off-road drive is going to feel very soft. Not to mention the coilovers, like most, are fully adjustable.

Another great thing about Radflo is the longevity. Many customers state that they have had theirs for 50,000 miles without any major rebuild. But of course, the option to rebuild them is always there.

Aftermarket differential drops and upper control arms are highly recommended for this kit.

Find it Online

  • Radflow Stage 1 Lift Kit for 2nd Gen Tacoma: Check Price
  • Radflow Stage 1 Lift Kit for 3rd Gen Tacoma: Check Price

      9. King Off-Road Racing Shocks Lift Kit

      2.5 King Coilover Lift Kit for 2nd & 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma

      King may be the most well-known off-road suspension company. They are designed to take whatever you throw at them off-road and the price reflects that. A set of King coilovers with remote reservoirs goes for just under $2,000. In other words, if you don’t plan on doing a ton of off-roading in your Tacoma, you probably don’t need Kings. But man, do they look nice!

      Although King is known for its progressive piston design, their OE replacement shocks are designed to have a more linear feel. This means that the drivability is going to be there on and off the road. Just when you think it can’t get any better, King claims you can expect to see a 15% increase in wheel travel.

      The King kit linked below has plenty of options for customization and you can add pretty much every single component you need to make sure you get your truck completely dialed in.

      Aftermarket differential drops and upper control arms are highly recommended for this kit.

      Find It Online

      10. Toytec Boss Aluma Series Lift Kit

      Toytec Boss Aluma Series Coilover Lift Kit for 2nd & 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma

      Toytec has been in the suspension game for quite a while now. They started as an off-road shop and retailer for many popular products for Toyota and grew to the point where they decided to develop their own line of suspension.

      They offer two different kits for the 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma. The first is their more base level kit (with presumably a 1.5″ or 2.0″ diameter shock body), and the second is their 2.5″ series. The 2.5″ series has the largest diameter shock body they offer, and the added size helps to improve the overall performance. You can also choose to get remote reservoirs with the top tier.

      These shocks have a similar piston design to Icon and Bilstein, so a more digressive feel. The internal hydraulic valving ensures a comfortable ride with the 700lb coils. This is a great lift kit for someone who wants to get into off-roading more and start testing the limits of their truck.

      Aftermarket differential drops and upper control arms are recommended for this kit.

      Find it Online

      • Toytec Boss Aluma Series Base Lift Kit 2nd Gen Tacoma: Check Price
      • Toytec Boss Aluma Series Base Lift Kit 3rd Gen Tacoma: Check Price
      • Toytec Boss Aluma Series 2.5″ Lift Kit 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma: Check Price

        11. Fox 2.5 Factory Res 0-3″ Lift

        Fox 2.5" Coilovers Lift Kit for Toyota Tacoma

        Fox is another well-known suspension company in the off-road world. They offer an adjustable coilover that allows you to adjust the ride height for rake and squat. This kind of lift kit is perfect for anyone who wants to start doing some pretty serious trails. They will even keep up with you if you decide you want to see how fast you can go off-road.

        Their piston design is similar to King’s, mostly linear but tends to lean more progressively. These coilovers come standard with remote reservoirs so you do not have to worry about your shocks overheating.

        Aftermarket differential drops and upper control arms are highly recommended for this kit.

        Find it Online

        • Fox 2.5 Factory Lift Kit for 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma: Check Price

          Which Lift Kit is Best for You?

          Lifted 3rd Gen Tacoma with C4 Overland Front Steel Bumper, Agency 6 Shovel & Prinsu Roof Rack with Hella LED Lights

          Pictured: @blackhillstaco

          Now that we’ve covered the basic options, let’s do a quick review of applications. As I mentioned plenty of times before, what lift you decide upon should benefit you and the type of driving you’ll be doing. Whether you’re sticking to the pavement or taking on more difficult trails, the suspension plays a big role in how your truck will handle all of it.

          On-Road/Pavement Driving

          There is nothing wrong with keeping your truck on the pavement. If you daily drive your Tacoma chances are you’re going to want to keep it fairly street-friendly and maybe hit a dirt road every once in a while. If this sounds like you, then you do not need to spend thousands of dollars on a lift kit. Spacers or shims will be more a great kit for anyone who is on the pavement more often than not.

          Not that you can’t take spacer or shims off-road the ride is just not as comfortable since you’re still utilizing the stock suspension. This also means you will actually lose travel (up and down) with a spacer or shim, making it less than ideal for off-road use.

          Great Options

          • Pro Comp Nitro 3″ Leveling Lift Kit
          • Supreme Suspensions 0.5″ Shim
          • Westcott Designs Shim Kits for TRD Pro
          • Ekstrom Designs Shims

          Fire Roads/Beginner Off-Road

          For anyone who frequents rough fire roads, or easier trails, you’re definitely going to want something other than a spacer lift. For this type of terrain, a suspension lift kit will get you to where you need to go in comfort. Something like the OME kit or the Bilstein 5100 kit is pretty similar, but the major difference is progressive rather than digressive.

          A suspension lift kit will not only improve handling but increase your articulation as well. This comes in handy when it comes to navigating through off-camber sections to get to that perfect campsite.

          Great Options

          • Eibach Pro-Truck Lift Kit (Stage 1)
          • 6112/5160 Combo Lift Kit
          • Old Man Emu 2-3″ Lift Kit
          • Dobinson 1.5-3″ Lift Kit

          Medium/Advanced Off-Roading

          Let’s be honest, the more difficult the trail is, the more fun it is. If you’re looking at getting into some more serious off-roading, you need to make sure your suspension will be able to keep up. This usually includes a 2.5 adjustable coilover, something that is much beefier than stock suspension.

          2.5″ coilovers provide the most amount of travel out of any of the lift kits listed, as well as providing a more comfortable ride. These options may not be best for someone who doesn’t plan on going off-road that often because they are some of the most expensive options out of all of the lift kits.

          Great Options

          • Toytec Boss 2.5 Lift Kit
          • Icon Stage 2 Lift Kit
          • Radflow Stage 1 Kit
          • ARB OME BP-51 Lift Kit

          Fast Off-Roading

          For those of us that like to go fast off-road, it’s important to have suspension that won’t bend or break while you’re putting them through their paces. This includes 2.5+” adjustable coilovers, usually with remote reservoirs.

          This type of suspension tends to be very expensive depending on exactly what you get. With this kind of off-roading, it’s not uncommon to go with long-travel suspension, which would require aftermarket (longer) upper and lower control arms, tie-rods, and cv axles.

          Great Options

          • King Shocks Lift Kit
          • Fox Lift Kit
          • Bilstein B8 8112 Lift Kit

          Final Thoughts

          Lifted 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road on 33s with Amber Fog Lights & Stealth Custom Series Wheels

          Pictured: @805_trd

          Whichever route you choose to go with your Tacoma, the suspension is one of the fundamental basics to every build. This is why it’s important to do your research before you spend money on a lift kit. Find a kit that is going to work with your truck and what you plan on doing with it.

          There are many different styles of lift kits out there and each one performs differently. One of the first mods you do should be a lift kit, and then some bigger tires. With these two mods alone, you will be amazed at where your Tacoma will be able to take you.

          Price should play another big role when it comes to suspension. If you don’t plan on doing any serious off-roading, then there is really no need to buy $2,000 King coilovers.

          Since there are so many different kinds of lift kits out there, it’s important to consider everything before you buy. What kind of driving you do should play a big role, whether it’s primarily off or on-road driving or the difficulty of trails you plan on doing. Each type of suspension is going to perform differently than others.

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          Emma H
          Emma H
          28 days ago

          Thanks for all the thorough information! This is amazing and so helpful! I’m just wondering, how do you decide how much to lift the rear of the truck? I’ve just noticed the front is often lifted higher than the rear. Can you do the same amount of lift all around? Or is it better to have it a little lower than the front? Thanks again!

          John Borchers
          John Borchers
          1 month ago

          Wow thanks for this! You just confirmed what I had already purchased (but not installed yet). OME 3″ full suspension kit for light to medium trails. Got the medium duty since I load up the back for overlanding and also I tow a camper when I’m doing the lazy type camping. May add a front bumper in the future too. Also since the OME doesn’t come with UCAs and you said it’s not totally necessary I’m thinking I’ll be ok on my 3rd Gen Sport? Thanks! What a great website as well!

          John Borchers
          John Borchers
          1 month ago

          I’ll take your advice then. I definitely want to do it right the first time. I went ahead and ordered SPCs that were recommended in another article here. Thanks again!

          Pickles
          Pickles
          1 month ago

          Great comprehensive write-up — probably the best on the web! One thing I was not able to glean from the section about rear leaf springs is what the pros, cons, strengths, and weaknesses of the options out there are. I strongly prefer to meet or exceed Toyota quality whenever possible, and need to know which leaf options are best for the heavy off-road user. Any writeups like this about rear leaf options would be the bees!

          Allen
          Allen
          1 month ago

          I have been searching for a lift kit on my Tacoma for the last few weeks and this post has made it super helpful. There is more information here on this one page then every other website I have read through. Thank you guys for your effort in creating these guide for our community. Keep going.

          Pat G
          Pat G
          1 month ago

          Best article out there!!!!!!!

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