JK-8 INDEPENDENCE

For those who have been screaming for a Jeep pickup (and the numbers are growing), Jeep brought the JK-8 Independence concept. Built from a Wrangler Unlimited platform, the lifted and lightly modified vehicle is basically a mini pickup truck, meant to highlight an all-new Mopar conversion kit. The kit will transform the four-seat, four-door SUV into a two-door, shortbed pickup truck-type thing.

The JK-8 Independence has a 4.5-inch Mopar suspension, 37-inch BFG Mud-Terrains, and beefed-up front and rear Dana 44 axles with 4.88:1 gears. Pricing won't be announced until July 4. (Get it? Independence Day.) The kit includes about 18 parts and can be installed either with a welder or strong adhesive (we recommend welding) in about six to eight hours. The kit will include a fiberglass bulkhead and half-section rear rooftop, two side panels, a bed floor, and several smaller pieces. This kit is probably a placeholder for a real Jeep pickup truck, strongly rumored to be on the way (but likely, we're hearing, at least three years off). Still, for those who can't wait for the real thing, this could be an interesting and unique alternative. The kit includes no modifications to the suspension or spring rates, so expect the GVWR to remain the same. But, as you might expect, calculated payload will climb, because the weight of the rear doors, seats, and passengers are not a factor. In real terms, that means there should be a little over 1100 pounds of payload capability with the towing capacity of 3500 pounds unchanged. We like the idea and attempt, but it needs a bigger bed.