Each year, Jeep rolls out a smorgasbord of goodies at the Jeep Easter Safari. This year, that lineup featured some of the coolest and wildest concepts that we’ve seen in a while, including the Jeep Chief and Jeep Staff Car– both spectacular concepts with mind-numbing aesthetic appeal.
Aesthetics is just one small thing, though, and while some of the rides featured at the event were just Jeep flexing its creative muscle, one ride seemed to stand out from the rest in terms of Jeep’s future direction on all fronts. The vehicle I’m referencing, of course, is the Jeep Africa concept.
This magnificent ride was a build-up of the current Jeep Wrangler, only with a few different twists.
One of the biggest of these twists, no doubt, was the Africa’s use of a 2.8-liter diesel engine. As you probably already know, tons of Jeep fans out there have been pleading for more of a diesel presence in the Jeep lineup for years. Now, with this tease, many can’t help but wonder if Jeep might finally be making a larger transition.
That would surely be a welcome sight. I mean, across the web, people shit in their pants every time they hear about a Jeep with a diesel setup.
Just take a look at this reaction from Road and Track’s Zach Bowman when he heard about the Africa’s diesel engine; “That’s right, I said the magic words: turbo diesel. The 2.8-liter mill is small and fairly lightweight, but still manages to make big torque low in the rev range, right where you need it when it comes time to scramble over an obstacle. The extra fuel economy will also help you stay out longer, as will the auxiliary fuel tanks. Win.”
The excitement over the Africa doesn’t just stop there, though. Many were excited to see the new storage setup in the vehicle. This primarily came through a new design that extended the rear cargo area, an idea that they toyed with a few years ago.
“The idea came really from the J-12 truck,” said Mark Allen– Head of Jeep Design. “That was the first time we really lengthened the rear frame and put the spare tire up underneath – that’s the ‘aha’ moment for it [where] we put the tire underneath it in the back. We then took the rear of the body back that same distance, about 12 inches, and then up with the roof 4 inches, and just created a much larger cargo space on the inside.”
And in case Jeep fans are worried about this being TOO BIG of a change, Allen says that it’ll all be good. This still stays true to their beloved design.
“The vehicle is still the 116-inch wheelbase, the seating package is exactly the same as the Unlimited, but we added a ton more cargo space in the back,” Allen added. “We left it as wide open in there and put just one single barn door in the back and opened all that space up.”
So, what do you think? Does Jeep need to open up their package offering and include some of the features in the new Africa concept?