Here is my current beater/utility vehicle. My Audi is good at a lot of things, but off-roading, camping, and hauling my mountain bikes aren't included. I purchased this Jeep in June of 2003. The Jeep was 100% stock upon purchase. I do have plans to enhance this vehicle's off roading ability though a few minor modifications. However, due to generous ground clearance and two solid axles beneath it, this Jeep performs respectably as is. Currently the truck is too nice to be subjected to serious abuse.
I have always liked Jeeps. My father owns a 1991 Cherokee Limited with almost 200,000 miles on the clock...and no major problems. The 4.0 liter I-6 engine is legendary in its longevity. It's a true workhorse whose character fits the nature of this truck perfectly. There is always torque available when needed. On road performance is quite acceptable for an SUV. 0-60 times are approximately 8 seconds. On highway trips, I have seen up to 22 mpg fuel consumption averages. This is one truck which does not hide what it is...a truck. Make no mistake. If you want a smooth ride and luxury appointments, look elsewhere.
Over this past winter, I have improve the off-roading and snow handling ability of my Jeep by adding a Rubicon Express 2" suspension lift, 30" X 9.5" BFG T/A KO tires, Powertrax No-Slip rear differential, and removing the factory rear sway bar. Originally, I had planned on going with a more robust suspension setup, but chickened out as the Jeep is a daily driver for me during the winter. Much to my surprise, I'm very happy with the setup. Not only does the truck have noticeably more ground clearance and suspension articulation, it also rides smoother than stock on pavement and handling is not noticeably compromised. The lift actually netted almost 3" of boost. Power-on oversteer is very easy to control with the locking rear differential. The tires work very well on a variety of conditions (especially the snow...they actually meet all requirements set by the Rubber Manufacturers Association for use in severe snow conditions. In the Jeep Snow video, I had no problems negotiating snow depths exceeding 18".) The tires are also backed by BFG's Adventure Assurance Program (AAP )
So far, I'm very pleased with this setup. I have yet to try any truly challenging terrain, but hope to hit some tougher trails this spring.
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