MOAB, Utah – Jeeping and off-roading are synonymous. For more than 80 years, Jeep has manufactured extraordinarily capable 4x4s, and because of this, Jeep enthusiasts continue to flock to the iconic moniker.
Electrifyingly eye-catching yet different, the four new 2021 Jeep concepts at the Easter Jeep Safari display distinctive personalities despite all being capable, well-equipped and adventure-ready. We got the chance to drive them all. Lucky us.
Boasting batteries: Jeep Magneto BEV concept
This impressively capable battery electric vehicle (BEV) is an important marker in the automaker’s “Road Ahead” quest to become the greenest SUV brand. Joining prototype and production Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) from Mopar, along with a key partnership with Webasto, the Jeep Magneto BEV was carefully constructed with efficiency, sustainability and Jeep’s renowned off-road capability as its focus.
Juiced by a quartet of batteries totaling 70 kilowatt hours and running an 800-volt system, the Magneto delivers up to 285 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The two-door open-air Magneto offers a charging port that can utilize both level 1 and level 2 sources, but not DC fast charging.
Add to that a manual transmission — yes, you read that right — and the mighty Magneto springs to life, both on- and off-road.
In broad terms, driving the Magneto is similar to any other clutch-equipped vehicle: clutch in, choose your gear, and go. However, there are some unexpected nuances that took a bit of getting used to, specifically in terms of bringing it to life. With the Jeep Magneto BEV, the clutch is pushed to the floor while the other foot is on the brake with the emergency brake on. Then, drivers hit the “run accessory” button once, wait about two seconds, press it again to put it into “run mode” and it’s nearly ready to go.
However, this is where the Magneto gets interesting: Drivers can choose a range (2WD, 4WD high, or 4WD low) and gear to start in, then they can let out the clutch without finding the friction point to start moving. Magneto drivers can let the clutch completely out — with it in gear — and it won’t stall out or buck. The clutch is only used to put the vehicle in gear and to then change gears. There’s no need to give it throttle on clutch uptake. Just depress the clutch, put it in gear, let clutch out — it’s now in gear and ready to drive whenever the driver would like it to. Drivers can have it in gear with the clutch out, and it won’t go until the throttle is depressed.
This two-door all-electric variant is based on a gasoline-powered 2020 Jeep Wrangler, but uses a custom-built axial flux electric motor operating up to 6,000 rpm. The Magneto BEV concept was tuned to emulate the rig’s original 3.6-liter V6 in both horsepower and torque. When running errands, the differences between the V6 and manual-electric powertrain are said to be “negligible except for near-silent operation.”
Shifting gears boast smooth transitions as the Magneto whines its way through a dirt and rock off-road course here in Moab. Its electric motor sounds more like a Jetsons car, with a spirited and undulating voice versus the quiet whir of traditional EVs.
However, the e-motor instantly provides powerful forward momentum, sprinting to 60 seconds in an athletic 6.8 seconds — similar to both the V6 and 2.0-turbo offerings. The instant power is both gutsy and gratifying — especially on the flat rocky sections. Did we mention this has a stick shift?
Rock-crawling showcased the Jeep Wrangler-esque performance the automaker is known for: precise, capable, and dialed. Articulated attempts were met with ease; the Jeep Magneto is impressive. Beyond its unique powertrain hardware, the Magneto is equipped for electrifying off-road adventures with a JPP 2-inch lift kit, 35-inch mud-terrain tires, a custom roll cage (donning a Surf Blue accent color), Mopar rock sliders, beefy steel bumpers with a Warn winch, and a steel skid plate for underbody protection.
Although Jeep wouldn’t shed any light on the vehicle’s battery-equipped range, it has created a quick, quiet, and quintessentially capable all-electric 4x4 SUV. Now, how soon can we get our hands on one?!
Classically Cool: Jeepster Beach concept
Begging for tons of trail time, the Jeepster Beach resto-mod is a cool blend of old-school heritage and modern-day accoutrements. Think of a 1968 Commando amalgamated with a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon — it's a crazy cool 4x4 that's a pleasure to pilot on the trails.
A throwback to the second-generation Jeepster, the 2021 Jeepster Beach concept is powered by Jeep’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine kicking out 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Its custom interior dons low-back bucket seats accentuated in red leather and a four-point chrome safety cage — making this the perfect, unique two-person cruiser on hot summer nights as well as an attention-grabbing looker when traversing trails. All we needed was to don wide-brimmed straw hats and enjoy a drink with a little umbrella in it after our off-road test excursion to make the experience perfect.
The People Pleaser: Jeep Orange Peelz concept
Wranglers are known for their open-air and freestyle way of life, and the Jeep Orange Peelz concept takes that legendary heritage a huge step forward. It deletes the side and rear windows, adds a custom removable one-piece Freedom Top glass sunroof, and utilizes prototype JPP half doors. Open and airy, the Jeep Orange Peelz makes your hair flow freely during a day of Moab red rock fun. As they say, "Jeep hair, don’t care."
The two-door, two-toned Orange Peelz concept matches jet black exterior embellishments with a vibrant orange-and-black plaid interior akin to its Jeep Red Bare cousin, making this an attractive adventure rig ensemble. The Orange Peelz not only looks good, it sounds good, too. It's upgraded with a JPP cold-air intake and cat-back exhaust system that rumbles at idle and growls when the throttle is stamped.
The Orange Peelz off-road capability is increased via a JPP 2-inch lift kit with FOX shocks for increased ground clearance, and BFGoodrich KM3 mud-terrains and custom rock rails to successfully tackle tough terrain. It also features a custom JPP Rubicon steel bumper showcasing a prototype 2-inch grille guard and JPP Warn Rubicon winch with an 8,000-pound capacity. Add to that the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and a wide array of Mopar parts that adorn this, and you’ve got a heavily modified Wrangler concept crowd pleaser.
The Diesel Dominator: Jeep Red Bare concept
Powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6, this Gladiator Rubicon offers the same 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque as any other diesel Gladiator or Wrangler. A custom red-hot Katzkin leather interior with eye-catching plaid upholstery and red stitching emblazes the cockpit. Coupled with a Mopar 2-inch lift kit, 4.88 gears in the Dana 44 axles and a 91:1 crawl ratio, a Warn winch, and beefy BFGoodrich KM3s, this adventure-ready Gladiator’s low-end torque and off-road responsiveness make it easy to command.
Each of the 2021 Jeep concepts displayed different demeanors, but they all had one thing in common: capability. For 80 years, the automaker has been making off-road ready 4x4s. Its expertise and attention to detail lives in each of these adventure-ready rigs. We only wish we had more time with them, especially the magnetizing Magneto.
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