The way I see it, there are two schools of thought when it comes to the newest line-up of Land Rover products. One says that since it doesn't have solid axles, and all the "traditional" Landy bits it's not "legit." The other, however, has begun to see the light. They realize the advancements that Land Rover has been making over the years are actually for the better and that even though the vehicles may have significantly more electronics—they're actually reliable—and incredibly capable off-road. It's even possible to install a two-and-a-half inch lift on an LR4 (and an LR3 for that matter) in under 30 minutes. Try doing that with your rusty coil springs.
Shove that in your solid axles and smoke it.
For those of you not familiar with the LR3/4 platform, it features fully independent, height adjustable air suspension at all four corners. A few early model LR3's did in fact come with traditional steel coil-springs, but they're quite rare. Luckily, from what we've been told (and seen first hand) the air suspension system on the LR4 is actually quite reliable, and a slight improvement over the system fitted to the LR3.
When discussing lifting the newer Discovery models, there's always someone who brings up the perceived complication of fitting a suspension lift. There's no need to remove the air suspension, and although a kit is rumored to be available, it's not necessary to convert to traditional steel coils in order to lift it. Once you've looked into it, it's actually much simpler to just work with the existing setup instead of working against it.
Since the system is self-leveling, the computer needs to know the current ride height at all times in order to achieve this. The rod you see above, along with the sensors attached to it is responsible for making all of that happen. Quite simply if you change the length of those rods you'll see a direct change in your ride height. Electronic tom-foolery is not-needed.
Just like the LR3/4 is a different look at a capable 4WD vehicle, the Johnson Rods lift kit ($135) is a different look at the traditional lift kit. While the small envelope arriving in the mail may not be as exiting as recieving a few boxes of heavy parts, in the end you'll be glad. Johnson Rods provides a quality, precisely measured kit that installs easily, and alters the length of your factory rods, allowing for approximately 2.5-inches of additional ground clearance—all at a reasonable price.
Installing the lift:
Installation is a breeze, and while it's not exactly necessary to remove the tires, I found it to be much easier. It's the most labor intensive part of the process. I'd also recommend disconnecting the battery to avoid initially confusing the system. I started with the front of the vehicle, but it doesn't really matter which you choose to start with, included are a few tips I found to speed the process up. It's simple and straight forward though, pop the old rods off, pop the new ones on and go!
Since rubber occasionally has a tendency to tear, I used a little bit of lubrication to assist in popping off the factory rods if we ever decided to go back to stock.
It just so happens that a door panel tool can also be used as a tool to remove the ride-height rods. It's not necessary, but it makes it a little easier.
Once the factory rod is removed, put a little bit of lubrication on the new Johnson Rod and simply press it onto the factory mount. The front rods will only fit the front, and vice-versa for the rear, so there's no worry about mixing things up.
The rear is just as simple, but a little bit more cramped in terms of space (and photography), but the process is exactly the same.
Here's the LR4 at the factory stock setting with bumpers added to the front and rear. However, since the system is self-leveling, the weight of the bumpers would not change the stock ride height.
Here's how you'll see the LR4 after you install the Johnson Rods and fit a larger size tire. It's approximately 2.5-inches higher than normal, consider this to be roughly the same height as "off-road" mode, without any speed restrictions.
When you're in off-road height, you'll see the greatest overall lift, though at this setting you will definitely see decreased articulation. Scott Brady had mentioned that this would likely only be used for situations when it was absolutely required. Ride quality also quickly diminishes at this setting.
Stock, with front and rear bumpers.
The Johnson Rods provide a cost-effective option to get a more aggressive look out of your LR3/4. Even after putting nearly 300 miles on the vehicle post-lift, I did not notice a significant difference in ride quality. Since the LR4 sets such a high standard in ride quality to start with, a small decrease is hard to notice. It's worth noting that in order to gain the additional lift, you effectively "steal" extension travel from the suspension. The simplicity of lifting the LR3/4 just leaves you thinking that it was done this way from the factory for a reason. Perhaps it was a bit of a nod to enthusiasts from the Land Rover engineering team?
An added note: A four-wheel alignment is highly, highly suggested after altering your ride height. (November 15th)