Although the Grand Cherokee line isn't the oldest in Jeep's line-up, it has seen a lot of change since its introduction in 1993. Initially engineered to compete with Ford's new Explorer, the Grand Cherokee was more trail-focused and less plush than its competitor. As feature levels rose and zero-to-60 times fell, the Grand Cherokee took the crown as the world's fastest SUV in 1995 and 2006. Such a serious machine demands shocks that can keep up. Perhaps that is why there are so many options available.
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Just because Monroe's nitrogen-charged Monro-Matic is the stock replacement for most Jeep Cherokees, don't think it's inferior. The Monro-Matic is capable both on-road and off, but only offers about 8 inches of shock travel. It is this (more than any other factor) that limits the Monro-Matic's capability.
The reflex is an upgrade from stock shock absorbers, and features a position-sensitive inertial damping valve. Very similar in design to Edelbrock's Performer IAS (another excellent choice), the Reflex can change its damping characteristics according to the road surface and speed. For instance, when you're travelling quickly over smooth roads, the Reflex is firm like a race shock. Heavy dips and impacts cause the shock to become softer, which is ideal for comfort and off-roading.
The KYB MonoMax (and it's sister, the self-adjusting Gas-A-Just) are popular replacement shocks that offer something many in their price range do not: adjustability. If you're at all familiar with suspension tuning, think of these as "Stage 2" shocks; better than stock, but not dedicated performance units. However, these shocks are ideal for those who spend most of their time on road, and don't mind stopping to adjust their shocks when it's time for the Jeep to do what it does best.
Rancho RS9000 XL
To be completely honest, if you've never heard of Rancho shocks, you probably don't need them. Rancho is a legend in the world of off-roaders. You can find their units in single, dual and quadruple configuration on everything from trail buggies to monster trucks.
Although almost any of Rancho's shocks will fit the bill on a Grand Cherokee, the nitrogen-charged RS9000 XL has a 2.75 in outer body diameter, a thick 18mm piston rod, and 9 positions of manual or remote tuning. These are the shocks of choice for heavy-tire, live axle applications, and are unlikely to overheat even at high suspension cycling speeds. Whether rock-crawling or trail-running, you can trust the RS9000 XL to do its job the first time, every time.
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