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Moab, the annual Mecca for Jeep enthusiasts in Utah, USA is set to explode with another display of concept vehicles on the Easter holiday weekend as Jeep teases future models.
This year, the annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari will wheel out seven new concepts in the tiny town of Moab – population 5200 – in a display that global head of the Jeep Brand, Mike Manley, terms “truly a labour of love”.
In its 51st year, the Easter safari will show variations of existing models plus a few all-new derivations that hint at potential new vehicles in the future.
But it’s not just about looks. All concepts get put to task in the rugged terrain around Moab and into the stunning scenery of the adjoining Canyonlands National Park near the Utah-Colorado border.
Last year the safari included the Wrangler Hellcat, a much loved though briefly seen 6.2-litre supercharged V8 with 527kW.
This year Jeep and its accessory arm Mopar were a bit more subdued, literally building on existing vehicles with Mopar engineering production and prototype Jeep Performance Parts (JPP).
Mopar designs and manufactures parts available for Jeep owners who want to enhance their off-road capabilities.
Mopar head of parts and service, Pietro Gorlier, said: “Jeep and Mopar have teamed up over 15 years to create unique, fun and highly capable concept vehicles for the popular Easter Jeep Safari in Moab”.
The 2017 Easter Jeep Safari concept vehicles include some that look forward, like the Safari with its perspex doors that is based on a Wrangler Unlimited, and some that look back, like the retro-style of the Wrangler-based CJ66 and the Grand One, a new take on the 1993 Grand Cherokee.
Jeep’s Grand One (pictured, top) is based on the 1993 ZJ Grand Cherokee. It has the retro shell of the wagon but with an extended wheelbase and 50mm lift kit that is dressed in 18-inch wheels, high-clearance wheel arches and 'woody' woodgrain body panels.
The wagon is powered by a 5.2-litre V8 mated to a four-speed automatic and front and rear axles have selectable locking differentials.
Inside it tips its hat to the 1993 model with '90s-inspired materials, a durable floor liner that replaces the carpet and even an old-school car phone.
The Jeep Safari is an exercise in creating a highly visible off-roader that is as much about being seen in as about being able to see out. Based on the Wrangler Unlimited, there are four 'windoors' of clear vinyl and aluminium that allow occupants full view of the passing scenery.
The doors also have zipper openings to let in fresh air. It also has a translucent hardtop roof panel, two-tier aluminium roof rack, steeply raked windscreen and LED for the headlights and tail-lights.
The cabin has two rear bucket seats that can be rotated sideways.
JPP fitted the Safari with front and rear Dana 44 axles with selectable differential lockers. The body, which has been shortened, sits on a 50mm lift kit. Other features include 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tyres on custom 18-inch wheels, custom full-length skid plates, steel front and rear bumpers, integrated on-board air compression system for the tyres, upgraded brakes and unique cold air intake.
The Jeep Safari is powered by the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.
Jeep’s Quicksand is the 4WD equivalent of a hot-rod. It's described as loud, fast and fun thanks to a Mopar 392 Hemi crate engine with eight-stack injection, mated to a six-speed Getrag manual transmission. To show off the engine, there’s a bold cut-out on the bonnet and open headers.
Based on the Wrangler, the Quicksand gets a longer wheelbase, trimmed front and rear body and a chopped hardtop and windshield. An open top and open windows reiterate its hot-rod design.
Inside, it has a minimalist interior with two front low-back bucket seats, flat aluminium door panels, tilt-out windshield glass and a chrome roll bar.
For the first time on a Jeep concept, the Quicksand has a staggered track (the rear track is wider than the front track) for more fun in the sand. It has 18-inch 'Kidney Bean' alloy wheels shod with BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tyres - 32-inch in the front, and 37-inch in the rear.
The Quicksand adds coil-over shocks, a Warn winch concealed in a front-mounted Moon tank, and a recovery rope in the rear designed to look like a drag car’s parachute.
The Jeep Trailpass is based on the new Compass that’s yet to be released in Australia, but the concept is a more extreme off-road wagon with a 38mm lift kit and 18-inch wheels shod with Continental TerrainContact all-terrain tyres. JPP products featured on the Trailpass include a Jeep roof basket, cross rails and rock rails.
It also features gloss black side mirror caps, a custom bonnet graphic, side stripes, tinted headlamps and tail-lamps, and a Mopar/Thule roof basket with roof bag and traction mats.
The interior has custom Katzkin leather seats and armrest, body-colour bezel accents and JPP all-weather floor mats.
The Trailpass is powered by the stock Cherokee, Renegade and 2017 Compass drivetrain of a 2.4-litre Tigershark engine mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Jeep’s Switchback concept highlights a list of Mopar and JPP with the accent on off-road performance. Parts include front and rear Dana 44 axles, a heady 100mm lift with Remote Reservoir Fox shocks, heavy-duty cast differential covers, 10th Anniversary steel front and rear bumpers, Rubicon winch, grille, winch guard and cold air intake.
It also has an axle-back exhaust and 17-inch concept wheels with 37-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tyres.
Outside it has a concept bonnet and half doors, 'Safari' hardtop and roof rack system, JPP wheel arch flares and a swing-gate hinge reinforcement and oversized spare tyre carrier.
The Switchback has an advanced lighting systems with concept LED off-road windshield light bar, concept LED off-road A-pillar lamps, LED tail-lamps, and JPP LED headlight and foglights.
Inside it has Katzkin leather seats, body-colour accents, concept sport bar grab handles, spray-in bed liner on the floor and Mopar all-weather mats. The cargo area also has a Mopar swing-gate storage rack with first aid and roadside safety kits.
It is powered by the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 and mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.
The Jeep CJ66 is seriously retro yet despite the 51-year gap, still looks very much like a new Wrangler. The CJ66 was created by using a Wrangler chassis onto which is bolted a 1966 Wrangler CJ body, then introduced to a 285kW Mopar 345 Crate Hemi Engine Kit-enabled 5.7-litre Hemi V8.
This is not the first showing of the CJ66 after it appeared first at the 2016 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas in November.
Drivetrain features include a six-speed manual transmission and front and rear Mopar Dana 44 Crate axles.
The body has a 50mm lift kit and sits on 35-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain tyres wrapped around JPP 17-inch beadlock wheels. It also has a concept two-way air system to quickly increase or reduce air pressure in the tyres.
It is fitted with oversize fender flares, Mopar 10th Anniversary Wrangler JK Rubicon Bumper Kits, JPP skid and front bumper plates and concept JPP rock rails.
Mopar LED amber foglights and a Mopar Warn winch enhance the CJ66’s off-road capabilities. Inside it has Dodge Viper seats featuring concept seat risers, a custom-built roll cage, bikini top netting for shade, a centre console from a Wrangler JK, Mopar instruments and Mopar all-weather mats.
The Jeep Luminator, as the name indicates, is all about light. The concept Wrangler-based Luminator has the best in off-road lighting performance, with a full arsenal of advanced lighting features jointly developed with Jeep and the Automotive Lighting division of Magneti Marelli.
The concept has magnetic underbody rock lights, powerful 7.0-inch LED projector bi-function headlamps, unique LED tail-lights, A-pillar-mounted high-powered LED spotlights, upper bumper LED auxiliary lighting with cornering fog lights controlled by the steering angle, and low-profile integrated overhead LED auxiliary spotlights protected behind the windshield.
The Jeep Luminator also includes LED versions of the standard 100mm fog light and grille-mounted turn signals unique to the Wrangler.
On the Luminator’s bonnet is a scanning LED light bar module with active spot and dynamic following technology, which delivers spot-lighting to avoid wildlife or hazards on the trail ahead. On the rear, the centre high-mount stop light acts as a scouting/trail lamp with four-colour LEDs for trail rides, indicating stop (red), 2-5km/h (amber), 5-40km/h (green) or providing rear flood lighting (white).
Other features include a roof-mounted solar panel, a drone landing pad with lighted drone and removable spare tyre storage case, and a capacitive touch interactive display on the driver’s side rear window linked to GPS and internet services.