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2007 Jeep JK Wrangler Runaround - Suspension

Posted in Project Vehicles on October 1, 2007 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Alan HuberAli MansourJohn Luker

No one has ever said we were easy on vehicles or too timid in our testing. In fact, we've been known to send the occasional vehicle or product to the scrap heap. But that should be expected with any respectable 4x4 magazine. Shouldn't we be the ones to put more of a hurt on a product than you ever would? After all, we'd hate for you to find a breaking point past what we did. Can you imagine something snapping 50 miles from the nearest road while you're by yourself? We do all this testing to make sure you don't have to. And this year's Wrangler Runaround was nothing but the norm, as we wheeled the fenders right off of eight '07 Jeep JK Wranglers.

In case you missed last year's Runaround ("Suspension Supertest," Jan. '07), this is officially the 2nd annual Runaround; a suspension program designed to find the best suspension system to fit your needs. We choose a vehicle and invite every suspension company that makes an eligible suspension kit for our test, and the ones who decide to participate come with us on a three-day trip to do more research and testing than they would likely be able to do in a year. We bring along our own panel of judges and photographers, and to make it truly legitimate, we invite the suspension manufacturers to judge each other. After all, who better to judge and test a suspension product than a suspension manufacturer?

When the new Jeep JK Wrangler hit the scene in late 2006, it seemed only a natural choice for the next Runaround suspension program. Jeep had not significantly changed the Wrangler design since the first TJ appeared in late 1996 (not counting the Unlimited). And with the arrival of this most recent evolutionary step, this new JK has already been found to be a much different type of animal than its predecessor. Gone are the short (lower front) 16-inch (TJ) arms, instead replaced with longer 23-inch (JK) arms. The fenderwell clearance has been hugely increased to fit 35s with only a couple of inches of lift. And to the dismay of some modifying owners, the new Wrangler comes with electronic babysitters and other potential electrical problems that its older brother, the TJ, never knew. Not only that, but we also kissed the very last 4.0L-laden Jeep goodbye. We definitely had a new breed of 4x4.

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Our rules were strict this year. Whereas last year we left it "open" to whoever had a kit that raised the truck the height we had chosen, we knew we had to tighten up the class this year. We opened the invitation to anyone who could show up with a two-door 4x4 JK Wrangler adorning a 4-inch short-arm lift, using four new coils, four shocks, front-axle caster correction, new track bars (or relocation brackets), and retaining the front sway bar. The powertrains had to be stock, and only open differentials would be used during the program (we were testing suspensions, not lockers). Mickey Thompson worked with us and was kind enough to provide every JK with 35-inch Mickey Thompson Baja MTZs on 17x9 Classic II wheels so only suspensions would vary from JK to JK.

Mickey Thompson provided every participating JK Wrangler with a set of 35-inch Baja MTZs on 17x9 Classic II wheels. The MTZ features a three-ply sidewall, a six-ply tread, and big lugs to get a great bite in the dirt and on the rocks. It is one of Mickey's more hard-core off-road tires and was a needed addition to these Wranglers, knowing what we were going to put them through.

Some of you may be wondering why we didn't test long-arm kits with 37-inch tires. That was definitely an alternate plan. But after much deliberation, we decided that the majority of you (our readers) would be building your JKs with "short-arm" kits and 35s. The short-arm kits can be bolted on in a driveway, and the new JK arms are so much longer (than the previous TJ arms) that its debatable if long-arm kits are even needed. The short-arm kits retain good suspension geometry until around 6 inches of lift. Why not 37-inch tires for the test (since they will fit with a 4-inch lift)? Because more of you are going to do your everyday driving on 35s, not 37s.

All that being said, we found eight suspension companies willing to converge in Parker, Arizona, for three days of grueling testing that would leave their Wranglers in a "not-so-brand-new" condition. While all eight entries were more than worthy of being there, you might not see some names you expected in a test like this. It was unfortunate that some companies either did not have JK Wranglers that met our requirements, or did not have their short-arm lift kits ready in time for testing or production.

Knowing that we would be out for three days in the desert, we wanted to make sure that every Jeep had the minimum requirements to be a few miles away from base camp. Therefore, we worked with Mickey Thompson Tires, Mac's Custom Tie Downs, SOG Specialty Knives, and Ringers Gloves.

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Black Diamond by Superlift was a welcomed returnee to the program. Last year, Superlift came in at just three points behind the winner, and at less than half the price. That makes them a winner in our book, and probably the more popular choice for a Jeep owner. If they've followed the same recipe as last year, we know they'll be a force to reckon with in this test.

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Notables
* Rockrunner arms with threaded pivot
* OE-style sway-bar links with zerk fittings
* Simple kit to install

Praises
* Outstanding OEM-style antisway-bar links
* Nice coil-spring choice
* Fun and controlled suspension oscillation
* Good relocation of steering stabilizer

Complaints
* Rough in whoops sections
* Not enough front wheel travel
* Lots of head toss
* Shock fade seemed premature

Specifications

Upgrade driveshafts? No
Any driveshaft bind? No
Steering correction? No
Remote-reservoir shocks? No
New front sway-bar links/brackets? Yes
New rear sway-bar links/brackets? Yes
Extended front brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Extended rear brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Emergency brake cable length addressed? Yes
Any brake lines tight at full droop? Yes
New front track bar as tested? Yes
New rear track bar as tested? No
Any drilling required? Yes, front bumpstops
Ability to adjust front-axle caster upon lift? Yes
Anything break? No
No. of control arms supplied as tested 4
Claimed lift height (in) 3
Actual measured lift height at end of test (in) 4 1/8
Base price $551.37
Price as tested $1,628.62

Donahoe Racing's well-known race team has seen many successes over the years. In late 2000, Donahoe launched its suspension company, The Edge, to meet the needs of Ford Super Duty support trucks used in desert racing. The company is a newcomer to the Jeep market, but is coming well equipped with not only the biggest shocks in the program, but also the biggest price.

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Notables
* Machined turnbuckle for adjustability of control arm length without removal of link
* 2.5 remote-reservoir shocks
* 1-inch rod ends

Praises
* High-steer drag link with rod end at the knuckle
* Great link adjustability
* Awesome ZooRoad reservoir shocks
* Very controlled, stable ride

Complaints
* Some bumpsteer
* Excessive pulling and brake dive during hard stopping
* Rear brake lines rubbing on antisway bar
* Bucks hard on big hits

Specifications

Upgrade driveshafts? Yes
Any driveshaft bind? No
Steering correction? Yes
Remote-reservoir shocks? Yes
New front sway-bar links/brackets? Yes
New rear sway-bar links/brackets? Yes
Extended front brake lines or drop brackets? No
Extended rear brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Emergency brake cable length addressed? No
Any brake lines tight at full droop? Yes
New front track bar as tested? Yes
New rear track bar as tested? Yes
Any drilling required? Yes, bumpstops
Ability to adjust front-axle caster upon lift? Yes
Anything break? Yes, driver's upper control arm
No. of control arms supplied as tested 8
Claimed lift height (in) 4
Actual measured lift height at end of test (in) 5 3/8
Base price $2,695
Price as tested $5,900

The Nth Degree kit came in as a last-minute entry with an all-new suspension. The company had its tried-and-true Stinger torque-arm upper suspension link that replaces to two rear upper control arms, and raised the rear lower arms to mount on top of the axle. Nth Degree took a very different approach than the rest of the pack, and ended up keeping six factory control arms to help cut the cost.

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Notables
* Geometry-corrected rear axle
* Relocates shocks for increased ground clearance
* Uses torque arm to replace rear upper control arms

Praises
* Good on the road
* Very little rear steer
* High-clearance rear suspension
* Innovative Stinger torque-arm design

Complaints
* Doesn't keep tires on ground
* Felt top-heavy
* Shocks bottomed out
* Stinger not working correctly

Specifications

Upgrade driveshafts? Yes
Any driveshaft bind? No
Steering correction? Yes
Remote-reservoir shocks? No
New front sway bar links/brackets? Yes
New rear sway bar links/brackets? Yes
Extended front brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Extended rear brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Emergency brake cable length addressed? Yes
Any brake lines tight at full droop? Yes
New front track bar as tested? No
New rear track bar as tested? No
Any drilling required? Yes, front bumpstops,
  rear control-arm mounts, shock mounts
Ability to adjust front-axle caster upon lift? No
Anything break? No, but bolts came loose
No. of control arms supplied as tested 1
  (Stinger replaces two uppers)
Claimed lift height (in) 4 1/2
Actual measured lift height at end of test (in) 5
Base price $1,775
Price as tested $2,087

Poly Performance started out as a little mail-order 4x4 supply shop that sold joints, brackets, coilovers, and other solutions to a custom suspension builder's woes. Recently the company decided to take on the bolt-on suspension game and market its own complete kit for the JK Wrangler. It will be interesting to see what cool tricks this fabber supply shop will pull off.

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Notables
* Fox remote-reservoir shock with compression adjustment
* Utilizes Johnny Joints
* New drag link included in kit

Praises
* 2-inch-diameter Fox remote-reservoir shock with compression adjustment
* Stuck to whoops really well
* Excellent job of shock tuning
* Welding required, but is a good reinforcement of track-bar bracket

Complaints
* Little rough in the dirt
* Have to weld
* Bumpstop brackets look weak
* Stock front upper links leave no adjustability up top

Specifications

Upgrade driveshafts? Yes
Any driveshaft bind? No
Steering correction? Yes
Remote-reservoir shocks? Yes
New front sway bar links/brackets? Yes
New rear sway bar links/brackets? Yes
Extended front brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Extended rear brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Emergency brake cable length addressed? No
Any brake lines tight at full droop? No
New front track bar as tested? No
New rear track bar as tested? No
Any drilling required? Yes, front bumpstop,
  knuckle for supplied drag link
Ability to adjust front-axle caster upon lift? Yes
Anything break? Yes, bushing wore out on shock
No. of control arms supplied as tested 6
Claimed lift height (in) 4
Actual measured lift height at end of test (in) 5 1/8
Base price $1,200
Price as tested $2,240

Pro Comp has really been stepping up its game. The company has some new additions to its design and engineering team that have been working overtime to pump out new kits for current 4x4s while redesigning many existing kits. One of the company's most recent kits for the JK Wrangler seems to be a winner, but only our judges will be able to determine that for sure.

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Notables
* Boxed sheetmetal arms utilizing new spherical-ball end with adjustable preload
* Track-bar relocation bracket uses cam bolt for track-bar adjustability
* Adjustable MX6 shocks

Praises
* Simple install
* Bushings in sheetmetal control arms give smooth ride
* Stays straight in hard braking conditions
* Nice antisway bar disconnect

Complaints
* Track-bar bushing popping out
* Links not adjustable
* Some tail wag
* Noise coming from suspension

Specifications

Upgrade driveshafts? No
Any driveshaft bind? No
Steering correction? No
Remote-reservoir shocks? No
New front sway bar links/brackets? Yes
New rear sway bar links/brackets? Yes
Extended front brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Extended rear brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Emergency brake cable length addressed? No
Any brake lines tight at full droop? No
New front track bar as tested? Yes
New rear track bar as tested? No
Any drilling required? Yes, rear track-bar bracket
Ability to adjust front axle caster upon lift? Yes
Anything break? Yes, a knob of the adjustable MX6 shock
No. of control arms supplied as tested 6
Claimed lift height (in) 3-4
Actual measured lift height at end of test (in) 4 3/8
Base price $1,990
Price as tested $2,290

Rock Krawler showed up to the party with a centrally located single rear upper-control arm design that was one of two in the lineup. The kit required some welding, but the welding adds a substantial upper cradle to the axle and an axle truss over the pumpkin. The drag link and track-bar geometry looked right-on during the inspection, but only after driving it for three days will we know how well it'll work.

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Notables
* Independent three-link rear with antisquat geometry
* High-clearance control arms
* Adds retainer clips to front springs

Praises
* Most dialed-in front end in the entire lineup with no bumpsteer
* Nice on the washboard sections
* 100 percent thrill ride
* Straight during emergency braking

Complaints
* Suspension-induced rear steer not as impressive as the front
* Weld-on truss leaves too many customer variables
* Rear rolls in corner
* No sway-bar disconnects

Specifications

Upgrade driveshafts? Yes
Any driveshaft bind? No
Steering correction? Yes
Remote-reservoir shocks? No
New front sway bar links/brackets? Yes
New rear sway bar links/brackets? Yes
Extended front brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Extended rear brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Emergency brake cable length addressed? Yes
Any brake lines tight at full droop? No
New front track bar as tested? Yes
New rear track bar as tested? Yes
Any drilling required? Yes, track-bar bracket,
  front bumpstops
Ability to adjust front-axle caster upon lift? Yes
Anything break? No
No. of control arms supplied as tested: 7
  (single rear upper arm)
Claimed lift height (in) 3 1/2
Actual measured lift height at end of test (in) 3 7/8
Base price $1,649
Price as tested $1,998.99

Teraflex is one of the bigger Jeep suspension companies that concentrate almost solely on Jeep products. It is no stranger to building a quality bolt-on kit with excellent street drivability, but this new JK is a different animal, and we can't wait to see how well the company's tried-and-true approach works on this new breed. If Teraflex has done its homework, this kit will follow suit and score high in all categories.

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Notables
* Kit uses all stock mounting locations
* Ultraquiet and smooth, yet durable
* Correctly angled flex arms with Teraflex joints

Praises
* No welding and simple kit
* Cool rear coil keepers
* Consistent performer in all terrains
* Composite bumpstop extensions are awesome

Complaints
* Low-budget shocks
* Rear track-bar geometry needs addressing
* Leans and rolls in a corner
* Felt like shocks bottomed out

Specifications

Upgrade driveshafts? Yes
Any driveshaft bind? No
Steering correction? Yes
Remote-reservoir shocks? No
New front sway bar links/brackets? Yes
New rear sway bar links/brackets? Yes
Extended front brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Extended rear brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Emergency brake cable length addressed? No
Any brake lines tight at full droop? No
New front track bar as tested? Yes
New rear track bar as tested? Yes
Any drilling required? Yes, front bumpstops
Ability to adjust front-axle caster upon lift? Yes
Anything break? No, but track-bar bolt backed out
No. of control arms supplied as tested 8
Claimed lift height (in) 3 1/2
Actual measured lift height at end of test (in) 4 3/4
Base price $763.44
Price as tested $1,998.89

Trail Master is a name we like seeing back in the game. The company produced very affordable suspension kits for a long time, until it died down and almost disappeared less than a decade ago. But now Trail Master has been going strong for the last few years, and we know it'll be a hard player to beat in value for your money.

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Notables
* New front and rear track bars
* All eight control arms replaced; arms use new flex joints
* SSV (speed sensitive valving) shocks

Praises
* Poly bushings for smooth ride
* Incredible highway ride (a favorite)
* Stock ride and feel
* Good, durable finish on components

Complaints
* Poor point score due to breaking a control arm and unable to complete the hard-core trail portion
* Needs a rear track-bar relocation bracket
* Upside-down shocks vulnerable
* Stock rear antisway-bar links maxed out

Specifications

Upgrade driveshafts? No
Any driveshaft bind? No
Steering correction? No
Remote-reservoir shocks? No
New front sway bar links/brackets? Yes
New rear sway bar links/brackets? Yes
Extended front brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Extended rear brake lines or drop brackets? Yes
Emergency brake cable length addressed? Yes
Any brake lines tight at full droop? No
New front track bar as tested? Yes
New rear track bar as tested? Yes
Any drilling required? Yes, front bumpstops
Ability to adjust front-axle caster upon lift? Yes
Anything break? Yes, broke a control arm,
  track-bar bushing wasted
No. of control arms supplied as tested 8
Claimed lift height (in) 5
Actual measured lift height at end of test (in) 4 3/4
Base price $1,659
Price as tested $1,789

Day 1
After months of planning, we began the Wrangler Runaround in Parker, Arizona, with the assistance of the Parker 4 Wheelers. Due to the extreme heat, we were all up and ready to roll by the early morning for a quick meeting and introduction of everyone. Not only would this program test these JK suspensions, it would also be testing all our participants as they were put into the extreme 100+ degree heat along the California-Arizona border.

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At Bob Longo's Bob's Toybarn we put the Jeeps up on a rack for initial inspections before everything was covered in dirt, and we started to run these JKs through their paces. Shortly after inspection, our first day would lead us into Rice, California. Rice is a town that does not even qualify as a ghost town, as its only remnant is a burned-out gas station that has been long since nonfunctional. From here we launched our fleet of JKs with 25 psi in the tires, one after another, onto the highway for some short-lived highway driving. We have to imagine that most JKs will be driven on the street for most of the time in their first few years, but we felt that only minimal highway testing was necessary, and we didn't want to eat into the time we'd need to spend off road. As one JK would come back, another would launch onto the highway. We had every single tester driving each of the eight JK Wranglers.

When the road time was finished we broke for a quick lunch provided by our one-girl support crew and points tally official, Jayne Nichols. Lunch does not take long when you're eating outside in 105-degree heat and the vehicles you're testing in have nice, cool air conditioning. Everyone was only too happy to hop back in and start running the fire-roads portion of the program. The fire-road testing created quite a dust storm as the JKs bombed down a semismooth dirt road at 60 mph, but we had not counted on eating up fuel so quickly and had to stop part of the way through to let the JKs replenish their gas tanks. These new six-cylinder engines were definitely no less fuel-hungry than their predecessors.

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Day 2
We knew the highway and fire-road testing would be rather easy on the JKs, and therefore we put it first, hoping to keep all participating JK Wranglers alive as long as possible. But our Day 2 we were not so sure about. It was reserved for rockcrawling through some of the sharpest rocks that any of us have encountered. With the help of the Parker 4 Wheelers, we picked a trail that was difficult enough to create a real challenge for the Wranglers, while not absolutely requiring the use of lockers since we were running open differentials through the entire program. It would, however, put all of our "minimum requirement" items to use. Our Mac's straps did a good job of popping our JKs up and over the last climb of the trail, though we had quite a few laps done without having to offer pull assistance to anyone. These were skilled drivers indeed, and the JKs and their suspensions were performing remarkably. But the sharpness of the rocks plagued us, and it was lucky that we had our Ringers Gloves to protect our hands. Our tires and wheels were not so lucky, though. In total, we lost five tires running 12 pounds of pressure due to these treacherous edges. And these were triple-ply sidewall MTZs-tires known for outstanding durability and extreme resistance to punctures! There were even some places in the trail where aluminum shavings had built up due to the wheels being literally shaved down by the unforgiving rocks during tire spin. Nevertheless, the group helped each other, pushed on, changed tires, and got more chances to use their SOG multitools to open crushed valve stems and grab backing nuts of folded control arms.

Even with all our mishaps during Day 2, we still managed to finish at a decent hour and make it to the Nellie E. Saloon, also known as the Desert Bar, a famous refresher stop a few miles off the paved highway, and a definite recommendation for anyone visiting Parker on a weekend.

It had been a tough day, but by the end of it, all eight JK Wranglers were up and running again.

Day 3
The third and final day of our Runaround program would put the new JK suspensions in a terrain that they were not necessarily designed for. We found our way onto Parker's desert race course to flog these JK's shocks in a bit more heat-intensive way than standard rockcrawling. If any parts of these suspensions were not built absolutely bombproof, or any amount of travel was not measured correctly, we'd be finding out today. All the Wranglers departed onto a course that would rattle bolts out, break control arms off, and waste bushings in whoops, ruts, and washes that heated up shocks past the point of normal fading. We even found some weak points in the OEM metal and ripped factory track-bar brackets away from the axles due to the excessive stress put on by track-bar relocation brackets. But through all this, we never had one tire go flat or pull off the bead, and every single Wrangler drove back to town that day.

Thanks to the awesome assistance, patience, and skill of everyone involved (including our incredible photographers), the 2007 Wrangler Runaround was a success that will be tough to follow next year. Speaking of next year...what would you like to see tested? E-mail jerrod.jones@sourceinterlink.com and let us know what you think we should test. The suspensions don't necessarily have to be for a currently produced vehicle either. There are quite a few old 4x4 platforms out there that we would love to get our hands on.

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Besides all the point-score judging we did, we also asked our judges their personal opinions as to what their picks would be in certain categories. This had no influence on the scoring, but nevertheless we were interested in finding out what these guys thought at the end of the program, without checking their notes.

The Cadillac Pick: Teraflex
Those of you who have tender butts will be wanting a smooth roller to ride around in. If you were looking for the plushest ride possible out of your Wrangler, it has been suggested that you give these guys a call.





The Rally Car Selection: Poly Performance
This was saved for the JK suspension that our judges felt handled better at high speeds in the dirt than all the rest. If you're doing a lot of fire-road running, this might be your number one choice.





The Even-A-Monkey-Can-Do-It Choice: Trail Master
We asked our guys what kit they would most likely want to install in their driveways with simple handtools. This kit was simple enough for a monkey to figure out, and would have a quick installation time so you could spend more time wheeling and less time wrenching.




The Roadie Preference: Trail Master
This spot was held for the JK kit that made the guys feel most comfortable on the road. If your JK is your daily driver, you should probably put some stock into which one will have the best street manners on the way to work.




The Better Mousetrap: Nth Degree
Our panel of judges chose this based upon who had the most innovative kit in the test. During the inspection portion of the program, this was the one that deviated most from the rest of the pack.





The Total Package Alternative: Donahoe Racing
At the end of the program, our expert judges decided that this was their number-one choice for an overall favorite based on their experiences during the program.












The Technical Trail Option: Rock Krawler
The guys based this decision upon what suspension worked best on the trail and in the rocks. If you had a dedicated JK trail machine, this might be something you want to pay attention to.











* "Six a.m?! You mean six p.m., right?"
* "S#!t!" [Ed.-as a plastic fender tears off the body]
* "Well, it's a quick-release flare now..."
* "Please don't scratch this Jeep."
* "Safe is so unfun!"
* "The second time I was in prison in Pakistan..."
* "I don't think the hotel is on fire..."
* "I needed a man-bra and a neck brace!"
* "Buffer zones. The fenders are buffer zones."
* "I felt like a valley girl my head was bobbing so much."

Mark Allen
Occupation: Senior Manager, Design Team, Chrysler Corp.
Qualifications: Had a hand in designing multiple Chrysler vehicles you see on the road today, including the JK Wrangler. Hmm, there's a slight chance he's qualified. And if we can put up with his sarcasm for three days (and he can put up with ours), then it will be a nice weekend.

Frank Gilliland
Occupation: Owner of South Bay Truck & 4x4
Qualifications: Besides owning a drivetrain shop and dealing with 4x4s all day long, Frank grew up in a Willys-Overland dealership. If there's a weak or ill-built part on any of the Jeeps, Frank will find it, kill it, and then really start to hammer on it.



Rodney Hayes
Occupation: Manager of Parker Auto
Qualifications: Active member of Parker 4 Wheelers, huge help in organizing this little shindig, and actively working with the BLM for trail maintenance and trail creation in Parker, Arizona. We're not sure how many times we would've been lost in the desert prerunning if it weren't for Rodney.


Christian Hazel
Occupation: Technical editor, Jp magazine
Qualifications: Incredible track record of impressive work at Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road from 1999 to 2002, and then from 2002 to present with Jp magazine. Besides that, he's one heck of a product tester and a benefit to any program like this. And if we get stranded in the desert, we can use his shiny head to signal planes with.

Larie Tales
Occupation: Owner of Jeeps R Us
Qualifications: Makes his livelihood building Jeeps all day. And let's just say a couple magazine Jeeps have been there a time or two. If he can put up with stepping down from a daily-driven supercharged 454ci to a 3.8L V-6 for a few days, we think he'll make a great judge.



Mark Turner
Occupation: Vice president and product manager of Daystar
Qualifications: Ex-desert racer, supplies many suspension companies with the urethane used in their kits, and has lots of history in this industry. Whether he's ripping sleeves off a company shirt or trying to wear them as a hat, he's just a great guy to have around (plus he picked up the tab on dinner last year).

Richard Venola
Occupation: Editor, Guns & Ammo magazine
Qualifications: Well...it probably started one morning on the way to work when we raced this absolutely stock looking, topless, cageless GPW up a hill with this giant man sitting in a miniature bucket seat...we didn't know that his only modification was a Buick V-6 under the hood


Dave Yegge
Occupation: Engineer and designer at American Expedition Vehicles
Qualifications: Very involved with creation of the JK platform, ex-Jeep engineer who recently moved into high-quality aftermarket components at AEV. We're thinking Mr. Yegge is just right for this program, as long as we don't get out of line and piss him off (he's bigger than we are).

Alan Huber
Occupation: Art director of Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road
Qualifications: Alan's been here longer than any of us, and has seen more than all of us put together. He doesn't say too much, but if he's shaking his head, then we know we're probably doing something wrong. He knows exactly what shots to get for a program like this.


John Luker
Occupation: Professional photographer
Qualifications: John takes pictures like no tomorrow. He knows his equipment and his trade very well, which makes our jobs even harder because now we have 3,000 good pictures to go through instead of 800 good ones and 2,200 bad ones.



Ali Mansour
Occupation: Newbie at 4-Wheel & Off-Road
Qualifications: Jeez, would we love to insert some smart-ass remark here, but he's actually learning very quickly and doing a great job. If all his tattoos don't fade and run during the test, we think he'll be just fine.




Penny Pincher Award
Black Diamond comes in with the lowest "as tested" price point of $1,628.62. Superlift's Black Diamond series suspension kit was the best deal in our lineup. Not only that, but the comany scored a close Second Place to a kit that costs more than three times as much. You can definitely consider this kit the best bang for your buck.



Fire-Road Stormer Award
Black Diamond seemed to squeak by the pack again during this portion as it was tallied to be the most impressive fire-road runner in the test. It handled the fast off-road speeds and jolts of our test track with ease, and did so with minimal bumpsteer.

Rockcrawler Award
Black Diamond, wow. If we hadn't seen the judging books ourselves, we'd think that there was something funny going on here. Though all the kits performed surprisingly well (or not surprisingly), the Black Diamond kit crawled past the rest by just a few points.



Street Rider Award
Black Diamond also exhibited the best street manners of any suspension in the test. This was a very close call, though, and we had to go back and triple-check our notes, as Trail Master came in at literally a half a point behind them, making the Trail Master kit an equally worthy pavement pounder to drive to work.

Bumpsoaker Award
Donahoe Racing, while rallying through the rough stuff, had the one kit that came out on top. It exhibited the best control and handling of the whoops and washes, no doubt thanks to the 2 1/2-inch-diameter ZooRoad shocks that would keep shock fade to a minimum.

Best-Equipped Undercarriage Award
Donahoe Racing convinced our judges during inspection that it had the most well-equipped suspension to handle the rigors off road. With eight new control arms, beefy remote-reservoir shocks, and new track bars, this kit offered just a bit more girth than the other suspensions in the test.



Though it looked like Superlift's Black Diamond kit was going to walk away with the crown, it was Donahoe Racing's kit that bested the pack in overall points. Though it did not finish at the top of the pack every time, it was consistently a high points scorer and would prove its worth in the end. But speaking of worth, the kit comes in with by far the largest price tag at $5,900, and we'll have to leave it up to you whether it is worth it to spend over double the next highest-priced suspension system in our Runaround program. But if you are looking for the absolute best kit for your JK, we think our judges did a fair and fine job of picking the Donahoe kit as number one.

Total Points Breakdown
Donahoe Racing 2,625.0
Black Diamond 2,595.5
Pro Comp 2,458.0
Teraflex 2,435.0
Poly Performance 2,421.5
Rock Krawler 2,315.5
Nth Degree Mobility 2,237.0
Trail Master 2,023.5

Sources

Poly Performance
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
805-783-2060
www.polyperformance.com
TeraFlex
Murray, UT 84107
801-288-2585
www.teraflex.biz
Pro Comp
Compton, CA 90220
866-232-0665
www.procomptires.com
Black Diamond
West Monroe, LA 71292
888-299-4692
http://www.blackdiamondoffroad.com
Donahoe Racing
Anaheim, CA 92806
Nth Degree Mobility
www.nthdegreemobility.com
Mac's Custom Tie Downs
Sagle, ID 83860
800-666-1586
http://www.macscustomtiedowns.com
Rock Krawler
518-270-9822
www.rockkrawler.com
SOG Specialty Knives & Tools Co.
www.sogknives.com

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