Jeep Base Vehicle Selection for First NEWB Overland Build

heraldj07

New member
First off this is my first post and i know just enough about overlanding to get myself in trouble so please bear with me.

My intention is to create trail capable 4x4 vehicle that i can use with my wife on weekends and long holidays.
Travel will usually be within the lower 48 and i would like to take dirtroads and even some fire roads if possible.
My goal is to be able to get from cincinnati to the grand canyon via as close to zero highway as possible.
Currently i was leaning toward a WJ for the spring suspension and the smoother ride during long trips.
I started with the idea of an xj build but was swayed toward the WJ because of a friend at work.

I also want to say that this site is amazing! i read a few stories each day during lunch for inspiration. I started to follow Desk to glory recently and im almost done with season 1 of expedition overland on youtube.

My skill sets:
I can fabricate and build darn near anything.
My wife and i are avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts looking for our next adventure.
BUdget is around 10k so landcrusiers,landrovers,tacomas are all out of the question.

What is the benefit of a Grand over an XJ (assuming both are 4.0s)
are offroad parts more avaliable for one over the other?
Feel free to post your pioctuers of your XJ WJ builds.

This will be a project that i will be working on with my father and wife.... you know quality family time.
 

SGNellett

Adventurer
My guess would be that most XJ's in your area would need most of your $10k budget to fix rust!

That having been said, there are probably more unmolested mid-mileage 1-2 owner Grand Cherokees out there to start with.
 
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Zeiderman

Adventurer
10k will get you a long ways in an XJ, even if you bought elsewhere for 3ish, that would still leave a lot of money on the table. If it were me I'd buy one bine stock, rust free and go to town with how I wanted it.

Sent from my SM-T230NU using Tapatalk
 

SilicaRich

Wandering Inverted
X2 with what Zeiderman said

The aftermarket support for XJ is also much larger than that of WJs to my knowledge. You can find clean XJs with moderate milage in the $3k-$5k price range which IMO leaves pretty solid wiggle room for money to spend towards modifications.
 

heraldj07

New member
Decision made! XJ it is. My only question is regarding the articulation angels from a spring suspension compared to a leaf style system in an XJ. Does this affect the ride quality as well? Again this will be a long haul vehicle.
 

DaJudge

Explorer
Decision made! XJ it is. My only question is regarding the articulation angels from a spring suspension compared to a leaf style system in an XJ. Does this affect the ride quality as well? Again this will be a long haul vehicle.
The WJ is much more comfortable. If you get the right set of leaves the articulation is fine with the XJ.

There are plenty of after market bumpers, lifts, etc. for the WJ. If you are worried about comfort then go with the WJ. (if you can find a lower mileage HO V8, that's even better)
 

jpat30

Adventurer
I would also encourage you to take a second look at WJs. As stated above, there are now plenty of options for lifts, gears, bumpers, racks, etc....You can still find very solid low mileage WJs for around 3-5k leaving you a lot of budget to build. WJs are bigger than an XJ (while still smaller than a JKU), have more cargo room, have coils all around as well as 4 wheel discs right from the factory. I currently own 03 WJ with 3 inches of OME lift riding on 32inch BFG KO2. I have the 4.0. The rig is hammer reliable and has taken my family all over the US. INMHO, you cant go wrong with one. Good luck on your decision...
 

SilicaRich

Wandering Inverted
Decision made! XJ it is. My only question is regarding the articulation angels from a spring suspension compared to a leaf style system in an XJ. Does this affect the ride quality as well? Again this will be a long haul vehicle.
Articulation is fine with leaf springs. Ride comfort is no doubt better in a WJ but a good set of shocks and springs can make a quite a difference for an XJ. IF comfort is key for you, definitely still consider a WJ. If possible, I would try to test drive both in relatively stock form and see which one feels better.
 

Comanche Scott

Expedition Leader
I haven't owned an XJ, but I've wheeled/traveled with a few, and I really like the utilitarian focus of them.
I had a WJ ('04 Overland). I still miss it to this day, even though I now have an exceptionally comfortable and capable Wrangler.

In my personal opinion (and we all know what opinions are worth ;)) I would not shy away from either the 5.9L or the 4.7L V8. So when looking, it might be worth driving vehicles with all three engines, before settling on the excellent 4.0L.
The towing capabilities, and cruising power of the V8 make for an even more capable rig to grow with.

Good luck with your choice. :beer:
 
XJ's have front coil springs, so the ride is not that bad, cheaper to lift, about the same $ to buy but the inside space on an XJ is better for packing,d6bcf821d82e086a2261627d0ceb6894.jpg
 

JSwanson

Observer
I messed up and deleted my post somehow. I was trying to add to check out cherokeeforum. Most of the builds are not expo oriented but there are a few some grand builds as well but i havent looked at many of those. Again i am not trying to offend any WJ owners just trying to help. And i realize every vehicles have there pros and cons
 

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docwatson

Adventurer
Having owned two Midwest XJs, I would buy a WJ overland and not look back. 2" lift, 255/75/17, front recovery and you will be ready to roll. There is even a 02 in your area for 5k w/ 106k.

There will be little stuff that goes wrong with XJs (Nss and passenger Windows anyone?) and big stuff, 0331 head?
 

heraldj07

New member
Thanks for the suggestions. I will head over the the Cherokee specific forums soon and start there. My next route will be test driving the different styles of Cherokee and motor configurations.
A few more questions,
What trim packages have cloth seats? Leather around here is usually pretty beat up and ripped.

Also what about a WJ vs a ZJ. Any thoughts? The WJ just looks huge.

Thanks.
 

jpat30

Adventurer
In a WJ, the Laredo package nets you cloth seats. As far as size goes, the WJ is smaller than it seems. Slightly larger than the XJ and yet smaller than a JKU. I regularly travel with JKU guys and have no problems fitting down the same trails. As for ZJs, they are definitely a good candidate as well. You can get them with a inline 6 or a V8. Last year model runs, 97-98 were available with the 5.9V8. Jeep also interestingly enough put a 5sp manual in some ZJs, so if you are into rowing your own gears you can, though they are getting extremely rare to find. I would really encourage you to drive a few different models before making your mind up...
And just for grins, here is my rig next to a co-workers Renegade TH; as you can see the WJ isn't all that wide...
WJ vs Renegade.jpg
 
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Capercrew02

Observer
I have a wj. Bought it two years ago bone stock, two owners, v8 4.7 loaded limited, 114k miles, 3,400 California vehicle rust free. I've since done lone arm 4.5" lift, front and rear bumpers, sliders, tires, wheels. Roof rack, lights, winch, ect and am right at 10k all in. It's surpassed all my expectations off-road, tows my teardrop like it's not there, COMFORTABLY fits 4 adults(something that can't be said about an xj), and all my expo gear. The aftermarket is growing and quite nice for the wj that I don't see a need to look at xj's unless you just want to hack up a trail crawler. For expo travel the wj is superior In every way. Also, don't forget the wj is their third generation unibody vehicle, and it shows. The frame is considerably stronger than the xj and zj. Both of those vehicles require frame stiffening after a few seasons of wheeling, the wj doesn't require it.
 
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