The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a durable and highly-capable sport utility vehicle (SUV) introduced around three decades ago, and it has since gone through various upgrades and improvements. The latest model has multiple trim levels that provide a good range of options for those interested in this SUV.
When it comes to off-roading, this impressive vehicle still has room for improvement. Its performance can be made better with additions or modifications of some parts.
Below are some of the off-road upgrades recommended for Grand Cherokee owners to get more out of their units.
Must-Have Jeep Grand Cherokee Upgrades
Also referred to as a leveling kit or suspension/body lift kit, a lift kit raises a vehicle’s body, increasing the ground clearance without using bigger wheels. It also increases the space between the body and the axles, which helps improve the vehicle’s mobility on challenging terrains. The raised body makes it easy for the vehicle to navigate through rocky roads and deep potholes.
One recommended lift kit to try is from ReadyLIFT. Their two-inch lift kit, in particular, provides reliable ground clearance augmentation without making your Grand Cherokee feel unwieldy for everyday driving. Lifting the suspension using this kit is reversible as long as the crossmembers are not altered.
Another good option is Zone’s four-inch WJ 4WD lift kit for 1999-2004 models. It is designed to significantly raise the suspension for maximum ground clearance while providing huge control arms to ensure proper front alignment and suspension control. It comes with greaseable bushings to support ease of movement and optimum performance.
The stock wheels of the Jeep Grand Cherokee are generally good enough for off-road use. However, they do not necessarily deliver top performance. Replace the wheels with heavy-duty options specifically intended for frequent rugged use.
The BFGoodrich T/A KO2 tire is one of the best choices you can use. This deep-tread tire features interlocking sipes and staggered biting edges that facilitate smooth drives and maximum control when traveling over mud, sand, and rocks. It also has serrated shoulder lugs and split-resistant sidewalls to ensure longevity.
The biggest wheel that can be installed in a Grand Cherokee without modifications is 22 inches. You can use bigger wheels by installing wheel spacers. Also, it helps to install beadlock wheels to achieve improved traction and prevent instances of tire slipping at low pressures.
Ensure, however, that the bigger wheels you use are comfortable for you. Drastic changes can adversely affect your driving. Bigger is not always better. A 35” wheel may look and feel great for off-roading, but it may make handling difficult on highways. Consult an experienced professional installer for insights on the right wheel size and ensure safe and proper wheel installation.
Bumpers and Sliders
Bumpers provide front-end protection, so they should be heavy-duty. Grand Cherokees are built for off-road performance, but they can be even better with the installation of off-road bumpers, preferably those made of steel or aluminum. There are highly durable carbon fiber bumpers available, but they may not provide an advantage proportionate to their prices. They are strong but brittle, which means that they may eventually crack or shatter upon repetitive impact. One study shows that S2 glass and epoxy can be better materials for bumpers.
In choosing a bumper, aside from the material, it is important to evaluate the design, weight, and winch compatibility. The bumper design should ensure high clearance and not counteract the suspension lifting or wheel modification of the vehicle. In terms of weight, the bumper should not be too heavy as it can impact the performance of the SUV. It also helps if the bumper supports a winch attachment and has mounting parts for additional lights if needed.
Some of the commonly used bumpers for the Grand Cherokee are ARB Deluxe Front Bumper and Warn Elite Series. These are excellent off-road bumpers with proven durability and performance.
Off-roading is not just a daytime activity, and even in the morning, visibility can be challenging in some areas or during certain weather conditions. It helps to have some additional lights to be ready for challenging visibility situations.
One recommended lighting enhancement is the installation of LED light bars on the roof for long-range lighting. Headlights and fog lights may not be enough to ensure adequate illumination in unfamiliar and challenging terrains. Having a powerful light source on top boosts visibility while the vehicle is going through crests and troughs.
It also helps to have rock lights under the vehicle. These are small and slightly dim lights designed to provide visibility underneath the Grand Cherokee and make it easy to visually examine the path, especially if the vehicle is stuck or having a hard time moving forward.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee does not have a winch straight out of the factory. That’s why a winch is a good augmentation to consider. Winches are used to facilitate the pulling out of a vehicle from getting stuck.
The recommended winch should have a rated capacity that is at a minimum 1.5 times the weight of the vehicle. The right winch should have a capacity of 6,000 to 8,500 pounds.
Winches have electronic or hydraulic versions. The former is easier to install and use, but the latter is considerably more powerful and longer-lasting. Take the time to examine the right choice for your needs. It is not that difficult to learn how to use hydraulic winches, though.
Ensure Proper Installation
The upgrades described above are doable as a DIY project, but be sure you can install and modify these parts properly and securely. If you are unsure or do not have enough experience, choose to be safe by letting professionals do the job while learning from them in the process.