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Product Review - CALMINI 3-inch Suspension Lift

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By: Michael Wood
First Published 4/01

CALMINI 3-INCH Suspension Lift Kit
for 98 and newer Isuzu Rodeo, Amigo, Rodeo Sport, and Honda Passport



CALMINI suspension on the trail
CALMINI suspension on the trail
CALMINI suspension twisting up
Giving the kit a little flex test
Driver's side Upper Control Arm (UCA)
Driver side - Upper Control Arm (UCA)
Rear axle with optional Track bar
Rear axle with optional Track Bar
Track bar, spring, and suspension
Track bar, spring, and extension
UCA and LCA bumpstop extension
UCA and LCA's bumpstop extension
Putting the suspension through it's paces
Some suspension testing
CALMINI 3
The Calmini lift kit package

Trails come in all forms and types with variety ranging from mild to wild. All but the tamest trails can present a problem for a stock vehicle. That problem is as old as the wheel itself -- clearance -- specifically, ground clearance. Anyone who has taken a relatively low-slung stock vehicle out on a trail will agree that raising the stock ride height is imperative to making progressively tougher trails without damaging the undercarriage. Even the street and show crowd always looks for ways to improve handling, increase ride height, and install larger tires. Until recently, no manufacturer sold a lift for the second-generation Amigo, Rodeo, Rodeo Sport and Passport. Thanks to CALMINI Manufacturing Products all this has changed.

Released in the last part of 2000, the CALMINI three-inch suspension lift opens a new avenue for lifting a late-model Amigo, Rodeo, Rodeo Sport, or Passport. CALMINI sells this kit, part number #IP-2039, as a complete do-it-yourself bolt-on package. This kit, combined with the separate CALMINI track bar, addresses the entire lifting process for these second-generation Isuzu vehicles. With Computer Aided Design, Computer Numerical Controlled Machining, laser cut parts and fantastic welds, typical CALMINI quality and attention to detail shows throughout this package. Vehicle safety was obviously a concern in the design of this lift -- stainless steel, plastic-coated brake lines replace the factory rubber lines that can show significant wear from rubbing against the frame. CALMINI also includes an extension bracket for the rear metal brake lines that run along the rear axle to prevent premature wear or failure due to metal fatigue. They even include new upper trailing links to allow full range of motion of the rear axle without contacting the fuel cell. Bumpstop extensions (see side bar) save the vehicle's body from contacting expensive tire rubber and prevent your front rack and pinion steering assembly from exceeding its limits and blowing the seals. Rear swaybar extensions allow the swaybar to perform at factory angles even with the newly raised ride height. All in all, CALMINI delivers a thorough, well-engineered lift.

Bumpstop Extensions
CALMINI's Upper Control Arms (UCAs) come with polyurethane bumpstops replacing the factory metal-to-metal bumpstop. The following picture shows part of the factory bumpstop.
Factory bumpstop tab
CALMINI also provides coated stainless steel brake lines.
CALMINI bumpstop for UCA
CALMINI bumpstop for UCA.
Bumpstops limit the amount of travel for suspension systems. Bumpstops vary in size and shape and in some cases a bumpstop can be your shocks. Isuzu's factory bumpstop for the UCA is a simple and inexpensive metal tab hitting on a reinforced area of the UCA. CALMINI addressed the metal to metal bumpstop and includes polyeurathane bumpstops in their kit to help smooth the ride.
CALMINI includes bumpstop extensions where the factory bumpstops need to be extended to keep the suspension from being or causing damage.

Installation

Installation is completely bolt-on. An average driveway mechanic can install this kit with only a few special tools. A ball joint puller would be handy for installing the stock ball joints into CALMINI's new upper control arms and a spring compressor would help with installing the rear coil springs. Everything else can be performed with the basic set of hand tools.

Road Performance

The ride of the newly-lifted vehicle is a bit firmer than the somewhat mushy factory ride. This has an upside, though -- I found myself pushing the test vehicle around corners more like a sports car than a sport utility vehicle. Even the factory diving and excessive body lean around corners was dramatically reduced. The suspension's responsiveness is greatly improved -- it instills a new confidence in the vehicle's ability to handle whatever the road dishes out. Even if you never intend to drive your vehicle off-highway, the CALMINI lift is definitely worth installing, just for the improved street characteristics that the CALMINI lift produces from your Isuzu suspension.

Trail Performance

The trail characteristics of the CALMINI lift take after the quality of CALMINI's reputation and production standards. I did everything possible to find something weak or poorly designed in this lift. From spine compressing high-speed whoop-de-do's to low-speed frame-tweaking feats of articulation, the CALMINI lift never squeaked or groaned a complaint. Even pushing 95-pound 33-inch tires, the CALMINI lift performed flawlessly. The only damage I could do to this lift was a minor bend to the new front cross member and this was due to placing the entire weight of the test vehicle onto the cross member. This was nothing compared to the thorougly pretzelized factory cross member that the CALMINI lift replaced.

Conclusion

My overall impression of this lift kit is that CALMINI has come through again with this lift package. You'll like the attention to detail, ease of installation, improved handling and street performance, increased ground clearance for trail use, top-notch quality, and the added appearance enhancement of the CALMINI signature powder coated blue under your vehicle. This is definitely a kit worth owning for trail or street use.


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