Jeep Goes to Moab

Last year they had to give it a pass. This year, the Jeep team is back in force

There are probably few people who work in the auto industry who have more fun than those who have the opportunity to work on developing Jeeps because in addition to doing their day jobs (as in “developing Jeeps”—that are destined for a dealership near you), they also do a sponsored side hack, which has them developing vehicles that are taken to Moab, Utah, for the annual Easter Jeep Safari.

Going to Moab March 27 to April 4 from Auburn Hills are (l to r) Jeep Red Bare, Jeep Magneto, Jeepster Beach and Jeep Orange Peelz.  

(Odds are that once upon a time the vehicles that were snuck out garages and shipped to Moab were literally snuck out and cobbled together from an array of parts that these designers and engineers managed to accumulate; given the great reception that these vehicles have received from the Jeep Faithful, it is now a fully legit undertaking. Just listen to Jim Morrison, vp, Jeep Brand North America: “The Moab Easter Jeep Safari has long been our testing ground for both our newest Jeep 4x4s and for showcasing new Jeep brand concepts, Jeep Performance Parts and ideas that truly resonate with our most passionate customers — the die-hard off-road enthusiasts who attend this event every year.” The die-hard off-road enthusiasts who buy Jeeps as well as products from Jeep Performance Parts.)

While some have criticized Stellantis for being somewhat behind the curve when it comes to having electric vehicles on offer (hybrids, yes, EVs, no), for ’21 one of the vehicles for this year’s Safari is the Jeep Wrangler Magneto, not a nod to Marvel but a reference to the permanent magnet electrical generator. The motor in the Magneto is said to be equal to the output of a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6; it generates 285 hp and 273 lb-t of torque. What is unusual for an EV—though not for a Wrangler—is that it features a six-speed manual transmission. Of course it does.

Then there’s the Jeepster Beach, which started as a 1968 Jeepster Commando and was melded with a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. Here’s a fun fact about Commandos: it was the first compact 4WD with things like roll-up windows and a roof as standard equipment. A roof. (Guess what the Jeepster Beach is shown without?)

The Red Bare Gladiator Rubicon is built for dealing with the tough terrain, with a 3.0-liter diesel, an eight-speed automatic calibrated for low-RPM shifts, and upgraded Dana 44 front and rear heavy axles. It has a 91:1 crawl ratio. If you don’t know what that means, you can know that it is impressive for those who crawl on the rocks at Moab.

And the Orange Peelz. This one has things like half doors and is without things like side and rear windows. But it does have a windshield made of Corning Gorilla Glass.

Good fun will be had by all, one suspects.