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 shocks. After a couple of months of hammering the Icon’s digressive suspension, we now have the ability to give some realistic “what to expect” expectations.

We just rolled through the Baltic Ridge Trail with the new Icons and the 34″ Toyo tires so it was good timing for this question.

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’s difficult to get anyone on the phone. When you buy a $3000+ product, you would think you could get ahold of someone. With Icon, this is something to consider. It’s difficult, to say the least. We stopped calling them eventually and just started calling YotaMafia.

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: What is the Ride Quality Like?

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

From stock suspension to Icons, there are some features/ benefits and downfalls depending on what you call a downfall. The benefits, however, highly outweigh the downfalls of this suspension. From on-road to off-road, there are some real differences that you should note before you buy this $3000.00 suspension.

Overall Benefits

After Icons or any digressively valved suspension for that matter, everything is tighter and much more firm on-road. Some people like the feeling of a stiff suspension and others do not. The digressively valved suspensions are known for being very stiff and firm while progressively valve suspensions (King and OME BP51 for example) are known for being very plush and loose. With the Icons, you will see less body roll, tighter cornering, everything feels much more responsive. Also, when it comes to braking on the 4Runner, you have a pretty harsh nosedive with the stock suspension. With Icons, your nose dive upon braking is almost eliminated.

Pros

  • Stiffer than stock
  • Cornering is great
  • Less body roll
  • Less nose dive

Cons

  • Feel all the little bumps
  • Can be too stiff sometimes

Freeway Driving

Freeway driving is much better. At high speeds and big drops, the icon definitely performs. Freeway driving with the Icons is smooth and incredibly responsive. Because the suspension is tighter, your lane shifting, braking, and feeling of the road are much more responsive. 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 while 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 that is already tighter all the way around but if you buy a set of digressively valved shocks, expect to feel all the little bumps. Large, medium, and small bumps, you feel it all. Around town at low speeds and medium speed, you just feel more of the road. But, the Icons also remove much of the existing body roll so it is a win in my opinion.

Off-Road

While off-road, the big dips, whoops, and washouts 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.

Off-road, the Icons are obviously much better than stock. If you buy the extended travel kit, you will see an increase in shock travel which is one of the main reasons you buy a kit like this; more shock travel. The shocks do their job in soaking up the compression and rebound hits very well. On every trail you hit, there is going to be some erosion, washouts, dips, and ruts. Whether you come to these sections at low speed or high speed, the digressively valved piston makes it feel smooth and buttery instead of tight and uncomfortable with factory suspension. When you hit these sections in a stock suspension, however, you and your passenger jump up in your seat.

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 between the 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 stages 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. I personally don’t think the billet warrants the extra cost.

If you add the remote reservoirs, your ride quality may be a bit smoother on and off-road but mostly off-road as you can push the shocks further, harder, and longer as the heat dissipation will be better (the shocks can handle harder hits for longer). With remote reservoirs, you can smash your suspension for longer periods of time without your coils/shocks getting too hot. If you plan on going through 50+ mile trails with lots of whoops and ruts, buy remote reservoirs. If you frequent 6-10 mile rocky trails, and you like going slow, standard extended travel shocks will be just fine.

Going up in stages, you are really just saying “I want to crawl harder or race through abusive terrain”. By adding each new component of the Icon stage, you add more strength, control, and stamina. Also, you are putting less stress on the stock components. 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 extended travel shocks and call it a day.

Again, this is only my personal opinion, and if you ask 10 guys the same question, they would probably say something different (that’s why we have 100’s of authors on Trail4R.com). Just do your research and make sure you don’t overspend on something you won’t use.

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Mason Nawai DeCosta
Mason Nawai DeCosta
6 months ago

The only difference with the UCA is the adjustability with the billet you can adjust more and tubular has no adjustment.

EZR
EZR
1 year ago

Nice post. Good intel. 👍

Danny
Danny
1 year ago

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!

Potter
Potter
2 years ago

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
2 years ago

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.

Zane
Zane
2 years ago

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?

Colin
Colin
2 years ago

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

jacob Huang
jacob Huang
2 years ago

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.

Nick
Nick
2 years ago

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?

Stephen
Stephen
3 years ago

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

Jonathan Friedman
Jonathan Friedman
3 years ago
Reply to  Brenan Greene

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.

Jay Hemphill
3 years ago

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
2 years ago
Reply to  Jay Hemphill

I heard that! Just do both!!!

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