If you want to lift a vehicle you either need stiffer springs, longer springs, or a combination of both. If you don’t want to sacrifice the great ride quality of the factory Cherokee springs you can stack multiple of the factory spring isolators on top of each other. The isolator is 0.75 inches so adding two extra ones will net around 1.5 inches of lift. Be careful not to stack too many isolators because the bump stops may be unreachable.
Another very popular option for front springs are the springs from an OBS Ford F150. These provide about 1.5 inches of lift, but they have a very high spring rate. This will make the ride very rough and minimize articulation. The better option is the Grand Cherokee ZJ springs which will provide 1.5 to 2.5 inches depending on the trim.
Grand Cherokee springs run cheaper than Cherokee XJs, it maybe a better option if you want to modify the mount.
For the rear springs, you’ll either need lifting blocks, extended shackles, or different leaf springs. The shackles off of the Jeep Comanche MJ will provide around one-inch of lift but finding used shackles from an MJ will be nearly impossible. You could buy replacement MJ shackles from an auto parts store but that defeats the purpose of a budget lift.
The much better option is to create a “bastard” pack. This involves combining a leaf pack from another vehicle with the XJ Cherokee leaf pack. The most popular option is creating an S10 bastard pack. This involves taking the main leaf from an S10, cutting the leaf eyes off of it, and adding that main leaf to the Cherokee leaf pack. This can also be done with the Dodge Dakota main leafs. This will provide 2 to 3.5 inches of lift depending on how you build the pack.
If you increase ride height and articulation you also need to increase the length of the brake lines. The stock brake lines are good from around two inches of lift. You can unbolt where the hardline bolts onto the unibody to extend the reach of your brake lines slightly.
The brake lines from the Jeep YJ Wrangler are about three inches longer than stock which makes them safe up to around five inches of lift. For the rear axle, the Dodge Dakota brake line will bolt right on and is six inches longer than the stock brake line.
Sway Bar Links
If you want something that wheels really good for really cheap completely removing the sway bars is a good option. Removing the sway bars, however, isn’t street legal in most states. The stock XJ sway bar links are good for up to three inches of lift. If you need longer sway bar links the ZJ Grand Cherokee links are good for four to five inches of lift on an XJ Cherokee.
The stock XJ Cherokee shocks are long enough for about a two-inch lift, but they aren’t designed to operate at that height. This can cause poor ride quality and limited articulation. The ZJ Grand Cherokee Upcountry shocks good for three inches of lift up front and 1.5 inches of lift in the rear which is nearly perfect when combined with ZJ springs. The MJ Comanche shocks are perfect for a three-inch lift on the rear axle, but finding used MJ shocks won’t be easy.