Every year Jeep heads out to Moab, Utah for Easter Jeep Safari, an off-roading-trail-meets-ogle-all-the-sweet-4×4-candy event that attracts thousands of people.
While Jeep isn’t in charge of the nine-day event — Moab’s Red Rock 4-Wheelers is the official host — the company does use the annual gathering to showcase a handful of concept vehicles that give the world (and media) a sense of what might be coming down the road. This year, 10 Easter Jeep Safari concepts from Jeep and Jeep Performance Parts by Mopar made it to Moab. And TechCrunch was on hand to test all of them, albeit in a controlled off-road environment.
Here are three concepts that particularly hit the right marks — and that I predict would attract customers if Jeep would make the commitment. So, yeah go build them already.
Why is the Jeep Rubicon 20th anniversary concept not on this list? The concept, which celebrates the launch of the Wrangler Rubicon in 2002, is likely one that will be made, or at least something very close to it.
Easter Jeep Bob Concept
Yup, it’s a diesel and the EV lovers here may protest. But there’s no denying its looks and power. Basically, the Bob can climb anything and looks good doing it.
The Bob is what you get when you bob the tail off a Jeep Gladiator and stuff a Jeep Wrangler inside. The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon is the basis of the vehicle. The Jeep design team then cut about a foot off its length, removed the B-pillars and doors and added a hardtop with a bright bit of canvas stretched over it.
The overall airy look (and feel) is capped off with a three-inch lift, 40-inch tires on 20-inch wheels, steel bumpers, a paint job that mixes matte and gloss and a vented carbon hood.
It’s not meant to be all looks though. The vehicle is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter Eco-Diesel V-6 engine connected to a TorqueFlite 8HP75 eight-speed automatic transmission. What matters here is that it’s calibrated for low-RPM shifts to make it easier to handle tricky off-road sections. The vehicle is also equipped with custom off-road suspension components, Dynatrac ProRock 60 axles supported by a mix of King Coils and Bypass shocks.
Jeep Wrangler Magneto 2.0 Concept
This is Jeep’s second effort with the Jeep Wrangler Magneto concept, hence the 2.0 name. This all-electric vehicle is equipped with an 800-volt electrical architecture and four lithium-ion battery packs — with a combined power of 70 kWh — that are in the middle and rear to distribute the weight. An axial flux electric motor, along with an inverter derived from race cars that converts DC power to AC in the new motor, operates up to 5,250 rpm.
Notably, the Jeep Wrangler Magneto concept 2.0 has a six-speed manual transmission and a propulsion system that can maintain a peak amperage of 600 A for 10 seconds. The end result is a system that can deliver 850 pound-feet (1,152 Nm) of torque to the wheels and travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in twp seconds.
The designers added 12 inches to the wheelbase of the two-door Wrangler body style and a custom three-inch lift kit and 40-inch off-road tires on 20-inch wheels.
The rest of the look is capped off with custom bumpers, carbon-fiber wheel flares at the front and rear, a bikini top and carbon fiber hood that includes a blue-tinted, transparent window that gives a view of the power unit underneath.
A word about the manual transmission. It doesn’t operate in the exact same way as that manual transmission sitting in your driveway or the one you first drove as a teenager. In the Magneto, the driver (that would be me) engages the clutch, then grabs the cue-ball like gear shifter and punches it into second gear. That’s it. That delicate art of lifting your left foot off the clutch and then engaging the accelerator with the right foot doesn’t happen here. And once you convince your mind and feet to forget everything you’ve learned about driving manual, it works with ease.
It may seem a bit odd to put a manual gearbox behind an electric motor. But in an off-road environment, and particularly in steep descents where control is critical, this combination can really shine. For today’s owner, driving an internal combustion Jeep down sections of rocks and ledges requires a measured execution of throttle and brake. In the Magento, that’s not necessary.
Jeep ’41 Concept
The idea here is to give a salute — and not just a nod — to Wrangler Willys and Jeep’s military heritage.
This retro Willy concept has a 4xe plug-in hybrid powertrain that has an estimated 49 miles per gallon equivalent and up to 21 miles of pure EV range. The powertrain includes two electric motors, battery pack, a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 engine and the branded TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission.
Everything from the paint color to the numerous decorative elements embrace its military roots. The exterior paint is an olive D.R.A.B. ’41 matte green finish, and stenciled graphics can be found throughout the ’41 concept, including tiny Jeeps on the wheels.
There’s even a customized shifter cap. Inside, there are canvas-covered seats with digital camo inserts to finish off the military look.
The amount of graphics is maybe a little gratuitous, but the tan soft-top and JPP half doors as well as the two-inch lift and 35-inch mud-terrain tires on 17-inch wheels makes you forget about any missteps.