Trying to plan ahead for soon to be ordered (I hope) 2014 JKU Rubi (once the colors are out). I am trying to sort through various lifting strategies. I wheel mostly in the Pacific Northwest--so not a lot of rock gardens, and in my stock 2008 JKU Sahara the only time I've had to stop was because of height clearance issues (partially downed trees) though I had to take the chicken line around assorted ground obstacles. Still, I'd feel better with a bit more capability. So I'd like the collective to help me out with the pros and cons of bigger tires versus a body lift versus a suspension lift (in any/all cases I'm thinking of not going any higher than 3"). Below is my list--I'm not certain I have everything correct.
Tires Pro: Increases clearance for every dangly jeep bit.
Tires Con: Will impact acceleration and speedo. Requires new rear bumper/tire carrier. May require new fenders, and may require a new front bumper. With stock wheels may need spacers.
Body Lift Pro: Looks good? May be cheap way to get clearance for bigger tires? Increase clearance for some dangly bits. Cheap.
Body Lift Minus: Doesn't add as much capability as other options.
Suspension Lift Pro: Increased clearance for tires. More clearance for some dangly bits. Ability to tune ride to something different from stock. Can increase articulation?
Suspension Lift Con: Lots that can possible go wrong (lots of bits, adjustments, etc.). Expensive versus body lift.
Seems to me the most cost effective was to get the most increase capability for the buck is to fit bigger tires, and figure out what is needed to make those work. Yes? No?
Thanks for that link--awesome info. Also sort of confirmed the deal that, all other things being equal, bigger tires sizes are better than smaller tire sizes.
The suggestion to wheel this Jeep setup before changing it makes a ton of sense--the only thing against that is that take off wheels/tires with only delivery miles on them are worth more than a set with some wheeling on them.
Tires, wider tires = more traction ...I know there are a lot of variables here but if you replace the factory tire with a wider equivalent then you won't be stuck 30 mins after taking delivery
Suspension...it all depends on your intended final use. The factory suspension is terrible...absolutely terrible. A mild lift from the proper suspension company will net huge on road performance gains for the same reason it will net huge off road performance gains. Do your research and decide what is best for you.
Body lift...very rarely do you see these on Jk's. first they allow you to run a slightly larger tire which is good. Second they don't really do anything after that. You still have the same awful factory ride as you did before. The primary reason you see body lifts on jeeps has to do with drivetrain clearance, my 06 needed a belly up and the the transmission and muffler wouldn't clear the tub without a body lift, so on went the body lift. The drivetrain on a jk is already stuffed pretty well so there is no need to tuck anything. The last reason is labor. If you do a body lift yourself it is free, if you get one put on, plan on spending the same in parts and labor as a 2.5 suspension lift in many cases so most negate the body lift.
Most of it comes down to ride quality and suspension components. Beefier aftermarket components are nice for jeeps that will be taking a beating. Factory components are good for jeeps that are mild to moderately off roaded. Factory springs and shocks are good for nobody...absolutely awful ride quality. A properly lifted jeep rides way better than stock.
Tire carriers...if you want more clearance than plan on at least a basic smittybilt, bestop, or teraflex oversize tire carrier to fit a 33-35.
body lifts are silly on JK's unless you are really running a massive tire. I have 3.5 inches of lift and run a 37" tire with no rub. TJ's on the other hand, can really benefit from a small body lift to fit a bigger tire.
Painful decision.....I eventually called Teraflex for their advice and they advised a 3 inch lift...I added bilstein 5100's, a tera track bar, and lower short arms....drives as good as stock with 35's....got a tad of JK lean (1/2 to 1 inch) but I really feel good about it...one thing I missed and you'll find it on the forum is tire stiffness...I put goodyear mtr's on it and people say they are very stiff....leave me tell you....STIFF, aired down to 28 for everyday driving...
For the way you describe your usage, a mild lift and 35's / 315's should do fine. You will get increased ground clearance, more traction from larger tires, a lift you can probably install yourself in the garage, you won't be making major modifications so no worries with future performance of your Jeep. And since you are ordering a 2014 with the Pentastar V6, that thing should have enough ponies to turn the 35's just fine without a regear, unless you have some big trailer to tow.
I have a 2010 JKUR and the setup above (315's + 2.5" lift) is what I have, works great. I've wheeled it, towed with it, gone on long trips, etc. no complaints. Cost me under $1000 out the door including tires, and I installed everything in my garage with nothing but a socket set, an adjustable wrench, two jack stands and a jack in one Sat afternoon.
The rake thing is interesting. My lift kit was 2.5" in front, 2" in the rear to lift and level the Jeep. And that it did, the measurements on the front and rear tips of the rocker rail to the ground were exactly the same after the kit was installed. Only problem is that the spacing of the tires in the wheel wells makes the Jeep look like its squatting on its haunches in the back, even though it measures level. And you don't have as much wheel well clearance in the back either. So I added a set of 0.75" Daystar spacers ($35) on top of the rear springs and now its perfect.
One more thing where I can probably add value to your question, if you go with a 315 size tire or smaller, my recommendation and experience is that the stock tire carrier is fine. Assuming you either run the stock wheels with a 1.5" spacer mounted to the tire carrier or after market wheels with the equivalent backspacing, the tire will fit fine when you shut the rear door. You will only increase the weight on the tire carrier over stock by 15-20 lbs depending on what tire you switch too. My setup is an increase of 16 lbs (per tire rack, stock BFG Mud in 255/75-17 = 48 lbs, 315/70-17 BFG AT-KO = 64 lbs., I run stock wheels with 1.5" spacer). This is a small weight addition considering how much weight can be placed on a door by jerry cans, a spare tire mounted bike rack, etc.