I had just picked up a new four-door Jeep Wrangler Recon and needed to make that crucial and expensive decision: figure out the lift and backward plan the rest.
This Jeep is my daily driver and I also do a great deal of trail guiding and instruction for Off-Road Consulting; I needed a suspension system that would do well both on-road and off-road. We (discussed options with my editor) decided to try out AEV’s JK DualSport RS Suspension vice the SC version since it came with the Bilstein remote reservoir shocks. I chose to go with the 4.5” version so the new Yokohama 37” GeoLandars would fit.
Either kit can be had with a 3.5 or 4.5-inch suspension lift. True to AEV’s style, a great deal of OEM parts are re-utilized for the lift which retains the factory performance and safety features. The upper drag link, brakes, control arms, driveshafts, and front track bar are all reused. When doing the install, you don’t remove a single brake line so there is no need to bleed; drop brackets are provided to give the proper amount of brake line play for some pretty good droop. The SC version comes with Bilstein 5100 series shocks while the RS gets the 5160 remote reservoir shocks. Either option has been specifically tuned with the AEV lift to maximize performance.
There isn’t a whole lot of other planning that needs to take place when installing this lift. The lift comes with a Procal, for tire size and trans shift programming on an automatic, AEV jack base, bump stops, new rear track bar, steering damper, track bar axle mounts, and a steering geometry correction kit. Special note here, the steering flip doesn’t require any drilling! However, AEV does make sure to point out that if you are running 2007-2011 auto trans, you will need narrower drive shafts and if you are running 2012+ you will need to space the exhaust. I just chose to space the exhaust but there a lot of options to solve the spacing issue.
When you read the description from AEV’s website, you’ll quickly realize that the primary goal for their lift system is to provide improvements in both on-road and off-road conditions, not sacrificing one for the other which is often unavoidable. After installing the lift, driving on the road was smooth and predictable in every circumstance. You will be pleasantly surprised that there is little to no bump steer and the vehicle transitions into corners seamlessly. Even with exceptionally bumpy corners, there is a significant lack of chattering or crab walking; the lift keeps you connected to the road. Since we lifted the Jeep 4.5 inches and added 37-inch tires, of course, there was a drop in gas mileage. Normally I would get into body roll as well but we added a two-stage front sway bar with the lift so I actually had less body roll than stock after install was complete. All in all, I often get compliments from surprised passengers on how comfortable the Jeep rides; it’s just smooth and quiet as you cruise down the road.
I get to do a great deal of off-road driving since I trail guide for OffRoad Consulting. With my 2015 two door, I was often crawling over aggressive black trails with a high-grade long arm suspension. Even though AEV advertises this lift as best suited and designed for expedition wheeling, it has continued to perform extremely well over the rocks. The install directions made sure to point out how to route critical lines (brake lines, sensor wires, breather tubes, etc.) and my off-road experiences thus far have demonstrated that they are dead on. There have been zero instances of popping a breather tube off the axle or putting unneeded stress on a brake line. The orientation/location recommendations for shock remote reservoir placement is equally well advised. I pretty much went out of my way to put the suspension through the wringer and try to bind her up. I at least expected the normal pop you often hear from traversing such obstacles. Over and over again, the only noise I am getting from the trail is the clacking from my manual transmission driveline; the lift, just like on-road, is super smooth and quiet as it transitions from being all twisted up in the wadis, to hanging a wheel or two on big rocks, and back to rolling down a washboard dirt road.
Some Parting Comments
I continue to monitor my stock driveshafts because I just couldn’t believe there was a need to replace them (often required for other lifts). If you follow AEV’s advice and space the exhaust appropriately, there just isn’t any contact with the stock driveshaft boot. It still looks brand new.
The install directions are really easy to follow and will point you to alternate procedures depending on the options you decided to go with. Any extra parts you are adding (eg: track bar towers) are perfectly indexed leaving no question that you are drilling in the right place. As an added bonus, this is the only set of instructions I have seen that list detailed torque values through the directions AND a comprehensive OEM listing on the final page.
Just so you know, we added a couple extra really cool AEV products to this lift package like the Borah bead lock wheels, fuel caddy, and tire carrier that we will be talking about soon so keep a lookout! And, of course, there are still a couple months left for the prime wheeling season so there should be a bunch of great off road pics coming too!