Why Jeep's Moab Safari is full of Easter eggs for SUV fans

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Why Jeep's Moab Safari is full of Easter eggs for SUV fans

Jeep Quicksand Concept

Ahead of the 51st annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, Jeep and Mopar have revealed the seven specially created models that will be undertaking the route and the historic vehicles they reference.

This will be the 15th time the two firms have pooled their creative resources for the Safari -- a week-long trek designed to separate the off-roading men from the off-roading boys and to genuinely test vehicles' capabilities on surfaces other than highways and byways.

"It's truly a labor of love," explains Mike Manley, Head of Jeep Brand, of the work behind developing cars for the event each year that are different from last year's and that can get Jeep obsessives obsessively excited.

Of the seven vehicles prepared for this year, the most exciting could well be the Jeep Quicksand. It's an off-road hotrod, complete with a Mopar 392 Crate HEMI engine and a hole cut in the hood to show off the block and to let it breathe. The wheelbase has been stretched. It rolls on 32-inch wheels at the front and 37-inch at the back, just like a muscle car, and it's been 'chopped' so the roof and windshield lines are significantly lowered.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the original Jeep Grand Cherokee, so the two firms have taken the current model and reverse restomodded it into the Grand One, so that it looks like a 1993 original but with up-to-date drivetrain and off-road capabilities. The SUV equivalent of a sleeper car.

The Trailpass is one of the first conceptual takes on the new Jeep Compass. It's been given a 1.5-inch ground clearance lift, underbody protection including rock rails and a host of practical accessories like a roof basket.

The Switchback also gets a lift. Thanks to Fox shocks it can be raised up to 4 inches when need be. This is a serious off-roader complete with Dana 44 axle, cast differential covers, steel bumpers front and back, dedicated cold air intake and a winch, and it rolls on 37-inch wheels.

The Safari is the most civilized concept that will be hitting the road, designed for a family to go adventuring together and to see as much of the great outdoors as possible without having to exit the vehicle, hence the translucent roof and remote-controlled drone that can head off and take pictures or scout the route ahead.

As its name suggests, the Jeep Luminator is all about lighting the way, literally. It boasts every off-road lighting innovation currently available or in development, including dynamic LED scanning lights on the hood that can fix on to and follow an object up ahead automatically.

The final Jeep revealed for Moab will be familiar to fans as it made its first appearance at SEMA 2016. The CJ66 boasts a vintage 1966 body and a 5.7-liter HEMI under the hood. It has a 2-inch lift kit, huge front and rear wheel arch extensions and rolls on 35-inch wheels.

"We look forward to the reaction and feedback from enthusiasts and our most loyal customers as these new Jeep concepts are put through their paces on the trails in Moab," said Manley.