2018 Jeep Concepts Sneak Peek

For more than a decade, we’ve headed to Moab each spring for the Easter Jeep Safari, the annual spring gathering for off-road aficionados from around the globe. In addition to dozens of great trail rides, a ginormous tradeshow, and a monster raffle that benefits the local Boy Scout troop, the folks at Jeep and Mopar show up with their latest crop of “concept” vehicles. Some of our past favorites were the Mighty FC (a Wrangler-based Forward Control, Lower Forty (Wrangler with 40-inch tires and no lift!), and Trailcat…an adrenaline-rush Wrangler fitted with a 707-horsepower Hellcat HEMI. Next week we’ll be climbing behind the wheels of this year’s fleet of concepts, ranging from the fire-breathing HEMI-powered Sandstorm to the compact B-Ute Renegade, and taking them for a spin over Moab’s slickrock trails…but we just couldn’t wait to throw out a teaser preview.

4SPEED Wrangler
The 4SPEED rides on the high profile and lightweight mantra of its predecessor, the Pork Chop Wrangler. It sports FCA’s new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder mated to an 8-speed automatic. High-clearance carbon fiber fender flares bookend a carbon fiber hood, and the low-mass theme wraps right around to the rear tub. The raked windshield, stretched door openings, and custom swept-back cage make the 4SPEED appear to be doing 100 mph while sitting still. Though the wheelbase remains original, the overall length was shortened by 22 inches, rendering killer approach and departure angles. Underneath rests a pair of Dana 44 axles capped with BFGoodrich’s new KM3 Mud Terrains and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Sandstorm Wrangler
As you might guess by its moniker, the Sandstorm was built for blasting down the desert two-tracks of Baja, Mexico. Popping the vented carbon fiber hood reveals a 6.4-liter V8 mill with enough ponies to make it faster than a speeding ticket—fortunately there are few speed limits on Baja’s backroads. Framing a set of retina-burning carbon fiber KC HiLiTES Pod auxiliary lamps are vented high-clearance fenders; a matching pair sits out back. Down below we find Dynatrac 60 axles with 5.68:1 gears, and 39.5-inch BFG Krawlers wrapped around 17-inch beadlock wheels. The rear axle was pushed back and the front moved forward, stretching the wheelbase by 6 inches. Both are held in place by a custom four-link setup, coilovers, and bypass shocks. Other cool features are custom front and rear tube bumpers, a spare tire carrier, rock rails, on-board compressor, and instrument panel and GPS.

B-Ute Renegade
If you love pint-sized off-roaders, the phonetically accurate Renegade B-Ute (say it slowly) will make you smile. It’s Mopar’s rolling showcase of Jeep Performance Parts’ (JPP) catalogue of aftermarket accessories. It features a 1.5-inch lift, roof rack, rock rails, and wide fender flairs. Upfront is a custom grille and hood with heat dissipating vents (shouldn’t need much with the cool-running 2.4-liter Tigershark engine and 9-speed automatic). Down below are 17-inch wheels and BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrains.

Jeep Roadtrip Wagoneer
This classic beauty might be one of my favorites. While its chassis and drivetrain have been updated, the body is pure Wagoneer and ready for… a road trip. The frame was boxed and reinforced to accept a four-link suspension and new Dana 44 axles. Rubicon electric lockers fill the pumpkin and 33-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires maintain grippy contact with the terrain. While the Jeep boys were fitting the axles they stretched the wheelbase 5 inches and widened the track a bit. Custom fender flares help keep the body clean while one-off bumpers and rock rails protect the sheet metal. Inside are the original front and rear bench seats, as well as door, kicker, and rear panels, but now trimmed in oxblood-colored leather. As for the ice chest, it is crafted from period-correct luggage and the toolbox was fabricated from the valve covers from Wagoneer’s original 230 Tornado engine—which was swapped out for a 5.7-liter V-8 and 4-speed automatic transmission.

Nacho Jeep 
Nacho is a near-perfect example of a Rubicon-ready trail rig (short of a nacho bar on the rear deck). Under the custom hood is Jeep’s new 270-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder mated to an automatic tranny. JPP’s cold-air intake rests behind a satin-black Mopar grille, and the front Rubicon bumper cradles a Warn winch. To light up the night, Nacho is fitted with a full array of LED lights from Automotive Lighting division of Magneti Marelli. A JPP lift and 2.5-inch aluminum shocks help keep the 17-inch beadlock wheels and 37-inch BFGoodrich KM3s on terra firma, and rock rails protect soft body parts from damage. Did I mention the tube doors; another cool bit of kit from the JPP catalogue.

One glance at the iconic lines of this firecracker red beauty and you know it’s a Jeepster. But a closer look reveals a Wrangler chassis, locked Dana 44 axles, and a linked 2-inch suspension lift with 2.5-inch JPP shocks. The bright white hardtop and fender flares hit a classic two-tone bull’s-eye, and the chopped, fold-down windshield seals the deal. Each corner is fitted 37-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2s and aluminum beadlocks, appropriately color matched. Outback is a custom spare tire rack, while the front features a JPP bumper and Warn recovery winch. Additional appointments are LED auxiliary lights and fog lamps, custom half-doors, roll cage, black Katzkin leather seats, one-off storage packs mounted to the tailgate, and rock sliders with a built-in step.

J-Wagon Wrangler
The blacked-out J-Wagon looks to be equally at home on urban streets as it is on backcountry trails. Based on a Wrangler Sahara, it was treated to ritzy neutral-grey paint and tinted glass. The JPP hood features a cutout kit to accommodate the raise air intake, and 5-inch LED auxiliary lights ride just aft. Up top is a custom roof rack, and down below are rock sliders and 35-inch BFGoodrich KM3 Mud-Terrain radial tires on 17-inch alloy slot-style wheels. The front bumper is a premium Sahara option with embedded fog lamps trimmed with Brass Monkey bezels. The interior has been upgraded with camel-color Katzkin leather seats and Brass Monkey trim accents throughout.

Keep an eye on Expedition Portal next week for our detailed review of the Jeep’s 2018 concepts. It’s a tough job…but someone has to do it!

Chris spent his formative years riding dirt bikes with his dad in the deserts of Southern California and Baja, Mexico, which led to a lifelong quest for adventure. He is handy behind a viewfinder and at the keyboard, and brings four decades of international travel experience to Overland Journal as Editor-in-Chief. His career, which includes work for National Geographic Adventure, Four Wheeler, Hot Rod, and Autoweek, has taken him through 50-plus countries and to every continent. He has also served as correspondent to magazines in a dozen countries and in as many languages. In 2013 he was part of the Expeditions7 team that crossed Antarctica and he has recently been inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame as a pioneering journalist. When not behind the camera Chris can be found on The Office (his sailboat), or undertaking meticulous “research” for upcoming articles in locales such as Tequila, Mexico.