Life, a Liberty, and the pursuit of flexiness
We've heard the Jeep Liberty made fun of in some relatively creative ways. "Girlie truck" and "homely" are two of the nicer terms we've heard to describe it. But we've spent many hours behind the wheel of the KJ and we've come to respect the little Jeep's capabilities. And shazam, now that it's available with the 2.8L CRD diesel engine, we like it even more. There's definitely room for improvement, though. One of our biggest gripes is with the KJ's ground clearance, or lack thereof. This is followed closely by the lackluster wheel travel.
It took a while, but the aftermarket has responded to all of these issues. One option is Rock Krawler Suspension's new 7 Up Suspension System. Rock Krawler says that the 7-inch kit allows fitment of 33-inch-diameter tires (with a maximum backspacing of 5.25 inches for 12.5-inch-wide tires), which helps create 11.5 inches of ground clearance. The company also says that 35-inch tires can be fitted with fender trimming. Highlights of the front end of the kit include massive subframes that allow reuse of the stock lower A-arms, new upper A-arms, and adjustable rate coilover racing shocks. Highlights of the rear of the kit include a double adjustable triangulated four-link conversion, competition-proven weld-in rear cradle, long-arm mounting brackets, and double adjustable lower control arms.
When we got a call from Dan McKeag, owner of Burnsville Off Road in Burnsville, Minnesota, asking if we were interested in watching the Rock Krawler kit being installed on an '04 Liberty, we hit the road. Burnsville Off Road has been in business since 1997 and does a full range of four-wheel-drive mods as well as custom fabrication. You'll recall that McKeag was the creator of the unique (and very fast) Viper-powered TJ Wrangler that competed in the '99 Top Truck Challenge. Based on his past track record of cool Jeeps and Jeep-related innovations, when he calls and says something is worth seeing, we're there.
Following are some of the highlights of how the Rock Krawler 7 Up kit transforms a Liberty into a serious trail playa. It's important to note that this is not a bolt-by-bolt install guide and there are many parts in addition to what is shown here. Rock Krawler points out that this kit is a very complex install and it requires cutting and welding. It also requires additional parts not included in the kit.