Fun with Wranglers and Renegades
Put on your party winches. Not only is this the 75th anniversary of the Jeep brand, but it is also the 50th annual Easter Jeep Safari, and the automaker has come up with seven new concept vehicles to explore how far it can take the iconic brand. Mopar and Jeep Performance parts aplenty—including prototypes—were used to customize a bevy of stalwart Jeeps that will travel to Moab, Utah, March 19-27 for the annual party.
“Every year the Jeep team looks forward to pushing the limits” with its concepts for the Moab event, said Jeep brand chief Mike Manley. “We receive a tremendous amount of valuable feedback” from enthusiasts, he said. “This year is extra special,” given the anniversary milestones. To rise to the occasion, he calls this group of concepts the most “capable and eye-catching concept Jeep vehicles we’ve ever created,” which is saying something because Jeep has introduced more than 50 concept vehicles at the popular Easter event.
The concepts are more than just eye candy; there’s lots of money to be made in Mopar accessories. Mopar chief Pietro Gorlier said accessories are a $70 billion market of which $30 billion is in the U.S., and sales grew 21 percent last year. Jeep is always among the top vehicles in terms of customization, with 98 percent of Jeeps having at least one accessory. “A Jeep that’s outfitted turns 20 percent faster on the lot,” he said. There are about 25,000 accessories to choose from and about 2,000 are added each year to keep the catalog fresh.
More Easter Jeep Safari Concepts:
The seven new concepts include five Wranglers and two Renegades. Starting with the traditional, here is the latest batch.
Jeep Crew Chief 715
This is a salute to legendary Jeep military service vehicles and the Kaiser M715 in particular, shown in “tactical green.” The team used an open-air Wrangler Unlimited, which means extra doors and a rear seat in a civilian-friendly nod to the original vehicles. The military heritage is evoked with the steel front and bumpers, 20-inch beadlock wheels, and 40-inch military tires. To help others on the trail, the Crew Chief 715 has an onboard air system with a hard-mounted quick-disconnect fitting to air up. There is also a master cylinder brake upgrade, cold air intake, giant nautical analog compass, and a modified exhaust. There is a winch on the front and rear bumpers, off-road rock rails, Dana 60 front and rear axles, and a 4-inch lift kit. It has a 5-foot cargo bed, aircraft-style control switches, and a compass. Under the hood: the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.
Head of Jeep design Mike Allen calls this one “the beast” with its 139-inch wheelbase. “We’ve never done a Wrangler Unlimited crew cab pickup before.” The five-foot custom steel box has a wood floor.
Inspired by the classic CJ-5 of the 1950s, the Jeep Shortcut is a Wrangler that has had its body shortened by a full 26 inches for tight winding trails. It sports a unique grille, hood, tailgate, rear wheel flares, no rear seat, custom chrome bumpers, and Jeep revived the old V-6 emblem from the days when the Wrangler had a Buick V-6. This Wrangler has a modified exhaust, 17-inch red steel wheels, and 35-inch BF-Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2 tires as well as a front and rear Dana 44 axle and a 2-inch lift with Fox shocks. Check out the red ball shifter handle and four-point safety cage. Same engine: 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission.
Jeep Renegade Commander
The new member of the Jeep family, the Renegade, is outfitted for off-roading with a 2-inch lift kit and 17-inch Rubicon aluminum wheels with 29.5-inch BF-Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires. We’ll still take a Wrangler, but the team wanted to show its baby Jeep belongs in the family. The Renegade Commander has an open-air roof with removable panels, a custom body decal, off-road rock rails, skidplates, and a modified exhaust as well as a trailer hitch receiver and auxiliary lights. It has the 2.4-liter Tigershark engine and nine-speed automatic transmission with Jeep Active Drive Low.
This is the first Renegade for Moab, built specifically to try it on the rocks. The markings on the hood are a topographic map of Moab. Everything on it can be easily replicated with kits, Allen said.
Add a dose of practicality: Jeep stretched the wheelbase of a Renegade by 6 inches to add a 5-foot bed to this pickup concept and adopted styling cues from past trucks. It is sure to spur another round of cries for a Jeep pickup, something Manley has always wanted to see but took forever to get the greenlight. A pickup is coming sometime after the next-generation Wrangler launches in late 2017.
The color on this one: “Beige Against the Machine” with a black hood. There is a new lower front fascia, and the pickup has a winch, steel rear bumper, soft top, and spare tire in the bed. The Comanche has custom seat covers, pedal covers, door sill guards, and mats as well as off-road rock rails, a 2-inch lift kit, and a winch. The 16-inch painted wheels have 32-inch BF-Goodrich All Terrain T/A tires. Power comes from a 2.0-liter diesel engine and nine-speed automatic transmission.
Designer Allen says they are not done with this concept and will keep adding features.
Jeep FC 150
This truck is designed to take you back to 1960, because it’s an actual 1960 work truck that was found in Colorado. Jeep preserved the truck, which rides on a last-generation Wrangler chassis, by keeping the body’s scratches and dents but added power steering, brakes, and other modern conveniences to make it safe to drive. The truck is only 11 feet long. The steel-body Jeep offers a full-length cargo box in a nimble vehicle with a modified Wrangler chassis to accommodate a Dana 44 front axle, Dana 60 rear axle, and 17-inch white steel wheels with 33-inch BF-Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2 tires. In back, hidden in a fake bale of hay is a cooler. The spare tire is tucked into the passenger side body panel. The FC 150 has vinyl seat covers, a custom headliner with vintage duck hunting pattern, CB radio, and an analog compass. Power comes from a 4.0-liter PowerTech I-6 mated to a three-speed automatic transmission.
You knew there had to be a Hellcat in here somewhere, and there is a decal on the front quarter-panels in case the exhaust note didn’t tip you off. This off-roader with the 707-horsepower, supercharged, 6.2-liter Hemi Hellcat V-8 engine, six-speed manual transmission, and custom shifter ball can leave the rest of the pack in its dust. To fit the engine into a Wrangler, designers stretched the wheelbase 12 inches. They also chopped the windshield 2 inches. The Trailcat has a power dome vented hood, Satin Black grille, LED headlamp and foglamps, rock rails, steel bumpers, 17-inch beadlock wheels, 39.5-inch BF-Goodrich Krawler T/A KX tires, front and rear Dana 60 axles, and Fox shocks. Inside, the Trailcat has the sport bucket seats from the Dodge Viper, complete with carbon fiber and Katzkin leather seat covers with accent stitching.
Yes, the Trailcat does run, although it has not yet been driven off-road. And the engine sounds just as awesome under the hood of a modified Wrangler.
This version of the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, wrapped in camouflage, has room for extra gear and fuel tanks and half doors for a better view of the trail. It rides on 17-inch concept off-road wheels with 37-inch tires, has a 2-inch lift kit, performance parts, a winch, and Dana 44 front and rear axles. It is covered in enhancements, including high-top fenders, power dome vented hood, rock rails with a step, a concept fastback soft top, taillight guards, and a Mopar fuel filler door. The Trailstorm has steel bumpers and a tire carrier. It has a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission.