The JK Wrangler has had a solid run, but with the JL coming down the pipe next year that run is just about over. The Jeep crew is sending the JK out in style at this year’s Easter Jeep Safari, and one of the coolest concepts at the 51st running of the event is the Jeep Safari concept.
The Safari Wrangler is built on a JK Unlimited Rubicon, and the core idea with the vehicle is to bring the outdoors closer on the next family adventure with the vibe of open-air freedom while still keeping the top and doors on. The clear “windoors” help accomplish this goal, as the vinyl and aluminum replace the JKU’s traditional four doors to give everyone in the car a great view of the action. Jeep then takes it a step further by using a translucent hard-top roof panel (like a UPS delivery truck), which is accented with a two-tiered aluminum roof rack fitted with a concept drone to help scout out the trails ahead.
The Safari also appears to toy with a few features we think may end up on the Wrangler JL later this year. For improved aerodynamics, the windshield on the Safari is angled back three degrees (something we’ve seen on prototypes). All the lighting, including the headlamps, tail lamps, fog lamps and turn signals, are concept LEDs, which is also something we’ve seen on JL prototypes. The grille on the Safari has a unique style that slants backward into the engine compartment a bit, and the headlamps specifically bleed into the outer slots on the seven-slot grille (possibly another new JL styling cue).
Inside, Jeep cleverly uses front and rear seats from the Fiat 500 Abarth, which are of course modified slightly to fit the Wrangler. They take it a step further by using a modified Fiat 500 X steering wheel as well. Instead of a traditional Uconnect touchscreen, an iPad (with Google Maps and Google Earth) is mounted to the dash. Much like the Grand One concept, spray-in bedliner coating is used on the floorboards instead of traditional fabric mats for easier cleanup.
The Safari sits 2 inches higher than a traditional JK thanks to Jeep Performance Parts 2-inch lift that employs Fox shocks on all four corners, and the overall vehicle length is also shorted slightly to make the Safari just a little more nimble on the trails. Since it’s a Rubicon, of course the Safari features Dana 44 axles fitted with factory installed front and rear lockers. The stock 3.6L Pentastar V6 gets a little performance boost thanks to a custom cold air intake, and the loss of weight from the doors and traditional hardtop makes it feel a little more spry. To help with stopping power the Jeep crew upgraded the front and rear brakes, and 10th Anniversary Rubicon front and rear bumpers are used as well.
Jeep then stuffs 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tires on custom 18-inch wheels. Added trail protection comes in the form of custom full-length skid plates, and airing up the 35s after getting of the trail is simple thanks to the integrated on-board air system.
Of all the concepts at this year’s Easter Jeep Safari, the Safari is probably one of the smoothest running. It feels a little lighter and more nimble on the trail thanks to the loss of weight and shortened profile. There’s just a little bit of rattle from the aluminum-latched doors, which is no surprise considering this is a one-off, one-of-a-kind concept… but honestly it’s far quieter than we expected. The amount of light allowed into the vehicle is awesome too, and it makes you far more apt to look around more and soak up the surrounding sights. The color scheme sets the stage too, as the white, yellow and silver cues also add to the lightness of the Safari overall.
The Jeep team, specifically head designer Mark Allen, always includes a few Easter eggs on the concepts we see each year. When compared to some of the spy photos we’ve seen of the JL so far, we think there’s a few features on the Safari that we’ll see in some form on the next-generation Wrangler. Although we’ll likely never the windoors in production, the lightweight aluminum used on the doors also points to the idea that’s been reported more aluminum will be used in the construction of the JL’s body. The Safari is a dreamy concept vehicle that is a blast to get out on the trail, but it likely holds a few more hidden secrets than some would expect.
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