If I'm to the point of needing to replace worn shocks/struts, is there any benefit to shopping around for dampers that will improve the ride, or will they all feel about the same? (For the sake of simplicity, let's assume the rest of the car is in excellent condition).
There are some things about your car that you can improve by just buying a better quality part, like tires. Spark plugs, on the other hand, are a good example of something you're likely to never notice the difference (except on the dyno or the track).
Are dampers more like tires (the right damper can make your ride more enjoyable), or more like spark plugs (so long as the job gets done, you won't be able to tell the difference between spending a lot and spending a little). And to be clear, I'm asking specifically about your typical American driver who is driving a $20,000 to $40,000 late model sedan, is never going to take it to the track, and isn't willing to crawl under it to manually tune the rebound of each damper.