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What's Brewin' on the Bayou at Superlift?

ROCKCRAWLER.com
What's Brewin' in the Bayou?

By Michael Cohn

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Superlift Suspensions
This Grand Cherokee was our kind of airport limo!
While lining up my visit to Superlift, Owner, Bret Lovett, wrote me "On yeah, our dress code is slothful-casual." What more could a cargo-shorts, t-shirt and ball-cap wearing four-wheeler ask for?

I was picked up at the airport by Bret and Product Development Manager, Kevin Dill - both of whom did, in fact, show up in slothful-casual style - Bret wearing a Jeep hat and Kevin in his 4WD Hardware hat.

The fun began immediately upon leaving the airport gate. Right out front was Kevin's latest baby - a practically brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK) - with four inches of lift! Yes, Kevin's the guy behind this new suspension and he gets to drive on it every day on his own rig. Superlift, in conjunction with AEV Engineering and DaimlerChrysler, have developed this new kit for the Grand (and Commander) and showed it just one week ago for the first time at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. So our drive to dinner put me on the road in one of only a couple Jeeps in existence with this kit on it.

Riding in a vehicle with a prototype suspension can be a little unnerving, however, Superlift has been in business for 30 years now, so they are no spring chickens when it comes to designing and building lift kits. As a passenger in this new Grand Cherokee, I noted how smooth the ride was and how well it tracked in town and on the highway right away. My nervousness vanished. The next day I would have the opportunity to drive this and many other vehicles in the Superlift stable.

Morning came early and Superlift wanted to throw me right into the fire. Rather than pick me up, Bret had left me a lifted 2005 Chevy Z-71 and a map. I have not spent a lot of time driving lifted full-size trucks, but I have owned six of these Chevies over the years, so I certainly know how they drive stock. This truck was a huge surprise to me. I had expected it to wander, lean and ride like a hay wagon, but it did none of that. The drive to Superlift was a pleasure and the Z handled great. I arrived at Superlift's 9-acre location charged up and on top of the world! Show me the other toys!

Superlift Suspensions
Sure beats the usual rentals we get when we travel!
Superlift Suspensions
Superlift's main office building and warehouse

And show me they did. Kevin started out by giving me the grand tour of Metalforms, Superlift's design and engineering division. This is where all the magic - and maybe even a little Louisiana voodoo - happens. CAD work, drafting, and even prototype machine work is all done here and installed in their own four-bay shop. During the drive from the airport, Kevin had noticed something in the front end that he wanted to make a change on. By the time I arrived in the morning, the Grand Cherokee was on the rack and the part had already been made and installed.

Superlift Suspensions
Metalforms main office
Superlift Suspensions
2005 Grand Cherokee on the rack at Metalforms

While the Jeep was on the rack, Kevin gave me a walk-through of the kit's components. This is what Superlift calls a F.I.T. Kit. F.I.T. stands for Frame Integrated Technology. According to Superlift, "This method utilizes super-beefy lower control arm crossmembers that interlock with a full-width belly pan to form an incredibly strong subframe assembly." What that really means is that Superlift has gone to great lengths to tuck up everything as tightly as possible, while maximizing ground clearance and strength.

Superlift Suspensions
Grand Cherokee F.I.T. Kit front end
Superlift Suspensions
Grand Cherokee F.I.T. Kit front end

Our timing was perfect, so into the Jeep I jumped and off we went for a test drive. Even having only been a passenger the night before, I could tell the difference the morning's change made. I have driven several WK's so I am familiar with their stock feel. This lifted Grand had a more taut ride than the stock HEMI-equipped version. This was a good thing, actually, as the stock versions tend to get a little squirrelly and unpredictable when you hammer down because the stock springs and shocks are tuned for a combination of the most comfortable on-road and off-road feel. This stock feeling is a bit too soft for my liking, though. This one, even sitting higher and rolling on Toyo Open Country A/T LT305/55R20's (about a 33" x 12"), felt very controlled and tracked very well. Going fast around on and off ramps, the Jeep exhibited none of the extensive body roll that you'd expect from a lifted SUV. This kit should be ready for production soon and I think it's going to be a big hit.

Superlift Suspensions
Superlift Suspensions

During my visit I also got to drive a lifted Dodge and two Fords, one of which was a 2005 Super Duty Crew Cab with an 8 " lift. Talk about big! Driving down the highway looking into a big rig driver's eyes was a new experience for me. Riding in it with Bret at the wheel - high tailing down curvy country roads - really cinched the deal for me, though. He drove the truck much harder than I did, since he was intimately acquainted with it's capabilities and handling. All I could say was "wow!" Every one of the trucks we drove was enlightening. Not one of them exhibited the horrible behavior that I expected. Things really have come a long way from the old days!

Superlift Suspensions
2005 Super Duty with 8 inch lift.
How you make an already big rig bigger.
Superlift Suspensions
Kevin Dill's own Dodge. Big!
OK, so we need a little practice parking these big rigs.

 

The Tour Continues    --->>>

 
 

 

 

 

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