Posted by Noah Silk on 4/6/2020 to In-Depth Review
When it comes to leveling out Tundra suspension, there are numerous options available. Still, if you’re primary concerns are affordability, comfort, and simplicity, then it’s hard to do better than the 2007-2020 Toyota Tundra Bilstein 5100 Adjustable Leveling Shock Kit. To give a little perspective before talking about specs and ride quality, the truck I reviewed these on is a 2019 Toyota Tundra 4x4. This truck is a full-time workhorse for a local dairy veterinarian, so it sees hundreds of miles a day on highway and gravel roads while carrying a constant 200lb. load of medical supplies and equipment in the bed. Function and durability were the two most significant considerations in a new suspension set up for this rig.
Suspension Specs and DesignBilstein’s 5100 Adjustable Leveling Shock Kit features durable steel body shocks with a zinc-plated finish and a mono-tube, gas-charged interior design that utilizes a digressive piston and self-adjusting deflective valving. What that translates to is a durable shock built to keep your truck’s comfortable ride quality on the street and better equipped to take abuse in the dirt.
This system is height adjustable in the front with the ability to add either 0.87", 1.57", or 2.3" of lift over stock. On this Tundra, we set them to 1.57" for a solid leveled look that didn't require us to add ride height in the rear. Keeping the shocks set below max also affords better ride quality, which can quickly disappear when you try to max out a shock's lift capability. With this setup, the Tundra can clear 275/70R18 (33.4") Falken Wildpeak A/T tires mounted on SCS Ray 10 wheels that measure out to 18x9" with a +25mm offset. The truck has almost no rub whatsoever in daily driving scenarios and minor rub in off-road articulation while turning. It's worth noting that a little trimming on the mud flaps and plastic inner fenders could remedy this rubbing.
On-Road Ride Quality and PerformanceWhen it comes to on-road feel, I’m pleased to report that Bilstein’s 5100 Adjustable Leveling Shock Kit's ride is almost identical to the factory shocks in terms of comfort. Small rocks and imperfections in the asphalt are easily ironed out while still standing up to more substantial hits from speed bumps or potholes. The most notable difference was tighter handling in the rear with slightly less body roll, which is a blessing given the Tundra’s weight and size. I think it’s also important to note that with only 1.57” of lift, the truck can still be appropriately aligned and doesn’t show any signs of abnormal wear on other suspension components or the tires.
Off-Road Ride Quality and PerformanceFor most folks looking to upgrade suspension, off-road benefits are a huge consideration, and Bilstein's kit hits the mark here as well. The thing to remember is that this is a leveling shock designed with light to moderate off-roading in mind, not 80mph sprints through rollers and loose sand. If you want to run the Baja 1000, move along, this isn't the kit for you. If you're going to cruise down forest roads comfortably and crawl through moderately rocky terrain with additional confidence, then look no further.
The Bilstein 5100 Adjustable Leveling Shock Kit outclasses the stock suspension and cheap leveling spacers when you find yourself on washboard roads and light trails. Better valving and more fluid capacity allow for less shock fade and better control when you need it. Another significant advantage is that the extra height provides space for a larger, more aggressive tire. The 5100’s paired with a decent 32” or 33” all-terrain tire can tackle almost any obstacle the average weekend warrior will ever encounter.