Jeep is making its yearly trek out to Utah for the Annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari with seven concept utes in tow that reveal what the brand and its Mopar aftermarket sibling can do with a Jeep.
The brand has been bringing out concept vehicles for nearly a decade, seeking to inspire and be inspired by the thousands of enthusiasts who flock to this event — this year is the 52nd annual edition — to show off the capability of their Jeeps and learn from others how to make what they’ve got even better.
“Pushing the limit is something the Jeep brand is no stranger to and these seven new, exciting and capable concept vehicles are the latest example of that,” said Mike Manley, head of Jeep Brand, FCA.
“Every year, we look forward to introducing new concept vehicles and ideas to our enthusiasts. The Moab Easter Jeep Safari presents a unique and perfect opportunity to collect valuable insight from our most loyal customers.”
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The maker showed off seven concepts — three Jeeps built from the ground up, three refashioned by Mopar and one classic vehicle it restomodded — to the media should whet the appetites of the mavens in Moab.
The Jeep Sandstorm, which was by inspired by Baja desert racers, is bad-arse from the word go. With a 392 Hemi under the hood, a six-speed manual transmission plus a lift-kit and massive tires, this beast is happy going fast or climbing treacherous terrain. The exterior features a vented carbon fiber hood, vented high clearance front and rear fender flares and a cage that include a rear mounted lay down style spare tire carrier. The front axle has been moved forward four inches and utilizes a heavy-duty longarm four-link suspension and track bar.
The rear axle has been moved back two inches and utilizes a triangulated trailing arm four-link suspension. The longer wheelbase allows for increased high-speed stability. Custom coilovers and bypass shocks allow the front wheels to travel 14 inches while the rear wheels can travel up to 18 inches. It boasts heavy-duty front and rear Dynatrac 60 axles with a 5.68 gear ratio, 17-inch beadlock wheels and 39.5-inch BF Goodrich Krawler tires.
The “interior,” features a digital speedo and GPS to help with that off-road racing. It has two leather seats up front so you can drive it on non-race days as well as two racing seats in the back so you can take “friends” along when not on the tarmac. Any semblance of flooring has been replaced by bedliner allowing for easy clean up.
The Jeep 4SPEED is made for rock crawling. The brand removed anything that wasn’t needed and cut 950 pounds off the curb weight. It’s powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, which is plenty for this superlight Jeep.
“This is the one you want to drive,” said Mark Allen, head of Jeep Design, as he gave the rundown of the 4SPEED’s capabilities.
It’s latest lightweight concept, following the popular Pork Chop concept in 2011 and Stitch concept in 2013, and features custom weight saving measures including a carbon fiber hood, high-clearance carbon fiber fender flares and a carbon fiber rear tub with perforated aluminum panels.
In addition to being lightweight, overall length has been shortened by 22 inches while leaving the wheelbase at its stock length, resulting in increased approach and departure angles. It also features Dana 44 front and rear axles with a 4.10 gear ratio and 18-inch lightweight monoblock wheels wrapped in 35-inch BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tires.
The interior features a customized instrument panel, and re-trimmed front seats, while the rear seats have been removed and a welding curtain that has been repurposed as a bikini top. The floor has been bedlined and the foot wells have been replaced with perforated aluminum panels.
The Jeep B-Ute concept is a Renegade Trailhawk equipped with a variety of Jeep Performance Parts for the ultimate off-road adventure. Exterior features unique front and rear fascias and upper grille area, a hood with heat extractors and wider flares.
Jeep Performance Parts featured on the B-Ute concept include a 1.5-inch lift kit, a roof rack and rock rails. The Jeep B-Ute’s off-road capabilities are increased by using 17-inch wheels with a 30-millimeter offset, wrapped in BF Goodrich T/A Baja Champion tires. The team also disconnected the front sway bar improving the ute’s wheel travel.
Inside, the B-Ute features custom trimmed seats with Mineral inserts, a Carbonite finish on the shifter, speaker and vent surrounds, Piano Black inserts and Mopar all-weather floor mats. The Jeep B-Ute is powered by a 2.4-liter Tigershark engine, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
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Perhaps the showpiece in Jeep’s Design team’s effort is the Jeep Wagoneer Roadtrip. Designed to stir up nostalgic memories of going to Yellowstone National Park on a summer family vacation, the goal was to retain the Wagoneer’s heritage and charm — as well as its original steel body, but update the chassis and drivetrain.
The group started with a ’65 Wagoneer found on Craigslist in Colorado. “It looked and smelled terrible, but it was largely rust free,” Allen said.
The wheelbase has been stretched an additional five inches, and it has a wider track and custom fender flares. A razor grille from a later model freshens the look up front, while Bottle Green architectural glass replaces the original pieces. It is painted mintage green.
The Wagoneer’s off-road capability has been bolstered courtesy of a boxed and reinforced frame, Dana 44 front and rear axles with lockers, four-link suspension with coilover springs, and 17-inch steel wheels wrapped in 33-inch BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain tires. The Jeep Wagoneer heritage vehicle is powered by a 5.7-liter V-8 and is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission.
Inside, the Wagoneer features original front and rear bench seats, door panels, kick and rear panels, all trimmed in Oxblood-colored leather. Additional interior details include a custom cooler fashioned from period-correct luggage, and a tool box created from the valve cover of this Wagoneer’s original 230 Tornado OHC-6 engine.
Perhaps the most interesting of all is the first of the three Mopar-created Jeeps: the Nacho Jeep. Named after the paint color, it started life as a Rubicon and with the help of a variety of currently available and some future products, it’s a trail-hopper on the highest order.
Powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 engine, the Nacho color — think nacho cheese — is contrasted with a satin black Mopar grille and hood accents. The steel Rubicon bumper offers off-road protection and functionality and includes a Warn Winch kit.
A 2-inch lift kit elevates the Nacho concept for increased off-road clearance and includes new 2.5-inch diameter aluminum body shocks. Oversized 37-inch tires wrap around 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, and a satin-carbon finish on the wheels is the sole conceptual touch on the Nacho concept.
Other Jeep Performance Parts include rock rails that are thicker and wider to protect the exterior and carry a grippier coating similar to that used on Ram Truck bedliners, 2-inch-round tube doors, grab handles and a JPP fuel door in black finish completes the exterior.
The best part is that a Jeep owner can head over to a dealer and get these Mopar parts and outfit their ute exactly the same way for about $14,000. However, there are a few extras that are still being tinkered with, specifically, the Superior trail visibility, inspired by the Jeep Luminator concept vehicle shown at Moab in 2017, delivers 40,000 lumens of light.
Additionally, the package features a rear off-road scouting light uses four-color LEDs to communicate trail conditions: stop (red), 1-3 miles per hour (amber), 3-25 mph (green) and a rear flood light (white).
The second Mopar-inspired vehicle is the Jeep Jeepster. Also based on a Wrangler Rubicon, this concept evokes the color palette and speedy styling of the 1966 Jeepster. Borrowing from the original’s two-tone graphic theme is a Firecracker Red body, set off by a Bright White concept hardtop, chopped by two inches, and a Bright White custom windshield raked back 2.5 degrees to create a cropped, compact appearance.
The customized windshield maintains the all-new Wrangler’s convenient fold-down feature. Bright White also accents the perimeter of the Rubicon fender flares, and an upper portion of the concept half doors. Jeep badging is replaced with a tri-color Jeepster hard badge.
A 2-inch lift kit and 2.5-inch diameter aluminum body shocks work with oversized, 37-inch BF Goodrich KO2 tires to raise the Jeepster above off-road obstacles. Beadlock-capable 17-inch wheels are accented by body-color matching Firecracker Red beadlock trim rings. Additional items from the JPP portfolio include a black fuel door, grab handles and all-weather floor mats.
The final options is the Jeep J-Wagon, a premium-styled vehicle equally at home on the trails and urban cityscapes, according to Mopar.
Starting as a Wrangler Sahara, the J-Wagon is painted a conceptual Warm Neutral Grey with warm-tinted glass, and complemented with subtle Brass Monkey touches throughout the exterior. The J-Wagon features a version of the JPP hood designed with a cutout kit to work with the available snorkel, an appropriate choice for the sealed-cabin style of the vehicle. The hood latch is Brass Monkey and further embellished with a black Willys logo.
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For hardcore off-roaders, new 5-inch LED lights mount with JPP brackets to deliver commercial and military grade illumination. That trail detail is balanced with the street-appeal of a Mopar black grille pulled from a Wrangler Rubicon, and features body-color matching bezel trim.