Jeep Geeks: Here's what to expect for this year's Easter Jeep Safari
From skiing corn in the high mountains to soaking up the superblooms of the desert flowers, April in the West can mean lots of things to lots of people. But if you’re in Utah – it means Easter Jeep Safari. And every year, the patron saint of Easter Jeep Safari (that being Jeep, the company itself) uses the big event to inspire their cult followers with tantalizing concepts, experiments, or just creative expressions. This year’s main event seems to be no exception – with Jeep bringing out 6 interesting concepts, with one being a teaser for the highly anticipated 2018 Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited.
Now in its 51st year, the Easter Jeep Safari is attended by thousands of die-hard off-road enthusiasts looking to enjoy a week of serious off-roading on some of the country’s most well-known and challenging trails.
“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, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA Global. “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 Safari Concept
Let’s start with what is arguably the most important concept of the group – the Jeep Safari. It’s important because this is the teaser truck for the 2018 Wrangler. To the uninitiated laity, it may look pretty much identical to every other Wrangler Unlimited on the highways already – but there are some notable design differences that evoke the rumored upcoming model. The front grill, headlights and windshield are all pretty indicative of what we can expect from the 2018 model. Notice the kinked character lines near the top of the grill – a clear nod to Jeeps of the 1970’s and 80’s. Also notice how the headlight surrounds were squeezed into the frill space – another 2018 styling clue. The windshield’s rake is also slightly more swept back than the outgoing 2017 model’s and portend’s the slope we can expect form the 2018. The bumper, hood, and door sills could also be teasers, but remain to be seen.
Jeep Grand One
The Jeep Grand One celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Grand Cherokee with a modernized spin on a classic 1993 ZJ. On the exterior, the Grand One concept features custom 18-inch lace-style wheels, high-clearance fender flares, extended wheelbase, re-trimmed fascias and a subtle wood grain hearkening back to the faux wood paneling on the original’s body. The Jeep Grand One concept includes 33-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tires, front and rear axles equipped with selectable locking differentials and a 2-inch suspension lift. Inside, the interior continues the celebration of the original Grand Cherokee with ’90s-inspired materials and touches, a durable bed liner applied to replace the carpet and accessorized with an old-school car phone.
Alternative to the usual rock crawler ethos Jeep’s usually personify, the Jeep Quicksand Concept was created for enthusiasts who love the sandy life. The Jeep Quicksand is designed to be loud, fast and fun. The Quicksand concept is powered by a Mopar 392 Crate HEMI engine with eight-stack injection, mated to a six-speed Getrag manual transmission. A “peekaboo” cutout in the hood and gasser-style downturned open headers add to the vintage hot rod feel. This Wrangler-based concept features a longer wheelbase, with a trimmed front and rear body and chopped hard top. An open top and open windows allow for full enjoyment of Quicksand’s sound and wind-in-your-face freedom. Inside, the minimalist interior features red accents, two front low-back bucket seats, flat aluminum door panels, tilt-out windshield glass and a chrome roll bar.
Based on the all-new for 2018 Jeep Compass, the Jeep Trailpass concept vehicle takes the Compass Trailhawk a step further for an extreme off-road adventure. A 1.5-inch lift kit and 18-inch wheels with a unique pocket accent on Continental TerrainContact all-terrain tires increase the off-road capabilities of the Jeep Trailpass concept. Jeep Performance Parts featured on the Trailpass include a Jeep roof basket, cross rails and rock rails. The Trailpass exterior features a custom hood graphic and a Mopar/Thule roof basket with roof bag and traction mats.
The Jeep Switchback concept vehicle is less “design study/concept” and more “rolling Mopar parts catalog.” Jeep Performance Parts featured on the Switchback include a front and rear Dana 44 axle, a 4-inch 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. An axle-back exhaust, 17-inch concept wheels and 37-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tires increase the off-road capabilities of the Jeep Switchback. The Switchback exterior features a concept hood and half doors, and gets topped off with a super-cool “Safari” hard top/roof rack system. The Switchback’s exterior also includes Jeep Performance Parts high-top fender flares, Mopar black fuel door and tail lamp guards, and Jeep Performance Parts swing gate hinge reinforcement and oversized spare tire carrier.
This year’s hybrid retro fusion machine is the CJ-66. Take a Jeep Wrangler TJ frame, hang a 1966 Jeep Wrangler CJ universal Tuxedo Park body on it, add in Wrangler JK essentials, power it all with a Mopar 345 Crate HEMI Engine Kit-enabled 5.7-liter HEMI and you have the Jeep CJ66.
The narrow-bodied CJ66 concept, originally made its debut at the 2016 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas in November. Front and rear Mopar Dana 44 Crate axles help the Wrangler easily crawl over rocks and boulders. The Copper Canyon-colored body is a queue taken from the Moab landscape. Riding high on 35-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain tires wrapped around 17-inch beadlock wheels and is paired with a 2-inch lift kit. A concept two-way air system lets overlanders air up or air down tires to the desired pressure. Oversized fender flares offer defense against trail debris at the front and rear, with added protection delivered by 10th Anniversary Wrangler JK Rubicon Bumper Kits, front bumper plates and rock rails.
The Jeep Luminator is another exercise in Parts Catalog shopping. This time it’s in the lighting department, highlighting a full arsenal of lighting features designed to deliver eye-searing visibility on the trail, jointly developed with the Automotive Lighting division of Magneti Marelli.
This Wrangler-based concept features magnetic underbody rock lights, 7-inch LED projector bi-function headlamps, unique LED tail lamps, A-pillar-mounted high-powered LED spot lights, upper bumper LED auxiliary lighting with cornering fog lamps controlled by the steering angle, and low-profile integrated overhead LED auxiliary spot lights protected behind the windshield. On the Luminator’s hood 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 center high-mount stop light acts as a scouting/trail lamp with four-color LEDs for trail rides, indicating stop (red), 1-3 miles per hour (amber), 3-25 mph (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 tire storage case, and a capacitive touch interactive display on the driver’s side rear window linked to GPS and internet services.