Jeeps Wranglers are amazing off-road vehicles, but to get the most out of your vehicle you might want to lift it. There are several different models of Jeep to choose from, and lift kits are different for each model. The level of lift that you might want will also change based on which model you own.
The optimal lift for most Jeep owners and Wrangler models is about 3 inches. This is the best lift for road and off-road travel. 1-inch lifts are great for aesthetic appeal, and you can even go up to 6-inches if you want the highest lift possible. Different models of Wranglers will differ somewhat.
Throughout the rest of this article, I will be going through each model of Jeep Wrangler and discussing the optimal lift to maximize your vehicle’s performance for whatever you need to use it for. If you’re thinking about lifting your Wrangler for looks or off-road, look for your Jeep model below.
Jeep Wrangler YJ
The Wrangler YJ was produced from 1987-1995, and despite its age, it’s still a popular vehicle for many users. These cars still function extremely well as either a daily driver or an off-road vehicle. Whether you use your YJ for one or both of these, a lift may be just the thing you need to improve your ride.
If you are only interested in improving the looks of your daily driver, a one-inch body lift should provide exactly what you are looking for, and give you the bit of extra space needed to increase the size of your tires. Aesthetically, this will be your best and most affordable bet.
If you want your vehicle to be most optimized for both road travel and off-road travel, a three-inch suspension lift is probably the way to go. Any more than that, and you run into problems of needing to re-gear your vehicle. You could also lose control and overall performance on the road. The extra clearance is just enough that you will have ample opportunity for great off-road trails, even if you aren’t quite equipped for the most extreme routes.
For the Jeep owner who has no intention of driving their Jeep on roads for any specific time, the answer to the question becomes a bit less specific. The answer is that for off-roading you can optimally lift your Wrangler anywhere from 4.5 to 6 inches. Your budget will have more bearing on the decision than anything else since a higher lifts cost more. At 4.5 inches, there isn’t much that your Jeep won’t clear, but the assurance of having an additional 1.5 inches may be worth the increased cost of a 6-inch lift.
Jeep Wrangler TJ
The Jeep Wrangler TJ ran from 1997-2006, and can still hold its own in off-road conditions. These are great vehicles for off-roaders and on-road drivers alike. There are different reasons that a Wrangler TJ owner would want to lift their vehicle, for performance or looks.
This Wrangler functions very similarly to the YJ model. If you are looking to improve the appearance of your Jeep and have no intention of ever going off-road, a one-inch body lift is probably the optimal lift for you. It will allow you to put larger tires on your Jeep, and it is significantly less expensive than doing a suspension lift.
For those who like to mix it up between highway and off-road, a 3-3.5 inch lift is the optimal lift for you. You don’t sacrifice much in the way of efficiency on the roadways, and you will have a great deal of off-road terrain available to you due to the increased ground clearance. This makes it the optimal multi-terrain vehicle.
Finally, you can lift it even more to become the optimal off-road vehicle. It is important to remember that with increases in the amount of lift, increases in cost will inevitably follow. Many say that a 6-inch lift will give you the ultimate height for off-roading, but others will say that this is overkill and that a 4.5-inch lift is perfect. Look at your budget to determine what you’re willing to spend on your vehicle.
Jeep Wrangler LJ
The Jeep Wrangler LJ only ran from 2004-2006, making it the shortest-lived Wrangler model in recent years. Don’t let the short production period deceive you, though. This Jeep is no slouch when it comes to performance. It was the last model for the two-door Wrangler, so it is the newest model that still has the shorter body style.
Just like its predecessors, there are a few reasons you might want to lift your Jeep. If you are in the cosmetics camp, and only care about appearances, a small body lift is the way to go. Just one inch will allow you to add larger wheels, and that alone won’t have a whole lot of drawbacks. You’ll end up with a cooler-looking Jeep and you can save some money as well!
If you’re more on the practical side of things, and you want on and off-road performance, a three-inch suspension lift is what you are looking for. This will open your horizons to include moderately difficult off-road trails, which lets you take your Jeep almost anywhere. At three inches, you won’t be looking at excessive aftermarket additions to your Jeep, and you won’t be sacrificing terribly in fuel economy.
If you’re looking to lift your Jeep to make it a nearly exclusively off-road vehicle, the best option for you is somewhere between 4 and 6 inches on a suspension lift. It seems that many who off-road in their Wranglers believe that a 4.5-inch suspension lift is the sweet spot for off-roading. This lift will open most off-road trails to you. Despite this, some say that a 6-inch suspension lift gives just a bit more peace of mind that you won’t do serious damage to your vehicle.
Because of this, there isn’t a perfect answer as to how high to lift your LJ for off-roading, and it’s really up to personal preference, peace of mind, and budget. Either option will give you an excellent off-road vehicle.
Jeep Wrangler JK
The Jeep Wrangler JK ran from 2006 to 2018, and was the first Wrangler to introduce the 4-door body style. This Wrangler is still entirely viable for off-road and on road travel, so it is a great option for many people looking to buy a Jeep, especially with the extra space for passengers. Like the previous model, people will be driving and lifting these vehicles for different reasons.
There will always be those who choose to drive a Wrangler because they like the appearance, and just as with the previous models a one inch body lift should be plenty so you can install larger tires and your vehicle will sit a little higher. A body lift will save you money in the long run as they are cheaper than suspension lifts. If you want to lift you road vehicle, this is the way to do it while sacrificing the least in fuel efficiency and performance.
The video below discusses the advantages and disadvantages of different lift heights and who needs what kind of lift. It discusses how most Wrangler owners only use their vehicles off-road on the weekends, and how those people’s vehicles need to be able to serve not only off-road but on the highway and around town.
For those who enjoy the dual function of their Wrangler, the optimal lift for your vehicle is 3-4 inches. At that height, you will be below the level of really extreme modification, which will help keep costs low. You won’t sacrifice as much on the highway for the capacity to go off-road, and you will still be able to do a great deal of off-roading.
If your Wrangler is going to be your off-road only vehicle, or if you aren’t willing to compromise your off-roading experience for a better highway experience you should be looking at a 5-6 inch lift. 6 inches is the height at which you will open up the most roads, so despite the expense, it may be the best option.
The reason the Wrangler JK needs a larger lift than its predecessors is because the vehicle is longer. You will see in the video below that a two-door style Wrangler handles a hill with ease, while the four-door style cannot make it because the bottom of the vehicle between the wheels is stuck on a hill. A larger lift makes this less of an issue because the clearance is higher.
Jeep Wrangler JL
The Jeep Wrangler JL has run from 2018 to the present day. Like its predecessor, it has four doors and is more equipped for carrying passengers than earlier Wrangler models. This change hasn’t made this vehicle into any less of an off-road vehicle, though.
As is always the case, there are those who will be lifting their Jeeps for cosmetic reasons, not for any desire to go off-roading. If that is your goal, a small body lift is perfect for you. A one-inch lift will allow you to go up a tire size and make your Jeep look amazing without sacrificing too much.
If you want the off-road experience, but need your Jeep as a daily driver, a 3-4 inch suspension lift will give you exactly the kind of height you need to do a lot of off-roading, without sacrificing road efficiency. The longer body of the four-door model Wranglers demands higher ground clearance than a two-door model would need, so keep in mind that another Jeep may be able to go where you cannot.
For a true off-road, no cares given for the highway, Jeep Wrangler, a 5-6 inch suspension lift is the way to go. The higher ground clearance will greatly improve the performance of your Jeep, and you will be able to take it pretty much anywhere.