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Peep Show: New Jeep Products

Posted in Product Reviews on March 1, 2011
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Photographers: Courtesy of SEMA

The annual SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada, used to be an insider-special dealio here companies showcased new products and ideas amongst each other. Nowadays it's a bit more circus big-top, with celebrities rolling large through the exhibits, strippers earning a respectable day's wages posing as booth bunnies, and late-night parties bumping hip-hop music for spikey-haired Jersey Shore look-a-likes. The displays are more glamorous, the marketing more boisterous, and the crowds miles deeper than the early days, but the underlying purpose still remains clear: manufacturers unveiling their newest and coolest products. Here are some for the Jeep market that caught our eye.

Minivan Engine Swap
When HotwireAuto first told us it was building both universal or integrated (TJ-only) wiring harnesses for '07-up JK 3.8L engines, we thought they had been sniffing gasoline in the back room. But then it started to make sense. The 202hp/237lb-ft aluminum-head V-6 is lighter and much more powerful than any 2.5L Wrangler I-4. And the NSG370 six-speed manual is more durable than the AX5. And with JK owners yanking the factory drivetrains for V-8 Hemi and LS engine swaps, there's no shortage of 'em. HotwireAuto is working on its own ready-to-run ECU and a cable-operated throttle body that should address many gripes about this engine. Contact: HotwireAuto, 479/243-9115, hotwireauto.com

Aluminum Armor
ASFIR 4x4 has been manufacturing off-road parts in Israel since 1986, but only recently brought its products to the USA. They make a full line of completely bolt-on, steel-reinforced aluminum armor that blends light weight and high strength. It also manufactures heavy-duty bumpers, diff armor, and more. In addition to JKs, they also have applications for TJ Wranglers, XJ Cherokees, and many other Jeep models. Contact: ASFIR 4x4, 480/247-9545, asfir4x4.com

Super Crazy
If 5150 means crazy, we don't know what these Bilstein 5160/5165 shocks are. Designed to mount in the factory locations with no cutting or welding, the new 5160-series shocks offer niceties such as flexible reservoir hoses, digressive valving, and the divider piston relocated from the shock body to the reservoir can. Relocating the piston to the reservoir frees up space inside the shock body, allowing at least 1-inch more uptravel over a shock with a similar length body. That means more suspension travel without the need to modify your factory shock mounts. Contact: Bilstein, 800/537-1085, bilsteinus.com

Jeep Wave
Right now the only off-road applications for which the new Wavetrac differential is available include the GM 12-bolt and 31- and 35-spline Ford 9-inch axles. It's a limited-slip differential, but the company claims the unit will still transmit power to the tire with traction even if the other tire is off the ground. The reasoning is highly technical and there's a good outline of it on the company's website, but in essence the wave-shaped device in the center of the diff pushes the side gears into the case halves when a no-load situation is present on the axleshafts, thereby increasing traction to the drive-wheel. Contact: Wavetrac Differentials, 949/362-8700, wavetrac.net

Overcompensation
If that Warn 15,000lb winch is just too girly for your liking, good news. Check out the company's new monster: the Olympus 25. And because the steel cable for one of these 25,000lb-rated monsters would weigh only slightly less than a VW Beetle, check out the monster-sized synthetic winch line and beautiful aluminum fairlead. There's more use of aluminum on the winch body and housing to reduce weight. It's like Demi Moore in GI Jane: burly, yet sexy. We bet a pair of these mounted on either side of a Jeep could literally rip the vehicle in half. Hmm. Contact: Warn Industries, 503/722-1200, warn.com

No Drag 30
Alloy USA has offered many components in its new Dana 30 locking hub conversion kit separately, but now they're all bundled into one neat and complete kit. The company hadn't come up with a part number for the kit as of press time, but the 1/2-ton aluminum locking hubs, machined rotors, and everything else needed for the conversion will be included. Contact: Alloy USA, 800/449-6649, alloyusa.com

Rerun
The removable JK fender flares from Trailmods were available a couple of years ago-then they weren't. Now it appears they are again. The two-piece flares feature a low-profile mounting lip onto which the flare inserts. Pull 'em off for trail duty and then stick 'em back on for the ride home. Contact: Trailmods, trailmods.com

Halved
Rugged Ridge saw a need and now you can have half-doors for your JK without paying the exorbitant dealership prices. In fact, we actually think these Rugged Ridge doors are nicer than the Mopar doors by a long shot. The half-doors come with a black paintable finish and feature an impact-resistant thermoplastic inner door panel. Contact: Rugged Ridge, 770/614-6101, ruggedridgeoffroad.com

Simple Lock
Fresh off the drawing board is this pneumatically operated locker from TJM. What we like about the unit is the actuator is housed outside of the differential case. That way, if a seal or anything goes wrong you don't have to pull the whole diff out to fix it or get off the trail-just stick a screwdriver through the fill plug hole and wedge the sliding collar over. The company is exploring an electronically operated version of the locker as well. Units for Dana 44 applications will be first, with other Jeep applications following. Contact: TJM Products, 888/909-4856, tjmusa.com

Here Piggy, Piggy
When we think of Greenball we usually think of heavy truck, trailer, or ATV tires. So we were surprised to see these Mud Hog Kanati tires mounted to a full-size pickup in the Greenball booth. The company plans to roll out the new tire line with 12 sizes in the spring of 2011. Sizing and other info are sketchy as of press time, but we'll keep our ears to the ground and update you when we can get our hands on a set for testing. Contact: Greenball, 800/946-9412, greenball.com

Sleek Sixty
You already knew you could buy alloy axleshafts, gearsets, and more from G2 Axle & Gear. Now the company will begin offering complete custom front-or-rear Dana 60 axle assemblies featuring a drop-out cast-iron centersection bolted to a fabricated sheetmetal housing. The centersection accepts standard high-pinion Dana 60 ring and pinions, carriers, and bearings. The company plans to offer direct-fit replacement axle assemblies for Jeep vehicles in addition to custom assemblies. Contact: G2 Axle, 310/900-2687, g2axle.com

Flex-A-Fit
Flex-A-Lite came up with its unique finned aluminum side tank design that not only simplifies bracket and fan installation, but doubles as extra cooling fins. Now the company offers its Flex-A-Fit radiator and fan combo system as a bolt-in replacement for '87-'06 Jeep Wranglers. The systems include a radiator with two 1/2-inch cores, mounting brackets, 15-inch 3,300 cfm electric fan, fan control module, and any additional brackets and wiring necessary for a bolt-in installation. Contact: Flex-A-Lite, 800/851-1510, flex-a-lite.com

Fish-Winch
If you're attracted to the affordable pricing of Smittybilt's line of XRC winches, but really need one that works under water your wishes have been answered. The company's new line of X2O winches features fully sealed motors and O-ringed solenoid packs that render them waterproof. Look for the X2O winches to come in all the same sizes as the company's popular XRC lineup. Contact: Smittybilt, 888/717-5797, smittybilt.com

Advanced Shifting
Let's be honest: T-case shifters for TJs can be balky and unsure in their operation. And factory JK T-case shifters just plain fall apart. Really, they do. Those are two pretty good reasons why TJ and JK owners should get out and break dance on their hoods because Advance Adapters now offers heavy-duty cable-operated T-cases shifter systems for both vehicles. Both units are complete from the shifter knob all the way down to the T-case shift rod bracket. Contact: Advance Adapters, 800/350-2223, advanceadapters.com

Dyna-Who
While it's technically not a new tire, we've never reviewed one in Jp magazine, so here ya go. The Hankook DynaPro MT tire features cool looking chevron-shaped lugs and is offered in most popular Jeep sizes. Tires for 15-inch rims run from 235/75R15 up to 35x12.50R15, the 16-inch sizes go up to a 315/75R16, and the 17s can be had as large as 37x12.50R17. We won't mention the offerings for 18-, 20-, and 22-inch wheels 'cause those rim sizes are just dumb. Contact: Hankook Tire, hankooktireusa.com

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