Forget the Easter Bunny and all those chocolate eggs. If you’re an off-road fan, you know the real sign of spring comes with Jeep’s yearly trek out to Moab. And for the 51st annual Easter Jeep Safari, the Fiat Chrysler brand is blending together some future and some retro designs.
Among those looking forward into the past, the CJ66 pulls us back to the days of old by borrowing frame, body and components from a variety of different, classic CJ Jeeps – otherwise known as the Wrangler. The Grand One Concept, meanwhile, starts out as a 1993 Grand Cherokee before undergoing an extensive list of more modern modifications.
“It’s truly a labor of love for the Jeep team to develop exciting, capable concept vehicles each year for Moab and the Easter Jeep Safari,” said Mike Manley, the head of Jeep Brand, as the seven new concepts were unveiled. “We look forward to the reaction and feedback from enthusiasts and our most loyal customers as these new Jeep concepts are put through their paces on the trails in Moab.”
Jeep claims “thousands of die-hard off-road enthusiasts” regularly attend the Safari, which runs from April 8 to 16. Here’s a first look at the seven new Jeep Moab concepts they’ll get to see out on the trail:
Jeep Grand One. Start out with the original, 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee and stretch its wheelbase ever so slightly. Now, give it some bold new details, and mix in a few retro touches, like the 33-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires mounted on18-inch lace-style wheels and stuffed underneath the Grand’s high-clearance fender flares. The body panels get a “subtle wood grain,” while the interior cargo area gets a more modern and durable bedliner instead of the original carpet. The original 5.2-liter V-8, paired with a 4-speed transmission, stays in place. And to complete the classic look, there’s even what Jeep calls “an old-school car phone.”
Jeep CJ66. This is a bit of an off-road Frankenstein, blending an original Jeep Wrangler TJ frame, an old CJ Tuxedo Park body, details from a Wrangler JK, and a modern Mopar 345 Crate Hemi 5.7-liter V-8. Painted Copper Canyon Orange – with contrasting matte black wheel flares and accents — the narrow-bodied concept – which was first shown at the SEMA show last November, seems like the perfect sort of ride to challenge the wicked trails of Moab. As with the Grand One, the CJ66 isn’t entirely retro, adding such features as LED fog lamps and a new Mopar Warn winch. Completing the package, there’s a cropped windshield and custom roll cage, with bikini top netting.
Jeep Safari Concept. Jeep goes skeletal with this appropriately named Wrangler Mod. The most obvious updates include a translucent roof and “windoors” which are a blend of aluminum frame and clear vinyl. Fittingly, the back seats angle slightly outward for an even grander view of the world. The buzz suggests that what we’re actually looking at is a thinly disguised take on the next-generation Jeep Wrangler. Oh, and if you can’t quite take it all in, there’s even a roof-mounted drone that can head off and send back images you can view on an iPad mounted on the dash. The overall body length has been shorterned slightly, though the Safari gets two-inch lifts to handle the 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires.
Jeep Quicksand. Moab is a mix of challenging hills and gulches, boulders and deep sand. And the Quicksand is built for handling the dunes. Another “minimalist” Wrangler take, it’s a hot rod dune buggy, distinguished by its chopped windshield and roof, as well as the “peekaboo” hood and gasser-style open headers. As opposed to the Safari, the Quicksand’s wheelbase has been stretched slightly. Inside, it feature two front low-back bucket seats, tilt-out windshield glass and a chrome rollbar. It picks up those Mud-Terrain tires, here 3-inchers, and the Quicksand draws power from a Mopar 392 Crate Hemi paired with a 6-speed Getrag manual box.
Jeep Switchback. The Moab Safari is more than an adventure. It’s an off-road marketing event, showing off a range of aftermarket parts from the Mopar catalogue. And none of the concepts gives a better look at what that offers than this next Wrangler spin-off. That includes the hood, as well as the half-doors and roof rack system, high-top fender flares, and even the black fuel door and swing gate hinge. Inside, you’ll find Katzkin leather seats, concept sport bar grab handles and a spray-in bed liner. Mopar’s LED off-road lights and taillamps round out the exterior, while there’s a Dana 44 axle under the body, along with a 4-inch lift with Remote Reservoir Fox shocks. Switchback is powered by a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6.
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Jeep Luminator Concept. The final Wrangler Concept is, as its name suggests, ready to light up the night. Jointly developed with the automotive lighting unit of Magneti Marelli, it features LED lamps everywhere you look, from the 7-inch bi-function headlamps to the A-pillar-mounted LED spots. There are auxiliary LED lights on the bumper, LED fogs and turn signals, even LED spotlights. Add a scanning LED light bar module on the hood which helps a driver watch out for wildlife and other hazards. And a rear, center-mount lamp use four-color LEDs to alert other drivers to its speed, as well as offering rear flood lighting. Oh, and to capture a little daytime energy, there’s a roof-mounted solar panel.
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Jeep Trailpass. Rounding out the Safari concepts, this one is based on the new Jeep Compass Trailhawk, taking it to new extremes. It makes room for 18-inch Continental TerrainContact tires with a 1.5-inch lift kit. Up top, there’s a basket holding traction mats to help get the Trailpass moving on even slick terrain. The exterior is an earth-friendly green with contrasting Gloss Black accents on the mirror caps and grille, a custom hood graphic, side stripes and tinted lamps. There are Katzkin leather seats, and all-weather mats. The Trailpass is motivated by a stock 2.4-liter Tigershark four mated to a nine-speed automatic.
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