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ICON Suspension Stages Explained: What To Know and How to Choose the Right Lift Kit

ICON Suspension Stages Explained: What To Know and How to Choose the Right Lift Kit

6 minute read

When you need youroff-road truck or SUVto keep its wheels on the ground and in control through aggressive maneuvers, an ICON suspension will deliver reliable performance. Suspension components are some of the most replaced and upgraded components on off-road vehicles because they’re so important to the off-road experience, and they take a lot of abuse delivering it. ICON lift kits have separated themselves from the competition by offering not just quality parts but also kits designed to help off-roaders along every stage of their evolution, from beginner to professional. Let’s take a look at what makes these kits so popular with those passionate about getting their vehicles as far as possible off the beaten path.

Building For Bumps

Every vehicle that rolls off the assembly line has a suspension system already, so what’s the big deal? The fact is your stock suspension, in all but a few specific cases, isn’t made for off-roading. Stock suspensions–even those that come with an “off-road” package–are primarily designed for road driving. To varying degrees, they will get you started in off-roading, but if you plan on pushing your vehicle and driving skills to their limits, you’re going to need a suspension that is built to a higher standard.

Your suspension system does three things for your vehicle. First, it helps support the load you’re carrying, whether you’re towing a camper or have a rooftop tent and full overlanding loadout. Second, it cushions the vehicle’s systems, your gear, and your tender backside as you bounce along trails, drop into dips, and plow through whatever is under that mud you didn’t bother to check out beforehand. Finally, while holding all that up, it’s pushing your wheels down to the ground, trying desperately to keep your tires’ rubber in contact with the surface so they can deliver power, provide braking, and give you control through steering maneuvers on unforgiving terrain. 

ICON suspensions go beyond stock to deliver a better off-road experience. To help owners match the right parts to their vehicle, they’ve created a staged suspension kit system that offers an easy path to better performance. Building one on another, each ICON lift kit stage offers progressively more customization for better shock absorption, dampening, and a solid lift so you can run bigger wheels with ease.

Setting The Stage

While ICON suspensions are available for a variety of vehicles in well-engineered stages, it’s important to know that the packages from vehicle to vehicle can include different components for upgrades. Since off-road vehicle manufacturers use different suspension types, with fittings and hardware of many different sizes, there’s not always a direct part comparison between one model’s Stage 1 and another model’s. There is, however, a comparison that can be made in terms of the upgrade each one is intended to offer over stock performance once installed. Be sure to compare the stages for your make and model closely to understand the improvements made from stage to stage. 

We’re going to look at a few benchmarks in the ICON suspension stage system to give you an idea of where to start your research, but it’s not uncommon to go a step further if the budget allows or to take it down a notch when a package offers a bit more customization than you need or are comfortable with paired with your driving skills. Because these parts kits are built progressively, you also have the option of starting with a lower stage and building to the next at a later date when funds or necessity allow for it, all with complete confidence in the compatibility of the parts.

Stage 1

An ICON Suspension Stage 1 kit gives you better performance without breaking the bank. These precision-tuned kits usually include improved gas struts and springs that provide better progression and travel along with a lift. These can be coil springs like in the Jeep Gladiator kit, leaf springs for Toyota’s popular Tacoma, or coilovers for the sporty Ford Raptor. Smaller trucks, like the popular Toyota Tacoma, can benefit from a beefier back end bolstered by new leaf springs, shocks with external reservoirs, and hydraulic bump stops. If you’re new to off-roading and want to try pushing your vehicle a little farther, this is a good place to start customizing your suspension system.

Stage 4

ICON Stage 4 Lift Kit for Ford Raptor

By the time you hit the stage 4 kits, you’re getting into competition-level components. These ICON suspension kits might feature coilovers with external reservoirs and premium tubular or billet upper control arms, as with the Ford Bronco, while the corresponding Raptor ICON lift kit adds a range of springs, rod ends, upper control assemblies, and other components to increase wheel travel and add even more dampening power, and the Jeep Gladiator Stage 4 package upgrades your links for better performance over the roughest obstacles. Meanwhile, the rear-end upgrades from the Tacoma Stage 1 are now joined in the Stage 4 kit by both new upper control arms and front coilovers that offer improved wheel travel along with better dampening. This level of kit is designed for experienced off-roaders tackling tough obstacles with aggressive maneuvers.

Stage 8

The top of the line when it comes to ICON suspension kits is Stage 8, which delivers professional-level suspension upgrades to get your vehicle ready for whatever the wild throws at it. Stage 8 kits cost more because they upgrade just about every major suspension component on your vehicle. Beefier springs, better energy absorption on big bumps, improved control for tough driving conditions, and the flexibility to adjust your components to tailor your ride to the terrain and your driving preferences. The Jeep Gladiator Stage 8 and Ford Ranger Stage 8 kits are great examples of these comprehensive ICON lift kits. Even the Stage 8 Tacoma kit gives the small powerhouse up to 3.5” of lift along with a fully tuned suspension for rigorous off-roading in the wild.

Choosing The Right Stage For Your Build

While these are examples of ICON’s progressive suspension stages, there are plenty of options to fit your needs and budget. The easiest way to dial in on the right ICON lift kit for you is to decide which of these three options comes closest to the package you’re looking for and compare it to the stages directly above or below it to find exactly what you need. If you have any questions, need more information, or want some expert part and installation advice from an experienced pro, we’re here to help. One of our off-road pros is ready by the phone days, nights, and weekends to get you squared away.

Your vehicle’s ICON suspension kit is in stock and ready to ship from our US-based warehouses. As truck enthusiasts ourselves, we’re proud to offer our customers the same high-quality mods we use backed by old-school service. Order your ICON lift kit from the pros at Offroad Alliance today.

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