The Ford SVT Raptor was the first production pickup built to tackle the untamed desert of the Southwest United States and Baja, Mexico. Until its debut in 2009, SVT was all about high-performance street machines, so this was new and exciting territory. Ford engineers did an impressive job and the truck proved to be a wild success. Through the years, as owners pushed their first-generation SVT Raptors to go faster and faster, the limit of the factory components was quickly found.
Enter ICON Vehicle Dynamics, a company that is intently focused on high-end, high-performance, suspension systems. Seeing these shortcomings and the rabid desire of Raptor owners to go further faster, ICON has brought to the market a line of products aimed at doing just that. Best of all, they didn't just do it for Raptor but instead offer a full line of high-performance suspension systems for nearly every pickup and SUV on the road today.
When we set out to improve our first-generation 2013 SVT Raptor we knew ICON was the crew to talk to. And because we felt what was a failing factory front shock and worn out ball joints (after nearly 90,000 miles of faithful service) we opted for the company's full Stage 4 suspension system.
ICON's Stage 4 suspension system for the 2010 to 2014 Raptor includes the company's Delta Joint billet upper control arms, 3.0-inch front coilover shocks, 3.0-inch rear bypass shocks, rear leaf spring pack, and a rear hydraulic bump stop kit for the rear. All-in, the parts cost just north of $11,000 and are entirely worth the price of admission. We did the installation ourselves with basic hand tools and a couple extra hands. With no hang-ups, the install would take the better part of a long weekend to complete.
3.0-inch CDC Coilover Shocks and Billet Upper Control Arms
ICON's 3.0-inch coilover shocks utilize a full 3.0-inch piston with digressive rebound valving and a flutter stack on compression. The dampers also feature an internal hydraulic system (similar to an external hydraulic bump stop) during the last 40-percent of suspension travel for the best bottom-out control. And for the ultimate in adjustability ICON includes their Compression Damping Control Valve (CDC), which is an external compression adjustment with 10 settings from soft to firm. The coilovers are also height adjustable for those who want just a bit more.
ICON's Delta Joint-equipped billet aluminum upper control arms are designed to improve the overall performance of the Raptor by correcting the front suspension geometry with caster and camber adjustment that wasn't previously available. They also work to provide clearance for larger shocks, such as ICON's 3.0-inch coilovers. The Delta Joint, which is patent pending, combines the durability of a traditional ball joint with the performance characteristics of a race-proven uniball.
RXT 3.0-inch Bypass Shocks and Leaf Springs
In the process of building our Raptor into the ultimate backcountry, whoop slaying, prerunning, and overlanding machine we added a lot of weight to the bed of the truck. To compensate for this ICON offers the company's RXT rear leaf springs and 3.0-inch bypass shocks as part of the Raptor Stage 4 system. The RXT springs, when used with the provided add-a-leaf, are designed to compensate for up to 600 pounds of weight carried in the bed of the truck, which is about the same as we've calculated to have been added to the rear of our Raptor.
Both the RXT springs and shocks can be used independently, however, to get the most out of the system they need to be paired together. And when used together the system really does impress. Working with the help of a buddy, the springs are quite heavy, we were able to install the new springs and shocks in long day in the driveway with basic hand tools. The results are a leveled ride height, an increase in travel of about 25 percent (from 12 inches to 15), and incredible off-road performance.
Hydraulic Rear Bump Stops
If you've ever hit a speedbump or gutter a little too quickly, and haven't we all, then you no doubt know the value of a good suspension bump stop. Most vehicles these days use a microcellular jounce, which is basically an advanced foam rubber. In most situations these types of suspension stoppers are perfectly adequate. However, when you start going faster across rougher terrain a more robust stopper becomes necessary.
ICON's rear hydraulic bump stop kit is fully bolt on and can be installed without removing the truck's bed. The kit's clamshell design not only holds the hydraulic bump stop but also adds strength to the truck's frame in an area where they've proven to need it. The damper itself is 2.0 inches in diameter and features a 2.5-inch stroke.
When combined with the company's RXT leaf springs and 3.0-inch triple bypass shocks our 2013 Ford F-150 Raptor gained an enormous amount of not only wheel travel but also control. Big bumps are smoothed out and we haven't experienced the harsh bottoming that used to happen on large G-outs. There's a little bit of added noise from the bump stop pad contacting the metal strike plate, but the reality is the truck is so loud anyway that it's hardly noticeable. Over the course of hundreds of miles of testing we've been constantly impressed with the performance of the bump stops.
How Does It All Work?
Since installing the full ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage 4 suspension system we've logged about 1,000 miles of off-road travel on varied terrain. We've run desert whoops, mountain roads, sandy dunes, rocky trails, and everything in between. Impressively, the ICON suspension has been unflappable through it all. The truck handles large whoops, dips, and ruts with ease and is incredibly smooth over all types of terrain. We can comfortably and confidently explore any backcountry site we choose.
Highway travel has been just as good, as we've placed about 2,500 road miles on the suspension since installation as well. Because the suspension is a tad stiffer than factory, we haven't noticed a marked increase in body roll or wallow on the highway. We also installed the ICON recommended Hellwig rear anti-sway bar. During this time, we've had zero issues with any piece of the ICON suspension system, and everything continues to function and look as it did on day one.