Leveling Kits: Rough or Tough?
I was reading an article on your website about Tuff Country's 21/2-inch leveling kit with rear 1-inch lift blocks for '04-'08 Ford F-150s. I own a 2007 F-150 and plan to install this kit on my truck. I was curious what tires and wheels you put on that truck. They looked very good as a whole, and I'd like to know where they are available for purchase.
That was actually a Rough Country kit, and the tires were 35x12.50-18 Dick Cepek FC-IIs on Dick Cepek Torque wheels. Check your local tire store; they should be able to order a set for you.
Jeep AWD Mileage Discrepancies
I was just wondering about the long-term team Patriot you say that you average around 18 mpg. One of my friends has a Patriot 4x4 stripped-down model, and he says he gets around 27 mpg. My wife's Patriot is the front-wheel drive version, and we average around 22 mpg. Is this because of the smaller engine in the two-wheel-drive version?
To a great extent, yeah. Besides having a bigger, heavier engine, our Patriot Limited test model also came with the upgraded interior, roof rack and Freedom-Drive II package with skidplates and rear drive assembly, all of which add extra weight and/or aerodynamic drag. Also, our tester logged a lot of stop-and-go, in-city street miles in our Los Angeles home base, as well as a fair number of slow-speed trail miles, all of which have affected mileage adversely. You can read our year-end wrap-up on the Patriot on page 86 of the June '10 issue.
No Love for First-Gen Sportages?
I have a '95 Kia Sportage 4x4 with the SOHC four-cylinder and five-speed manual. I was wondering what all is in the market for my vehicle as far as accessories like lift kits, aftermarket bumpers, and that kind of stuff. I've been looking around on the Internet, and so far I haven't found anything and was just wondering if you could help me out since you do deal with four-wheel drives. Any and all help will be appreciated.
Truth to tell, there's not a huge aftermarket for your Sportage, but there are a few glimmmers of hope for you. For starters, we found a place called (yes, for real) Up Your Kia (www.upyourkia.com) that offers a 3- to 4-inch lift kit for first-gen Sportages, though these "kits" actually seem to use a combination of Jeep TJ springs, shock absorbers from a Toyota RAV4, and bumpstops from either a TJ or an aftermarket supplier such as Energy Suspension. Take a look at their home page-they've got some examples of lifted Sportages there, and they look kinda cool to us.
Other stuff? Eaton at one time manufactured a limited-slip (4.77:1 ratio), and while it has been discontinued, it's always possible that a third-party jobber or eBay seller might have some old units laying around; a limited-slip from a 2000-2002 Honda S2000 might also work as it uses the same (Mazda-sourced) rear carrier as the Sportage, and the Kia ring and pinion gears are a popular swap-in for S2000 tuner-dudes who are looking for lower gearing. Shock upgrades are available from KYB, exhaust options can be had from Flowmaster, K&N offers a freer-flowing intake, and you can even get a Class 3 hitch from Curt Manufacturing. But as you might guess from reading this reply, if you're looking for, say a lot of lift, locking diffs, a solid axle swap, or a lot more power, you're going to need to think creatively.