Best Jeeps EVER
75 years of Jeep celebrated with an impressive line of heritage-inspired concepts
There are several reasons why we love Jeep, but the most important of these is that they actually care about the off-road lifestyle.While the massive corporations, that build the cars we are passionate about, only look to what they can sell us next, Jeep rewards its enthusiasts on an annual basis, letting its designers and engineers off the leash to become Santa’s elves for a few short weeks. Their concepts are unveiled to the largest collection of Jeep fans on the planet at the Easter Jeep Safari (EJS), an event that sees the small town of Moab, Utah, inundated with thousands of off-road enthusiasts. Aside from the marketing data it helps them collect, the concept vehicles show that Jeep is passionate about their products, that they take the off-road lifestyle seriously and backup marketing hype with actions. This year in particular is especially extraordinary as it is the 50th annual EJS, which just so happens to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Jeep brand. As such, Jeep, Mopar and Jeep Performance Parts have paid special attention this year to the group of seven specially modified Jeeps. We present to you the Easter Jeep Safari Jeep concept vehicles class of 2016.
JEEP SHORTCUT A carefully crafted take on the beloved Jeep CJ-5, Jeep has taken a modern Wrangler and hacked a whopping 26-inches out of the body to produce a distinctly 1950’s-era look. The rear tub, from the windshield back, has an unmistakable CJ-5 shape with custom fender flares, a unique grille, hood, tailgate, 17-in red steel wheels and custom chrome front and rear bumpers.
Inside, the simple yet functional interior features low-back leather bucket seats with plaid inserts, a red ball shifter handle, four-point safety cage and Mopar all-weather mats.
Don’t let the historic looks fool you; this Wrangler is still powered by a 3.6L Pentastar V-6 that has been coupled with a modified exhaust. Underneath, Jeep Performance Parts include a front and rear Dana 44 axle and a 2-in lift with Fox shocks. With the aid of 35-in BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2 tires, we love how the Jeep Shortcut maintains the look of an icon and adds lightness and maneuverability to the large JK. JEEP FC 150 There is just something about a Forward Control (FC) that tugs at our heartstrings. We’ve seen Jeep build a modern JK into a FC once before, and as awesome as that concept was; Jeep hit this one out of the park with a resto-rod take on a proper FC. Well, okay, more resto than rod.
Jeep started with an actual steel FC body and kept it in the original characterful patina. This body has obviously lived a full life on a farm somewhere. They then placed that body on the chassis of a 2005 Jeep Wrangler JK.
The modern chassis has been revamped to fit the old body and gives the FC a health upgrade in structural rigidity and power. A 4.0-liter PowerTech I-6 that is mated to a 3-speed automatic transmission delivers power to a Dana 44 front axle, Dana 60 rear axle and 17-inch white steel wheels wrapped in 33-in BFGoodrich MudTerrain T/A KM2 tires.
Inside, the FC 150 features vinyl seat covers, a custom headliner wrapped in a vintage duck hunting pattern, CB radio, analog compass and Mopar all-weather mats.
Last year we were pretty disappointed with Jeep’s off-road visions of their new Renegade. A slight lift, tires and a roof basket were all we really got. Not this year!
The Jeep Comanche concept vehicle takes the Cute Ute to all new levels. A nod to Jeep pickup trucks of years past, the Comanche concept takes styling cues
from military and civilian Jeep heritage. The wheelbase has been stretched an additional six inches versus a production Renegade to accommodate Comanche’s custom built 5-foot bed. Sporting “Beige Against the Machine” exterior paint accented with a Satin Black hood, the
Comanche also features a lower front fascia complete with winch, steel rear bumper, a soft-top and spare tire in the bed.
Inside, the Comanche features custom seat covers, pedal covers, doorsill guards and Mopar all-weather mats. Jeep Performance Parts, like off-road rock rails, a 2-in lift kit, 16-in painted wheels and 32-in BFGoodrich All Terrain T/A tires increase the Comanche’s off-road credibility. This is further backed up by Jeep’s Active Drive Lock drivetrain, which includes low range and a locking rear differential. However, Jeep are teasing us with the 2.0L diesel I-4 engine only available in Euro-spec Renegades, possibly testing the waters on this side of the Atlantic for a future model.
The Trailstorm concept deviates from the “heritage” theme, reminding JK owners what a couple of simple modifications can do to their vehicles. The whole vehicle is an exercise of what a JK can be turned into with only the use of the Jeep Performance Parts catalog in hand.
This means that the Trailstorm’s offroad capabilities are enhanced with 17-in concept off-road wheels wrapped in 37-in BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A tires, a 2-in lift kit with Fox shocks, a Rubicon winch,
and Dana 44 front and rear axles. Half doors offer a clear view of obstacles ahead and a bedlined interior makes cleaning up after a day on the trails easy.
Mopar exterior enhancements include a winch guard, Satin Black grille, LED headlights and fog lights, high top fenders, powerdome vented hood, Mopar offroad rock rails with a step, Big Brake Kit, a concept fast-back soft top, tail light guards and a Mopar fuel filler door. Finishing the Trailstorm’s exterior upgrades are steel front and rear Rubicon bumper and tire carrier.
We know that there are a fair number of you in search of the ultimate power upgrade for a Wrangler. What red-blooded Jeep fan hasn’t thought what a Hellcat crate motor could do in the engine bay of a JK? Well Jeep were thinking this too, so they went ahead and did it.
Utilizing the supercharged 6.2L HEMI Hellcat V-8 engine, and mated to a 6-speed manual transmission with a custom shifter ball featuring an embossed Hellcat logo, the Trailcat concept sports the obligatory 707 hp that comes with such a manic idea. Jeep designers stretched the wheelbase an additional 12 inches while chopping the windshield two inches for a sleeker look. Mopar exterior enhancements include a power-dome vented hood, Satin Black grille, LED headlamps and fog lamps and rock rails.
The Trailcat’s terrain terrorizing abilities are further aided by steel front and rear bumpers, 17-in beadlock wheels and 39.5-in BFGoodrich Krawler T/A KX tires, front and rear Dana 60 axles and Fox shocks.
Subtle design cues, such as a Hellcat decal on the front quarter panels and a “Trailcat” decal on the side of the hood, hint at the horsepower that lurks beneath, making this much more than a typical production Wrangler. The Trailcat’s interior is simple yet functional and features sport bucket seats from the Dodge Viper, made from carbon fiber and featuring Katzkin leather seat covers with accent stitching.
Can anyone say, “Ultra4 racer for the street!”
JEEP CREW CHIEF 715
Finally, we come to the grand daddy of them all, the Jeep Crew Chief 715. One of the all time favourite concept vehicles to be unveiled by Mopar was the Nukizer M-715 showcased at the 2010 EJS. We had the extraordinarily good fortune to be at that launch and drive the Nukizer in the sand dunes south of Moab. It lived up to all the hype, but by judging the new Crew Chief on looks alone, we’re fairly certain that the crown of “Best Moab Mopar Concept” has now been passed on to the 2016 edition.
Based on a Wrangler Unlimited, the Crew Chief receives a healthy dose of custom bodywork to showcase a burly design with heritage styling cues. The Crew Chief 715 utilizes modern-day construction with a rear seat and extra doors for additional passenger capacity and features a military themed 5-ft cargo bed.
The impressive bodywork is backed up with steel front and rear bumpers, 20-in beadlock wheels, and the 40-in NDT military tires pay homage to the original Jeep military vehicles. The Crew Chief 715 utilizes an on-board air system with a hard-mounted quickdisconnect fitting for airing up or lending assistance to other vehicles on the trail.
Exterior features, such as Jeep Performance Parts off-road rock rails, winches mounted into the front and rear bumpers, Dana 60 front and rear axles and a 4-in lift kit with Fox 2.0 Remote Reservoir shocks, give the Crew Chief 715 the ability to flex on the rocks.
Inside, the no-nonsense interior features leather bucket seats with canvas inserts, aircraft-inspired control switches, but quite likely the coolest enhancement has to be the navigational compass that occupies the area once used for the infotainment screen.
Unfortunately, the Jeep Crew Chief 715 is not powered by the same diesel powerplant that was in the Nukizer, but a 3.6L Pentastar V-6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. After looking at this design, it really doesn’t matter what’s powering it.
An incredible 26-in was taken out of the body to give Shortcut that CJ-5 look and feel.
We applaud Jeep for not only using a true FC body, but keeping all its scars and character.
Last year’s Renegade was mostly modified with trim pieces, not this year.
Want to outfit your JK with everything from the Jeep Performance Parts catalog; this is what it will look like.
The Trailcat is a screaming street legal Ultra4 racer from hell