In a way, the Africa somewhat touches on the previous-generation LJ Wrangler, which extended the TJ wheelbase 10 inches and offered additional space in the cabin; but the Africa takes this concept on the JK but does so without increasing the wheelbase – it simply extends it out. Not only does this provide quite a bit more storage in the rear cargo area, but it also thoughtfully stores away a oversized 35-inch tire underneath the body. What’s more, this concept moves away from a removable hard-top or soft-top design typically found on the Wrangler and instead utilizes a fixed-top roof that expands vertical storage space by 4 inches. Allen didn’t exactly broadcast the message out loud, but in spite of the subtle appearance of the Africa, he did make it clear the vehicle is exploring ideas we might actually see in the future.
“That vehicle, I think more than anything else, is an open question out here,” Allen said. “You see the Staff Car, purely whimsical and for fun; the Jeep Chief, very similar. But the Africa, the goal really was a question: Is this somewhere we should go? Not as a replacement for anything but as a variant. Would that make sense? A fixed roof, a fixed door on back. So that’s the vehicle I’m most interested in customer feedback while we’re out here this week.”
Allen isn’t saying the Africa represents the next-gen Wrangler completely, but it explores an option we could see. By expanding storage space without increasing the wheelbase, providing a fixed hard top option and fixed rear door, and offering an out-of-the-way location for oversized spare tires, it’s clear Jeep is paying attention to its core base and looking to incorporate useful design ideas onto its next Wrangler. So is Jeep onto something here, or do the ideas that Africa explores fall flat and not really move the needle?
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