Why? Because the kit’s manufacturer claims it will raise your new Defender by two inches. That seems reasonable, maybe even paltry to some but there’s more to it.
The interesting part is that this lift kit requires no tools to install and, at $68, happens to be reasonably priced. It really is one weird trick. The succinct description on the maker’s product page claims the lift rods easily fit in place of the stock rods.
Installing the rods tricks the air suspension system of new Defender, producing a constant two inches of lift. All of the suspension modes are effected by the rods, so you may miss that handy low setting that enables easy entry to the truck. This is obviously okay as it give you the increased clearance required to fit giant tires.
Similar kits are available for other Land Rover models, among them the LR3, LR4, Range Rover Sport and new Discovery. The other kits claim they produce 2.5 inches of lift. You can even get a kit that raises the new Defender by one inch, rather than two.
Here’s the one-inch-lift equipped Defender next to a stock model:
The other product pages on the maker’s site provide more detail about the kits, citing anodized aluminum construction, rubber grommets and even an implied endorsement from Land Rover itself. Proud Rhino claims Land Rover retailers used these in their Discovery 5 builds for Land Rover Trek 2020.
Here’s a video that shows a similar product and how simple it is to swap out the rods:
This kind of lift kit is not unheard-of in off-road circles, and Jalopnik EiC, Rory Carroll, says that members of the Lexus GX community accomplish much the same thing using stacks of washers, calling it “the airbag trick.” There are more than a few search results to dig through in forums, and people seem confident that the airbag trick is an easy and non-invasive way to achieve higher ride-heights. But Land Rovers are not Toyotas, for better or worse.
I can’t help but wonder what constant operation of the airbags in this always-inflated state does to the new Defender’s suspension in the long run. After all, the discrepancy in lift height seems to hint at differences in the Rover suspensions.
We asked Jaguar Land Rover and an independent suspension engineer to give us some insight into the effects — or dangers, if any — of installing the kits. We will return with an update when we hear back.
UPDATE [Wednesday, November 25, 2020, 01:25 PM CT]:
A spokeswoman for Jaguar Land Rover responded to our inquiry, stating:
“Land Rover does not authorize any technical alteration that moves the vehicle away from the design and engineering intent.”
We also asked Jaguar Land Rover to verify whether the lift kits were used during the 2020 Trek competition. Here is their reply:
“The Trek cars were not equipped for sale, but for a limited usage off road competition and then returned to standard settings.”