What is the best 4wd suspension? This is a question we get asked all the time and unfortunately, there is no simple answer. It’s all about what suspension setup is right for your needs because ultimately if it’s not right for what you will be doing with your 4wd, it’ll be no better than the standard suspension.
What Is The Best 4wd Suspension?
Before you buy the most expensive premium suspension on the market, READ THIS, it could save you a lot of time and money!
When it comes to suspension there is no one size fits all kit. When finding the right one for your 4wd there are many things to consider. How high to lift or not to lift, load ratings, on or off road performance and if you’re anything like us you are trying to find the fine line between both worlds.
IFS VS Solid axle
All the old die-hards will tell you that you will never beat a solid axle rig. However, this is only true if said solid axle rig has a good suspension setup. Solid axles with sway bars and standard length shocks will still flex like a brick. In saying that though, who doesn’t love long travel shocks, sway bar disconnects and flexy coils? Well, that is if you don’t have to drive on the road because it will handle poorly. The idea with solid axle is pretty simple, bulk flex will keep four wheels on the ground and keep forward momentum.
The reality of the modern 4wd is most have independent front suspension (IFS) and some have independent suspension all round. Does this mean they are no good off road? Absolutely not. Technology just comes into play more nowadays; traction control, diff locks, downhill assist and the list goes on.
This is not going to be a battle of independent suspension VS solid axle. The modern world is going away from the solid axle so it’s time to accept it and overcome it.
Our perfect 4wd suspension setup
Our Fortuner is loaded to the brim on family touring adventures however when it’s just myself, it’s just a heap of recovery gear staring down the barrel of a hectic 4wd track. We need to be able to carry weight when 4wd touring but also want to be able to have a little flex when off road. So how do we do it?
Originally we just installed a 2” Dobinsons Monotube suspension lift and set the front at 3”. Heavy duty coils in the front and 300kg constants in the rear. This was not the right set up for what we are doing with our 4wd. The front was good but the back was rough. Adding the weight of the camper trailer it was better ride wise but the rear sagged.
What suspension do we use?
- Dobinsons Monotube struts – these are not the best shocks on the market but they are not a bad midrange option. They have a threaded body so it gives us the ability to fine tune the height.
- Dobinson HD coils – these are crap. Settled 45mm in total in 18 months. We have plans to change the strut/shocks to a premium US brand in the near future.
- Nolathane upper control arms – these are a fixed arm with 3 degree castor and more clearance on around the strut. When lifting your 4wd 2”+ you quickly run out of adjustment for wheel alignment these fix it.
- Road Safe diff drop –this will drop the diff around ½ an inch to help the CV angles. Our CV angles were pretty good, but when Auto Parts Co sell them so cheap, why not.
- Sway bar disconnects – having your sway bar disconnected off road allows your independent suspension to actually work independently. While it won’t flex like a live axle on flexy coils, it will make a huge difference.
- Dobinsons Monotube shocks – just like the front they’re not the best shocks on the market but they are not a bad midrange option.
- King Springs – King Springs have been around for decades and have never let me down in the past. We decided to go for a standard load raised coil. At under $200 a pair from Auto Parts Co you will not find a better coil for that price.
- Airbag Man Airbags – This is where the magic happens. We went for the high pressure kit so we could dump the stiff rear coils. This has completely changed the ride of our Fortuner. We just increase or decrease the pressure depending on what we are doing.
Your perfect set up
One thing I have learnt about suspension is set it up for what you are doing right now. Be realistic, if you are not going to be carrying a load every day you don’t need a huge weight rated rear spring. If you are never going to take on the corrugations of the Gibb River Rd, do you really need remote res shocks?
- What is your budget?
- Where will you do the bulk of your driving?
- What weight are you carrying?
- Insane 4wd tracks or 4wd touring?
- Are you going to lift? How high? What else will I need to make it work? (UCA’s, diff drop, etc.)
Suspension consists of a heap of moving parts, it will wear out over time so don’t panic if you can’t have everything perfect. Build your suspension for what you are doing right now.
Keep in mind just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the best 4wd suspension setup for you. Most importantly, before you modify anything make sure your intended modifications are legal in your state or territory.