Jeep, Mopar unveil concepts ahead of annual Utah safari
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DETROIT -- Jeep and Mopar today showed off six heavily modified off-road vehicles, including a Jeep Wrangler made to look like a Navy battleship, that the brands will take this month to the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah.
The engineering exercise has become a yearly tradition within Jeep and Mopar, which use the vehicles to test parts and design concepts.
The Easter Jeep Safari, which this year runs Saturday through March 31, typically draws thousands of off-road enthusiasts to the Utah desert to test the limits of their vehicles and their abilities as drivers.
Jeep Wrangler Mopar Recon
The Mopar parts and service brand has created a Jeep Performance Parts subgroup to compete for the millions of dollars off-roaders spend each year modifying their vehicles with lift kits, rock rails, bumpers and other aftermarket parts. Mopar has added more than two dozen engineers in the past several months to expand Jeep parts offerings.
Of the vehicles built for Moab this year, five are based on the Wrangler and one on the Grand Cherokee. Here are the offerings:
Wrangler Mopar Recon
Powered by a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine, the gunmetal gray Recon has a prototype long-arm lift kit and beadlock wheels with 39-inch tires. The beadlock wheels allow the tires to be deflated to single-digit psi levels enabling greater traction and stability over obstacles or on sand. The Recon is decorated in a Navy-inspired theme, with painted labels near the door handles and a rust-coated name badge.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk II
Named the Stitch because much of its body is covered in architectural fabric, the vehicle is an exercise to see how much weight engineers could pull from a traditional two-door Wrangler. The Stitch has ultrathin seats, a carbon-fiber hood as well as a specially designed roll cage and axles to save weight. Engineers also removed the audio and air conditioning systems to save a total of 1,100 pounds from a stock Wrangler, giving it the same power-to-weight ratio as the brand's high-performance Grand Cherokee SRT8.
Jeep Wrangler Sand Trooper II
Wrangler Sand Trooper II
Following up on last year's popular Sand Trooper concept, this vehicle takes the opposite approach to the Stitch and is loaded with the two brands' highest-end and heaviest options, including portal axles that retail for more than $20,000 each. The Sand Trooper II rides on 40-inch off-road tires and includes all of the top-end Wrangler's interior electronics.
Jeep Wrangler Flattop
The Flattop has a top-end interior finish combined with a heavy-duty off-road package. Engineers modified a stock Wrangler's wheel wells to accommodate 37-inch off-road tires, providing an extra 4.5 inches of ground clearance. They also installed a custom one-piece windowless hard top and shortened the window two inches to keep the roof height roughly equal to that of a stock Wrangler.
Jeep Wrangler Slim
Another weight-saving exercise, the Slim also uses beadlock wheels and lighter bumpers to increase off-road performance by lowering weight.
Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
This diesel-powered off-roader has specially modified wheel wells to allow for 35-inch tires on 17-inch aluminum rims. Engineers used several parts from the Grand Cherokee SRT, including its front and rear fascias and hood, but painted them blood orange and trimmed the vehicle in matte black.
You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at firstname.lastname@example.org.