Hellcat Joins the Party of Seven
Jeep has plenty of reason to celebrate. The brand continues to be Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ sales superstar, and 2016 marks 75 years since the first Willys MB jeep. This year also happens to be the 50th anniversary of the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, one of the largest Jeep gatherings in the world. Jeep is continuing its tradition of showing off new concepts at the Easter Jeep Safari, and this year brings seven builds, including a Hellcat-powered Wrangler and a Renegade-based mini truck.
Now that a Wrangler-based truck is finally on the way, Jeep fanatics can start begging for something new. The Jeep Comanche concept started life as a Renegade Trailhawk and morphed into a two-seater truck with a good amount of hauling capacity thanks to its 5-foot bed. And like the Renegade Trailhawk, the Comanche concept is a fairly decent off-roader.
A 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel found in many Euro-spec FCA vehicles powers this mini truck. The diesel is paired with a nine-speed automatic, and the combo smoothly delivers plenty of punch for off-road duty. The powertrain would likely do well on the road and highway, too, and could make for popular option on the U.S.-spec Renegade.
The Hellcat has infiltrated the Jeep brand. Make more than double the power of a stock Wrangler, the Jeep Trailcat concept is packing a 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8 Hellcat engine good for 707 hp. And yes, it’s loud. Drivers who need to communicate with anyone more than a couple of feet away from the Jeep will have to turn the engine off.
The engine is paired to a six-speed manual with a clutch that’s easy to operate, perhaps even more so than the one in the Challenger Hellcat. Anything beyond light throttle inputs will probably result in the massive tires quickly digging a path to hell.
Simplicity rules with this concept. Jeep targeted the classic CJ-5 and created a simple off-roader based on the current Wrangler two-door, but the body has been shortened by 26 inches (4 inches shorter up front and 22 inches shorter at the back). The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 is stock, but a custom catback exhaust sounds nice and rowdy.
In addition to its shortened length, the Shortcut has skinny fenders and no doors, which makes for excellent visibility on trails riddled with obstacles. Who needs a fancy 360-degree camera system when you can just look over your shoulder?
Mark Allen, head of design for Jeep, found a 1960 FC-150 online and convinced his bosses to purchase it for this project. Although the body now rides on a last-generation TJ Wrangler chassis, the FC-150 concept is still packed with character thanks to clever touches such as a duck-patterned headliner and a beer cooler disguised as a bale of hay in the bed.
Bus drivers will feel right at home piloting the Forward Control Jeep. With the engine sitting directly below the seats, there’s no hood to look at in front of the windshield. Rock crawling on a steep downward slope with the ground right in front of your face doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, but it’s definitely entertaining.
Jeep Renegade Commander
Underneath this concept’s Fluorescent Gray paint and bright green decals are a number of simple upgrades that make the Renegade a more competent off-roader. A 2-inch lift kit, for example, adds much-needed ground clearance, and a Jeep Performance Parts skidplate kit adds a layer of protection for the underbody.
Jeep removed the anti-roll bars, which allows the suspension to articulate a tad more and keep all four wheels on the ground. We’d probably skip the concept’s Jeep Part’s Performance exhaust, as it only barely sounds louder than stock.
Jeep Crew Chief 715
The Trailcat may have the mean engine, but the Crew Chief 715 is easily the toughest-looking Jeep in the bunch. As the name suggests, the Crew Chief is a throwback to the Kaiser M715 military Jeep and is based on a four-door Wrangler with a wheelbase that’s been stretched 23 inches.
Its large footprint and turning radius mean maneuvering through tight portions of the trail requires plenty of planning. The tall 40-inch military tires are thin but plenty of grip.