Katzkin leather seats and armrests adorn the interior of the Maximum Performance, and the Mopar Blue color scheme is accented in key spots.

Katzkin leather seats and armrests adorn the interior of the Maximum Performance, and the Mopar Blue color scheme is accented in key spots.

We hopped in the Maximum Performance after spending time in many of the other concept vehicles the crew brought out during our testing day, and we immediately started grinning from ear to ear. The Maximum Performance might not be the most over-the-top Wrangler we’ve ever tested, but wow, it sure feels like a well-built JK. The 4-inch lift paired with the 37-inch BFGs and Dana 60 axles make the Maximum Performance feel like a tank with travel. It doesn’t feel too jacked up in terms of height, and its stance feels stable without being wide or bulbous. Everything feels like it’s in the right place in terms of suspension geometry and upgraded parts working in harmony.

5-Action-Maximum-Performance-Wrangler-Jeep-Concept-4-15-14

The Maximum Performance’s is re-geared to a 4.88 ratio, making its combination of Dana 60s, 37-inch BFGoodrich KM2s and 17-inch 8-lug beadlock wheels even more impactful on the trail.

The Maximum Performance climbed over the moderate rocky slopes on our test course with grace – almost as if it begged for something more challenging. No obstacle felt like a chore. It never faltered, struggled or groaned; it just simply crawled over it and was ready for whatever came next.

A full-size spare is carried at the rear of the Wrangler via a JPP Large Tire Carrier.

A full-size spare is carried at the rear of the Wrangler via a JPP Large Tire Carrier.

The Maximum Performance highlights an interesting trend with the concept vehicles Jeep and Mopar brought out to Moab this year, and that’s finding a balance of capability without losing drivability. The Maximum Performance has the largest lift of the concept Wranglers at 4 inches, and it stuffs the most rubber beneath it with 37s, yet all the pieces work in harmony on the trail and it doesn’t feel overbuilt. Like the other concepts for 2014, the Maximum Performance has a relatively low center of gravity, with the crew focusing on creatively installing Flat-Top Highline Fenders that create more wheel well space instead of using a larger lift to accommodate more rubber.

The Maximum Performance is not the most gnarly, burly, rock-smashing JK we’ve ever seen, but it sure is one of the nicest handling and most fun to drive. This is one Wrangler we’d love to have in our driveway.

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Comments

Andrew Taylor June 21st, 2014 at 9:05 pm

It would be really cool if Jeep offered those Dana 60 locking axles as an option on models in the future!

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