The rooster tail of dust fans out from the rear of my Land Cruiser 200 Series; I call her “Abbey.” I’m rallying around the canyon country of Utah, specifically on the Hole in the Rock Road just outside Escalante, Utah. On this historic 60-mile dirt route, I travel on a rough and rutted road that leads to the some awe-inspiring red rock wonders. Roughly one hundred fifty years ago, pioneers blazed this road to the shore of the Colorado River in their covered wagons on their way to settling the southeastern corner of Utah. On this day, I rode in comfort in my Land Cruiser as the suspension absorbed the bumps and bruises of the road.
Over this past year, OutdoorX4 Magazine built a Land Cruiser 200 Series (Issues 25-28) perfectly suited to explore the vast stretches of North America’s western backcountry. OutdoorX4 Magazine was honored to collaborate with manufacturers and companies that concisely design, develop, and build some of the most noteworthy overlanding equipment. One of the most essential vehicle modifications for overlanding is a suspension upgrade. An overlanding vehicle’s suspension needs to carry the weight of gear and passengers while still maintaining a controlled, safe, and smooth ride. What to choose?
The suspension world has evolved. I can fine-tune Abbey’s ride with a simple turn of a dial. Stiffer? Softer? Not a problem at all. My ride, my comfort; your ride, your comfort. I want the ability to dial in my ride. One company name came to mind—ICON. I read about their products, heard from fellow overlanders, and surfed their website. As I researched and read words like, “customizable, rebuildable, tunable, and responsive,” I grew more confident that ICON would accommodate my needs. After a few phone calls and more questions answered by the friendly, helpful staff at ICON, my decision was made.
ICON engineers design and create complete suspension systems. Buyers can choose what’s important to them and how much their budget allows. ICON refers to these different suspension options as “stages.” The different stages include upper control arms and shock options, springs, and rear control arms. I settled on the Stage 6 system for Abbey. The complete system includes upper control arms, rear arms, customizable 3.0 front shocks, progressive rear springs, and customizable 2.5 rear shocks make up the entire kit. My excitement increased once I opened the four boxes and saw the “works of art” inside. The quality packaging signified that ICON takes pride in their products and wants the customers to be happy with their purchase. I made a call to my local 4Wheel Parts store in Salt Lake City to get everything installed.
“Wow!” I exclaimed to myself as I drove home after the full day install. Yes, even on the paved road, the ride felt noticeably smoother. The shop set the shocks on number two; the softer side of the range; driving felt controlled, smooth, and responsive. Over the next few days, I experimented with the settings and ride.
But, how would they perform offroad? The Hole in the Rock sign welcomed me. I had traveled on this road numerous times wondering each time if I should be taking Abbey on it or a stolen Cadillac. This road with some 60 miles of washboard leaves most vehicles battered after an out and back drive. Back in the day, wagons jostled down this trail; today, this road serves as the main artery to the canyons of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
I turned the CDC (compression dampening control) dial to number three, decreased my tire pressure by 15 pounds, shifted into drive, and sped away. Abbey floated down the road. The remarkable suspension absorbed all the bumps, from the ruts and washboards. I felt no jars or any loosened dental fillings. Abbey didn’t rattle at all but hummed through and over it all. The ICON Billet Aluminum Front Control Arms allowed the front wheels to “dance” along the washboards, and the Billet Aluminum Rear Arms allowed the rear wheels to find purchase on the dirt and enabled Abbey to cruise on the road comfortably. The new 3.0 ICON front shocks and the 2.5 rear shocks put the plush in this washboard road.
The suspension world has changed and continues to evolve. Manufactures design and build suspension systems to conquer the overlanding world. Whether you select ICON, ARB, Rancho Suspension, or others, don’t fear tuning your ride. You will smile as broadly as I do!
* OutdoorX4 Magazine – Promoting responsible 4×4 adventure travel and outdoor recreation