Icon Stage 2 Vs. Stock Suspension

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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

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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Showing 7 comments
  • Jay Hemphill
    Reply

    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.

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      Jay,
      Awesome! Congratulations man. It has been an awesome suspension so far. We have it installed for about 3 months now and no problems. Everything with the stage 2 suspension has been great. From a reduction in nosedive and body roll to an increase of performance on the trail, the Icon Suspension has been pretty stellar.

      Have fun out there!

  • Stephen
    Reply

    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 of anyone with ICON. Thanks, Stephen

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      Stephen,
      98% around town might be overkill for a stage 2 Icon. A stage 1 would probably work for your needs if you don’t need the extra travel from your coilovers. It really depends though because the Icons, both stage 1 and stage 2 will improve on-road (around town) performance as well as offroad. I would grab a diff drop, just in case but you dont’t “need” one. Also, make sure you get a spanner wrench. Either the Icon spanner or any other brand like the Icon.

      • Jonathan Friedman
        Reply

        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.
        Desire:
        Better all around drive
        Eliminate nose dive and wobbliness.
        Firmer drive
        Lift between 1.5- 2.75.

        • Brenan - Trail4R
          Reply

          Jonathan, with most aftermarket suspensions (front coilovers, rear springs, and rear shocks), you will have a better drive. You will have less nose dive, body roll, and steering wheel shake upon braking. If you are looking for a lift between 1.5 – 2.75, the Icons would work but you have plenty of options. An affordable common option (up to 2.6″ I believe) would be the Bilstein 6112s in the front and the Bilstein 5100 or 5160 (with reservoirs) in the rear. A recommended spring for that set-up would be the 2″ Icon spring or any other comparable 2″ spring. But with this set-up, that is not factoring in UCAs (Upper Control Arms). The Icon stage 1 does not come with UCAs, however, the Stage 2 does. You may not need UCAs if you stay under 3″. Read the full guide on Bilsteins

  • Nick
    Reply

    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?

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