The original Jeep Cherokee (XJ) was a solid-axle 4x4 with true low range and loads of off-road potential. The current Cherokee (KL) is a smooth, comfortable crossover. That hasn’t stopped owners from trying to jack it up and cram mud tires on it though, and it looks like somebody’s work has finally paid off.
With unibody construction and independent suspension all around, some have said it’s “not feasible” to put a lift kit on the current Cherokee beyond what’s offered by the Trailhawk off-road package.
The Trailhawk trim actually offers plenty of adventure-power, even for the above-average user with Jeep’s Active Drive Lock 4x4 system, a locking rear differential, and the Selec-Terrain Traction Management System with “snow,” “sand,” “mud” and “rock” modes to optimize wheel spin and power application for various surfaces. Trailhawk also runs a 1" lift over a standard KL Cherokee and leaves the lot with meaty tires.
But Jeep people are tinkerers. They demand more, simply for the sake of it, and it was only a matter of time before some enterprising wrenchman created some kind of “solution” to fit slightly bigger-than-standard tires on a new Cherokee.
That seems to have happened earlier this month, as JeepForum.com lit up with activity over the process of creating a DIY-friendly lift and then distributing the plans to the masses. Forum user SeaComms (“Dave,” apparently) even uploaded specific plans on how to accomplish the lift and what tools were needed for the job.
As for how it works, here’s how Jeep owner and modifier Jose broke it down:
“Long story short, the front is lifted the same way the GC [Grand Cherokee] is lifted (yeah I’m aware there are other ways to do this but we don’t have after market support) - by dropping down the front knuckle - in this case .75 inches and the rear is accomplished by adding two small spacers...”
“The end result is a 1.25 inch lift - yeah not significant but it’s just what this platform needs - that plus bigger tires nets you 2 inches.”
The two inches he’s referring to are in gained ground clearance, and it’s his Jeep in the photos here.
The complete process is well documented and illustrated on JeepForum.com, but it’s pretty much just sticking a spacer-disc above and below the springs while re-drilling a few more ancillary mounting bits to make all the angles work.
Is the end result worth the labor, and whatever strain you’re bringing on the suspension? You’ll have to look long and hard at your priorities to answer that question, but the fact of the matter is, a “home-brew lift kit” does now exist for the car “they said was un-liftable.”
I’d personally leave things like shock-positioning to professional engineers, but you’ve got to appreciate the shadetree ingenuity here. The things Jeepers will do for a couple of extra inches!
Hat tip to Jose!