This build started with a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo with a 4.0L engine, automatic transmission, and an NV242 Selec-Trac transfer-case. Wanting a one of a kind WJ with lots of trail capability, we started putting together our wish list. When we were finished, we had a stack of stout parts to transform this humble SUV into a head-turning trail Jeep with comfort and capability in equal measure. The key components were as follows:
Once the build was done and we had some time in the driver's seat, we had a few post-build observations.
We found that the addition of the ARB front bumper and the Tabor winch (approximately 200 lbs.) caused the stock front springs to sag a little too much, so we replaced them with a set of higher spring rate 2" coils from Rusty's Off Road and swapped our 2" front spacers with a 1" set. This restored our level stance and supported the extra weight much more comfortably.
With the installation of the front and rear bumpers, the light gray side cladding looked a little odd, so we removed the lower rocker panel cover, then sanded and prepped the remaining side cladding. We used an adhesion promoter for a strong bond followed by a bumper coating with flex agent, and topped it off with Duplicolor spray on truck bed coating.
In the end we were extremely pleased with the results. The Jeep made for a stellar daily driver with the combination of a well-controlled ride and the plush interior. The mild performance modifications (air filter, exhaust, throttle body spacer, and Superlift calibrator) helped to offset the additional weight and gave the 4.0L a deep, mellow growl. The extra skid-plating and bumpers boosted our confidence off-road, and the swaybar disconnects provided additional flex for climbing ledges and stepping over logs. The wheel and tire combination was very effective, and looked even better than we'd hoped. Overall, we feel we nailed the perfect balance of off-road ability and daily driver comfort.