Jeep Moab Concepts and Jeep Production Vehicles
What clues have we seen from the Moab EJS Concept Jeeps past.
Every year for the past 10 years or so, Jeep Corporate has shown up with a half dozen or so concept vehicles designed and built by lead designer Mark Allen with a crack crew of vehicle enthusiast fabricators who help the concepts come to. These rigs are one of the things that help make this time of year, and particularly the Easter Jeep Safari, so special to the off-road enthusiast. These concepts range from the truly oddball, one-off, custom rigs filled with the pie-in-the sky ideas to mild concepts that might show off what you, the buyer, could assemble with a fresh Jeep off the dealer lot and some (if not all) of the Jeep Performance Parts available.
Every year folks in the know look forward to the release of these "Moab Concepts" from Jeep. The rigs give an idea of what might be coming from the future of Jeep. Looking back, we see a ton of general ideas and themes that have carried over into actual production Jeeps. Here are a few.
Stuff Jeep Hinted at with their Moab Concepts
EJS Concepts with Big Tires Low Center Of Gravity
In 2008, Mopar Underground brought and showed off one particular concept that we fell in love with instantly. Lower Forty was a modified JK with a fire-breathing Hemi (we haven't seen a production Wrangler with that yet), and 40-inch tires under a low slung and stable rig. The trend that we've seen over the past few Wrangler models have followed suit. You could fit about a 31-inch tire on a TJ without too many modifications, aside from some fender trimming. For a JK, 35s just barely squeak under (and rub fenders a lot off-road).
Keep it Light Weight Moab Concepts
For years, Jeep has been showing us lighter weight Moab Concepts in many shapes and sizes. That's for several good reasons that make a lot of sense when you dig into them. For one, fuel economy benefits from lighter curb weight. Also, performance and drivability improve with less weight as the horsepower to weight ratio increases. Concept vehicles, with names like Stitch, Pork Chop, and 4-Speed, all showcased innovative ways that Jeep lightened the scales of custom one-off JKs and JLs. These ideas have been incorporated into all of the newer Jeeps including the JL and JT. One great example is the aluminum outer knuckles on the front axles, as well as more composite materials.
Pickups pickups pickups Gladiator Concepts
The Jeep Gladiator is hot. No one denies that, let alone Jeep themselves. We've been seeing awesome Jeep truck concepts for years and years out at Moab. Many of the design ideas and aspects of these dozen or so Jeep Truck concepts have certainly carried over to the production JT. With that many concept vehicles in the hopper, what are the chances we will see other Jeep trucks in the future? Our personal favorite Jeep Concept Truck from EJS might just be the J-12, but the Mighty FC isn't too shabby either.
Jeep Chief Concept and the dealer lot
Lots of folks pine for the good old days when a full-size Jeep with a V-8 and solid axles was available. Of course we are talking about Jeep's timeless Wagoneer and Cherokee Chief. These awesome rigs spun off at least a few FSJ-inspired Moab Jeep Concepts. One that we loved that had design elements carry over to the dealer lot was the Jeep Chief concept. As the end was nigh for the JK Platform in 2017 and 2018, you could get a JKU with nearly the exact same theme with the Chief package. Add in a JK Gladiator Conversion from our pal Chris Durham (http://cdmracing.com/), and you can build your own copy of the Jeep Chief.
Paint Codes from Easter Jeep Safari
The Jeep Chief, Nukizer, and Sarge all arguably brought must-have colors from the Moab Concept rigs to the Jeep line up. We totally dig these retro and military inspired colors that have found their way from an idea (reportedly from a garbage can for the Rhino color) to the dealer lot. We love it!
Stuff we would like to see come from the concepts
Simple is better In Moab
Several of the Jeep Moab concepts harken back to a simpler time or Jeep's military history. These concepts rejoice in the simplicity that seems to be lost in the high-end loaded version of a JL Rubicon Unlimited. A JL Rubicon Unlimited is a great vehicle but comically expensive. You can pretty quickly spend $50,000 or $60,000 on a JLU Rubicon. The stripped-down versions have lots of appeal to the common four-wheeler. Vinyl interior and no carpets are much easier to maintain than leather and carpet everywhere. Also, it sure seems like all those creature comforts like camera, adaptive cruise, power windows, start/stop, heated steering wheels, Bluetooth and so on should be optional for those who don't plan on using them. Jeep teases us with these simpler models, so let's see one at the dealer.
More retro styling
All of the old-school rigs Jeep has brought to Moab show one thing: Jeeps are all about the adventure, both those from the past, and those to come. Also Jeeps are an expression of the adventure the owner wants to undertake with a heavy dose of history mixed in for good measure. The first really striking Moab concept rebuild has to be the green Willys Wagon on a TJ Unlimited chassis. Since then, Jeep has often showed how older Jeeps could or should be built.
Go fast suspension beyond the Gladiator Mojave
This subhead should probably be in the list above this rather than the list for what we'd like Jeep to do. That's because Jeep has clearly spent tons of time making the Jeep JL perform at speed off-road. JLs soak up bumps better than they have a right to, and that only gets better with Jeep's new Gladiator Mojave. Still, many of Jeep's concepts have had big suspension parts tucked underneath to show that Jeep is thinking of aiming their sights at the go-fast-in-the-dirt-and-sand aspect of their market. Of course, that also requires horsepower— something we've certainly seen in the Moab Jeep concepts and really hope to see more of in the future. Is a V-8 in a production Wrangler's future? We hope so!
Is Smaller Better?
Jeep keeps teasing us with smaller, lighter, nimbler Wranglers at EJS. The original civilian CJ-2as weighed in at about 2,215 lbs, while a Jeep JL doubles that at 4,485 lbs. That's twice, we repeat, twice the weight. That's a significant difference. Maybe Jeep plans on building a smaller Jeep with an aim towards its off-road roots; we sure wish they would.