I have a 1996 Jeep Cherokee that I use basically in the same way Mom uses her Subaru: hauling groceries, back and forth to work, taking the kids around, and so on. The transfer case gets some work only in the snow because we live on a hill–we don’t get outdoors much any longer. I want to keep this rig because I really like it and it’s very comfortable for me to drive. The trouble is that the mileage is rough for street driving, well under 20mpg. That, and it’s getting harder to find tires to fit 15" rims… the Goodyears I have on there now are just awful, like driving on jellyfish. The current ones are American Racing rims that a previous owner painted black. I had to replace two tires last week and it took the tech seven hours to get the beads seated properly on these things. I think it’s time to try something else.
My idea is that by replacing the tires in a certain way, I might be able to get better mileage and solve the tired old rim problem too, at least for street use. Stock tires are 215/75/r15, and there’s a 1.5" lift on this thing; the current offset is +40mm, and I’m not sure but I think the rims are 8" wide. OK. This means I should be able to get 17" rims with tires at, say, 215/60/r17, which should have approximately the same total diameter as the stock tires had. (These happen to be the wheels on most Jeep Patriot/Compass Latitude models, which happen to have the same 5x4.5 lug pattern, should I happen to find them used on craigslist.)
I’d like to know if this is a stupid idea or one worth pursuing. Would this have an impact on mileage or performance? Might I save time and money in the long run shopping for tires with more contemporary rims to work with?
ps: here’s a picture of how the XJ looked before I got to work cleaning her up.