All JeepIt says “All Jeeps!” on the front cover of the magazine. As a subscriber, I’m quite disappointed to see that the magazine is filled with mostly Wranglers. Should I look elsewhere if I want to find articles on Grand Cherokees? I hope to find other Jeep models featured in upcoming issues.
Jp has always included all Jeeps. Of course we generally focus on off-road performance, and the majority of vehicles you see on the trail today are indeed Jeep Wrangler models. Our coverage reflects that, but it doesn’t mean that the stories in Jp don’t apply to you. There is a lot of useful general off-road and performance tech in Jp including tire tests, shock tests, traction adder reviews, and much more that can be applied to any Jeep model, including the Grand Cherokee. We also occasionally include Grand Cherokee features and Grand-specific tech that crosses our path too. Stick around, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed.
JK PlanningI just got my first issue (Sept. ’17). I picked it up in a deal offered by one of your sister publications. I am looking to get a JK to replace my CJ-7 in the not too far off future. I figured that my research might go a little easier with a magazine dedicated to Jeeps and not concerned about $100,000 Land Rovers.
The first article (“No Cutting Needed: JK Wrangler Lift”) in the first Jp I ever laid eyes on was a feature about the exact same lift kit (a Rubicon Express Short Arm Super-Flex kit) installed in the exact same model of Jeep (’12 to present JK Unlimited) that I’ve been researching for parts and accessories for almost two years.
Being that Jp started with a brand-new Jeep Rubicon, I have an observation as well as questions. Doesn’t the Rubicon model with automatic transmission come with 3.73 gears regardless of a tow package (4.10 for manual transmission)?
The Rubicon Express Super-Flex comes in a 3.5-inch and 4.5-inch version. Is that 1-inch really that big of a factor for 37-inch tires? I’ve heard recommendations for keeping it lower due to age and accessibility. How involved is it to trim the fenders? If you just get the stock black flares, what’s the big deal?
I’m planning on running 5.38:1 ratio axle gears in my Jeep.
The ’17 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon media kit states that it comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission backed up with 4.10:1 ratio axle gears. The ’17 Rubicon models with the optional automatic transmission come with 3.73:1 ratio axle gears. Our ’16 model as well as the ’17 model are available with optional 4.10:1 ratio axle gears behind the automatic transmission. And yes, the tow package 3.73:1 ratio gears are already present in the auto-equipped ’17 Wrangler Rubicon models.
Sticking with a shorter lift kit for easier accessibility and to keep your Jeep’s center of gravity lower is a good plan. The extra 1-inch of lift does make a difference when fitting 37-inch tires. Although, there are aftermarket fender flares available that allow up to 37-inch tires with no lift at all. Proper backspacing will be critical. So yes, you probably could trim the factory fenders enough to fit 37s with only 3.5 inches of lift, but it is generally more trimming than most people want to do to a vehicle they are still making payments on. You will also be cutting metal, not just the plastic flares. Keep in mind that stepping up to 37s opens up a whole can of worms on a JK. The factory axle and steering assemblies are at about their operational limits with 35-inch tires. The 37s could lead to problems, depending on your off-road driving habits of course. If a low center of gravity is important, stick with 35-inch tires and the 3.5-inch lift. This combo will sit about an inch lower than a JK on 37-inch tires with cut fenders and a 3.5-inch lift, and a total of about two inches lower than a JK on 37-inch tires with a 4.5-inch lift.
The 5.38:1 ratio axle gears are a good match for the 37-inch tires you have planned for your Jeep. A 5.13:1 ratio would also work.
Jeep Shots ThanksI just received the September ’17 issue and saw my Jeep in Jeep Shots. Thank you! Compared to the other submissions, it’s got a long way to go, but I appreciate you including it even if it doesn't have half of the upgrades the others have.
All Jeeps are eligible for Jeep Shots! If you want to see your Jeep in Jp’s Jeep Shots you can send us a high-resolution image of your Jeep. The image should be at least 1,200 pixels across. Don’t forget to include a list of all of the modifications you have made and where you like to use it. Email your Jeep image and info to email@example.com with “Jeep Shots” in the subject line.
Dream Jeep GrinderThank you for printing my letter (Sept. ’17, Mailbag) about the perfect Jeep. But look, your original premise was with an unlimited budget. Then you complain that my concept is not affordable. You're just like my wife who tells me “Have fun. Be careful.” Make up your mind!
More Perfect JeepIf I could build my perfect Jeep I'd finish what I have started. I own an orange ’56 CJ-6 (titled as ’56, but it’s possibly a ’61-’63) with a 327 Chevy Corvette engine, T-10 manual transmission, Spicer 18 transfer case, Dana 27 front axle, and a Dana 44 rearend. The front suspension is made up of Wagoneer springs and shackles. It has 4.88:1 ratio axle gears, a Powr-Lok limited-slip rear differential, 31-inch tires, and three fuel tanks. It also has a PTO winch and an axillary overdrive.
I want to swap in a 3-53 Detroit Diesel engine, 5x4 twin-stick transmissions, a divorced Spicer 18 with low gears, a 14-bolt rear axle, Dana 60 front axle, and ARB Air Lockers front and rear. I’d keep the leaf springs. I’m not sure if I would go spring-under or spring-over. I’d set it on 38-inch tires and try to keep the old-school swing-out tire carrier. Of course I’d also want to fix the rust, which is on all the outer skins. I might consider a 401ci V-8 instead of the 3-53. My dad and I put one in his CJ-6 when I was younger. I'd only consider running the gasser for sentimental reasons.
Garage Built or Not BuiltI was thumbing through the latest issue and decided that I’d share my thoughts. I'm getting bored of off-road magazines as of late and all of the heavily modified Jeeps built by folks with industry insider help. Many are built practically overnight because they have unlimited resources and bank accounts. I used to read hot rod magazines at one time until I read a couple stories in this one magazine. On the cover there were two cars and inside two articles. The first one said so and so and his wife built this particular car. They put countless hours and time into it. But as you read on, you found that they hadn’t spent any time on the car whatsoever. They didn't lay a hand on it! They took it from this shop, to that shop, and then to another shop. They did nothing but look at the work others had done, and then it won a bunch of awards at car shows.
The second article was of a ’30s hot rod. It was beautiful. But the thing with this one was that this guy did everything himself in his own garage, with exception of the paint. He wanted it perfect, so he got his friend to do it. Then it says later in the article that he doesn’t win much at car shows and that the winners usually have deep pockets and the help of lots of shops that he can't compete with.
After those articles I have not read a hot rod magazine since. If I glance at one, the story is all the same, a custom shop built it, or they had tons of sponsorship. You can also tell this by all the stickers off-roaders put on their rigs these days. I call them steal me stickers.
This stuff is big in the off-road builds. I see it all the time. Some magazines showcase trucks that really don't even run because they were slapped together for SEMA or something. But then other trucks that are a little less SEMA-styled are built by people that own companies in the off-road aftermarket. Sometimes it’s their son or their dad that has an aftermarket shop. There is always some kind of catch or association to an aftermarket supplier. It is getting kind of boring to me. I want to see real people actually building their own vehicles. I want to hear about them getting grease on their hands and busting their own knuckles on their projects. Of course it’s nice to showcase the new and already existing parts to give us ideas, but always cool to see what guys and gals have built in their own garages without the backing of some kind of manufacturer or race team.
I don’t want to see all rock crawlers, just trail rigs that people take out on weekend runs with friends. The Jeeps I like to see are like my Jeep Cherokee. Jeeps that are built to explore and be able to deal with more than what I may come across. These days, I'm going in a direction that I guess folks call overlanding. Overlanding to me is a weekend thing because I have to go back to work on Monday to afford the parts I may have broken. All Jeeps are a work in progress, but I did it! I don't know what I'm doing and I'm learning as I go. I always tell folks that if the book says four hours, it actually takes six to eight because I’m learning and there is always one bolt that won't come off.
I see lots of showcase stuff and not a lot of trail stuff. Jp once did shootout on coolers. I bought that magazine! Then I bought one of the coolers. That was a good article. Where are all the adventures? Where is all the adventure stuff? I don't want to read about Dana 60 axles and other custom front axle assemblies that cost stupid amounts of cash. I'm sticking to my stock axles and beefed up internals. Everyone else out here does budget builds. We have to figure out ways to do things we can't afford to buy our way out of. My Jeep costs me enough as it is and if I go into debt buying all these showcase parts, my wife won't let me drive it because it’s too expensive to go out and break.
Also, I like the guys that make stuff themselves! That stuff is really cool. We can't all afford to go out and pay a $1,000 for bumpers, cages, and tents. Yeah, I’m thinking I'm starting to wander away from looking at magazine racks. I pass them by more often these days and don't even look.
This is just my two cents. Sorry guys, I’m tired of the showcase vehicles built with deep pockets or industry support. Let’s see some of what real people are building.
Princeton BC, Canada
Thanks for the note! You must be mistaking Jp for some other magazine. We cover Jeeps of all build types and even revere low-buck home-grown tech in the pages of Jp. However, it seems kind of unfair to say someone can’t have a cool Jeep that other people will appreciate if they can’t do the work themselves, regardless of the resources available to them. We’d argue that even a high-dollar, shop-built Jeep will have several ideas that could be implemented by a garage fabricator on a peanut butter budget.
We always love to hear what readers think about every issue of Jp. We do our best to provide a wide range of coverage of all enthusiast Jeeps in every issue. Do we miss the mark? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Mailbag” in the subject line and let us know what you think! Due to volume we can’t respond to every email, but rest assured that we read all of them and appreciate any and all input you take the time to provide.
Dirt ’N Drive ComsThe change in the ’18 Jp Dirt ’N Drive that requires a VHF radio took me right out of applying. I know it was probably done for safety concerns, but it still sucks. To get a complete VHF radio system installed will be just short of $1,000. That’s a little steep when I already own a CB system. Running smaller and tighter groups might be the solution.
Sorry you felt this way and missed out, but hand-held (5-watt) VHF radios can be found for as little as $50. An extended-life battery and an external antenna might run another $50 or so depending on the radio brand. Among other companies, Rugged Radios (ruggedradios.com) offers VHF radios and complete VHF radio kits to fit nearly any communication requirement and budget. We had one of its hard-mount 25-watters and a 5-watt handheld; both worked spectacularly throughout the event.
The reasons for the switch to VHF are many. A VHF radio has important features that a CB does not. More importantly, a VHF radio will allow everyone to communicate from farther distances with less interruption and cross traffic than with a CB. The switch to VHF helped keep the group together and in communication, which is ultimately the point of the Jp Dirt ’N Drive.