How To Choose The Right Jeep For Off-Roading

How To Choose The Right Jeep For Off-Roading

Hi guys! I’m Andy and today I’m going to delve into a feud that’s been raging on the forums for the past 10 years, pretty much since the JK came out. What’s better? Either the two-door JK or the four-door JK. But to get into the two-door versus four-door feud, I have a couple of Jeeps from the fleet, of course the two-door and the four-door JK, and both are set up similarly. Both have 3-and-a-half inch JKS lift kits on them. Both wear 35-inch tires. And the four-door has a bit more armor, and for good reason. We’ll talk a little more about it in a moment. But for now, let’s hit the trails and see which one does better. Alright, let’s jump right in and find it out!

How To Choose The Right Jeep For Off-RoadingSo, first things first, and that will be the most obvious, a four-door JK will have a lot more room in it. It’s a pretty easy trail where I loaded this thing, a couple of camera bags in the back. I also have a guy in the back, a guy in front. I even have room for a fourth man and all of our gear in that big four-door JK, and of course the two-door, won’t be. Trying to put all that gear in there and a couple of guys just won’t work. Well, trails like this are the type of trails that many of you use your jeep on. You are trying to get back and forth from a campsite. You want to be able to bring a lot of gear and a few friends. Or maybe you just don’t have hardcore cycling around you so it’s more of a dirt road like this one. And if you want a lot of extra space in this case, the four-door will definitely be the winner. So, the four-door Jeep obviously wins when it comes to space and more people to fit in. I don’t think that would surprise anyone.

How To Choose The Right Jeep For Off-RoadingBut on the premises, I’m in a slightly stronger off-road situation than I was when I rolled down that trail of fire, and this is where the two-door will be a bit more advantageous. It has that nice, compact wheelbase. You can get around the curves a little easier and won’t drag on the ground as much as with the longer four-door. With the four-door, you’ll definitely make sure you have rock sliders and underbody protection panels as you’ll haul a lot more because of the longer wheelbase. The Jeep only drives a couple of factory skid plates, no rock sliders and I’ll be able to negotiate obstacles without lugging quite as much. That doesn’t mean you don’t need armor on your two-door hatchback. Armor is always good. It will definitely give you some peace of mind and allow you to attack obstacles that otherwise you wouldn’t know you would be harmed, but it won’t be quite as necessary on the more compact two-door.

A commonly used term is the tilt angle, which is the angle between the front tire, the lowest point between the tires, and then the rear tire. And what leads to it in the real world is the ability to walk over a hill, to climb a hill. With a more compact wheelbase, like the one we have here on the two-door, you can negotiate a steeper hill. You can climb this hill without dragging the jeep’s belly to the ground. That won’t work with the four-door jeep either. Well, you have the longer wheelbase. That angle between the tire and the center of the frame and the front tire becomes shallower, which means your tilt angle will also be shallower. You won’t be able to go through as much without pulling your stomach, and that’s why I’m talking about armor.

How To Choose The Right Jeep For Off-RoadingWe’re talking now about rock slider and underbelly armor, and you’ll want more of that armor on your four-door because you’ll be hauling a lot more. What we’re talking about is more about the rock sliders. I wanted to overcome an obstacle here. I’ve started bringing in the big four-door. I had to do a three-point curve to get her. And now that I’m set up I’m definitely going to be using the rock scrapers between the tree and the rock on the other side of this obstacle. Something will pull. So, like I said, I’m going to try this obstacle with the four-door JK.

Honestly, it took a bit of work to position it. I kept going and probably had to do at least one more K-turn to get it to spin. And like I said, the odds are, and there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll end up using these rocksliders. It’s definitely a bit tight with this long wheelbase. Like I said, I had the slider. I can use it well. I just want to make sure I know where everything is. Well, it was eventful, I shall say. Possibly not one but two torches cracked. In any case, rubbed the roof on the tree a little. Hopefully I haven’t removed any paint. That’s a pretty gnarled obstacle. It was a lot of fun and we could definitely prove our point. I’ve definitely shown that you need sliders and armor when trying to maneuver a large four-door jeep around some of those sharper corners. So, I went ahead and attacked the same thing with the two-door. It was pretty gnarled, so there was a chance I’d end up regretting not having skid plates. But I’ll definitely be better off than I’m with that shorter wheelbase four-door in this jeep, so let’s see what happens.

So, I could definitely hear and feel it inside the Jeep. I didn’t have any contact on the rocker like on the four-door, and that was pretty much the same line up to the body damage at the top. So that’s a pretty good one-on-one comparison of apples to apples. The longer wheelbase definitely needed the rockers. Here, believe me, I would have felt a little more comfortable with rock sliders, but I didn’t need them. I haven’t made any contact.

How To Choose The Right Jeep For Off-RoadingThe next thing I’m really going to discuss is underbody skid plates and the importance of having them or, if you’re in the two-door hatch, you don’t necessarily need them that often. And really, the thought process behind this is closely related to the breakover angle I talked about earlier and the fact that the two-door lets you hold more tires on the high spots, on the rocks, than you can with a much longer four-door. Looking at the obstacle, chances am I might end up using the factory skid plates from the two-door car I’m driving. But with the four-door, I’ll definitely be glad I have those aftermarket skid plates that are a little bit stronger and give me a little bit more coverage. So I just fell very hard on the gearbox underlay here in the two-door. Fortunately, I didn’t figure it out until I was roughly in the middle of the Jeep, and that’s evidence of that shorter wheelbase, but I do use those factory skid plates as they were designed. And if I had a much bigger one, something like an oil pan, gearbox skid plate, something thicker, something with some nice countersunk head screws, you know, a really nice piece like I have on the four-door, I wouldn’t be as concerned about that. I would be able to slide and drag over these obstacles. So, I decided to connect with my spotter. I’ll see if I can’t get off this jeep’s skid plate at the factory, and I’ll jump in the four-door and really show how these skid plates slide over some obstacles.

Like I said, when the two-door drug becomes the four-door will definitely pull, but I have some aftermarket skid plates that give me a bit more security and obviously slide without getting hung up quite as much. I definitely move. But I wanted the obstacle. Well, that was nice and solid. It’s definitely one of those things that I know I’m protected under. I know I’m not going to hit the oil pan. I know I’m not going to harm the gearbox and all of this is great. But it’s also the certainty that I can attack an obstacle like this in a long four-door where I know I’ll tow, knowing I won’t do any harm. So, I can just go out, have fun, watch my spotter, master the obstacle and move on to the next without ending the day.

The last obstacle I hit was probably the toughest obstacle I’ve done all day, and it really illustrates how to center the eye using those skid plates and maybe a rock slider or two. Just in general, how the longer wheelbase is going to be a bit tougher as you overcome these huge obstacles, and how you probably want good armor when you do. As I said, this obstacle was probably the toughest I have ever met. So, I met exactly on the right-hand side. I jumped in the two-door and tried first. That’s roughly the same wheelbase. And then we tried the four-door. So that was a bit sketchy in the two-door, but I made it. I didn’t drag the floor of the jeep over anything. It was really just difficult because of the loose dirt and snow on the rocks, but I made it anyway.

I think I was definitely going to pull a little more and it’s going to be a little more difficult in the four-door. Well, like I’ve been saying, this thing is armored. It’ll glide over obstacles a little easier, which is definitely nice, but I still think the long wheelbase is going to be just too much for this obstacle. It’s pretty clear. It’s pretty steep at the top. I can tell you that I’m a lot more into this tree than the two-door. I definitely felt that. I got down really hard on the rock slider here, and that’s a prime example of two-door versus four-door in a hardcore wheeling example like this one.

The two-door didn’t have the same problem as the four-door. It’s a longer wheelbase, you’ll get stuck more. Make sure you have your armor in place before attempting anything like this. Okay, I hung on that rock slider pretty hard. I went ahead and removed that obstacle.

Well, when you drive up an obstacle like that, the real danger comes when you start to spin the tires, you can move sideways and in the end the obstacle will tip over back, which I certainly didn’t want. I could probably have stacked a few stones. I could have tried another line. I could have connected a winch line. There are always ways to give you a better chance, but this article is really about illustrating the differences between your two-door and four-door, and I think that’s exactly what it did. I got tough on these rockers because this thing has a longer wheelbase. The two-door came through without any problems. I think I did a really good job pointing out the big differences between the two-door and four-door JK. And if you’re into some more hardcore driving, I’d say the two-door will take it. It makes it a lot easier to overcome these obstacles than the four-door will do. Having the right armor and gear on your four-door car will allow you to slide over these obstacles where it’s much easier to get rid of them in a two-door JK.

Besides that, just walking these fire routes, getting back and forth to the campsite, you have to carry a lot of equipment and have a lot of people, of course the four doors become. Go over the key points once again, think about what you want to choose finally, and only then commit with your hard-earned dollars. Take care, and drive safely!

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Andy Shane

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