Once a year, Jeep enthusiasts get a chance to gather together with their fellow fans and see their favorite off-roaders in action at the Easter Jeep Safari. This year’s event took place in Moab, Utah, during the first nine days of April and featured seven unique concept vehicles. These Jeeps are meant to show off technology that the brand is working on, from prototype parts and accessories to electrified powertrains, so taking a look at them might give us some insight into what we can expect to see in mass-produced Jeep vehicles in the years to come. So, without further ado, let’s venture into the desert and see what the automaker has brought on safari.
Jeep brought plenty of electrified concept vehicles into the desert this year, but the company doesn’t seem to be leaving fully gas-powered models behind in the near future. Nearly half of the concepts debuted at the 2023 Easter Safari had traditional powertrains with no electric motors in sight. But while the fuel may be traditional, these concepts still boast plenty of new innovations.
Jeep always loves an opportunity to pay homage to its storied past. Here, it’s taking a cue from the CJ-8 Scrambler, the automaker’s first convertible pickup truck, which was first released back in 1981. The custom Scrambler 392 has essentially turned a modern Wrangler Rubicon into an updated version of the Scrambler, using retro design choices like a two-door body and distinct silhouette and pairing them with the new AccuAir suspension kit and the Wrangler Rubicon’s mighty HEMI V8 engine. A clear panel on the hood draws attention to this powerful engine, which can deliver 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque.
Grand Wagoneer Overland
Looking at the way that the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are marketed, you’d be easily forgiven for not knowing that this brand stems from Jeep. These luxury SUVs are a far cry from the rough-and-tumble Wrangler, which still lacks things like air conditioning and power door locks on its most basic trim level as of the 2023 model year. The Overland concept makes the Grand Wagoneer look a little more at home next to the rest of Jeep’s lineup, with a more rugged exterior painted industrial green with gray accents. And it doesn’t just look the part: large 35-inch tires and a new 3.0L Hurricane Twin Turbo engine capable of providing 510 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque make this SUV ready for exploring the wilderness. Up top is a custom Skyloft accessory by RedTail Overland that is essentially a pop-up tent integrated into the Grand Wagoneer’s roof, which can be entered through an entrance built into the vehicle’s ceiling and provides one or two people with a place to stargaze and sleep while overlanding.
Gladiator Rubicon Sideburn
The Wrangler’s pickup truck sibling, the Gladiator, gets a number of upgrades courtesy of Jeep Performance Parts (JPP). The Sideburn concept’s bed features specialized storage compartments for liquids and a spare tire, and a sport bar features built-in bed steps and a shelf with tie-downs for storage totes. The sport bar is also designed to make it easier to add on roof storage systems for bikes and kayaks.
Jeep’s powerful and efficient 4xe powertrain has been available to the public since the release of the 2021 Wrangler. The Grand Cherokee got its own 4xe system for the 2022 model year. This plug-in hybrid powertrain was the driving force behind three concepts at this year’s Easter Jeep Safari.
1978 Jeep Cherokee 4xe
Blending the styling of the 1970s with the technology of today, this concept started out as a 1978 Jeep Cherokee. It was electrified using elements from a 2022 Wrangler Rubicon 4xe. The exterior still looks retro, with a striking yellow body with red and orange graphics, but under the hood, it now has two electric motors and a modern turbocharged engine. The interior continues the concept of blending past and present, with a similar color scheme to the outside but upgraded seats and a new dashboard.
Wrangler Rubicon 4xe
This concept is easy to spot on the trail, thanks to its eye-catching magenta paint with glossy black contrast accents. Up front, it sports a seven-slot grille that eagle-eyed Jeep enthusiasts may recognize from the Wrangler Rubicon’s 20th Anniversary special edition. Beyond aesthetics, this Wrangler has also been upgraded with an AccuAir adjustable suspension kit that gives it enough ground clearance to accommodate 37-inch tires.
Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Departure
The two most recognizable elements of the Wrangler are probably its iconic grille up front and its spare tire in the back. The Departure concept adds something extra to both of these. In the front, a grille guard draws attention to the Jeep aesthetic and folds out into a bench for seating on the go. The spare tire can be mounted on the vehicle’s exterior like usual, or it can be tucked inside the cargo area in a space designed just for it. While this obviously gives you less room for your gear, it also improves the Wrangler’s departure angle, hence the name.
Fully Electric Concept
Jeep has announced that it’s making two fully electric SUVs: the Recon and the Wagoneer “S.” Both of these are expected to be available in 2024. But, for now, if you want to see a true Jeep EV in action, you have to stick to concepts like the Wrangler Magneto, which rolled out to the Easter Jeep Safari for the third time this year.
Wrangler Magneto 3.0
The Wrangler Magneto 1.0 introduced the idea of what a fully electric Wrangler could be when it joined the Easter Jeep Safari in 2021. In 2022, the new 2.0 version delivered way more maximum horsepower and torque, bringing the stats up from 285 hp and 273 lb-ft to 625 hp and 850 lb-ft, thanks to the extra amperage built into the propulsion system. The 3.0 allows drivers to switch between the two, conserving power with the “standard” setting, matches the stats of the Magneto 1.0, or putting the pedal to the medal with the “maximum” setting, which delivers up to 650 horsepower and 900 lb-ft of torque.
In addition to providing more raw power, the new motor is also more efficient, giving the Magneto 3.0 a 20% increase when it comes to battery range. Changes have also been made to the body’s design, with door openings and pillars tweaked for ideal placement. Like both of the Magneto concepts before it, the 3.0 sports a striking white and blue colorway. This styling is matched on the interior, which features blue leather seats.
What Does This Mean for the Future of Jeep?
Like many automakers these days, Jeep is certainly eager to show off its dedication to electrifying its lineup. In addition to the EVs the brand has already announced, we wouldn’t be surprised if we see more established models get a 4xe powertrain, or even a fully electric version, in the coming years, but don’t expect every Jeep to be eco-friendly any time soon. The company is clearly not leaving fossil fuels behind in the near future and has continued to re-engineer powerful engines like the HEMI V8 and Hurricane Twin Turbo. By continuing to perfect both traditional engines and electric motors simultaneously, Jeep can play the field and appeal to two essential parts of its audience at once: naturalists who love and want to protect the great outdoors and daredevils who care about power and thrills, not mileage.