Grapple & Tow: ICON’s Stage 2 Ram Suspension Review
When Ram transitioned its ¾-ton trucks from a traditional leaf-sprung rear suspension to a 5-link, it was pretty revolutionary for the ¾-ton truck market. The transition to a multilink rear suspension not only gave Ram better control over the rear axle, but allowed them to improve upon the ride quality of the truck tremendously. Paired with a coil sprung front suspension using radius-style control arms, the modern Ram platform became an instant hit with truck enthusiasts and the suspension aftermarket.
One option that also let the Ram stand out from the pack was rear air bags. This not only offered a smoother ride over the standard steel suspension trucks, but gave truck owners auto-load leveling. This feature alone made it a hot option for those planning on hauling heavy cargo and towing frequently. It was definitely a selling point on our 2014 Ram 2500, which has proven effective over the past four years.
However, as we’ve logged thousands of miles with our Cummins-powered pickup, we’ve found that the suspension in stock form could benefit from a bit more travel. Once we added on our ARB front bumper and Warn winch, it was painfully obvious that our stock suspension needed some help. Given that we use our truck primarily for towing and work, we didn’t want an outlandishly tall lift. We also needed something that would work with our rear air suspension.
Thankfully, we found what we were looking for from ICON Vehicle Dynamics. Well known for its high-end performance suspension systems, ICON’s Stage 2 2.5-inch kit fit the bill perfectly for our Ram. While the video above walks you through the install process, we’re diving more into what makes this kit an ideal solution for the 2014 and newer ¾-ton Ram trucks in the article below.
To gain 2.5 inches of lift, ICON replaces the stock front coils with a set of dual-rate coils. These not only increase height, but create a smoother ride over the factory springs. Since we opted for the Stage 2 system, these coils are matched to work with the large 2.5 series ICON shocks.
2.5 VS Reservoir Shocks
Moving up to ICON’s Stage 2 series kit gets you the company’s 2.5 VS (Vehicle Specific) reservoir shocks. These CAD-plated, 1026 DOM steel shock bodies are ideal for ensuring the shocks stay cool after hours on the road and in the dirt. There’s even a built-in internal bump zone that adds additional dampening force through the final phase of the shock’s compression (upwards travel). This is especially helpful when hitting harsh bumps while supporting the type of front end weight our truck has.
Speaking of compression, ICON has given you plenty of suspension control thanks to its CDCV technology. Short for Compression Dampening Control Valve, the 10 position adjuster knob allows you to easily tune the ride of your Ram. Ranging from soft (1) to hard (10), we found single click adjustments to be more noticeable as you reached the higher settings. This is ideal for those who use their trucks in a variety of on and off-road situations. While you can rebuild and revalve ICON’s VS series shocks, the CDCV setup makes for a much easier (and faster) way to dial in your truck’s suspension.
Securing the Reservoir
To give the fluid reservoir a secure place to attach up front, you’ll need to drill two holes into the top of the coil tower. Next, you’ll install the provided bracket and secure the reservoir in place via a set of hose clamps.
Air-Level Extension Rods
If your Ram is equipped with the factory air-ride option such as ours, ICON sells these air-level extension rods. They trick your truck’s level sensors, causing the bags to inflate more. ICON states these will provide an inch of lift, but we found they set the rear up closer to two inches.
Tires and Wheels
For tires and wheels, we laced on a set of 35x12.50R17 Nitto Ridge Grapplers and mounted them on 17x9 XD131 RG1 KMC wheels. Living in the southeast, and towing in a variety of conditions, we’ve found the Ridge Grappler to be an ideal fit for the truck. Being more aggressive than a standard all-terrain tire, its siped pattern and deep tread blocks give us traction in the dirt more commonly reserved for mud terrains.
Once we wrapped up our lift and alignment at Low Range 4x4, we immediately put the truck to work. On road, we found the ride quality noticeably smoother. Hitting pot holes and speed bumps was no longer a seat quenching experience as the added lift gave the truck the much needed travel it was lacking. In the dirt, we found that setting the rear suspension to the lower alternate ride height setting prevented the air bags from topping out as quickly, thus creating a smoother ride overall.
We had two simple wants when we lifted the truck. First, we wanted to bring the nose of the truck up to level it out. Second, we desperately wanted more up travel to increase the ride quality. We hit both of those goals and then some. Sure, the steering on these trucks is already a little heavy from the factory, and adding a lift and meatier tires didn’t help that. But, the ride quality gains were well worth the minor tradeoffs.
We’ll have more adventures and upgrades for our Cummins coming soon. So, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on all of our latest projects.