Jeep and Mopar have made a highly-anticipated tradition of revealing a number of drool-worthy concept vehicles at the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, and 2013 has not disappointed; it's clear that Jeep and Mopar listen to their fans. The best thing about these concepts is that they aren't just pretty faces; they're built and driven to get dirty. I wrote about last year's concept vehicles here, and while we didn't get anything this year like the over-the-top Mighty FC, we did get six new vehicles. Five of them are based on the Jeep Wrangler JK, and one is an upfitted EcoDiesel Grand Cherokee Trailhawk II. For an overview of the six new vehicles, head over to Expedition Portal and Jeep's own blog.
|Jeep Wrangler Flattop|
|Mopar Jeep Wrangler Recon|
|Mopar Jeep Sand Trooper II|
|Mopar Jeep Wrangler Slim|
|Jeep Wrangler Stitch|
The EcoDiesel Grand Cherokee Trailhawk II is an SUV done right. It may not have the solid axles and open top that are the core of Jeep's brand identity and enthusiasts' respect, but Jeep's engineers have done as much as they can within the limitations of independent suspension.
|Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk II|
Although I am still bitter about the Grand Cherokee's loss of its proper pair of solid axles (as found in the 1993-1998 ZJ and 1999-2004 WJ), at least this new WK2 is available with a locking rear differential to make up for some of the lost ground resulting from its "advanced" suspension's limited wheel travel and nearly impossible ability to be upgraded. This setup is obviously not very capable in rocky terrain, but the IFS and IRS are suitable for backroad exploration no matter how nasty the mud or snow may be; the EcoDiesel engine oozes gobs of torque and is ideal for long-distance expeditions.
As long as Jeep doesn't ever ruin the Wrangler by stripping it of its solid axles and removable top, there will always be room in Jeep's lineup for a vehicle like this. The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk II is how this generation of the Grand Cherokee should be available right from the factory. I still can't help but dream how awesome the Grand Cherokee would be if it had the Wrangler Rubicon's Dana 44 solid axles front and rear...
*** UPDATE 4/10/2013 ***
Four Wheeler Magazine published an online review of these six concept vehicles in an article entitled Jeep Concepts Invade and Conquer Moab - Six New Rigs Unleashed on the Slickrock. They include photos of each of the vehicles, along with a link to thejeepchannel's YouTube video introduction to the vehicles which can be viewed below: