People have been theorizing for a while that Jeep would put its torquey EcoDiesel V6 in a Wrangler. With its momentous torque and improved fuel economy, it could only make Jeep’s trademark 4X4 better. Simultaneously, people have been discussing the ability of putting the 700 horsepower Hellcat engine in the Grand Cherokee.
Jeep hasn’t done either, but for the 50th annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, Jeep is putting the Hellcat engine in a Wrangler.
For all of the doubters out there here’s your proof. According to an official statement from FCA, “Jeep and Mopar have once again joined forces to create a selection of concept Jeep vehicles,” and that a “Jeep Wrangler ‘Trailcat’ concept and the Jeep ‘Crew Chief’ are two of the seven new vehicles that will head to Moab.”
But while everyone else readjusts their schedules and marks their calendars in order to see what a bonafide “Trailcat” can actually do in the wild, it’s the latter part of FCA’s statement that we’re interested in. All together there are going to be seven different concept vehicles that get unloaded in Moab later this month, and while a Hellcat version of the Wrangler is likely going to be the showstopper, it’s the second, darker image that FCA teased us with that really has my undivided attention.
While the artist’s rendering on the previous page was obviously designed by an airbrush artist who’s still hung up on the 1980s the gritty rendering seen here seems far more minacious. Dubbed the “Crew Chief,” this portrayal of retro Jeep-ism is a fantastic throwback to the 1970s, even though the majority of it is still a mystery. So instead of spinning our wheels on a slippery slope that’s been bogged down in rumors, let’s back up for a minute and explain how the Chief came to be.
Back in 1975, Jeep introduced the Cherokee Chief package, and while it became iconic in both its styling and off-road prowess, the 4×4 never really caught on. It was a vehicle that was built for tough terrain, and while it had some notable aesthetic upgrades, it was most easily recognized for its larger fenders and wider axles, which allowed fatter tires and better off-road handling. Unfortunately, four-door models were not made available with “wide-track” axles, which the Chief concept that was unveiled last year amended with flying colors. This leads us full circle to the illustration seen here.
Any time something gets titled as a “Crew Chief,” images are conjured forth of crew cab trucks. So being that an actual Cherokee Chief concept has already been done, it’s safe to assume that some sort of bedded reiteration is about to follow in its footsteps. Now as for if FCA does the right thing and slap an EcoDiesel engine and a manual gearbox in it … well, let’s just say that we aren’t getting our hopes up on that one.
With its enlarged fender ducts, all-terrain tires, forward slanting grille, angled quad headlamps, and two-tone theme, this might be the sharpest Jeep sketch in history, and we have little doubt that this thing is going to look as sharp in the flesh. For all of its woes, if there’s one thing FCA does extremely well, it’s making really cool restomod vehicles that look a lot like their ancestors. Now as for the Trailcat, well, let’s just say we’re quite curious to see what happens when a top-heavy 4×4 gets strapped with the world’s most powerful muscle car motor.