Over the past few months we have put more than 10,000 miles on our Project X-Blade Nissan Xterra, and we can still say that it's been a satisfying driving experience. In order to have logged all of those miles, the vehicle has made treks to various destinations all over California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. So far, we haven't experienced any problems whatsoever with the vehicle. We have noticed on a couple of off-road trips that the rear end of our Xterra was a bit soft, which caused it to bottom out much too easily in the dirt. We also prefer turning off VDC controls to give us more control over the handling and performance. The downhill assist has come in handy on several occasions and, along with the four-wheel-drive system, has performed flawlessly.
Now that we've put some miles on the vehicle and taken the right amount of time to discover its true capabilities on- and off-road in stock form, it's time to add new suspension and tires to the Xterra. For our first suspension system, we wanted something that would, for the most part, keep the vehicle running with the stock IFS suspension package. Rest assured wheeling fans, we would love to have started off this project by chopping off everything below the frame, swapping in new axles, and building one of the craziest Xterras around, but we think we'll hold off on those plans until a later date.
Rancho Suspension gave us a call once it heard about our project vehicle and immediately wanted to be a part of this opportunity since it is in the process of developing a new Quick-Lift suspension system for a number of vehicles, including the Xterra. Please keep in mind that this suspension system was still in its prototype stage during our install, so the part numbers may change as the product becomes available for retail sales. By the time you read this, however, the system should already be available through Rancho.
Instead of taking you through a complete bolt-by-bolt installation, we felt it would be more beneficial to talk about the changes in handling, off-road prowess, street performance, and fuel mileage that we have noticed since adding the new suspension and tires. Below is a brief explanation of our installation process; please consult the instructions for use provided with your Rancho suspension system before undertaking installation.
The front suspension includes a new Quick-Lift shock that utilizes the factory coil spring. You will notice in the above photo the new location of the coil spring plate. What this does is allow the coil to compress more, which results in lifting the front of the vehicle 2 inches. Installation on the front end is very simple and can be done in your garage with the help of a friend.
We jacked up the front of the vehicle and placed it safely on jackstands, removed the front tires, and removed the factory coil assembly from the vehicle. Using a spring compressor, we reinstalled the factory coil spring to the new RS99790 Quick-Lift shocks, installed the dust cover and coil hat, and mounted the new coil assembly back on the vehicle.