If you're an enthusiast, you may be looking to kit out your 4WD or ute. You may be looking for better performance, you may be looking for a vehicle that's decent to look at, or you may be looking for a mixture of both. You may also be looking for better capability if you have to drive off-road a lot. In all these cases, you may be considering lift kits but are not sure which one is best for you. What's the difference and how should you choose?
Two Different Systems
The fundamental difference between the various lift kits available on the market is what part of the vehicle are you actually lifting – the suspension or the body itself? You need to be sure before you choose any particular lift kit, as you're not likely to get the ultimate result you are looking for if you make the wrong selection. It's also worth bearing in mind that fitting these can be quite an undertaking, so if you don't have a lot of DIY experience, then you should get a qualified mechanic to help you out.
What Are You Trying to Achieve?
The first question to ask yourself is exactly what you want to achieve. Do you want to be just sitting higher off the ground, with a vehicle that looks a lot more "aggressive?" Do you want bigger wheels and tyres that make a statement? In this case, you should probably consider fitting a body kit instead. Conversely, you may be more concerned with getting adequate ground clearance when you're driving in the outback. If this is your primary motivation, then you need to be lifting the suspension up as opposed to the body.
If you consider a body lift kit, you're not really working with the suspension components as such. You will be inserting a number of different spacers in between the chassis of the vehicle and the body section. You're not "messing" with the geography of the steering or the actual suspension components, and therefore the ride quality isn't directly affected.
When you fit a suspension lift kit, you may have to replace some of the components and will be effectively adding spacers to the suspension components themselves. You will still be gaining some of the benefits of making a body lift and getting valuable additional clearance from the ground.
What You Should Do
Before you consider one or the other, think carefully about your end objective. While some people will decide to do both, that is, lift the body and the suspension, understand that this will raise the centre of gravity of the vehicle significantly and may make it a little unwieldy in certain driving conditions.
It's best to ask a specialist supplier what you should do in your situation, if you're not sure.