Lifted vehicles are a constant balance of on road versus off road performance, ride quality, and handling. The higher you go the more a compromise this can be. The choices you make and the budget you have dictate how bad the compromise is. There is a diagram that I love to use in life. It is a simple triangle and at each point are the three items that define compromise. In this case we are discussing Cheap, On Road and Off Road performance as our suspension compromises.
The triangle above works like this: the cheaper a system you want the more you give up either on or off road performance. If you move towards specialization of off or on road it costs more and gives up on road. The ICON Vehicle Dynamics (IVD) suspension splits the on and off road performance and moves that cost bar away from the cheap. Like all things in life you get what you pay for.
Like all of our reviews we start with on road performance. Why is that? Most Jeeps and off road rigs spend a lot of time on the road – unless they are dedicated trail vehicles – otherwise you wouldn’t be buying a system to work in both areas. Many of us use our vehicles as family transport, commuting, and yes – mall crawling. How a suspension handles the everyday part of life is very important. Not too mention some of the roads here in Maryland are worse than the trails.
I sat here staring at the screen trying to figure out how to describe what it feels like to ride in our project JK. The most capable marshmallow ever, a 1970 Cadillac crossed with a Miata, like snuggling with a curvy chick, all come to mind. It is supple and firm all at the same time.
I’ll give you some examples. There is a stretch of road near my office that is 15 MPH and has two strategically placed speed bumps. In lower vehicles you have to hit them, they are just wide enough they can’t be straddled by many cars, and high enough that of you did your oil pan may need replaced. Most people slow to below 10 MPH or stop and creep over. I on the other hand aim one set of tires right at the middle – and hit the bumps at 15 MPH without spilling my coffee.
Cornering is flat with minimal body roll. This is always helped by sway bars and properly setup up end links – but you need good springs and shocks to keep it controlled. The body does not shift front to rear or rear to front under braking and acceleration. There is also none of the bounciness that some systems have when you really give it some throttle. This is true even when accelerating on broken or rippled pavement that will really tax a suspension to keep working properly.
There are other moments that really stand out as well. Many suspension systems are harsh over rough washboard terrain and will cause the vehicle to skip around, the same when hitting bumps in corners. Many systems will jump sideways when they hit these twp types of terrain. Part of this is because both wheels hit the obstacle causing the entire rear end to leave the ground. The other part is the suspension is very stiff and cannot react fast enough. The opposite case is too soft setup where it causes the body to wallow like a ship in a storm. The IVD setup soaks up that bump and returns the wheels to the ground quickly and controlled – minimizing both the body wallow and making sure the wheels maintain as much contact as possible. The combination of CDC Valve technology and large diameter of the shocks make this possible. That’s where that cost comes in, better components cost more money but require less compromise.
The remarkable part of the IVD suspension is simply how much feedback you get while driving. You know what the axle is doing, how the body is reacting, and what the limit of the tires are without ever feeling out of control or vague. When the Jeep hits a bump I know what to expect and get that result every single time.
What does “No Compromise” cost?
Hard to say. I can give hard numbers, and we will, but the true cost is what matters to you. For us it was about a system that gave the best possible performance in all scenarios. When you compare it to other systems that make the same claim it is the same price or slightly less money. If you compare the IVD setup we have to a Rough Country budget boost then it is expensive as heck.
We have the Stage 4 system that retails for $5732.06, hydraulic bump stops retail $698.20, and the drive shaft they sell as well $734.95. The great part is you can start at Stage 1 and add components as money allows to work your way to that Stage 5 setup. The Stage 1 starts at $2709.53.
Tell us what you think in the comments!