Full-Traction Suspension 6-Inch Lift
The XJ Cherokee is a prime candidate for suspension modifications. Con-quering the Jeep Speed Challenge and traversing the world's most rugged trails has earned the XJ prominence among four-wheelers. A suspension lift and oversized tires help the XJ Cherokee achieve these levels of performance. While 6 inches of lift puts a Jeep CJ or Wrangler into the 35- to 37-inch-diameter tire realm, the XJ Cherokee needs such height just to mount 33-inch tires.
For our "XJ Cherokee Trail Runner" project, Toyo's A/T Open Country LT285/75R16 tires provide an optimal choice for on- and off-pavement driving. Mounted on American Racing's impressive Mojave-series "ATX" Teflon-coated 16x8-inch rims, this wheel/tire combination requires a rugged, well-conceived 6-inch suspension package.
Full-Traction Suspension's FTS720601 Performance Suspension System has the ingredients our trail runner requires. The XJ Cherokee's unitized-body construction demands a "system" approach to chassis changes. For off-pavement pounding or Jeep Speed competition, any lift package short of a complete replacement suspension system would leave the XJ Cherokee chassis vulnerable to fatigue and damage.
Full-Traction Suspension (FTS) has taken each of the XJ's suspension and structural points into account. The system's rear leaf springs, massive in size and stamina, demand the hefty shackle upgrade provided in the package. The rugged FTS front suspension design delivers exceptional flex and articulation, pivoting from solid, mid-chassis mounting points. Control arms fabricated of 2x0.250-inch-wall DOM feature JM-16T Heim joints at the lower axle attachments. To back this up, FTS includes substantial frame brackets and upgrade hardware throughout the system.
Long, stout front coil springs; a dropped pitman arm; front stabilizer-bar disconnects; a stronger front track bar system; DOT-rated brake hoses; bump stops; rear-spring U-bolts; a host of plated, high-grade hardware; and the optional Full-Traction Suspension "M-Force" gas-pressurized shock absorbers rounded out our package. Advance Adapters' Slip-Yoke Eliminator kit (see our Jan. '05 issue) was necessary for this installation. Likewise, the precision, upgraded CV-type rear driveshaft by Powertrain Industries (a supplier to Full-Traction Suspension and the heavy-duty automotive and truck aftermarkets) is also essential for a 6-inch suspension height increase.
Our first on-highway driving experience proved the importance of a "suspension system" approach. Despite the heft of the front and rear springs, the ride quality has actually improved over stock. Cornering is firmer and readily predictable. The overall highway effect is stable-handling, with excellent road feel. Toyo's A/T Open Country tires provide sure, rock-steady grip, both on- and off-pavement. With air pressure adjusted for the light weight of the XJ Cherokee, these tires provide the right tread and traction for every season-and all types of terrain.
Off-pavement, from corrugated washboard to low-range crawling, this tire-and-wheel combination is tops. Toyo's tires have true multi-purpose capability. Considering their record on fullsize work trucks, these tires should last for years and years on an XJ Cherokee.
The switch from 3.55:1 to 4.10:1 axle ratios (see the Nov. and Dec. '05 issues) brings the XJ back to stock highway performance with the new 33-inch-diameter Toyo tires. Peppy and versatile with its AW-4 automatic transmission and 4.0L engine, this XJ now delivers the off-pavement performance a trail runner requires. Full-Traction Suspension's 6-inch long-arm system has transformed this light SUV grocery-grabber into a rugged trail-and-traction machine.
Overall, we now have a rock-crawling, multipurpose rig that qualifies as a trail runner. We can also get to and from the trails in comfort-and with great fuel economy, too. The next items on the list are upgraded bumpers and a trail recovery winch.