A lift kit and larger tires are often the first mods us wheelers make to our rigs. The height of the lift and the size of the tires are a matter of personal preference, most often based on our needs. And of course, our budget. If you own a ’07 to ’12 GM ½-ton pickup, Rough Country Suspension Systems offers five competitively priced suspension lift kits ranging from 2 inches through 7½ inches.
We recently traveled to Rough Country’s headquarters in Dyersburg, Tennessee, to install its 3½-inch kit under a ‘10 GMC Sierra 1500. The four-wheel-drive kit is offered in two versions. The Standard kit 269S ($249.95 at time of print) reuses the factory upper control arms; while the Premium kit 277S ($429.95 at time of print) includes new upper control arms. Both kits include strut spacers, differential drop brackets, a differential skidplate, rear lift blocks, rear U-bolts, and shocks. The kit is also offered in two similar versions for two-wheel-drive trucks, but naturally they don’t include the diff drop brackets or differential skidplate. Pricing, for the two-wheel-drive kits, is $149.95 (at time of print) for the Standard kit without new upper control arms and $369.95 (at time of print) for the Premium kit with new upper control arms.
Following is an overview of how the Rough Country kit lifts the ½-ton GM truck and just as importantly, the results.
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The kit was easy to install and the directions were clear and concise. This is definitely an install you could undertake in your driveway. We like that each new upper control arm features a greasable ball joint compared to the factory non-greasable unit. We also like that the new upper control arms eliminate the need for removing the factory bumpstops, which gives you options down the road, like returning the vehicle to stock if the need should arise. We think the new upper control arms are definitely worth the extra $200.
Stock, the Sierra was fitted with P245/75R17 (31.8 inches actual diameter) Bridgestone Dueler A/T tires. After installing the lift, the owner of this rig chose to mount Mickey Thompson ATZ tires in the recommended size of LT285/70R17 (32.8 inches actual diameter) on the factory aluminum wheels.
Before the install, the Sierra climbed 51 inches up our 20-degree RTI ramp (earning an RTI score of 353) and after the install it climbed 60 inches up the ramp (earning an RTI score of 415) for an improvement of 18 percent. We saw a 27 percent improvement in approach angle (measured from the driver-side outside edge of the front bumper), from 30 degrees stock to 38 degrees lifted. Out back, departure angle improved 8 percent from 30 degrees to 32.5 degrees (measured at the trailer hitch). Front bumper-to-ground height went from 12 inches to 17 inches (a 42-percent improvement) and rear hitch-to-ground height went from 21 inches to 22¼ inches (a 6-percent improvement).
On-road, the truck handled and drove very well with no weirdness or unwanted effects after the install. We had a chance to wheel the truck a little at the Bikini Bottoms Off Road Park near Dyersburg, and as expected it performed better than stock due to the increased approach, departure, and ground clearance. We also have to say that aesthetically, the lift and tire upgrade made the Sierra look pretty darn good, too.