The Economical Long & Short Of It!
We all know what the '97-'06 Jeep Wrangler TJ did to the evolution and history of Jeep. The change from leaf springs to a coil-sprung suspension gave the Jeep advanced functionality and drivers of the TJ a whole new level of comfort and capability. However, as tinkerers of all things mechanical we also know that a good design can always be made better.
Rough Country offers its X-Series Extreme Flex Long-Arm Suspension for under $1,500, which is one heck of a deal considering the capabilities it brings an already trail-adept TJ. The long-arm system allows the suspension to articulate freely without the binding and limited travel common in short-arm suspensions. The X-Series Kit does require some minor cutting and grinding but is mostly bolt-on and well worth the effort.
The Extreme Flex Suspension for the '97-'06 Jeep Wrangler TJ comes complete with High Flex Coil Springs, upper and lower control arms with X-Flex Joints, center control arm mounting brackets, adjustable track bars, a drop bracket, a drop pitman arm, sway-bar disconnects, and stainless steel brake lines (all components not shown) and is available in 4- and 6-inch lifts.
The factory crossmember/skidplate needs to be modified by cutting off the driver-side rear corner to make room for center control arm mounting brackets. This can be done with any number of tools. This cut allows the center control arm bracket to be mounted between the skidplate and frame.
The lower control arm pockets need to be cut off the frame. The best and fastest way to complete this is with a plasma cutter but must be done with extreme care or the frame could be damaged. The safest way to cut the pockets off it with a die grinder, but this will take far more time, and the suspension installation is already an all-day job.
Once the center control arm mounts are aligned with the three factory skidplate bolts, holes must be drilled for through-bolts for additional support. With the skidplate cut, the lower control arm pockets cut off, and the through-bolt holes drilled, the cutting and the drilling for the kit are complete.
The guys at Overkill Engineering helped us out with cutting and dirty work, and the rest of the system is completely bolt-on. We recommend bolting on the control arms, then install the springs, track bars (Panhard), shocks, and all other components. Following these steps makes the installation easier.
After the X-Series system was installed we tested the Jeep by driving it a few hundred miles on winding country roads, made a few high-speed freeway runs, and hit the trail for some rockcrawling. Our impression of the economical system is that we really like the way the Jeep handled and performed on and off the highway. The handling was superior to the old short-arm kit.