Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Two-Door: 2.5 Inch Lift with 33 Inch Tires

This is my Jeep. It's a 2014 two-door with an AEV 2.5" lift kit and 285 series tires (33").

It was surprisingly hard to find anything on the internet dedicated to showing a very specific setup for Jeep Wranglers, specifically what a Jeep looks like with a 2.5″ lift with 33″ tires.  So here you go, if you’re looking for such a thing.

Here's a straight-on detail shot of the side of the Jeep with the AEV 2.5" lift and 33" tires. I think it looks significantly meaner (and will perform better) than stock without looking extreme. In fact, a lot of people think it is stock.

Seems like everybody in Jeep forums buys the biggest tires they can stuff into their wheel wells, which for a 2.5″ lift is 35″ tires.  For me, that’s just too big.  I’m not into rock crawling or driving over obstacles for the sake of it.  I’m more of an explorer, sort of a Jeep-equipped adventure rider.  I want the Jeep to take me adventuring without worrying about capability.  Also, 35″ inch tires have a lot of rolling resistance and require a lot more horsepower (and gasoline).  I’m no fuel miser, but range is an important consideration while exploring.  Thus, 33″ tires worked for me.

The Jeep at Sand Hollow 2014-2

I also went with a shorter lift–just 2.5 inches.  In my case, I went with AEV’s 2.5″ JK DualSport XT Suspension.  As you can see from the pictures, the Jeep sits considerably higher than stock, but not extremely.  My reasoning behind the 2.5″ lift is much the same as the tires: I love adventuring, not rock crawling.  Also, no matter what, and even though it’s not a daily driver for me, my Jeep will spend most of its life on pavement.  I didn’t want a silly-huge lift with horrible handling day-to-day.

Wrangler Rubicon Wheel Detail

For reference, in addition to the AEV 2.5″ DualSport lift, I have the following pictured items installed:

  1. 33″ (285/70/17) BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO tires
  2. 17″ AEV JK Pintler Wheels in Silver
  3. Steel AEV bumpers front and rear
  4. A crapload of assorted lights everywhere

UPDATE May 2016: In a weak moment I decided to change out my 33″ tires for 35″ tires. Here’s the result.

IMG_0330

After a couple years with the 33″ BFG AT/KO tires, I decided to try out 35″ tires this time instead. (The 33s weren’t bald; I just wanted a change. I sold them.) I decided to change over from the 33″ BFGs to 35″ Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs. Immediately the ride was softer — much softer. I don’t know if this is more a result of the bigger tires (probably) or tires with a thinner sidewall (also possible) but now I’m running the tires at 30 PSI and the Jeep is far more livable. It’s a pleasing result that I didn’t expect or try for. It just happened.

IMG_0331

This is a great chance to see how 33″ tires compare to 35″ tires on the same Jeep with otherwise the exact same setup. If you’re looking at which tires to fit to your Jeep, this might make your choice easier. While the suspension setup is the same, I’ve fitted different driving light covers and when I took these photos I had removed the doors and I have a lightweight flatbed attached to the hitch. So the doors would have made the Jeep marginally lighter and the trailer probably drooped the rear bumper by maybe 1/2″. Yeah, but seriously, the setup is the same. Splitting hairs that exactly is, frankly, pretty pointless. It’s the same Jeep.

IMG_0332

Immediately you’ll notice the taller stance and the more filled out wheel wells. The 35″ tires don’t actually jack up the Jeep that much, but you do feel it when you’re hopping up into the seats. Gas mileage has suffered of course, but not by more than 2 MPG, and tire noise has increased somewhat. The look is decidedly tougher and more, well, off-roadish and it more closely matches the other Jeeps driving around here in the Salt Lake City area — and there are tons of Jeeps here.

You might like the 35″ tires more or you might like them less — for me they’re worthwhile for ride quality alone — but if you’re shopping for tires this hopefully will help your decision. Both are seriously great options. I personally won’t go any bigger than 35″, and I’d have to get a bigger lift to fit larger tires anyway  (AND bigger axles, AND bigger differentials, AND new suspension, AND bigger brakes; yikes) which would be antithetical to my intentions for this Jeep. I’m not against fitting 33s again either, but I probably won’t return to the thick, heavy BFGs. Just buy the tires that are best for your situation. Both sizes are great.

Comments

  1. Juan Landea says:

    Nice review!
    And you didn’t use spacers right?

    • Thanks Juan. Wheel spacers? Not in my case. But when you lift a vehicle, you do need to widen the stance (or track) to compensate for the higher center of gravity. I’ve seen lifted Jeeps without a wide track and they’re spooky looking, like they might tip over at any time. In my case, I used aftermarket wheels for a wider track — they stick out further from the fenders than stock wheels because of their 5.2″ backspacing. This eliminates the need for wheel spacers. If you’re planning to use stock wheels after a suspension lift, then yeah, you’ll need spacers.

  2. Hi John i enjoyed your article and comments. I’m just wondering if you know how high your modified jeep is now that it has 35s on?

    I’m in the process of ordering a similar set-up and mainly interested because of the number of undercover car parks in my area.

    Cheers and thanks again

  3. Love the Jeep! I too own a 2 door Rubicon and I’m really stressing over which tires to get :). I’m sure I’m going with a 2.5 inch lift AEV or Metalcloak though. 33″ vs 35″, my gut says 35″!

    • Thanks! Everyone, of course, has different preferences and different needs for their Jeep. With tires, my two cents say if you’re on the fence between 33s and 35s, you should get the 35s first. It will probably save you a boatload of money—about $1,200 in my case, and that’s not just pocket change. Maybe someone somewhere has downsized their Jeep tires, but I can’t think of any examples. Most seem to go larger.

      As for the lift, I’ve never regretted or second guessed going with 2.5 inches. For me it’s perfect. Others prefer the look of larger lifts or need the extra clearance for rock crawling, but I’ve never needed it or wanted it.

      • Thanks for the response Mike! I’m almost ready to order my kit and tires! Do you have an aftermarket tire carrier installed?

        • Hey John. Sorry for the late response. You’ve probably already gotten your wheels and tires, but in answer to your question, I do have an aftermarket tire carrier. It’s built into my rear bumper, which is a steel AEV unit. It can handle tires up to 40″ so there are no clearance or weight issues.

          How is everything going with the Jeep? (Because spammers have broken the internet, comments are held for moderation but I’ll get back to you.)

          • My Jeep has the lift and tires on! I went with the 2.5 AEV lift and 35×12.6R17 BFG KO2s! I can certainly send pics, it rides like a dream.

            John

  4. Charlie08JK says:

    Really like your Jeep. I have a 2dr 08 Wrangler with 32″ bfg ko2’s with a 2″ Teraflex leveling kit. Added Rancho 9000xl shocks and really like the set up. But eventually I’ll get 33’s with an ome 2.5″ lift. I don’t see any point going bigger than that. Like you I’m an adventurer. I prefer snow wheelin, beach driving, camping and hitting my favorite fishing spots with my sons. With a wife and two sons, I still chose a 2 door Wrangler. I couldn’t bring myself to get a 4 dr. To me a true Wrangler will always be a 2 dr.

    Your write up is well written and speaks to what some view as what jeepin is truly all about.

    • Charlie08JK says:

      I have the bfg ko2’s and might sell these to go back to 33 Duratracs C load. A lighter and overall the superior tire in so many ways. Definitely not a fan of bfg, too darn heavy and only come in an E load. Like the 35 “look” but I’ll never go or have to go beyond 33’s.

      • Anonymous says:

        BFG KO2s come in 315/70/17 with a C load. I got mine for $200 per tire… cheaper than most 33s. I love the tires… smooth ride and lighter than the KO2 E load, which I’m guessing are the BFGs to which you are referring.

        • Yep, you’re right. My tires were almost certainly a D or an E, but from the ride I’d guess E. Here in Utah, 33″ BFG KO2s are commonly installed on heavy-duty pickups so the heavier tires are all the tire shops carry. Those trucks weigh 8,000+ lbs., but Jeep is nowhere in that neighborhood and doesn’t require such a heavy load rating. All this was unknown to me when I first bought my Jeep.

          My new Goodyear Duratracs are much smoother, but they have a D rating (nobody had a C tire, not even on special order). I think the smoothness is primarily a function of the size though, since they’re 35s instead of 33s — there’s simply more sidewall there to provide squashiness, and I run them at 28-30 psi. You’ve just reminded me though, I really should check places like Tire Rack online to see if they’ve got C-load tires available now. Frankly, for the ride I’d pay the extra money.

    • Honestly, there aren’t many things that 35″ tires can do that 33″ tires can’t, short of rock crawling in Moab perhaps. Plus they’re heavier and have a larger diameter, both of which have a negative impact on gas mileage (a re-gear would help a little). I agree with you that the BFG AT/KO tires are heavy beasts, plus those tires’ sidewalls with D and E load ratings are so stiff that they may well bounce the fillings out of you teeth around town, even at 30 PSI. My new 35″ Duratracs have a D load rating, but they’re a whole new world of smooth compared to 33″ BFGs with a D or E rating. I have a set of 33″ BFG ATs with an E load rating on my Nissan Xterra, but with the Xterra’s independent front suspension they’re not too bad. On a Jeep, no way.

      I also agree about the 2-door Jeeps. Four door Jeeps are fine, but for me, a proper Jeep has only two doors. I don’t have a good reason for thinking that, except that I might have watched too many M*A*S*H* reruns as a kid. But come to think of it, Korean War era Jeeps didn’t have any doors at all …

      • Charlie08JK says:

        I can appreciate the stance 35’s give but 33’s look real good too. Your JK is cool no doubt about it. I just line x my bumpers, running boards, door handles and fender flares and what a difference it makes. Went off roading last weekend and went thru low hanging branches that repeatedly hit the flares and at times the running boards. Not a scratch at anything treated with the line x. I did get a few that ran across my blackout hood decal.. But hey what’s a Jeep without battle scars? I’ll tell ya, a soccer mom mall crawler.

        I too am a huge M*A*S*H fan and definitely dig old war movies. Above all that my 97 year old grandfather was a medic in WWII, so that has a great deal to do with my love of Jeeps. I take off the doors as weather allows. Always trying to mimic that old MB Jeep.

  5. Khalil Al Janahi says:

    Honestly your JK looks perfect with the setup on lift and wheels. I really like the way it sits and looks and thanks for taking the time with the write up.

  6. I too am a adventurer with my 2014 rubicon I have a 2inch lift with 33 tires and rides great and looks more aggressive and gets me down any path.

  7. I like your Jeep build. I’m looking at doing something similar. Did the ride change much with the AEV 2.5″ lift? Thanks for posting about your sweet Jeep.

    • The AEV lift can be a bouncy ride, no doubt about it, although I can mitigate it somewhat by running lower tire pressure (30 PSI or so). That bounciness comes from the tighter suspension, which makes the lift surefooted and safer on the road, rather than squishy and dangerous like some other lift kits. It’s a trade off. Because it’s a complete lift kit, not just a spacer or coil lift, there’s more wheel travel when off-road along with better articulation.

  8. To be honest, I haven’t added mirror extenders to my Xterra for towing, but I’ve definitely thought about it. Right now I’m using the crane-your-neck solution to mirror extenders. I’m constantly moving my head around in my Xterra cabin, trying to get the right view from the side mirrors. It’s a bad thing. Each time I tow, I consider mirror extenders but I don’t have them yet, so I can’t speak to your question. I can say, however, I would highly recommend mirror extenders no matter who manufactures them. All of them will offer a significant improvement over stock, which is admittedly inadequate. I say, pick the extenders you like best and go with that. It’s a great idea.

  9. Dana Hanson says:

    I read with interest your article (extremely well written) on towing with the Nissan Xterra. I have a 2006 Xterra that will be towing a 20′, 3300 lb dry, Rockwood Mini Lite. I am in the process of making the improvements suggested in your article but have not yet found adequate mirror extenders. Looking for something secure but temporary or collapsible so the vehicle can still be parked in the garage. Looked at CIPA, Longview and K Source but non specifically mention the Xterra. May I ask what you are using or if you have any suggestions?

Speak Your Mind