Rancho's New 4-Inch Suspension Kit For '05 Super Dutys
With the absence of front leaf springs under Ford's latest version of the new Super Duty, we decided a friendly bet amongst co-workers was in line to see who would make the biggest splash with a new Super Duty at the 2004 Specialty Equipment Manufacturers' Association (SEMA) show, held last November in Las Vegas. We figured a smaller, more hard-core company would be first to execute a lift for the new five-link Ford. However, despite all our infinite wisdom (or lack thereof), we were wrong. Rancho Suspension surprisingly stirred the biggest buzz at the SEMA convention with its 4-inch kit for the new SD. Not only did Rancho manage to beat most other manufacturers to the market with its kit, they were also able to snag a "Best New Off-Road Product" Award from the fine folks at SEMA. For these two reasons alone, we decided we should line up a ride-and-drive with the people at Rancho to get a feel for the new kit and understand the engineering that went into it. So with a free day in the December slowdown, we took a trip down to Rancho's Southern California R&D facility to see why its new 4-inch kit was named best in show.
We drove Rancho's test-mule Super Duty a good long time to get a feel for the kit over a variety of terrain. We didn't jump it, but we did flog it over some rough stuff. Our honest assessment: The new kit makes the normally rough-riding 3/4-ton Ford pickup seem more like a 1/2-ton with upgraded shocks. We think a large portion of the ride improvement is due to the fully adjustable RS 9000X remote-reservoir Pro Series shock absorbers. With the push of a button we were able to custom-tune the truck's ride. Set the pressure to level 9, and the ride is very firm; set the level to 2, and the feel is similar to that of a new F-150 pickup. We recommend this setup to anyone looking for the ultimate control over shock damping. As for the kit itself, we like the feel of it, but hesitate to recommend the system to anyone who really plans to 'wheel a Super Duty hard. The system's rear block/four-leaf-pack arrangement isn't designed for max articulation, and the shock's relatively small dimensions (2-inch diameter, 5/8-inch shaft) could lead to shock fade under severe use. But if you need a good lift for a tow rig or everyday driver, this system rocks.