The WK2 certainly does not handle worse than the ZJ. ZJs may have more suspension travel, but the damn beam axle weighs so much and is guided by a primitive 5-link suspension with a recirculating-ball steering system, it can't comprehend handling at all. Too much suspension float, too little steering feedback. I got to drive a WK2 a couple months ago, the thing not only rode nicer, but had more steering feedback and more controlled roll, as well as increased grip. It's no nimble sports car, but to say it handles worse than the ZJ because it's heavier is false. The suspension design accounts for the heavier weight far better than the ZJ's beam axles
The WK2 does do a much better job of feeling like it handles well. It might be more responsive, but it's certainly not better in terms of outright grip (on smooth pavement, the solid axles lose grip fast in the rough stuff) or ability to get through a slalom, etc. quickly.
Let's look at some numbers:
The ZJ came with 225s under it for tires, usually in the form of Goodyear Wranglers, which were pretty sucky for grip.
The WK2 comes with 265s under it in the form of Michelin Latitude Tours, which are definitely better tires.
Yet despite all that extra tire under the WK2, they pull an identical 0.74g on a skidpad (WJ: 0.76g stock, WK: 0.72g stock). An early Motortrend test of a 93 ZJ pulled 0.75g out of it.
In a slalom, the WK2 is about 1 mph faster according to the fastest test I've found (although I've seen a couple that tested a little slower than a ZJ), most likely due to the testers pushing it right up to the stability control. However, that could easily be changed by adding a little more caster to the ZJ (30 second adjustment, adds more front end grip).
Also, despite its puny brakes, the ZJ does 60-0 faster than the WK2 (126 ft vs 131 ft).
Had a guy come in where I work...had a XJ on 33s. I was telling him how I was lifting my ZJ in a month or so....he says "don't get a body lift, they tip over too easy now." I responded...if you would've bought your XJ and would've built it, you'd gladly know you cant put body lifts on a unibody frame! Then he was telling me how quick his 300 straight 6 is...I raced it this night in my 01 ram 1500 5.9L (it's built on 35s)...put him to shame. He couldn't handle a V8 even in a ZJ. I'm starting to think he didn't even have a 300 straight 6...
94 ZJ Laredo. 5.2 Crate engine. 6in JKS SA Lift. 33in Destination MTs. ARB Front Bumper.