Wrangler pickup among seven Jeep concepts heading to Moab

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The Jeep Wrangler-based Red Rock Responder support vehicle

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Jeep always impresses with its annual barrage of concept vehicles designed for Easter Jeep Safari. This year, it's really outdone itself. Not only has it revealed the burliest Wrangler pickup concept we've seen yet, but it also has an airy, military-look Wrangler, a surf-styled tribute to the original 1970s-era Cherokee, a Grand Cherokee overland camper, and three other interesting packages that reimagine its existing lineup.

Wrangler Red Rock Responder

Every couple of years, Jeep toys with hardcore Wrangler enthusiasts that are clamoring for a production pickup model, alluding to the idea that it's considering bringing a pickup option back by way of revealing a new pickup concept. The 2004 Gladiator concept was one example, and the Nukizer 715 from the 2010 Easter Jeep Safari was another. It's now 2015 and still no production Wrangler pickup, just a JK-8 Independent conversion launched in 2011.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Jeep CEO Mike Manley renewed hope once again this week, hinting that a pickup variant is under consideration for the next-generation Wrangler lineup.

"I am a huge fan of a pickup truck in the Jeep brand," the publication reports Manley saying on Thursday. "Not just because of the history – it has been part of our history over the years – but also because it is one of the top subjects of topics that we have for discussion with our customers."

Until Manley changes the tune to "here's the production Jeep Wrangler pickup you've all been waiting for," we're not holding our breath. The Red Rock Responder is arguably the gnarliest Wrangler pickup concept yet, so we'll enjoy it for what it is. Built as an off-road support vehicle, the Triple-R has a cargo box organized with drawers and compartments built to hold spare parts and tools. While the Nukizer 715 subtracted the rear seats and doors to make room for its bed, the Responder carries the bed behind its four doors.

You can't have your support vehicle breaking down in the great beyond, so the Red Rock Responder is fully ruggedized for off-road navigation. Upgrades include a 4-in Jeep Performance Parts lift, 17-in beadlock wheels centered in 37-in BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM2 tires, Fox shocks, front and rear Dana 60 axles with JPP 5.38 gearing, steel front and rear bumpers, and high-top fenders. Utility is further enhanced with a Warn winch and off-road lamps, and power comes from the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with automatic transmission and new cold-air intake.

Visually, the Red Responder stands out against the terrain thanks to a Vibrance Responder Red paint job. It also has LED headlamps, fog lamps and A-pillar lights. The vehicle wears "Jeep Performance Parts" badging inside and out.

Wrangler Staff Car

Appearing ready for active duty, the Jeep Staff Car is an homage to Jeep's military heritage. The Sandstorm-colored Wrangler four-door features an open-air, canvas-roof design with no B pillars or doors. The simple, utilitarian build details reflect the concept's military inspiration: roll cage, 16-in steel wheels, 35-in Firestone NDT military tires, slim fender flares with driver-side front blackout light, bench seats and a painted steel floor.

Other additions include J8 front and rear bumpers, military-style headlamps, a rear-mounted spare tire, and a vintage military gas can. Jeep sums it up well: "It looks historic and authentic, but is all new."

Helping keep the car all new are the modern 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with six-speed manual and JPP 2-in lift with Fox shocks. There's also a set of Dana 44 axles. Inside, a built-in cooler styled like an artillery box keeps up to 85 cans chilled.

Jeep Chief

There are a lot of things we'd rather forget about the 70s, but the original Jeep Cherokee isn't one of them. Jeep drops a reminder with the Jeep Chief. Believe it or not, that's a Wrangler underneath that slick 70s-style suit. The vintage outfit includes a custom modified razor grille reminiscent of the Wagoneer, a white French Bread roof, chrome bumpers, 17-in slotted mag wheels and halogen headlamps. The removable side panels give it a breezy feel and versatile loading capabilities.

Like the previous concepts, the Chief has Pentastar V6 power. It also has a 2-in lift with Fox shocks, Dana 44 front and rear axles with lockers, a cold air intake and modified Rubicon rock rails. Shifting is handled manually through the six-speed gearbox.

The Ocean Blue paint provides a touch of surf and sea on the outside, but that theme really takes hold inside. The Hawaiian-inspired cabin includes Jeep-designed pink, blue and white flowered cloth and leather-trimmed seats, vintage-style surf stickers on the console and door handles, a rosewood front-passenger grab handle and a tiki-style shift knob. Just so you don't forget it's 2015, not 1975, there's a Uconnect 8.4-in touchscreen infotainment system to break up the playful vintage-surf styling.

Grand Cherokee Overlander

The Wrangler isn't the only Jeep you can have off-road fun in. The Grand Cherokee Overlander highlights the Grand Cherokee's rugged, tough nature and invites you to spend several days taking it off the beaten path, sleeping you in a two-person clamshell tent on the roof.

To keep you prepared for the ground ahead, the Overlander includes front and rear skid plates, off-road rock rails, beefed up wheel flares, an integrated front winch and tow hooks. The SUV concept's look is distinguished by the one-off front fascia, SRT taillamps and hood, and Sage Green paint. The 3.0-liter V6 diesel channels torque through the eight-speed Torqueflight transmission before sending it to the 18-in milled wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich All-terrain T/A tires.

Wrangler Africa

Like the Grand Cherokee Overlander, the Wrangler Africa is built for overland expeditions. Though it doesn't carry its own shelter aboard, it does offer plenty of room for gear in the truck bed liner-coated cargo area inside the extended rear body. The fender-mounted auxiliary fuel cans pack extra fuel for long trips away from the road.

Mechanical and body upgrades include the ever-popular 2-in lift with Fox shocks and front/rear Dana 44 axles, sway bar links, a high-clearance steel front bumper with winch, power step rock rails and a power dome vented hood. Under that hood, a 2.8-liter diesel engine provides motivation with help from an automatic transmission. The Africa rolls on 17-in body-color steel wheels with 35-in BFGoodrich Mud Terrain tires.

Cherokee Canyon Trail and Renegade Desert Hawk

Both the Cherokee Canyon Trail and Renegade Desert Hawk are painted in the same Desert Tan as the Wrangler Africa. That sandy coloring gets some contrast in the form of Jeep Performance Parts decals and topographic Moab hood art: The Canyon Trail showcases the Hell's Revenge trail and the Desert Hawk maps out Fins and Things.

While the aesthetics are quite similar, the two models have different levels of off-road customization, with the Canyon Trail getting the more robust package of the two: JPP off-road rock rails, two-piece fuel tank skid plate, two-piece underbody skid plate, oil pan and front suspension skid plates, a Jeep cargo management system, a Moab off-road bag, and concept 17-in painted wheels with BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A tires.

The Desert Hawk includes off-road rock rails, a skid plate kit, a Mopar trailer hitch receiver and a roof rack. Both models are powered by a 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir2 engine with nine-speed automatic transmission. The Canyon Trail includes Jeep Active Drive Lock with low range and locking rear differential, while the Desert Hawk has Jeep Active Drive Low.

Be sure to check out the colorful, flowery Jeep Chief interior and additional photos of all the concepts in the photo gallery. If you find yourself hungry for more innovative Jeep concepts, you can compare this year's gallery to last year's Moab lineup.

The seven new concepts will be showcased at the 49th annual Easter Jeep Safari that runs from March 28 to April 5 in Moab, Utah.

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