Seven Jeeps you'll never see on public roads...unless you're in Moab, Utah, at Easter
For the last13 years, Jeep has prepared a small array of its vehicles for the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, and 2015 is no exception. Enhanced with an array of accessories from Mopar, Chrysler's in-house aftermarket super store, and styling concepts from Jeep's design department, the Easter Jeeps showcase ideas and parts, displayed at a venue that's a target market extraordinaire.
For 2015, Jeep will send seven properties to Moab. As usual, they range from mild to wild:
Renegade Desert Hawk
Just rolling into U.S. showrooms, the new Renegade will be making its Moab debut. For the occasion, this smallest of Jeeps will wear 29.5-inch tires on 17-inch wheels, rock rail rocker panels, underbody skid plates, Mopar's Katzkin upholstery, a desert tan paint job, and a topographical map of some of Moab's red rock outback trails displayed on the hood. The 2.4-liter Tigershark engine, 4-wheel drive system, and 9-speed automatic transmission are all standard with the Renegade Trailhawk.
Cherokee Canyon Trail
Like the Renegade Desert Hawk, this Cherokee wears a Moab map on its desert tan hood, Jeep rock rail rocker panels, and an array of underbody skid plates protecting the fuel tank, frame rails, transmission, oil pan, and front suspension. A set of 30.5-inch BF Goodrich off-road tires on 17-inch painted alloy wheels adds extra ground clearance. Inside, the Cherokee's seats are clad in Katzkin leather with accent stitching, there are Jeep Performance Parts logos embroidered onto the headrests, and the rear of the vehicle is equipped with Jeep's cargo management system. Powertrain elements-2.4-liter Tigershark engine and 9-speed automatic transmission-are stock units. The 4-wheel drive system includes Jeep's Active Drive Lock, which includes a low-range feature and locking rear differential.
Grand Cherokee Overlander
With an AutoHome hard shell pop-up tent riding its roof rack, the Overlander is reminiscent of Volkswagen's old Westfalia camper van, providing instant overnight shelter for two anywhere in the roadless wilds. The Overlander features a one-of-a-kind front fascia with integrated tow hooks and a power winch with a 9,000-pound capacity. The hood and taillamps are from Chrysler's SRT performance group, and the fender flares have been widened to accommodate the 18-inch wheels, wearing BF Goodrich 34-inch all-terrain tires. The air suspension system is a first for the Grand Cherokee. The Overlander concept is propelled by Chrysler's 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel engine and 8-speed automatic transmission.
Jeep's Easter creations normally run to concepts designed for extreme desert off-road use, but the Chief seems to be intended for the beach and surfer dudes. With its "razor" grille, the design commemorates the original full-size Cherokee Wagoneer of 1978. Like a true surf wagon, the Chief is bare bones, with no rear windows and a large, open cargo hold. The chromed bumpers and 17-inch slotted wheels add to the 1970s look, and the interior is resplendent with Hawaiian-flavored flowery upholstery. Propelled by Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, the Chief's Jeep Performance Parts inventory includes a 2-inch lift kit, Fox shock absorbers, 4-wheel drive with Dana 44 locking axles front and rear, a cold air intake, and rock rail rocker panels.
Bearing a striking resemblance to the rugged Land Rover Defender, the Africa concept wears a Wrangler Rubicon steel front bumper with integrated power winch, a power dome vented hood, extended rear body with a raised roof, and rock rail rocker panels with integrated power assist steps that descend when the front doors are opened. Mechanical elements include a 2.8-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel and 5-speed automatic transmission borrowed from Fiat's European inventory. Underpinnings include a 2-inch lift kit, Fox shock absorbers, and Dana locking axles from Jeep Performance Parts. The Africa concept rolls on 35-inch BF Goodrich off-road rubber, mounted on stock steel wheels. It's just the right rig for crossing the Zambezi when the water's running high.
General George C. Mashall called the World War II Jeep "America's greatest contribution to modern warfare," and the Staff Car pays tribute to the glorious original. Based on the Wrangler 4-door, the concept discards windows, doors, stock upholstery (in favor of a canvas cloth), stock seats (in favor of low-back benches) and features a stretched canvas top. No side curtains, no frills, but as Jeep exterior design chief Mark Allen points out, "it does have a heater." It also has an integrated roll cage, WW II-style round headlights, Jeep J8 bumpers, a rear-mounted spare, and a WWII-style gas can. The Staff Car rolls on 16-inch wheels shod with skinny 35-inch Firestone NDT military tires. The suspension includes a 2-inch lift kit, Fox shocks, Dana 44 axles at both ends. Power is supplied by a 3.6-liter Chrysler Pentastar V-6 engine, which is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. It's serious off-road hardware that would be just as much at home on Normandy's Utah Beach as on Utah's red rock trails.
Wrangler Red Rock Responder
The most uninhibited of Jeep's 2015 Moab septet, the Responder is another Wrangler-based concept, with a stretched (by 14 inches) wheelbase and a beautifully hand-fabricated pickup bed grafted on at the rear. The flared fenders have been raised 4 inches, and the 17-inch beadlock wheels wear 37-inch BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tires. A Warn winch adorns the Wrangler Rubicon 10 front bumper, and the sides of the cargo bed shelter an assortment of Snap-on tools, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, air hose, compressor, and high-lift jack, among other equipment. In addition to the wheel/tire package, the off-road inventory includes a JPP 4-inch lift kit, Fox shocks, and Dana 60 axles. The 3.6-liter V-6 sports a cold air intake, and it's paired with Chrysler's 8-speed automatic transmission. Conceived as a support vehicle for off-road events, the Wrangler Red Rock Responder would also make an excellent attention-getting device on the street. The only drawback: it's hard to say the name without sounding like Elmer Fudd.