Jeep's Wrangler Red Rock Concept previews special edition
The all-new Jeep Wrangler Red Rock Concept looks like the type of package that Jeep would have revealed at the Easter Jeep Safari earlier this year. Although Jeep saved it for SEMA, the package is inspired by the 50th anniversary of the annual Jeep lovers' gathering in Moab and the Red Rock 4-Wheelers club that organizes it. The concept's upgrades make the already-rugged Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock even bigger and tougher.
The Red Rock 4-Wheelers and Easter Jeep Safari attendees will participate in the 50th annual Safari in 2016. The event celebrates all things Jeep (and 4x4 in general), and since 2002, Jeep and Mopar have been revealing unique Jeep concepts there, designing more than 50 in total. This year, Jeep pulled out the stops and wowed the crowd with concepts like the Wrangler Red Rock Responder pickup and Jeep Chief. In the past, it was the 2013 Wrangler Stitch and 2012 Mighty FC bringing added buzz to the desert of Southeastern Utah.
"We’re extremely grateful to the Red Rock 4-Wheelers for continuing this iconic Jeep event, and we present our Wrangler Red Rock Concept as a tribute to them and the enthusiasts who attend the annual Jeep Safari and support our brand," says Jeep chief Mike Manley.
The new Red Rock Concept isn't as over-the-top or intriguing as some of those past Easter Safari pickups, retros or ultralights, but it is more than just a show car, previewing a forthcoming special edition release that will make the tough-but-comfy Rubicon Hard Rock that much more unique.
The Red Rock Concept is built atop the four-door Wrangler Unlimited and is essentially a special edition add-on for a limited edition (Hard Rock) of the toughest-spec Wrangler (Rubicon). The Rubicon brings off-road-focused equipment like Tru-Lok electronic locking differentials, Rock-Trac transfer case and 4:1 low-range ratio, while the Hard Rock package adds interior comfort and luxury with features like the heated leather seats and nine-speaker Alpine audio system.
From there, Jeep and Mopar improve upon the off-road presence and performance by lifting the Red Rock Concept by 2 in (5 cm), adding 35-in BFG K02 all-terrain tires and 17-in beadlock wheels, affixing a Warn Rubicon winch to the front bumper and installing a Jeep-branded CB radio.
The Red Rock Concept also has next-generation Dana 44 solid front and rear axles, new premium off-road rock rails, front and rear differential covers, LED headlamps and fog lights, a power dome vented hood, front and rear red tow hooks, and a reinforced swing gate and wheel mount.
A simple set of cosmetic upgrades distinguishes the Red Rock from other Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rocks. Outside, this includes the Red Rock hood decal, Red Rock badging, low gloss Granite Crystal off-road bumpers, and body-color grille. The interior has Amaretto Brown Katzkin leather seats with silver stitching, "Red Rock" seat back embroidery, and a serialized grab handle plaque.
The production special-edition package will include "some" of the SEMA concept's content. Jeep doesn't suggest how much money that content will add to the Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock's US$40,495 pre-destination-fee base price, but only 50 potential buyers need concern themselves with that detail – 50 years, 50 serialized special editions. Jeep says that it will launch the package next year, but it's not clear if people will be driving their brand-new Wrangler Red Rocks to Easter Jeep Safari or talking to Jeep about ordering while there.
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Jeep needs to resurrect the original Army-sized jeep, in a modern but still-burly incarnation. Or even smaller. Where is the "mini-Jeep"? One that can kick ass on crumbling urban roads, get decent gas mileage, and still let you hear your radio or your passenger on the highway? Oh, and handle actually going off-road once in a while?
The current Wrangler is an ungainly hog that's desperately in need of a complete re-do.