There is always room for improvement with any 4x4 that comes straight off the dealer forecourt, simply because they were built to suit the needs of a wider audience and more general purposes.
One aspect that could do with some tweaking in focusing your 4x4's capabilities to suit your intent is in the area of aftermarket shock absorbers and tyres, which would alter its ride and capabilities. Here are some of the best shock absorbers and tyres that were released in 2018.
TJM Pace shock absorber
TJM has released the PACE, a dual-adjustable 52mm-bore single-wall monotube shock absorber with remote reservoir. The ‘dual adjustable’ refers to the eight-stage compression and rebound adjustability (accessed via a hand-adjustable dial on the shock and reservoir).
The remote reservoir is connected via a steel-braided oil hose, and there’s a patented internal hydraulic bump-stop inside the shock that assists in dampening the effect of sudden impact on the shock and prevents bottoming-out. It does this by progressively increasing damping resistance as loads increase on the shock. The shock shaft and seals are protected by a stone guard and there’s also an adjustable coilover spring seat (for applicable vehicles).
The Aussie-engineered and designed PACE comes with a three-year/100,000km shocks and struts warranty. Available at launch for LC76, 78 and 79, as well as Ford’s PX Ranger (2012-onwards) and the Mazda BT-50 (2012-onwards).
4x4 tuning guide: Adjustable bypass shock absorbers
EFS XTR shock kit – Toyota HiLux
The brains trust at EFS released a speccy 40mm bore XTR shock kit for Toyota’s Hilux (dual-cab and single-cab, 2005-2015). The kit allows for an increase in fluid volume which assists in preventing the build-up of heat in the shock and the resultant fade that you can experience on rugged corrugated tracks.
The shocks feature Dynamic Motion Control Technology (DMCT), which alters the valve forces dependent on the velocity of the fluid as it travels through the piston valve. As oil speeds up through the valve, this tech slows that flow down for improved control in high-speed scenarios. When the oil is passing more slowly through the valve (during off-camber/slow-speed off-road conditions) it allows the oil through the valve at a higher volume to assist in suspension flex.
RRP: $269.50 each (XTR 40mm front strut); $180 each (XTR 40mm rear shock absorbers)
Cooper Tires AT3
The US tyre giant has released a new version – or should we say, three separate versions – of its super-popular AT3. The AT3’s three variants include one aimed at soft-roaders, with the other two – AT3 LT and AT3 XLT – for 4x4 vehicles. The tyre will come in a wide range of sizes, with the LT and XLT covering all popular off-roaders sold here in Australia.
The new tread design includes stone ledges to eject stones from within the tread void, Whisper Groove Shields (claimed to reduce on-road noise by 20 per cent) and Scalloped Shoulders for additional soft-surface traction.
4x4 gear buyers' guide: 4x4 tyres
The carcass is tough, with high-tensile body plys for robustness and super-tensile steel belts (LT and XLT) across the full tread area (edge to edge), while the new compound uses high-content coupled silica for enhanced cut-and-chip resistance. No wonder Cooper Tires is confident it can offer an 80,000km warranty.