Friday, March 16, 2012

Jeep Cherokee XJ Essentials Buyer's Guide

Before the Jeep JK four-door Wrangler became available in 2007, Jeep enthusiasts who loved to take on tough trails with family and lots of gear, had no better choice than the Jeep Cherokee. Even though the four-door JK is a very popular model, the XJ Cherokee has seen a resurgence lately, as these vehicles are inexpensive, easy to modify, and offer plenty of off-road capability, especially with the abundance of new components that are now available for this model.

As the popularity for the Jeep XJ increases, off-road enthusiasts are wanting to outfit the vehicles with a variety of components that will increase ride height, improve articulation over obstacles, and provide lots of body protection. Here are some of the essential items that avid Jeep XJ owners are installing on these vehicles to make them more off-road capable.

Increasing Ground Clearance With A Suspension Lift
Trail Master's Jeep XJ lift kit PN J4270SSV
One of the first things is to increase the XJ's ride height for improved articulation, traction, and to install larger diameter tires. There's an abundance of custom lift kits available that can adapt a coil-over system, or longer control arms. But if you're just starting out, it's best to start with something that works without lots of cutting and welding. A suspension system like Trail Master's 4-inch lift kit (J4270SSV) works with the factory suspension and raises the vehicle with new front coil and rear leaf springs. This system also has heavy-duty control arms with Flex-joints, that provide extra strength during extreme articulation, and quick-disconnect sway-bar end links make it easy to switch from the trail to the highway. A system like this also includes a new drop Pitman arm, an adjustable track bar, and a transfer case drop bracket to ensure the drive line and suspension joints won't receive excessive wear.

When Just A Little Lift Will Do
3" Body Lift Kit For '75-'82 early Cherokees
If you want to start off without making major changes to your Cherokee's OEM suspension system,or you don't yet have the budget for a full suspension lift, then consider a three-inch body lift. Body lifts are only available for the early model '75-'82 model Jeep Cherokees. They are very inexpensive and provide enough ride height to add larger diameter tires, without affecting the factory ride. A body lift like one from Performance Accessories, comes with high-grade, nylon-reinforced body mounts, heavy-duty hardware and is easy to install. They are much better and safer than home-made body lift kits that are not nearly as reliable and aren't designed with the 30-years of experience that Performance Accessories has. You can also get urethane wheel well extensions called Gap Guards, that hide the space that becomes visible between the body and the frame. If you're on a budget, this is the way to go to get the ride height and tires you want on the vehicle.

Protection That Can Pull You Out Of A Mess
No self respecting Jeep XJ owner heads off onto the trail without a winch and some front-end protection. Fortunately there are several aftermarket bumpers that protect your Cherokee's front end, and provides a mounting point for a heavy-duty winch. A lightweight bumper, like OR-Fab's three-piece winch bumper, is made from 3/4-inch diameter, .120 wall tube so it's incredibly strong. It's lightweight design can clear up to 37-inch tall tires, and it also provides 16 mounting points for high-stress winch pulls. 

Watch Your Rear
Steep departure angles can destroy your Cherokee's bumper, as well as mess up the tailgate alignment and sheet metal. So XJ owners always toss the factory bumper for a lightweight design like OR-Fab's rear tube bumper. Made from two-inch, .120-wall tubing, the bumper wraps around the body to protect the rear lower quarter panels from damage. It also comes with two heavy-duty D-ring mounts and D-rings.

Save Those Quarters
The bad thing about taking a Cherokee on the trail, is that the rear quarter panel sheet metal can easily get damaged. Because no one likes to drive around with wrinkled sheet metal, manufacturers like OR-Fab make rear quarter armor for these vehicles, that protects the area, as well as the factory rear taillights. The armor is manufactured from 3/16-inch steel plate and is available with a 1.5-inch diameter rail bar. The armor also works with factory or aftermarket fenders.

Of course, there are many more accessories available for the Jeep XJ that allow you to customize it any way you like. These are just several products that serious rock crawlers use to protect and improve the vehicle's off-road capabilities. For more information, visit to see all of the Trail Master, OR-Fab and Performance Accessories products available for the Jeep Cherokee.

By DS Media Relations


  1. since when does a cherokee have a solid frame to put on said body lift? that is news to me!

    1. When it's a 1975 to 1982 model. Some don't want to call it a Jeep because it was made by AMC, but it's still a Cherokee and many are still around.

  2. I have one little question. How exactly do you install a body lift on a unibody vehicle?

    1. The answer is you can't. Only on vehicles with a solid frame. The body lift we mentioned here are for '75-82 models. We should have made that a little more clear. Our apologies for any confusion.