Suspension Kits Worthy of Your XJ Cherokee
When it comes to getting off the paved road, you need a vehicle with capability. Just like in hiking, you need the shoes that protect your feet and your body. Those would be the tires on your XJ. You need energy and the will to get off the trail and go for it. In your XJ Cherokee, that would be the drive line and fuel. You also need strength and stamina and flexibility. This article takes us to the suspension. The suspension on your XJ Cherokee is the strength, stamina and flexibility to get you over the rocks, the humps, the bumps, the ruts and any other terrain that stands in your way. The suspension if you will, is equal to the lower part of your body when you are going off the trail. Its the knees, the ankles and the stability muscles that keeps your vehicle hopping.
The Factory Suspension: All XJ Cherokees were built with a unibody design. The body and frame rails are tied together as one piece as opposed to a body on frame design like most trucks were built at the time. XJ’s also have solid axles in both front and rear. The suspension has both coil and leaf springs. Clearances front and rear are 7.3 inches and 8.3 inches respectively. The XJ came with Dana front and rear axles. In the front AMC/Chrysler from 84-99 Used a Dana 30 High Pinion and from 00-01 a Dana 30 Low Pinion was installed. The rear axles consisted of either a Dana 35 or in upgraded models from 87-89, a Dana 44 on XJ Cherokee’s that had a tow package.
Economy Kits: Under normal circumstances, I recommend to everyone that you stay away from economy suspension kits. When I say economy I mean in the $500 or less range. That being said, if you have a new to you factory XJ and don’t have a lot of money to get started try the Zone Offroad Products Lift Kit from Quadratec. Priced at a meager $318, it gives you a quality 3 inch lift. Just enough to give that XJ Cherokee a little room over the terrain when getting off road.
On Amazon.com there is also another economy 3 inch lift kit called the Rough Country 3″ Suspension Lift Kit. At $280 and a 4.5 star rating, this seems like it could be a real bargain. We at ratedxj.com have not tested this suspension kit, but if you have, please feel free to comment and let us know what kind of review you would give on this kit.
Mid Range Kits:
Mid range suspension lifts are probably the right range to be in when it comes to the XJ Cherokee. If you are not rock crawling and doing other extreme four wheel drive sports when you are off road, looking to see places that most people can’t see then you need enough clearance and stability to get over, around and through the rough stuff. Boulders, mud, snow, rivers, washes, creeks and other various obstacles block your path. That requires tires and a suspension high enough to keep your axles and undercarriage clear. A little higher on the lift and a little wider in the tires will do the job. Enter the Trail Master 4.5″ Lift Kit. Priced at around $750 it gives you more than the economy 3″ kits and still is reasonably priced.
Amazon has the Rough Country 4.5″ Lift Kit for much less. Priced at just $500, happens to be just a little bit more than the economy range kits but does give you quite a bit more than the 3″ lifts can deliver. This is the lift we recommend and it works beautifully. This kit has an easy bolt on installation and usually takes around 4-6 hours to install yourself. This kit has a 4 star rating on Amazon.
Premium Lift Kits: There are premium kits that give you more than the shocks, springs, hardware and linkage. These premium kits come long or short arm, are adjustable and come with premium connections and hardware designed to take a beating. While they tend to be a little pricey, many come with long life or lifetime warranties on parts. One excellent example is the Clayton Off Road 4.5 Inch Premium Short Arm Lift Kit. The kit comes with everything you need, a lifetime guarantee and is made right here in the U.S.A. Priced at $2219 is a lot more than the previous kits mentioned but the difference in quality and the lifetime warranty on parts is well worth the money. That is just one example of a premium priced kit. There are many available. Don’t be afraid to research before you spend the money. Ask about warrantied parts, quality in the manufacturing etc… before you go high end.
Summary: We know that all of these choices as well as the hundreds of others out there can make it confusing. We recommend you start with your budget. Then go to the quality and capability. If you only have $600 to spend, you are going to have to decide on capability first then quality. That means warranty and quality hardware maybe lacking. If you have $1200-$2000 to spend, you can get higher end parts in the 4.5 to 6 inch class but may not get the lifetime warranties available on the higher end kits. If budget is no matter, then by all means go for the nicest kits money can buy with lifetime parts warranty coverage.
Have fun, stay safe and get out and make your XJ a Rated XJ Cherokee. Thank you for your time. Give us some feedback below.