5th Gen Mods

Icon Stage 2 Vs. Stock Suspension

Updated 6/4/18 /

Read Time: 6 mins

Icon Stage 2 Vs. Stock 5th Gen 4Runner Suspension

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Ride Quality on the Icon Stage 2 Suspension Vs. Stock 4Runner Suspension

We had a question come in from an owner with KDSS on the difference between the Icon stage 2 suspension Vs. stock. After a couple months of smashing this suspension, we now have the ability to give some realistic “what to expect” expectations from the stage 2.

We just rolled through the Baltic Ridge Trail with the new stage 2 suspension and the 34″ Toyo tires. After this trip, it was perfect timing for this question about Icons.

The only thing that we have to say here is that the customer service with Icon is not that great. They make a great product but it really is difficult to get anyone on the phone. When you buy a $3000+ product, you would think you could make a call and get ahold of someone.

With Icon, this is something to consider. It’s difficult, to say the least. We have still not spoken to anyone at Icon in over a month. And, we consistently call because we actually do have questions about their products and products to be added.

We stopped calling them eventually and just started calling Metal Tech 4×4. They answer the phone and take the time to talk to you. Good people over there.

What’s The Difference Between Stock & Icon Suspension?

Really enjoying your site! I’m a newbie to any 4×4 vehicle mods and I have a question about the Icon Stage 2 suspension for 4Runner with KDSS. What was the ride like after install compared to stock? My stock suspension is shot on my 2012 Trail Edition 4Runner and rather than have the dealer install another set of stock shocks I’m considering the Icon’s. My 4Runner is mainly used on dirt roads around New Mexico with a good amount of highway miles as well. I work as a photographer so I travel a fair amount around the state. This vehicle is not a showpiece for me to parade around town, I want shocks that are durable and good off road but don’t rattle my teeth off around town. I have stock size BF AT’s if that matter at all in this equation? I will do install myself.

Icon Stage 2 – Worth It for 4Runner Owners?

Icon Stage 2 Suspension - Worth It for 4Runner Owners?

From stock suspension to the Stage 2, there are some feature/ benefits and downfalls depending on what you call a downfall.

The benefits highly outweigh the downfalls of the stage 2 suspension. From on-road to off-road, there are some real differences that you should note before you buy this $3000+ suspension.

Overall Benefits

After the stage 2, everything is tighter. Less body roll, tighter cornering, everything feels tighter. Braking is better, as your tires wear and your suspension wears, you can feel it when you brake. With the upgraded stage 2 or any other high-end suspension, your braking is much more firm and stable with less steering wheel shake and rattle.

Also, when it comes to braking on the 4Runner, you have a pretty harsh nosedive with the stock suspension. With the stage 2, your nose dive on braking is almost eliminated.

Freeway Driving

Freeway driving is much better, I think. At high speeds and big drops, the icon definitely performs. Freeway driving with the stage 2 is smooth and incredibly responsive.

Because the suspension is tighter, your lane shifting, braking, and feeling of the road is much better. Lane changing is smooth and tight. Braking is quick and responsive (given you have good brakes) with less nose dive and the feeling of the actual road is much smoother at high speeds.

Driving Around Town

The only downside I see is around town at low speeds, you can feel more of the road. It’s like driving an AMG Benz. It’s just tight and you can feel everything. Keep in mind, I am referencing a KDSS package which is already tighter all the way around.

Large, medium, and small bumps, you feel it all. But the dips and whoops off-road are butter. The suspension does what it’s supposed to, and works as advertised for the most part. This suspension performed well at high-speeds on/off-road and low-speeds off-road. Around town at low speeds and medium speed, you just feel more of the road. But, the Icons also remove much of the exsiting body roll so it is a win in my opinion.


Off-road with the stage 2 is better than stock. When aired down, the trails are butter. Everything is so much more comfortable. On every trail you hit, there is going to be some erosion. When you come to these humps, the stage 2 feels smooth and buttery instead of tight and uncomfortable with factory suspension.

When you hit these humps in a stock suspension, you and your passenger jump up in your seat. When you are approaching a drop or dip in a trail, the extended travel icon shocks really do handle incredibly well by absorbing the drop.

Icon Stage 2 Vs. Other Stages

Here is another question we got on the Icons

Message: Hi, I was reading through your website on ideas for my 4Runner which is currently stock. I have a question in regards to the stage 2 icon lifts you use. Why did you choose the stage 2 as oppose to stage 3, 4, and so forth? Aside from costs, would you say that a higher stage would be better? Thanks for your help. I love this site! So helpful.

Stage 2 Icon Vs. Icon Stage 3-7 Suspension Systems 5th Gen 4Runner

The reason was money and extended travel. It’s not cheap by any means but there is a big difference stage 1 and stage 2 with the extended travel coilovers.

The stage 2 is probably the best bang for your buck in terms of a “quality” aftermarket suspension. With the extended travel coilovers and the UCAs being the highlight of upgrades.

Everything else and all the other stage’s of the Icons are just beefier and can take a bit more abuse. The billet UCAs, for example, are just straight bling. Can they take “more” abuse, articulation and pressure, maybe but not by much, but I also do not have them installed so I cannot really speak on them. We know a guy that runs the billet UCAs and he thinks they are just about the same. Again, bling. But this is pure speculation. You can buy a set and determine this for yourself.

For the front and rear, if you add the remote reservoirs, your ride quality will be a bit smoother on and off road but mostly off-road. And, you will be able to smash your suspension for longer periods of time without your coils/shocks getting too hot. With the reservoirs, you just have the ability to push your limits faster, harder and for extended periods of time. If you plan on going through 50+ mile trails, buy remote reservoirs. If you are usually on 6-10 mile trails, a stage 2 should work for you.

Everything on-road with the stage 2, remote reservoir or no reservoir is tight. You will see tighter braking, handling, less nose dive, less body roll, etc. Everything is tight, much more enjoyable to drive.

Going up in stages from the stage 2, you are really just saying “I want to crawl hard and long or race through abusive terrain”. By adding each new component of the icon stage, you add more flexibility, control, and stamina. Also, you are putting less stress on the stock components.

In a perfect world, yeah go with a stage 7. But, if you are not taking your 4Runner on extreme trails (let’s be honest, few of us really are) and you are not racing through the Baja, then grab a stage 2 and call it a day.

Again, this is only my personal opinion, and if you ask 10 guys they would probably say something different. Just do your research and make sure you don’t overspend on something you won’t use.

Comments or Questions? Leave them below.

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August 5, 2020 7:28 pm

Nice post. Good intel. 👍

August 1, 2020 5:15 am

I have a stock 2012 sr5. If I upgrade to a stage 2, can I run my stock wheel/tire size? From what I can tell, it’s a yes. But wanted your input. Thanks!

July 7, 2019 7:57 am

Great site, just have to figure out how to spread out these mods so I don’t get Divorced. So nice to read clearly outlined information on a 4×4 site. Please keep the posts coming.

Erich Schultz
Erich Schultz
June 11, 2019 3:22 pm

I am looking for a lift, and am considering the Icon Stage 2. My off-roading consists of twisting old logging and mining roads, most with mile after mile of washboard. Even with the tires aired down, the stock suspension on my 2018 TRD Pro does ok, but not great and likes to swing the rear end out anytime I am above 15 to 20 mph. How would an Icon 2.0 handle washboard, or is there a better system for that.

May 13, 2019 10:47 am

I have a 2018 TRD Off-Road. All OEM currently. I want to buy suspension first but I’m fairly new to the off-road mod game. I’m thinking of just buying TRD suspension as it seems like a good first step. But what I’m not clear on is if it will give me enough lift to run 32in tires. Anyone have any input on the subject?

April 25, 2019 10:25 am

Does KDSS limit how high you can go with the adjustable suspension (0-3.5”),

jacob Huang
jacob Huang
February 14, 2019 11:35 pm

Does 2018 4runner have an installed mechanic recommended in Los Angeles?

I would like to ask a better mechanic to install this kit for me.

December 25, 2018 6:35 pm

I have a stage 2 on my 5th gen and seem to get a lot of, for lack of a better word “squeaking”. Just driving and going over grooved pavement I can hear. It sounds like the sound you get when you torque a screw really tight. Have you experienced this or heard this?

April 9, 2018 10:26 pm

Question(s), I am considering the Stage 2 Icon for my 2018 TRD Off-Road (No-KDDS), will I need to get any other options that doesn’t come with the ICON 0-3.5″ Lift Kit Stage 2 Tubular UCAs for 2010-2018 Toyota 4Runner on bilstenlifts web-site? Like a Differential Drop? Or any other options to add? I’m going to be using it mostly around town 98% of the year. Or is this a over kill for my needs? Would like to run 285/70/17 with my stock TRD PRO Rims. Reason I’m asking you is that you mentioned it is hard to get a hold… Read more »

Jonathan Friedman
Jonathan Friedman
May 16, 2018 6:48 pm

I have a 2016 Trail non KDSS. I want to obviously upgrade. I have the icon 1 and 2 in mind. Will be doing 98% highway/city driving. Will these be great options for highway? And are their other options other than ICON that will provide a better ride than stock. I don’t want cheap but I highly doubt I will be rock crawling.
Better all around drive
Eliminate nose dive and wobbliness.
Firmer drive
Lift between 1.5- 2.75.

Jay Hemphill
Jay Hemphill
November 21, 2017 3:30 am

Thanks for writing this and for the fast reply. I ordered the Stage 2 setup today(11-20)! Cant wait to hit the mountains after the install! Your site is going to hurt my bank account! But hey, if I wasn’t dumping extra cash into my 4Runner it’d be going into camera lenses.

Sylvester Stewart
Sylvester Stewart
June 3, 2019 9:47 am
Reply to  Jay Hemphill

I heard that! Just do both!!!

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