Jeep crafts 6 brawny concepts for off-road enthusiasts
DETROIT -- Jeep engineers will take six off-road Jeep concepts to the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, this week, including at least one likely destined for dealerships.
Among the concepts: a modified Grand Cherokee, a Wrangler Rubicon fitted with a 6.4-liter Hemi engine and an homage to the Jeep Forward Control trucks from the 1950s and '60s.
In Moab, Jeep and Mopar engineers can put the vehicles through their paces and get feedback from an estimated 10,000 off-road enthusiasts at the gathering, which began last weekend and is scheduled to run through Sunday.
The concept vehicles are:
-- Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk: Jeep engineers fitted the Grand Cherokee with 18-inch Goodyear off-road tires on five-spoke alloy wheels, with modified Mopar rock rails to protect the SUV's white, gray and red color scheme. The vehicle also has styling changes to give the brand's most luxurious vehicle a more rugged off-road look. Jeep officials said the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk was being "strongly considered" for production this year.
-- Jeep Wrangler Traildozer: Working closely with longtime Jeep supplier American Expedition Vehicles, engineers outfitted a "dozer yellow" two-door Wrangler Rubicon with a 6.4-liter Hemi engine combined with a six-speed manual transmission. The 470-hp engine delivers power to 37-inch tires through Dana axles equipped with electronic locking differentials.
The Traildozer also received a 3.5-inch suspension lift, premium front and rear bumpers and a specialized hood for heat reduction. Inside, the concept was fitted with leather seat trim kits from American Expedition Vehicles and slush mats from Mopar.
-- Jeep J-12 Concept: The J-12 pickup lengthens the frame of the four-door Wrangler Unlimited by 18 inches, providing enough room to stow the spare tire below a full-sized 6-foot bed. The J-12, dubbed the OMT (for Old Man's Truck) by Jeep engineers, is a throwback to the Jeep Gladiator pickups of the 1960s, '70s and '80s. The cabin has a bench seat trimmed in white and plaid and a compass mounted into the gear shift lever.
-- Mopar Accessorized Jeep Wrangler: This Wrangler showcases Mopar optional equipment. Along with traditional off-road equipment such as a 2-inch lift kit, winch, rock rails and off-road bumpers, the vehicle introduces a prototype locking box in the center console and secured storage space in the rear of the vehicle.
-- Jeep Wrangler Apache from Mopar: Mopar will introduce a V-8 conversion kit this summer for the Wrangler that will enable owners to combine the 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 with the 2012 Wrangler's five-speed automatic transmission. The Apache showcases the new powertrain, which delivers about 470 pounds-feet of torque to the rear wheels.
The Apache uses a 4.5-inch long arm lift kit and off-road wheels to gain clearance for its Mopar axles. It also picks up the blue-on-black color scheme inside and out from Mopar's specialty vehicles.
-- Jeep Mighty FC Concept: The Mighty FC, by far the wildest concept shown, pays homage to the front-heavy Forward Control trucks that the brand produced from 1955 to 1965. The concept repositions the two-seat cab of a Wrangler Rubicon over the front axles, and puts the engine behind the cab amid a raised 8-foot-long drop-side cargo box.
The Mighty FC's 40-inch tires ride on Mopar specialized portal axles, which add ground clearance without the need for excessive suspension lift. The available portal axles retail for $12,500 (front) and $11,000 (rear).
You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at email@example.com.