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Heavy-Duty Ram Suspension Showdown

Three Dodge Rams
Kersten Pankatz | Writer
Posted July 1, 2008
Photographers: Steve Dohermann

Carli, Kore, And Lorenz Industries Offer Solutions To Tame Rough Roads

Today's heavy-duty Dodge pickup is the most advanced Ram to date. The Cummins motor, rated at 325-plus horsepower and 610 lb-ft of torque, will tow anything you can hitch up to your receiver. On the outside, bold looks and clean lines make it stand out from the crowd. The interior is stylish yet functional. But for most Ram owners, the ride comfort and handling could use some improvement.

That's where three companies from Southern California come into the equation. Kroeker Off Road Engineering (KORE), Carli Suspension, and Lorenz Industries are manufacturers of performance suspension systems for the mighty Ram. Although their kits offer enough lift to run 35-inch tires, these systems are designed to improve your driving experience. If you use your truck for work, commuting, hauling, or playing, these companies have a suspension system for you.

Now that you're ready to upgrade your truck's ride, how do you choose which suspension to go with? How do those Fox shocks compare to Bilsteins? Are variable-rate coils any different than linear coils or infinite-rate coils? Do you need a steering stabilizer? Let's face it, you're about to spend $1,000 to $10,000 to improve your truck's ride. You want to get it right the first time: There's no money back with these kits.

Earlier this year, three Dodge Ram owners hosted Suspension Day. James Miller, Kevin Collins, and Kersten Pankatz, have trucks with upgraded suspensions, and the purpose of the event was to testdrive and evaluate each other's systems. Information was gathered to help fellow Dodge Ram enthusiasts decide if they really need to upgrade their truck's suspension, and which manufacturer's system to select. Testing was done on freeways, country roads, undulations, speed bumps, and dirt roads.

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The KORE truck is equipped with the Chase system, consisting of variable-rate front coils, mini spring packs for the rear, and Fox 2-inch reservoir shocks. KORE recommends this system for drivers who use their trucks for towing, ranching, off-roading, and long-distance highway driving. This truck also runs the KORE Race Series steering stabilizer and Erated 35-inch Toyo M/T tires.

James Miller's white Ram is equipped with the Lorenz Bilstein 5100 system. Sean Lorenz designed this system with Bilstein shocks, infinite-rate front coils, and a mini leaf-spring pack for the rear. James uses D-rated, 35-inch Toyo A/T tires to fill the wheelwells.

The Carli truck is equipped with the Starter System, which includes linear-rate front coil springs, Bilstein shocks, and a five-leaf progressive spring pack for the rear. Carli builds this system to improve on-road comfort and increase off-road performance. Kevin wrapped his wheels with E-rated, 35-inch Toyo M/Ts.

The testers met in Sacramento, California. After some breakfast at a 24-hour diner, it was time to get busy. Evaluation sheets were handed out, along with a brief description of each test. The route was discussed, along with some basic guidelines such as "Wreck my truck, and you're paying for it!"

The trucks headed west, traveling 22 miles of highway, doing the speed limit. The first section of the test consisted of freeway expansion joints and not-so-smooth pavement typical of California. The drivers exchanged vehicles and reran a 5-mile section of the route. The Carli and Lorenz trucks smoothed out the expansion joints, while the KORE truck rode a little stiff.

Next, the Rams made their way to Prairie City OHV park. The park has a 1-mile off-road course that hosts races for VORRA. This track has jumps, whoops, tight turns and fast straightaways. This track is more extreme than what most drivers typically encounter; however, the suspension manufacturers claim that their systems are designed to work off-road. Again, the KORE truck was firmer than the other two, but it was more controlled. The Carli and Lorenz trucks soaked up the smaller bumps quite well; however, they had reached their limits as the shocks heated up.

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