I want to slightly lift my truck, say, 2017 Ford F450 Platinum, but not ridiculously, just practically. I'm not seeking out obstacles to conquer. I just want to have an advantage in those cases (anything you might encounter on a hilly/rocky ranch). I read about the new Mercedes Benz G Wagon having portal axels to allow for more clearance, and I was wondering what would be the best lift-and-axle mod (or something additional) to get some practical height and clearance that doesn't push my center of mass too high, but also allows me to clear humps, inclines, or larger obstacles and not scrape the bottom of the truck.
And the Unimog. But how to retrofit those "portal" axles to a F450 is well beyond the average DIY guy, and probably beyond everyone's wallet.
There are several reasonable options that might work for your needs and situation.
Recurved springs, a body lift, or a "Rancho" style all-in-the-box lift kit.
However, for a bit more money, and the ultimate in flexibility, bag it!
Get a nice airbag kit, and you can play all you want. And you can change the ride height at will, change again for towing the gooseneck, etc.
Portal axles would be super cool, but keep in mind many have a planetary set in there and are designed for completely different gearing. I cannot imagine the expense. You'd be better off buying a Unimog and dropping the sweet F450 body on that. But now even ratty Unis are untouchable below 15k.
Probably a Rancho style 3" kit is the easiest. I considered bagging my '02 F350 dually crew cab, Used mostly for inverted 5th wheel race car trailer duties. A set of Michelin XPS on all six and I've never looked back. Granted, I don't live on a ranch, but even with the crewcab wheelbase I've never had an issue.
Portal axles sacrifice fuel economy and silence. They mean adding 4 more transmissions to your car, so that's 4 more places that lose power and generate noise.
Portal axles sacrifice top speed. Even if you re-gear your main transmission to regain the original ratio, because portal transmissions do lose power, they heat up and if you drive too fast too long, they burn.
Portal axles sacrifice handling and comfort. Because the added transmissions are at the wheel, they constitute extra unsprung mass.
Many portal axles reverse the rotation. So you need to rebuild the main transmission just to keep driving forward.
Bottom line : if you absolutely must straddle an obstacle that you can't straddle now, and you're willing to sacrifice absolutely everything for that capability, then go for portal axles. Otherwise, they're definitely the worst option possible.
As SteveRacer said, get airbags to have both high clearance in the field and low center of mass on the highway. OR, if the obstacles are not that big, get skid plates so you can scrape safely instead of messing up factory suspension.