I finally took my new Jeep our for some off roading this weekend and came away with a few first impressions.
By the way, i swapped out the worthless Latitude Tours before the trip for GY Wrangler Silent Armors. Very happy with them. I am a fan of BFG AT's, but i didn't want to have to replace the 5th tire as i would need to go to a 65 profile, and i heard the GY's were a bit better on the freeway. So far, no complaints.
Overall, i was very happy. She is a traction king, while other vehicles in our convoy (all modified vehicles: Toyota FJ, 1996 Grand Cherokee and a mid 90's Chevy 4x4 truck) slipped and slided up the more difficult hills, the WK2 just slowly and uneventfully climbed the hill. No slipping, no drama...very impressive. The ground clearance was great, and the approach and departure angle was better than expected. The hill decent assist functions amazing well...almost too well...it was effortless and almost took the fun out of it! She had gobs of power and torque and for the most part was better than i expected.
The one thing that was a bit of a disappointment was the ride..although in hindsight, i should have expected this. I have the QL with several height settings. The base setting is fine, she soaks ups the bumps and ruts fine. On the first setting, the ride is acceptable. The shocks top out a few times, but for the most part, not an issue. The 2nd setting is the problem. Am i correct in assuming that you take away from the suspension travel in order to raise the vehicle 2.6 inches (please explain if i am wrong)? The result is there is not much travel at this setting and you top out the shocks way too frequently. The ride is horrible, and unless you are moving very slowly, with hardly any play on the suspension, its a painful ride. Now, one may say that this shouldn't be an issue, you should be driving very slowly if you need that sort of ground clearance anyway... but i thought i was, and it was still a tough ride. I eventually got used to it...i would keep the car on the +1 height most of the time, and then, for only very short and necessary times, switch to +2, but it was a bit of a learning curve. You really only want to use it when you have to.
I realize now that there is no free lunch. You get a much better on road ride than a traditional lifted vehicle with the QL system, but when you are off road, you have to pick your shots. If i lived in the country, and drove off road substantially more than i do now, i am not sure the QL would be the right way to go. For me, it is still the right choice, its just a bit of a learning curve. (although, i think for 2012, you have to get QL if you want QDII, as you have to get the overland/summit).
BTW, the ELSD, when working, is very effective. When i say that i never slipped, i was referring to the majority of the trip. Late in the day, i received a SERV 4WD warning light. It cycled off when i turned off the ignition. I did notice that i slipped a bit on the next challenging hill. On Monday, i brought the car in for an unrelated issue (the powered tail gate didn't consistently work). It appears that the warning light was related to my rear differential. They are ordering a new rear differential module (along with a new rear hatch motor). When the ELSD wasn't working, i did notice the difference.
While i am happy with the jeep, two mechanical failures in less than 700 total miles is a bit annoying.
If anyone has any comments or advice regarding QL or QD settings, i would appreciate it. For most of the trails, i was in auto where it was easy; low gear, sand and mud and QL+1 for the more challenging areas and rock at QL+2 for the few extreme trails i encountered.
One last thing, the fold flat seats are great. It was 30 degrees at night up where we camped (as i live in San Diego, this is considered VERY cold
), and the Rangers were concerned as Bears had come into the camp site. Being a coward, i didn't set up my tent and slept in the truck. I am 6'4'', and had no problems. Besides which, the Pano sun roof gave a great view!