Being in the auto aftermarket with a focus on Rancho shocks and suspension, it is not uncommon to hear customers ask, “What is the difference between Rancho RS9000XL, Rancho RSX Reflex and Rancho RS5000 shocks?” All three are renowned products from a company that helped pioneer the off-road industry, but each is designed for different uses and riding experiences. The Rancho RS line of shocks is geared toward the Jeep, Truck, and SUV markets, especially if the vehicle will be used in off-road conditions.
At the entry level is the Rancho RS5000 shock. The RS5000 shock is a premium (almost general purpose) shock that is often installed as a better replacement than the factory one for vehicles with worn shocks or upgraded suspensions. It is also recommended for the budget conscious consumer. The RS5000 is designed for comfort and control across the entire riding spectrum, from street to smooth off-road. The result of this is a ride quality that is often rougher than factory shocks provided, because firm shocks are ideal for off-road riding and this is achieved at the sacrifice of some comfort on the street.
An upgrade to the RS5000 is the RSX Reflex damper. The uniqueness of this damper is the incorporation of an automatic “bump detection” valve that opens and closes depending on how quickly the piston is forced in or out. This provides a wider range of comfort and control across the entire driving spectrum, from street to aggressive off-road. The most important aspect of the RSX is that each shock is designed specifically for the vehicle for which it will be installed. This provides optimal performance according to the weight of the vehicle. The downside to the RSX is that it is a “light truck (plus)” shock absorber and therefore not available for heavy duty (HD) and super-duty (SD) trucks and larger SUVs (at least not in this moment). This is not to say that it can’t handle heavy off-road use, because it can. It just can’t handle the excess weight of certain full-size vehicles.
An upgrade to both the RS5000 and the RSX Reflex is the RS9000XL. The RS9000XL shock features a manually adjustable valve system that allows the driver complete control of the smoothness or firmness of the piston movement. This provides the widest range of comfort and control across the entire driving spectrum, from street to extreme off-road. Ride quality can be set as smooth for highway driving, medium for city / urban driving, and firm for off-road driving and even towing. There are nine possible configurations so that the most demanding driver (or their passengers) can enjoy a quality trip. In addition to manual tuning, an auxiliary remote control unit is available that allows the shock absorbers to be adjusted at the touch of a button while the vehicle is parked or in motion. The RS9000XL was designed with today’s largest trucks in mind, so in addition to the typical 2-1 / 8 “and 2-3 / 8” body diameters found on most shocks, the RS9000XL is also available with a 2-3 / 4 “body for select full-size applications.
When choosing your Rancho shocks, you will need to consider your budget and what type of ride they will be used for. As expected, RS5000 costs less, RSX costs roughly 40-50% more, and RS9000XL costs roughly 40-50% more than that. If you are looking to save money or just replace your old and worn shock absorbers, the RS5000 will perform well. If you’re still on a budget, but want a ride higher than what an RS5000 offers, the RSX Reflex is recommended. If budget isn’t an issue, or if you want the best shock available without getting into the ‘extreme’ off-road shocks, the RS9000XL is recommended.