An Early Look at the 2017 Easter Jeep Safari Concepts
Jeep and Mopar will introduce five new concept vehicles at the 2017 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, but we got a full look at them in advance.
The 2017 Easter Jeep Safari will play host to thousands of the brand’s fans from April 8th through the 16th, along with serving as the formal debut for five new concept vehicles from Jeep and Mopar. While there are likely to be other Moparized Jeep vehicles on display, the 51st annual Moab Jeep event will introduce fans to a customized 2017 Compass, a refinished 1993 Grand Cherokee, and a trio of unique Wranglers, including the unique hot rod Quicksand shown above.
First up, we have the 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which has been named Grand One. The Grand Cherokee was introduced for the 1993 model year, so with the 2018 models right around the corner, Jeep and Mopar worked together to create the ultimate first-gen GC to celebrate the model’s 25-year anniversary.
The build team started by buying a worn-out 1993 Grand Cherokee on Craigslist. After signing on the dotted line, they shipped it from Pennsylvania to FCA headquarters in Auburn Hills. Once there, the Jeep was totally refinished, but rather than simply dressing up an old Grand Cherokee, they added subtle, yet significant features to make it an even greater off-road machine.
The 5.2L V8 remains relatively stock, with just a Mopar cold-air intake and cat-back exhaust system, but the chassis was heavily upgraded. Dana 44 front and rear axles with selectable locking differentials were added, but the team shifted each axle assembly for a longer wheelbase. To make that longer wheelbase work, the team had to modify the fenders, quarter panels and rear doors, adding flares to almost hide the unique body work.
Of course, the Grand One has a high-performance suspension setup with Fox coilovers, lifting the big SUV another 2 inches into the air. This gives plenty of clearance for the 33-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tires that are fitted on 18-inch “lace style” wheels … similar to what came on the original Grand Cherokee.
Finally, the interior was refinished to original form, except spray-on bedliner replaces the carpeting. The exterior was painted metallic blue with a darker blue satin stripe running from the hood up over the roof. Because all of the loaded Grand Cherokee models back in 1993 came with woodgrain on the sides, the team added a ghostly woodgrain finish through the middle of the vehicle.
2017 Jeep Compass Trailpass
The Jeep Compass has traditionally gotten a bad rap for being less of an off-road vehicle than the larger Jeep models, but the 2017 Compass is better than ever, both on the road and off. To showcase the capabilities of the new small SUV, Mopar and Jeep have dressed up a new Compass Trailhawk with the 2.4L engine and the 9-speed transmission, converting it into a proper Moab machine. This little Jeep isn’t as extreme as the other Moab concepts, but this vehicle shows what owners can do with the inexpensive new SUV.
First, the Compass Trailpass has been fitted with uniquely painted 18-inch wheels wrapped in Continental TerrainContact all-terrain tires. A 1.5-inch lift kit makes room for all of that rubber.
Next, the Trailpass’ exterior has been upgraded for improved looks and performance. It features a Jeep roof basket; a Thule roof bag; Jeep Performance cross rails; Jeep Performance Rock Rails; gloss-black mirror caps; a custom hood graphic that matches the side stripes, and tinted headlight and taillight lenses.
Finally, the inside of the Compass Trailpass Concept has a Katzkin leather interior, body-colored trim, and Jeep all-weather floor mats.
Jeep Switchback Concept
The first of the Wrangler-based concepts coming to Moab is the Jeep Switchback Concept, which was teased earlier this week. This Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has been modified to create a better off-roading vehicle while showing off a unique concept roof design.
When the Jeep Switchback Concept was teased earlier this week, we could see that it was a Wrangler Unlimited with some pass-through doors. Those doors are likely the first thing showgoers at the 2017 Easter Jeep Safari will notice. The half doors, with large openings in the center, provide the security of a normal half-door, but the large openings in the middle offer more open-airflow when charging through the woods. The build team also added a concept hood with vents on each side of the powerdome design; Jeep Performance Parts high-top fender flares; a Mopar black fuel door; black Mopar taillamp guards; a Jeep Performance Parts swing gate hinge reinforcement kit to handle the load of an oversized spare tire carrier; a huge spread of LED lights (headlights, fog lights, taillights, windshield bar, spotlights) and 37-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tires on 17-inch concept wheels.
Aside from the unique half-doors, the key feature of the Jeep Switchback Concept is the new roof system. It has a heavy-duty roof basket at the front, and a raised rear section with windows on the front and sides of that raised area. This increases the light levels in the rear seats, but it also gives rear riders a better look at what’s going on around the vehicle when playing in the woods.
In other to make the Jeep Switchback Concept a better off-roader, it has been fitted with Jeep Performance Parts Dana 44 front and rear axles; a 4-inch lift kit with Fox shocks; heavy-duty differential covers; 10th anniversary Wrangler bumpers; Rubicon winch, and the aforementioned 37-inch tires. Also, the 3.6L Pentastar V6 has been fitted with an axle-back exhaust system and a Mopar cold-air intake.
On the inside, the Jeep Switchback Concept has Katzkin leather seats, body-colored interior trim, concept grab handles, spray-in bedliner instead of carpeting, and Mopar all-weather floor mats.
Jeep Safari Concept
Pay extra-close attention to this Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Concept vehicle, as there are several design cues that look a great deal like the features seen in the 2018 Wrangler spy shots: mainly the grille, windshield and hood design.
The Jeep Safari Concept started off as a Wrangler Unlimited with the 3.6L Pentastar V6, and the 5-speed automatic transmission, but through an extensive list of unique modifications, the build team created the ultimate family off-roading machine.
The off-road abilities were improved by adding front and rear Dana 44 axles with selectable lockers, full skid plates, a 2-inch lift kit with Fox shocks, and unique 18-inch wheels wrapped in 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tires. Under those custom wheels is a set of massive Baer high-performance brakes (front and rear). The engine has been fitted with a cold-air intake setup as well.
The star attraction of the Jeep Safari Concept is the exterior design. The build team shortened the body to make it more capable of squeezing through tight spots in the woods, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. This Jeep features a unique grille, hood and windshield design, which all look eerily similar to the 2018 Wrangler spy shots. Other features include steel front and rear bumpers; boatsided rocker panels and unique flares; LED headlights, taillights and parking lights, and an on-board air system that is mounted on the driver-side front fender.
The Jeep/Mopar build team could have stopped there, and the Safari Concept would have been an eye-catching Moab vehicle, but they took it one step further. Actually, they took it several steps further, starting with the clear vinyl doors. These “windoors” are clear vinyl on lightweight aluminum frames. The upper portion has a zipper to allow extra airflow. The rear doors have a “suicide” forward-opening design. These doors look great, and with some tweaking, this is a feature Wrangler owners would line up to buy from Mopar/Jeep Performance Parts.
Those clear doors offer rear riders a better view, obviously. To make the rear seats more comfortable, the unique twin-buckets are slightly angled outward. Above all four of the green-and-gray buckets is a cool translucent roof that allows lots of natural light into the cabin. The entire roof is covered with a high-strength aluminum rack, and at the rear of the roof there’s a drone landing pad.
Kids seated in the back of the Jeep Safari Concept can use the included iPad or their own high-tech device to control the drone, allowing them a bird’s-eye view of the area around the vehicle. When combined with the angled rear seats and the clear doors, the Safari Concept gives kids in the back seat a better view than any other off-roading SUV.
Jeep Quicksand Concept
The Jeep Quicksand Concept was the other vehicle teased earlier this week, but based on that shadowy artwork, we could have never pictured such an absolutely badass vehicle.
The Quicksand is technically based on the current Wrangler 2-door, but it seems as though the build team changed or modified literally every aspect of this vehicle to create a monster sand machine.
The most noticeable feature of this unmistakable Jeep concept is the 392-cubic-inch Hemi mounted under the forward-flipping hood. Rather than a simple injection setup, Mopar has added eight Hillborn-style injection stacks that extend up through a hole in the hood while massive headers hang out behind the front tires. The headers are fully functional, allowing the 500-hp Hemi to announce itself blocks in advance. There’s also a valve system that will divert the exhaust through a muffled passage under the vehicle. This is controlled with a button on the dash that’s labeled “Obnoxious Loud”.
The power from the Hemi crate engine is sent through a 6-speed Getrag manual transmission to all four wheels via heavy-duty axles. Front and rear coilover setups from Fox work with the BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tires, measuring 32 inches up front and 37 inches out back (the first staggered tire setup ever on a Jeep concept) on unique 18-inch wheels to allow this beast to blast through any setting. It might be built to fly across the sand, but this suspension, tire and differential setup allow this Jeep to conquer rocks, mud, dirt — you name it.
Once the drivetrain, suspension and wheels were fitting of an incredible Jeep sand racer, the build team turned to making the Quicksand extra cool. They did this by stretching the wheelbase a bit; shortening the front and rear portions of the body; chopping the windshield and the rear of the body; removing the center of the roof; removing the side and rear windows, and adding some traditional hot rod features in the form of a Moon stainless steel fuel tank up front, and a drag racing parachute out back.
The difference is that the Moon stainless fuel tank is actually a case for a Warn heavy-duty winch while the parachute is actually a decorative box that stores (and hides) an emergency tow strap.
Finally, the team took to creating a cockpit which is fitting of a 500-horsepower hot rod Jeep. This begins with a set of red leather low-back seats; aluminum inner door panels; a chrome roll cage; a shifter with a tiny toy Jeep cast in a resin shift knob; a current Wrangler dash with a unique switch panel where the HVAC controls would normally be; a huge tachometer where the radio face would normally be, and a unique gauge cluster. Also, instead of a back seat, the Quicksand has dual filler necks leading to a racing fuel cell, thus completing the classic hot rod feel.
Over the past half-century, Jeep and Mopar have made lots of cool concept vehicles for the Easter Safari, but few have been as classically cool as this high-performance, sand-ready hot rod.
Enjoy our gallery of the 2017 Easter Jeep Safari Concepts below.