Building A Better Grand Cherokee
As we build our '97 Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ project, we have been trying to find the right mix of on- and off-road performance. From the start our goal has been to build the Jeep into an overland and capable 4x4 that's comfortable on the highway without the typical clunky, rattling, and excessive body-roll feel of a purpose-built trail rig.
In factory form the ZJ is a good 4x4 and can be found on the cheap. The Grand is also a good build platform due to the availability of aftermarket parts. Fitting the Grand with a long-arm suspension makes it even more capable because it improves the suspension's geometry and allows it to cycle and articulate with less binding.
Rubicon Express (RE) offers a 41/2-inch-lift Extreme Duty Long Arm System for the '93 to '98 Jeep ZJ, which uses a four-link system in the rear and radius arms up front. The spring rates and shock valving included in this kit are designed for the ZJ. This long-arm kit is a full suspension replacement and not a bolt-on kit; it does require welding, cutting, and grinding. The guys at Overkill Engineering were a great help installing the long-arm suspension.
After the installation of RE's Extreme Duty suspension, the Grand had a good increase in suspension articulation and travel while four-wheeling and a far more comfortable highway ride.