2012 Jeep Wrangler: Yay For The Solid Axle
August 01, 2012
It used to be that most SUVs and trucks came with solid-axle front suspensions. Then, slowly, independent front suspensions (IFS) became more prominent. It makes complete sense, of course. With IFS, you get less unsprung mass, better packaging and a superior ride quality. For the way the majority of people use their SUVs, IFS is the way to go.
But I'm glad the Wrangler, with its old-school solid front axle, is a glaring hold-out. Other than the heavy-duty Ford and Ram trucks (and the Mercedes G-Class), it's the only vehicle left with a solid front axle. For off-roaders who like slow-speed rock-crawling, a solid front axle is considered more robust and better suited to handle the greater stresses occurred when running big off-road tires. There are also fewer parts to wear out and typically simpler steering. There are even a lot of aftermarket companies these days that offer kits to convert IFS trucks and SUVs back to "low-tech" solid axle suspensions.
If there's ever a day in the future when Jeep decides to give the Wrangler an IFS, it's the day I decide the Wrangler's no longer a Wrangler.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor