By: IOL Motoring Staff
Auburn Hills, Michigan - Every April Chrysler hosts the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, one of the wildest places in America - a gathering of Jeep owners from all over the United States and beyond, and a celebration of all things Jeep.
Now in its 48th year, the Easter Jeep Safari is attended by thousands of die-hard off-road enthusiasts looking to enjoy a week of serious off-roading on some of the country's most renowned trails.
And each year the Jeep guys team up with Chrysler's Mopar aftermarket brand to build a few really outrageous custom off-roaders, using mostly off-the-shelf components from the Mopar catalogue and experimental new accessories which will go into next year's catalogue if the gearheads at Moab like them enough.
Mostly the Safari specials are Wrangler-based, which makes sense given the ruggedness of the Utah terrain, but this year Jeep president Mike Manley has included among the six cars the first two new Jeep Cherokee models built specially for the Easter Safari.
“We look forward to putting these new Jeeps in their proper environment,” he said, “and getting some feedback from our most loyal customers.”
Level Red refers to the highest level of difficulty an off-road trail can be designated - and this Wrangler is ready for the challenge.
Its 3.6-litre V6 with six-speed manual 'box, Mopar cold-air intake and free-flow exhaust supplies a Rock-Trac 4:1 transfer case and Dana 44 4:10 crate axles on Jeep Performance 50mm lift kits fore and aft, and prototype 17” x 8” rims shod with 35” BFGoodrich Mud Terrain tyres.
Front and rear are guarded by “Rubicon 10th Anniversary” bumpers, with prototype black “Aero” bumper ends and an under-bumper skid plate.
Bolt-ons include a Mopar half-door kit, a rototype Jeep Performance Parts tyre carrier, a locking fuel-cap and rock rails, while the interior is trimmed in Tuscany Katzkin leather with red stitching and seat belts.
This, says Manley, is the most extreme Cherokee yet, with prototype red graphics around the windows and black bonnet graphic, polished and satin clear-coated 17” rims, and two prototype red inserts on the traditional Jeep seven-slot grille, and the prototype lower fascia trim.
Trail cred comes with Jeep Performance Parts rock rails, a sump bash plate, front suspension bash plates and two-piece fuel tank and underbody skid plates.
The wheel-arches have been opened up using prototype wider fenders flares with riveted bolts to accept 33” BFGoodrich Mud Terrain tyres, on a prototype Jeep Performance Parts lift kit, while a cutaway rear fascia allows for a 39-degree departure angle.
Inside, prototype black Katzkin leather seats with 'machined gunmetal' inserts are set off by red stitching - also on the steering wheel, armrest and gear-lever boot.
Start with the full Trailhawk 4x4 package including a 48:1 crawl ratio, then add a prototype matte black Mopar roof basket and bungee cargo net, and BFGoodrich All-Terrain tyres mounted on prototype 17” rims.
Armourplate the underside with Jeep Performance Parts rock rails, a two-piece underbody skid plate, a front suspension skid plate, an oil tank skid plate and a two-piece fuel tank skid plate. Red tow hooks adorn the front.
Black Katzkin leather seats with perforated inserts are set off by maize-embroidered Jeep logos and maize stitching on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, arm rest and gear-lever boot. Bright door sill guards with the Cherokee logo, all-weather mats and a cargo tray complete the interior Mopar accessories.
Mechanically identical to Level Red, the Mojo has even more rough-country cred thanks to prototype Jeep Performance Parts 'shorty' bumpers and prototype flat-top fenders, an under-bumper skid plate and rock rails, a prototype Jeep Performance Parts winch and prototype rims wrapped in 37” BFGoodrich Mud Terrain tyres.
Special graphics with bronze 'mapping' accents jazz up a Mopar 'Rubicon X' bonnet (Like 'em? They'll put them in the catalogue), while a soft top, prototype LED headlights and fog lamps, two-tone half-door kits and a prototype Jeep Performance Parts spare-wheel carrier hark back to the original CJ series.
The two-tone interior is finished with black Katzkin seat covers and removable carpeting over rugged all-weather floor mats.
WRANGLER MAXIMUM PERFORMANCE
This Wrangler speaks to the hard-core enthusiasts who want to be able to go where the amateurs can't, starting with a free-breathing 3.6-litre V6, six-speed manual 'box and 4:1 Rock-Trac transfer case.
Then it goes wild with a prototype Jeep Performance Parts 100mm lift kit and push-button electrically lockable Dana 60 axles geared at 4.88:1 - only available from Jeep Performance Parts - running prototype eight-bolt rims and 37” BFGoodrich Mud Terrain rubber.
A prototype Jeep Performance Parts “Stinger” front bumper and skid plate, Rubicon rock rails and an experimental flat-top fender kit can handle whatever Utah throws at them and, if somebody else can't, there's a prototype Jeep Performance Parts winch below the Mopar black grille and prototype LED lights on the roof.
There's satin trim on the instrument panels and gear lever and switchgear, and Katzkin leather seats with embroidered Jeep logos featuring blue accent stitching, as does the leather armrest.
GRAND CHEROKEE ECODIESEL TRAIL WARRIOR
The Trail Warrior rides high on Rail Quadra-Lift air suspension and prototype 20” cast-alloy rims in satin black roll shod with All-Terrain BFGoodrich tyres.
Mojave Sand paintwork is dressed with satin black flourishes on the grille, bonnet, lower front valance, door handles, mirror housings, wheel-arch flares and badging, and a prototype Mopar roof basket, mounted on production cross rails, provides plenty of space to transport gear and provisions.
This inside, trimmed in black and tan, is furbniashed with Mopar all-weather floor mats, door sills with backlit Jeep logo, a pedal kit and a cargo tray.