Jeep, Mopar Concept Vehicles from Moab - Video
Off-road journalists may get to test new vehicles, ride and build highly modified 4x4s, and even explore remote locations on off-road adventures, but it’s not often that anyone – journalists included – get to see concept vehicles other than at major car shows on display.
In the last few years, however, Jeep and Mopar have rolled out to the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, with Mopar-part-equipped concept vehicles. Instead of just showing them to us, we actually get to take them on the trail and test them out. It’s a unique experience that really no other manufacturer provides to the media, and, in turn, we get to provide a little insight to our readers.
This year, Jeep and Mopar invited us out to Sorrel River Ranch, where its newest creations (and really, testing platforms for future Mopar parts) were gathered. The event is clearly of great importance to the company, as is evident by the representatives in attendance. Joining us at the event was Mike Manley, president and CEO of the Jeep Brand; Pietro Gorlier, president and CEO of the Mopar brand; and chief designer of the Mopar team Mark Allen.
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Manley was able to make a surprise visit to Easter Jeep Safari after working around the New York Auto Show that typically demands his presence at this time of year. In addressing the media, he noted that the Jeep brand has grown three years in a row, and this is a trend the company hopes to continue not just in the U.S. market but also globally.
“It’s good to see the year-over-year stats, but our job really is to bring Jeep back to where it’s historically been and that is the number one SUV brand, and the way that we are doing this is to be true to the brand, true to what it stands for, not just here in the U.S. but on a worldwide basis,” he said.
A similar message was echoed by Gorlier on the Mopar front, noting the large number of storage facilities the company has expanded worldwide to address future growth.
“We have several thousand accessories and performance parts, and you can see many of these parts displayed on the vehicles today, especially two new entries in the portal axles that you can see here and the HEMI conversion kit,” he said. “At Mopar, 2012 is a very big year for us. I mean, it is our 75th anniversary so we celebrate 75 years of history and obviously we enter the next 75 years at least with the ambition of becoming an important contribution to our vehicles.”
Although some of the “Moparized” vehicles in attendance are pure fantasy, they are also testing platforms for future ideas. We were lucky enough to ride in previous concept vehicles this year as well, like the diesel-powered Nukizer from 2010, or the lightweight Wrangler Pork Chop from 2011. For 2012, there were some great new vehicles to drool over. Read on for more.
Grand Cherokee Trailhawk Concept
This GC is a package that will possibly be offered to the public – actually, that probability seems very high, and Mopar wasn’t hiding that fact. The customized Grand Cherokee features an updated graphics package, new Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor off-road tires, a new silver, 5-spoke wheel, modified Mopar rock rails, and unique red-and-black pieces such as updated grill surround, tow hooks, hood graphic, “Trail Rated” badge and Trailhawk logo for the rear tailgate. Don’t be surprised if this one hits the market soon.
Jeep Wrangler Apache
The Apache, although equipped with a number of Mopar parts that included Mopar Pro 60 front and rear axles and a 4.5-inch long-arm kit, really highlights an exciting kit that we are told will soon be offered by Mopar – a V-8 HEMI conversion kit designed specifically for the Wrangler. The engine kit, which we’re told will retail around $15,000, will produce approximately 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque at the rear.
Jeep Mighty FC Concept
Chief Mopar designer Mark Allen told us that this vehicle has been discussed for years, and this year the Mopar team finally decided to tackle it. The Mighty FC really pays homage to the Jeep Forward Control built from 1956 to ’65. Built on a 2012 Wrangler Rubicon platform, the FC’s cabin was moved over the front axle, the wheelbase extended, and a custom-built drop-side cargo box – which measures more than eight feet in length – was added in the rear. A Mopar Portal Axle Set was added to the concept vehicle for increased clearance, and King coil-over shocks help the FC tackle the trail. Hutchinson 17-inch beadlock wheels were fitted with 40-inch BFGoodrich Krawler tires to give the FC that extra bit of height (37s, we’re told, just weren’t enough).
On the trail, the Might FC feels like an alien vehicle in some ways, yet it is still very capable. On any decline it feels like you can reach out and touch the trail in front of you. Allen told us part of the motivation behind the design team was to really emphasize that feeling in the FC. Sure, it may not turn the sharpest, but it can climb up a ledge with the best of them. It’s the climbing back down part that offers the most pucker factor.