Terrible aerodynamics, a high center of gravity, and more weight in aftermarket accessories than a four-door Civic could safely transport. If that sounds like an accurate description of your Jeep, don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’ve been working on our ’04 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited for a few months now, and the modifications are starting to take its toll on the performance and fuel economy. If we’re being honest (which we always are), the Jeep never delivered great fuel economy in stock form anyway.
Shortly after we installed our new suspension system a few months back, we regeared the axles with 4.88 gears. This helped put the LJ back in the powerband with the 35-inch Toyo mud-terrains, but we wouldn’t call the Wrangler overly spritely. We had outfitted the Jeep with an inexpensive stubby muffler around the same time we installed the suspension. The resulting sound was somewhere between a high-powered vacuum cleaner and a drunken goat, depending on the rpm level. After our last highway trip, we were over the drone and wanted to get something better.
We had already been on the search for a few other performance upgrades and ended up landing at Banks Power. We’ve had good luck with the company’s products in the past and saw that the Stinger System included exactly what we were looking for (exhaust, intake, and programmer). After a few hours wrenching one afternoon, we were able to go test out the new wares.
The first thing we noticed was the annoying exhaust tune was replaced by a throatier and less boy-racer note. The cold-air intake was also more noticeable in both an audible sense and seat-of-the-pants feel. As for the programmer, if you are willing to run the higher octane settings, you will notice an even bigger difference. We’re frugal, so we stuck with the lower-octane tune. With almost 150,000 miles on the odometer, we’ve had a few check engine lights pop up, so it’s been nice to have the on-board scan tool. There are a few other features the programmer offers, but you don’t get as much out of it as you would on the ’07-newer Wrangler platforms.
In terms of power, we wish we could have put the Jeep on a dynometer for before and after results. Can you feel a difference? Absolutely. Is it night and day? Not exactly. Fuel economy has gone up by about 1.1 miles per gallon, according to our hand-calculated figures. We’re guilty of a heavy right foot, so gains could possibly be a little better if we lightened up on the skinny pedal. Ultimately, performance parts are not cheap, regardless of what you drive, but for the quality, fit, and results, we say the Banks Stinger System was well worth the investment.