By now you've read all about the new Rubicon edition Wrangler with 4 to 1 low-range, 4.10 gears, and dual selectable lockers. There's no doubt in your mind that it's a killer combo, but at the same time you're bummed because you're still making payments on a '97-'02 Wrangler and can't afford to buy another new Jeep right now. You may be looking at your daily driver/trail rig/chick magnet TJ and think it's a bit lacking in comparison. If you've been reading 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine your rig's already got a locker (or two), probably some bigger tires, and maybe even a winch. So don't even think about trading it in. Keep building it!
To prove this point we wanted to see how a 60,000-mile '97 Wrangler would respond to a 6-inch dose of Superlift altitude. We headed over to Tri-County Gear in Pomona, California, to follow along as Mike Montana installed this 6-inch lift kit with optional Rockrunner suspension links, quick disconnects, and 35-inch Goodyear MT/R tires on the Tri-County Gear shop truck.
This test Wrangler is asked to do everything from commuting to trail use, and even spends time as a tow vehicle for those crosstown trips. Compared to the previously installed 4-inch lift kit, the Superlift-equipped TJ has less brake dive, rides smoother, and corners flatter in the turns thanks to suspension links that are almost parallel to the ground. We were also surprised how well the shocks that Superlift sends with the kit are tuned to the new suspension. This old TJ on 35s is ready to hold its own against any Rubicon Wrangler-and for you guys that are saving your money for the new '03, well, the Superlift kit will work on those Jeeps too!
Things To Consider
The first $600 you spend on your lifted TJ should go toward a slip-yoke eliminator kit and new CV-equipped rear driveshaft. We know that sounds like a lot of money to front even before you buy the lift, wheels, and tires, but you're going to need to do it. We found that with an automatic transmission (it's 2 inches shorter than the five-speed) and 3.55 gears in the axles we didn't feel any driveshaft vibration-so we didn't use the Superlift-supplied brackets to lower the transmission and transfer case. If you have the five-speed, or lower axle gears, you won't be able to skip this step.
Don't be scared, but there is a lot of parts in the 6-inch Superlift suspension kit for '97-and-up TJs. In this photo we still haven't unpacked the springs, shocks, or track bars. To boost your confidence, a 22-page instruction booklet comes in the Superlift box and is written in terms that the do-it-yourselfer can understand. Nonetheless, it's recommended that a professional mechanic install the kit, hence our trip to Tri-County Gear.
On TJs with automatic transmissions and 6 inches of lift you may find the front driveshaft will hit this crossmember at full droop. If it does, grind a small radius into the crossmember to avoid clearance problems.
Also make sure to leave room in the budget for a minor exhaust modification. This upper Superlift bracket on the passenger side will probably hit the exhaust downpipe as shown on this 4.0L-equipped Jeep. This isn't a big deal, and any exhaust shop could handle it, but make sure it is included in the price you pay for having the lift installed.