The Jeep faithful have been gathering in Moab, Utah, each spring for 48 years in numbers that now reach upward of 10,000 throughout the weeklong event known as the Easter Jeep Safari. The Jeep brand supports (but does not sponsor) the event and takes advantage of the opportunity to interface with its most faithful customers, floating trial balloons for new features, accessories, and performance enhancements. Jeep has introduced 40 concept vehicles there since 2002, during which time the majority of parts and accessories showcased have eventually reached production, albeit sometimes with alterations suggested by the Moab attendees.
There are now over 1,000 part numbers available for the current Jeep range, 300 of which cover the Wrangler. As many as 1,000 more support Jeeps in the back-catalogue, and 100 have already been developed for the forthcoming Renegade. Many of those parts (all the ones that don’t affect safety and other compliance aspects) can be ordered and installed at the Jeep Custom Shop in Toledo, Ohio, prior to shipment to the retail dealer, with these items included on the Monroney label, and hence included in the financing of the new-vehicle sale. Ranging from mild to wild, the six-vehicle 2014 Moab fleet opens with a pair of Cherokees, a single Grand Cherokee, and three increasingly capable Wranglers.
Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Adventurer
This concept was intentionally left unmodified from a mechanical standpoint to show off the abilities of the factory-lifted Trailhawk model, its 48:1 crawl ratio, and suspension articulation. It features custom maize-colored paint, with coordinating interior bezel accents and Katzkin perforated and embroidered seat upholstery. The 17-inch “Rock Wheels,” embellished with aluminum granite crystal and black pockets, are in the catalog now. There’s a prototype matte-black Mopar roof basket first shown at SEMA, then in Detroit and Chicago. Suggestions for improvement gathered at those shows have led to a revision of the side panels to ease access. The unit includes an air deflector at the front and a bungee net to restrain cargo. In back, there’s a Jeep Cargo Management System with a Trailhawk bag and a prototype Moab off-road bag.
Jeep Cherokee Dakar
No paper tiger, this. To accommodate knobby 33-inch LT255/80R-17 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A off-road tires, the wheel openings have been widened by 2 inches, and the adjustable coil-over suspension is raised an additional inch above typical Trailhawk ride height (for a total of 3 inches above the standard Cherokee). Custom wheel-arch flares with exposed fasteners give a purposeful look. This lift-kit is a prototype that’s likely to make production. The front and rear fascia are redesigned, with the front losing its fog lamps, and the rear losing the tail pipes (the exhaust is truncated ahead of the rear axle for looks), the net effect of which is to further increase the approach and departure angles to a claimed 32 and 39 degrees, respectively. Underneath, it’s fortified with Jeep Performance Parts rock rails, an oil pan skid plate, front suspension skid plate, two-piece fuel tank, and underbody skid plates.
Appearance wise, the truck is painted in a matte-finish Silver Steel Satin Gloss paint with red accents on the side-window surround molding, ringing the matte-black hood graphic, on the badges, and the insets of two of the seven grille slats and two of the five wheel pockets (the wheels are otherwise regular production items). This motif is becoming a Jeep/Mopar signature flourish for Moab and SEMA concepts. Inside, prototype Katzkin black leather seats with “Machined Gunmetal” inserts get red accent stitching, as do the console, door panels, and steering wheel. The shifter and center display-screen surrounds are red. The same Jeep Cargo Management System as shown in the Adventurer is also fitted here.
Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Trail Warrior
Moab enthusiasts who modify their engines are frequently after greater torque, so Jeep’s new EcoDiesel should suit them perfectly. To date, the option is running at about 15 percent of Grand Cherokee sales. In this concept, the drivetrain remains unmodified, boasting 420 lb-ft and a 44:1 crawl ratio. Its only real off-road performance enhancement is a set of new prototype 20-inch wheels in Satin Black, wrapped in LT285/55R20 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO tires that have the effect of upping ground clearance to 15 inches.
Appearance-wise, there’s a new Mojave Sand paint color (which should hide the dust one picks up in Mojave or Moab) with high-contrast Satin Black graphics on the grille, hood, lower front fascia, door handles, mirror caps, wheel flares, and badging.
Jeep Wrangler Level Red
The theme here is "garage-buildable." At the center of this two-door Wrangler concept is the newly introduced Jeep Performance Parts 2-inch lift kit, the components for which fit in a box that fits in the cargo area of the Wrangler. So the enthusiast can bring it home in the very Jeep it's intended to upgrade. The kit will cost $1185 for the suspension components alone, and $1700 with the drive-shafts you need to make it work. We're assured that's extremely competitive with the aftermarket, and these parts are all engineered by the same folks who engineered the parts this replaces and bolts to, for added peace of mind. Other upgrades include Jeep Performance Parts Dana 44 crate axles featuring 4.10:1 gearing and a Jeep Performance Parts Rock-Trac transfer case provides a 4:1 low range. Add in the six-speed's 4.46:1 first gear and you get a 73.1:1 crawl ratio. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine's breathing is improved slightly through a cold-air intake and low-restriction cat-back exhaust system.
The prototype 8x17-inch wheels feature bead-lock rings that can be color coordinated. Here they’re TorRed, to match the hood stripe graphic, roll-bar pads, badging, tow-hooks, and signature insets in two of the seven grille slats. Those wheels are shod in 35x12.50R17LT BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2 tires, which are currently available through the Mopar Tireworks program. Other exterior upgrades include “Rubicon 10th Anniversary” bumpers, with prototype black “Aero” bumper ends and an under-bumper skid plate, and a prototype Jeep Performance Parts tire carrier capable of mounting oversized off-road spares. For extreme off-roading, there’s a Warn 9.5cti winch, good for 9,500 pounds with a thermal sensor that sends info to the operator’s remote control to prevent burning out the motor in extreme winching. Rounding out the look are a Mopar half-door kit, locking gas cap, tail lamp guards, a hood prop kit, and Jeep Performance Parts rock rails.
Inside, the red accents continue on Katzkin seat upholstery, center console, door and steering wheel trim, and special design-office red-stripe seatbelts, completing the package. Another feature the Jeep gang will be soliciting reactions to is an accessory bar on the inside of the tailgate, from which can hang a first-aid kit and small gear bag.
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited MOJO
This four-door Wrangler boasts many of the Level Red’s upgrades, including the Jeep Performance Parts 2-inch lift kit, Rock-Trac transfer case, locking Dana 44 crate axles, cold-air intake and low-restriction cat-back exhaust. With the V-6 and automatic transmission, its crawl ratio is 59:1. MOJO ups the ante with new prototype flat-top fenders positioned 3 inches higher to allow even greater articulation of the giant 37x12.50R17LT tires and rims with Mopar Bronze bead-lock rings. For getting out of deep trouble, there’s an 8,000-pound capable Warn Zeon 8-S winch featuring 100 feet of 3/8-inch Spydura synthetic rope and a heat-dissipating brake.
Appearance-wise, there’s a Mopar “Rubicon X” hood, a Jeep Performance Parts “Rubicon X” front bumper, under-bumper skid plate, and rock rails. Prototype LED projector headlamps and LED fogs promise to light up the trail. The prototype spare-tire carrier for oversize tires is also installed. Topo-map graphics adorn the grille, cowl, and hood, depicting the landscape around Jeep’s Auburn Hills, Michican, design headquarters. Front and rear prototype half-door kits and a Mopar bikini soft top with roll-bar pads in Driftwood sand color offer great open-air motoring. A Mopar locking lid for the rear under-floor storage bin provides added security. The interior carpet is removed to reveal the orange paint, and rugged all-weather mats and Katzkin seat covers enhance the hose-out nature of this mud-puppy.
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Max Performance
The most extreme vehicle heading to Moab is this aptly named Max Performance. It features a concept 4-inch lift kit that utilizes Fox remote-reservoir shocks controlling an even more serious Jeep Performance Parts-exclusive push-button electric-locking Dana 60 axles with Warn manual-locking front hubs. These demand tougher (also prototype) 8-lug wheels that also feature color-matched bead-lock rings in Mopar Blue. With 4.88:1 axles, the 4:1 Rock-Trac transfer case yields a 70:1 crawl ratio. The cold-air induction and cat-back exhaust system keep the V-6 breathing easy.
A top-shelf Warn Zeon winch with greater water-resistance for deep fording is there to offer a helping hand to bring lesser offroaders up to the Max Performance’s high ground. And when coming down, a prototype Jeep Performance Parts “Stinger” front bumper prevents the Jeep from somersaulting forward. Further protection is afforded by the front bumper skid plate, Jeep Performance Parts Rubicon rock rails, and underbody skid-plating. The MOJO’s prototype LED projector headlamps are augmented by a giant LED lightbar spanning the width of the windshield header, to easily turn night into day.
To clear those 37x12.50R17 Mud-Terrain T/A KM2 tires, the 3-inch higher flat-top fenders from the MOJO are used again here, but in matte black (to match the grille) they significantly alter the appearance. The Mopar “Rubicon X” hood gets a black insert, and graphics along the side that depict Arches National Park. Out back is the prototype spare-tire carrier, with its 37-inch spare enrobed in a Jeep Performance Parts logo cover. A prototype gas-cap cover provides greater finger-clearance for easier opening when wearing gloves. The Mopar blue hard-top keeps the interior cleaner, so it’s a bit fancier inside, with black Katzkin leather seats featuring blue stitching, blue rings indicating the 10 and 2 o’clock positions on the steering wheel, and blue vent surrounds.
Finally, the Max Performance Jeep wears five Jeep “Badges of Honor,” one for each of the Moab trails it has mastered. Jeep offers owners an app that can be used to document their car’s journey across particularly challenging trails, after which they can buy these badges for display on their vehicles or in their trophy case. To date, there are some 38 trails in all to collect.