What Is Jeep Ground Clearance and Why It Matters To You? 

 December 10, 2022

By  Chris

Jeep ground clearance is the most important thing to consider when going off-road in your Jeep. When something hits the undercarriage at a wrong angle, it can damage your Jeep.

Jeep is a vehicle brand known for off-roading, and therefore, ground clearance is the most essential consideration. However, most buyers don't know the exact model for maximum ground clearance, or at least the right trim. Here is a guide to Jeep's Ground clearance. We'll start by defining what ground clearance is.

What Is Ground Clearance?

Simply put, ground clearance is the distance between the vehicle and the surface on which you are driving. The level of ground clearance often determines the kind of driving you can do.

Sports cars usually have very low ground clearance. It helps them take corners at high speeds, but the road should also be flat enough for them to drive comfortably.

On the flipside, SUVs have a higher ground clearance that enables them to drive over logs, boulders, and tall speedbumps.

The other factors that affect your driving capability also affect the ground clearance of your vehicle. Sports cars have strong shock systems to keep the drive comfortable even at 100 mph. SUVs, on the other hand, have bigger wheels and springy suspension systems. This combination allows SUVs to carry heavier loads on rugged roadways. Bigger wheels and bigger shocks also add to the ground clearance of your vehicle.

Jeeps are built specifically for adventurous rides, and even the luxury models can help you drive fearlessly on unusual terrains. For example, the Jeep Compass comes with off-road tires, shocks, and chassis, which make it a compact SUV.

Now that we know what ground clearance is and what it means for different vehicles, let's discover the ground clearance capabilities for the three most popular Jeep variants.

Jeep Wrangler:

Jeep Wrangler is by far the most popular vehicle by Jeep. Why does ground clearance matter for Jeep Wrangler? With the highest ground clearance, the more it allows a vehicle to absorb shocks on the road. With a higher ground clearance, you can easily navigate your way through without any major damage to the chassis or the undercarriage of your Wrangler.

However, if the ground clearance is too high, it can affect the center mass of the car. The aggressive lift can lead to imprecise handling, thus affecting your driving comfort. An increased ride height coupled with improper handling can maximize the rollover risk.

Jeep Wrangler Angles

Let's talk about the approach and departure angles of a Jeep Wrangler. The departure angle is the maximum angle at which a Jeep Wrangler can descend before dragging the tail end. The departure angle is the maximum angle at which the Wrangler can climb before touching the bottom end. The standard approach angle for the latest Jeep Wranglers is 41.4 degrees, while the departure angle is 35.9 degrees.

Another important factor is the breakover angle. It is the angle at which the Wrangler navigates without the undercarriage coming into contact with the terrain. It is better to have a slightly higher breakover angle to protect your Jeep Wrangler. Getting the undercarriage of your 4-by-4 stuck into a rock can ruin the day for you. 25 degrees is a decent breakover angle for Jeep Wranglers.

Throughout History

Jeep Wrangler ground clearance has changed throughout history. Here is a list of Jeep Wrangler ground clearances from the second to the fourth generation.

·         1st Generation: 8.5 inches.

·         3rd Generation: 8.3 inches.

·         4th Generation: 9.7 inches.

According to Jeep's website, the new Xtreme Recon package offers 12.9 inches of Jeep ground clearance and 33.6 inches of water fording capability

Some Activities

Remember, you Jeep Wrangler ground clearance doesn't have to be 9.7 inches for off-roading activities. If it has a ground clearance of 8.5 inches or more, you are good to go. Here are some activities you can indulge in.

Dune Bashing  

Jeep In The Dunes

As the name implies, dune bashing is the activity of driving over large sand dunes. Vehicles like Land Cruisers are used for this purpose. This activity is risky, and you must be an experienced driver to take on something of this magnitude.

Green Laning

Green laning is the activity that involves exploring roads never used before, like tracks between thick forestation.

Desert Racing

Desert racing is a rough sport in which various Jeep Wrangler models participate. However, it is better to use a Jeep that is heavily modified.


Jeep Mudding

Mudding is the off-roading activity in which a Jeep is driven through mud to clear an obstacle without getting stuck.

Rock Crawling

Jeep On The Rocky Beach

Rock crawling is done over rocky terrains at low speeds. Because of the risky nature of this sport, Jeeps are modified with special tires designed for rocky terrains. Vehicles used for rock crawling also go through suspension swaps.

Which Jeep Wrangler Should You Buy?

The first best option is the Base Sport Trim. It offers a ground clearance of 9.7 inches. However, you must remember that it won't remain stock for very long if you are heavily into the Wrangler culture and morphology. The Sport is like an empty canvas that welcomes new modifications with open arms. The Base Sport Trim is the perfect option for off-roaders and modification enthusiasts. If you have a thing for rock crawling, you can invest in an aftermarket lift that increases your clearance by five inches.

Next up, we have the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. The Rubicon is a real monster, offering a ground clearance of 10.8 inches. This vehicle also contains a Rock-Trac system with a shortened wheelbase that makes it easier for the driver to off-road. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is the sturdiest Jeep out there, and it doesn't even need too many aftermarket upgrades.

Driving in Rain and Snow

The Grand Cherokee has a rugged build that allows you to handle various weather conditions with a lot of confidence. If you find yourself driving in snowy or rainy conditions, do not worry. The Grand Cherokee is built in such a manner that it can help you navigate easily in the face of adversity. The 4-by-4 system, combined with its ground clearance, provides unparalleled performance and capability in such situations.

Water Fording

Jeep Water Fording

When driving off-road, it is no surprise to find water bodies and puddles. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has sufficient ground clearance that allows you to cross such terrains with ease. A Jeep Cherokee can cross puddles that are 19 to 30 inches in depth. The higher ground clearance keeps the air-intact higher and keeps water from getting into the air filter.

Muddy Conditions

Because of its extraordinary articulation, the Jeep Wrangler can plant its tires deep into the ground, regardless of the terrain. Even if one of the tires gets stuck in the mud, the other three remain functional. Moreover, the traction of its tires keeps it from slipping on wet and muddy terrains.

The Final Word

Ground clearance is the most important factor to consider when buying a Jeep, whether it is a Wrangler, a Compass, or a Grand Cherokee. The ground clearance shouldn't be too much or too less. Anything between 8 and 9 inches is perfect for a comfortable drive.

While lower ground clearance affects the body of your Jeep, extremely high clearance affects the driving ability of the driver. Make sure to go through the details mentioned in the post above before making your decision.

If you can afford the cost to lift your Jeep, you could always upgrade if you find a need to increase Jeep ground clearance. 


Average guy that likes to build things and teach others what I learn. Family comes first. Steel, Jeeps and off-roading are all fighting for second place.

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