The suspension on our '97 Jeep Cherokee Sport had seen better days. In fact, it was so sacked out that it almost looked as if we had lowered it. Hitting dips in the highway at speed would make the front end of the Cherokee bounce for a block or more as if it was on hydraulics. The effects were amplified on even the tamest of trails, and after some time our fun-to-drive Cherokee had become anything but. Eager to regain that factory feel while also gaining a bit of stature, we looked to suspension manufacturer Rubicon Express and its selection of very complete off-the-shelf suspension systems.
The Rubicon Express Extreme-Duty long-arm suspension system is designed as a complete replacement of the factory suspension. The rear retains use of the Cherokee's leaf-spring configuration but gains new 5.5-inch lifted leaf packs to create clearance for larger tires. The front four-link suspension is replaced with taller coil springs and long control arms equipped with RE's Super-Flex spherical ball joints. The control arms are supported by a new three-piece crossmember that replaces the factory transmission/T-case crossmember and also ties into the sides of the Cherokee's unibody for extra support.
Overall, the RE system provides excellent vehicle stability and performance on- and off-road with reduced common negative effects associated with lifted 4x4s, such as bumpsteer and suspension jacking upon acceleration and braking. This is achieved through the design of the system in that the proper steering and suspension geometry are maintained.
To carry out the installation of the Rubicon Express Extreme-Duty long-arm suspension system, we looked to the crew at Off Road Evolution in Fullerton, California. With rusted nuts and bolts to deal with every step of the way, the crew tackled the disassembly of the stock suspension in stride before very rapidly completing the installation of the new RE components. We also had Fantasy Muffler in Buena Park, California, complete the necessary exhaust modifications.
With all in place, along with a set of 33x12.50R15 BFGoodrich Baja T/A tires mounted to American Racing Chamber wheels equipped with Champion beadlocks, our Cherokee was back in step with the 4x4 crowd and ready to take on pretty much any obstacle we could set in its way.
Our '97 Jeep Cherokee Sport...
Our '97 Jeep Cherokee Sport is like a brand-new 4x4 with the Rubicon Express 5.5-inch Extreme-Duty long-arm suspension system in place. The Teflon-coated, one-piece American Racing Chamber alloy wheels fitted with Champion beadlocks and BFG Baja T/A tires further complement the look and also effectively improve off-road performance.
Is it a 2WD? Nope. But the...
Is it a 2WD? Nope. But the suspension was sacked out enough that it almost played the part. Even with stock-size tires we would rub the fenders at big dips in the road, and off-road ability was greatly affected.
The Rubicon Express 5.5-inch...
The Rubicon Express 5.5-inch Extreme-Duty long-arm suspension system is a complete suspension-replacement kit. In addition to new lifted leaf springs for the rear, the system uses new, longer upper and lower control arms up front, which bolt to a new three-piece transmission crossmember.