Why do you want 33" tires? Is this for looks or off road performance? Is this your first experience with a LR? Assuming off road performance, do you know how it will perform in stock form with good AT or MT tires?
My questions are sincere. For my initial comments I'll assume this is your first LR reading in to your question and comments. If so, then if I were you (I have owned 7 LRs), I would just drive it first and get a feel for what it will do in stock form. Then start planning your lift. Generally speaking, once you get past 2" in LRs you start adding suspension geometry issues and related corrections. Obviously that add's $$$. The popular basic lift mod is 2" with a 265/75 tire.
I have owned 3 discos (2 DIIs and 1 D1). I have driven mine in stock form quite a bit when I lived outwest and back here in the mid-west. I found that I could run most medium rated trails with no mods and quality AT tires. If you want to start crawling over stuff, then yes you'll need to lift it a bit. Like I said, most people who do lift their Discos find that 2" is plenty unless you want some sort of dedicated rock crawler (which you dont seem to want based on your family comment).
Regarding the drive shaft; even if you dont lift your truck you should still have your front drive shaft checked out. DII's front drive shaft front u-joint have a tendency to fail at high mileage and take out the transmission. So have it inspected and have it inspected often. It's cheaper to have it rebuilt or replace it with a serviceable u-joint as a preventive measure than to replace a transmission. I have only had to replace one front drive shaft in the two DIIs that I owned, and I just had it rebuilt. Worked fine.
Congrats again on both the baby and the new DII. If this is your first LR, you'll either hate it or will be hard pressed to own another vehicle. I have owned a MB E320 and a Ford F350 KR concurrently and inbetween some of my Rovers and I while I miss my MB and Ford Super Duty, I missed my Rovers more!!
All of your assumptions are correct, this is my first LR and I do see myself having a hard time finding a comperable vehicle, I love the Rover.
My next questions are in regards to the 2" lift, I am mostly thinking of raising the axel due to the rocky trails in colorado, I really don't want to start hitting that on rocks. I also wanted to improve the approach and particualarly the departure angle. How much of this needs to be done with a lift and how much is just good trail driving?
I did see that a popular way, or at least recommended way to go is to do ARB shock upgrade with RTE 2" springs. any thoughts on that?
The Drive shaft thing does seem to be discussed quite a bit and sounds like a good investment to save a major repair.
I am also running the stock 18" rims, is this a mistake? Should I find a set of 16s?
All the info is great, I really appreciate it all. I am looking to make this as capable an allroad/offroad vehcile as possible, however I am not looking to conquer the hardest/ gnarliest stuff out there. The rig is my daily driver and I love the comfort, so I don't want to ruin it. I love the look of the vehicle, however like most offroad capable trucks it looks like it would be better suited a few inches taller with a slightly larger tire. feel free to correct me if I am mistaken.
For the majority of FS roads and the like I agree that a lift and stuff isn't really necessary for the most part. There's only so far you'll get in ruts dug out by 33" tires if your running 29" tires. When your wheels are off the ground you ain't going nowhere fast. I know where I like to camp in the winter most of the trucks that go up there have 33-35" tires so going smaller wouldn't be a good idea unless you really like shoveling snow. However, those same trails can be run with much smaller tires when there's not a foot of snow/ice on the ground. As for the harder trails the 33"s will let do most of them taking the bypasses on the really hard stuff. If your going to be going crawling I'd start with underbody protection. In stock form you'll find that it will outperform most Jeeps on the trail, and any Jeep on the ice If you haven't had a chance to drive when the roads are starting to ice up pretty good yet you'll be blown away when you do. The TC is absolutely awesome. Oh keep the stock rims by the way
I would suggest ditching the 18s and going for a set of 16 inch rims. There are many more tire options and they are more durable when airing down off road. I have the rovertym 3in lift with 265 75 16s and I could not be happier. The tire size does well on the highway without having to re-gear.
That is true on all accounts about the rims, but there is still a decent selection of tires for them. You could sell the factory ones and pay for the 16" though. I say keep them because the selection of rims isn't that great and the factory 18"s are in my opinion very nice.
Call John Lee at Expedition Exchange, both he and Ho are good resources - plus they sell the stuff you're looking for. More importantly, if you want to buy something they sell and they don't think you'll need it or they think you're wasting your money....they'll say so. They also advertise in the Overland Journal so the recommendation isnt referring you away from this site's owners.
Regarding the 18" wheels. Yeah, as stated already, the 16s are preferred but there seems to be more options for 18" wheels since the wheel size is more prevalent. You can get 265/65-18 BFG ATs which are almost a 32" tire.
Go run some light then moderate trails with your truck first...hell, bring your buddies along (with their trucks) and go get yours stuck so you can see what you can do and not do. Also, go through the picture page and look at the modded trucks. That way you can see what you might like and dislike. You'll have an idea what your intended mods will look like.
Just some additional thoughts. Like I said, I ran with stock suspension and a slightly larger tire (~30-30.5") and I did just fine on the moderate trails.
Somedays I wished I old my 18's and went with 16's. But I have been happy with my 18's. I am currently running the Nitto Trail Grappler MT. Not bad on street, and very predictable off road. Th BFG AT is a gret AT that is avaliable in my 18" sizes.
2004 Toyota 4Runner 4WD -- Fox/AllPro 8-way adjustable coilovers, LT255-75-17 BFG MT's, Engel MT-45 and a BajaRack