Suspension (Adjustable, Air, Standard or Sport)?
Posted on December 14, 2012
Many models offer a base or standard suspension, which is the cheapest (both to you as the customer and to them as the manufacturer) and simplest configuration, and an uplevel suspension, which can vary in cost from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. Uplevel suspensions come in a variety of mechanical configurations and under a variety of monikers (usually depending on their configuration), all explained in further detail in Car Match’s Uplevel Suspension section. Which is right for you? Base or standard suspensions usually offer a good compromise between handling, durability and ride quality that’s meant to appeal to a broad group of people. Air suspensions, usually available on luxury models and now some trucks, provide a velvety smooth ride for the car shopper seeking the very best in bump / pothole absorption, but have their downsides. Namely, air suspensions historically have failed at much higher rates than standard suspensions, and their repair costs are dramatically higher. Sport suspensions are often marketed for both luxury and sporty models. They generally improve handling and steering feel, but degrade ride quality (sometimes severely) and increase road noise. Sport suspensions often include bigger wheels and lower profile tires as part of the package, which can have both positive and negative consequences (see our discussion over preferred wheel/tire packages below). The improvements in handling are often imperceptible or barely noticeable in every day driving, but the ride quality degradation will be apparent during every mile that you drive. These tradeoffs can appeal to aggressive or enthusiast drivers, or those who race or track their cars. Car Match generally does not recommend that you “upgrade” to a sports suspension unless you test drive the exact model that you are buying with the sports suspension. Also, beware: a 5-minute test drive rarely gives you an idea [conveys] over how your body will feel after a two-hour trip in a car with a sport suspension. Adjustable suspensions, as a general category, allow the driver to the handling / ride balance through a variety of means, most often through adjustable or magnetorheleological shocks. Certain adjustable suspensions provide an incredible ride / handling balance and are a good value, others are of limited usefulness (the ride adjusts between harsh and harsher). Car Match, through analysis and testing, has a thorough understanding over which models do good implementations of adjustable, air and sports suspensions and will advise you accordingly in its reports.