Guide to 4x4 Up-Fitting - 2021
A quick guide to truck and Jeep accessories
Canon Sperrazza | Author | April 1, 2021
As a 4×4 enthusiast, any and all tweaks, changes and up-fits you make to your vehicle are done to increase its off-road performance, originality and cool factor. However, you may be wondering what up-fits are going to get your vehicle there, especially if you are new to up-fitting vehicles. At Southern Off-Road Specialists, we understand the objective behind up-fitting vehicles, and take pride in how satisfied our customers are with the performance and originality of their vehicles. In this installment of the SORS blog, we’ll look at the most in-demand up-fits you can add to a 4×4 vehicle in 2021, based on our analysis of the current market and trends, as well as our 21 years of experience in the business. We’ve narrowed it down to the three most critical up-fits, as well as one bonus up-fit that can really add to the right vehicle.
Suspension Lifts - Go Big (But Not Too Big)
Picking the height of a suspension lift for a vehicle can be tricky. Obviously, you don’t want to go so big that your vehicle becomes impractical. However, sometimes a vehicle needs more than just a leveling kit to really make it stand out. We’ve found that the popular suspension systems that we fit on customer partners are between 4” and 6”.
6” is a gold standard of sorts with trucks. A 6” kit gives you an aggressive stance – one that just about any truck and/or 4×4 enthusiast will admire. This lift will also give you plenty of clearance for off-road driving and will get you through most mild to moderate conditions without fault (granted you have 4×4 and the right rubber on your wheels). Speaking of tires, a 6” lift will allow you to clear some of today’s most popular tire sizes. Just about any pickup with a 6” lift will clear 35” tires, with some even clearing 37”s without scrubbing depending on make/model.
On Jeeps, a 4” lift is the equivalent of a 6” on a pickup when it comes to clearing tires. A 4” lift will allow you to clear 37” on JLs and JTs (even larger tires on Mojave models!) without issue, and give the vehicle plenty of clearance for serious off-roading. The 4”/37s combo on a JL or JT is a perfect combination for Jeep enthusiasts, knocking out two of the most common aftermarket upgrades into a killer package.
Fill Things Out With the Right Tire
Speaking of tires, let’s talk tire choice. If you go big with you’re suspension lift, you’re going to want to follow-suit with your tire choice. The last thing you want is a lifted vehicle with a wide-open, empty looking fender well from an undersized tire. The right tire will fill out the look of the vehicle and create a well-balanced overall look. Furthermore, this extra rubber increases the vehicle’s validity in off-road situations (more rubber = more traction). All-terrains, hybrid all-terrains and, depending on your needs, mud-terrain tires are the types to choose for your lifted 4×4 vehicles, as they match the look and off-road performance implied by the suspension lift.
As far as the exact tire to choice, we’ve picked a few top contenders. The undisputed king of all-terrain tires right now is the Nitto Ridge Grappler. This is a hybrid all-terrain, meaning it combines elements of both an all-terrain tire and a mud-terrain tire. Hybrid designs are about as close to a “best of both worlds” situation as you can get with off-/on-road tires; they give you the smooth on-road performance of an all-terrain while still giving plenty of mud-terrain bite when things venture off the pavement. Alternatives to the Ridge Grappler are the Yokohama Geolander X-AT and the Toyo Open Country A/T III. Both of these tires offer similar hybrid designs, but neither are quite as popular as the Ridge Grappler. In addition to handling adverse conditions similarly well, all three tires feature noise canceling technology that keep highway travel smooth and quiet.
Wheel Choice is Everything
Wheel choice totally defines the attitude of a truck or Jeep, and can make the difference between a standout vehicle or an uninspiring “more-of-the-same” ordeal. Over the last decade, the aftermarket custom 4×4 space has been defined by wheels clad in gloss black finishes. Today, black wheels are beginning to go the way of chrome in the mid ‘00s, and while it’s still a safe bet, the old stalwart is slowly losing its seat to new styles. The cutting edge of wheel styling in 2021 is made up of wheels in metallic, military-inspired matte finishes. Gunmetals, silvers and even bronzes are steadily making their way into the collective ethos into of the aftermarket truck/Jeep/4×4 space.
Most of the longstanding, respected brands of the last decade like Fuel Off-Road, Black Rhino, Mayhem and Hostile are offering their own takes on these new styles. Fuel, in particular, has even introduced a specific finish called “dual-dark tint”, an eye-catching bronze-y finish that changes tint based on lighting. Newcomers such as VenomRex offer a full line of wheels boasting these new finishes, and new flow-forged technology as well.
In short, you can play it safe still with a gloss black wheel design. However, if you’d like to build a stand-out vehicle, going with a wheel design geared towards these new stylings can make for a truly unique vehicle that is bound to turn heads. Southern Off-Road Specialists is here to help you pick out the best wheels for your build, whether you want to build something tame, or something completely cutting-edge.
BONUS: Don’t Be Afraid to Add the Right Accessories
If you’re going to be building a vehicle that will be specifically geared towards off-roading, a few extra accessories can go a long way. There are several accessories that any true off-roader wouldn’t be caught dead without. Lucky for you, SORS stocks and installs them all. Auxiliary lighting is one of the simplest ways to add in some aftermarket flare to a vehicle, and is an upgrade that is very useful for busting through service roads or hunting land before or after dark. Other upgrades include recovery and protective gear like steel bumpers and winches, which are both invaluable add-ons to anyone venturing away from the pavement.