KYB Excel G vs OEM: What’s Actually Better?
Stylethority is reader-supported. When you buy through links on the site, we may earn a commission.
I see this question pop up quite frequently:
How do KYB’s Excel G shocks or struts compare to OEM suspension?
Often, the query comes from the owner of a Japanese car. After all, KYB has been OEM on many Lexus and Toyota gens, as well as some Honda models.
Even if your ride isn’t Japanese, this is a logical question.
In summary: KYB Excel G shocks are an improvement over OEM suspension in most cases. They will ride a bit stiffer, though. A great perk is the vastly improved cornering over any OE equivalent.
That said, the Excel G shocks won’t last as long as most higher-grade OEMs. Expect up to ~9-10 years depending on usage. Still great considering the 2x-3x lower price. KYB strut assemblies should last you longer.
KYB Excel G vs OEM shocks:
Ride feel changes
As I elaborated earlier, Excel G suspension will always ride slightly stiffer than how your OEM shocks felt. This is due to their calibration which, believe it or not, has been adapted to the aftermarket needs of your vehicle.
I mean, it makes sense: the merciless wear and tear introduces some changes in any vehicle. Even if you tinker around and fix everything, the natural process has taken its toll.
Excel G shocks have been calibrated and valved to perform firmer, so they make up for some of this wear and tear. You can see the changes in both rebound rate and compression values:
The firmer damping might not be for everyone. That’s why in some of my Japanese car suspension guides, I’ve recommended the softer alternative Monroe.
However, a lot of people prefer tighter vehicle control. To add to this, KYB Excel G struts specifically excel at cornering due to several key design differences. Let’s see them.
KYB Excel G:
Some important design factors
Let’s start with the cornering I mentioned in the previous section. Why Excel G struts and not shocks?
The reason for this improved control is something simple, yet skipped on by other manufacturers:
Thicker body of the struts and the applicable suspension brackets.
Excel G struts are thicker and have a reinforced construction that allows for better wheel alignment. With reduced flex, your control over your vehicle significantly improves.
I’ve seen some people wonder why KYB Excel G struts or shocks are slightly smaller than their OEM suspension. Herein lies another reason for the improved cornering:
It’s the internal rebound springs.
Another crucial design factor is the triple chrome-plated piston rod. This reduces seal wear and, paired up with the multi-lip oil seal, it keeps oil where it should be. That’s right, inside the shock/strut body so it can perform proper damping.
Last but not least, another improvement over OEM is the rear vehicle support when braking. Excel G ‘holds down’ your car properly so the stopping distance can be limited, thus protecting your brakes from excessive wear and tear.
Well, it depends on your OE application. With some vehicles, the OEM suspension will last noticeably longer than an Excel G. With others, the shocks’ longevity is basically the same.
In most cases, you can expect KYB to last you 5-10 years or so on more intensively used vehicles. That’s what I’ve seen around community forums, and with people around me. It doesn’t seem much, but remember that Excel G can be 2-3 times cheaper than OE options.
KYB Excel G shocks vs struts:
What’s the difference?
Well, some vehicles only use shocks, while others rely on struts for their suspension. That’s just about it. There are even some cars that combine both – shocks at the front, and struts at the rear.
There’s something else that’s more interesting:
Not many people know the popular KYB Strut Plus assemblies are often based on the Excel G line.
Here’s how a pair of this exact setup looks, this is what a close friend of mine runs:
What’s the benefit of these assemblies?
As I’ve pointed out in another post, it’s the convenience. With the Strut Plus:
- You don’t need to deal with spring compressors.
- All the hardware comes included in the kit.
- You get a 100% OE fit for your whole suspension setup.
In some cases, this is the true value of Excel G over OEM setups. For example, Toyota doesn’t have OE strut assemblies for some of its passenger cars. Honda does, but the struts are twice the price of a, say, CR-V KYB Strut Plus kit.
KYB GR2 vs Excel G:
A common misconception
I’ve seen this time and after time, and it’s time to make it clear:
The KYB GR2 is now defunct.
Or, more than defunct per se, KYB has finally straightened up its marketing efforts.
Here’s the thing: GR2 was basically a re-painted, re-named Excel G. GR2 was a silver-colored shock that had the absolute same valving, design, and ride feel as the Excel G.
A few years ago KYB finally got the memo and rebranded all of GR2 into Excel G. Now you’ll only see the black-painted Excel G as suspension options.
Note: If you need more buffed-up KYB suspension options, check out my round-up review of their shocks.
Wrapping it up + DIY tips
All in all, I’d say the Excel G is a decent OEM alternative in both shocks and struts. I’d say the struts are a step above, considering that many OE brands either skip strut assemblies or make them prohibitively expensive.
If you have the money, though, an OEM set is always the safest choice. Especially with COVID supply chain logistics, aftermarket parts have taken a hit. They might not be as durable as they once were.
OEM shocks are always softer in terms of dampening too. In my opinion, that’s not always a good thing for older vehicles. However, some people prefer a soft over a firm ride feel.
A lot of people decide to DIY suspension replacements to reduce costs. It’s not that hard of a task, in all fairness. Especially with the Strut Plus assemblies which make it easier even for total newbies.
Here’s a good video from KYB with tips on installing their shocks or struts:
One thing I’ve seen people commonly do is grab the shock shaft with pliers. KYB covers it too – for the love of God, please don’t do that! That’s a sure way to cause premature leaks.
If even Excel G is too expensive for you, head over to my KYB vs TRQ comparison for an even cheaper, entry-level alternative.
Vehicles I’d recommend KYB shocks or Strut Plus kits on.
From the Japanese ones:
- Toyota Camry, Prius or Corolla: Here’s a popular Corolla kit
- Honda Accord, CR-V or Element: Here’s a 2008-2012 Accord assembly or check my full guide to Accord struts.
From American-made vehicles:
- Older Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra, Chevy Avalanche, GMC Yukon.
- Older Dodge or Ford vehicles like Dodge Durango or Dacota, Ford F-150 or Bronco: These Excel G shocks fit late 80s-late 90s vehicles.
Let me know if you have any additional questions!
*Note: the two images used in the post are a part of KYB Americas documentation.
- Woolx vs Smartwool: Discussing Some Details - October 4, 2023
- Best Struts For Honda Accord & Element: What Works - September 22, 2023
- Bilstein vs Monroe Shocks: My Opinion On What Works Best - September 19, 2023