By on March 30, 2017

Jeep ZJ Concept

For over half a century, Jeep has held an annual safari in Moab, Utah, where 4×4 enthusiasts come to tackle the rough terrain in all manner of off-road vehicles. It’s also become an opportunity for Jeep to showcase its modern concept vehicles.

While Jeep has in past years leveraged nostalgia as a theme for its based-on-current-model concepts, the crème de la crème from this year wasn’t even from the current millennium and comes to us — via Craigslist — in the form of a 1993 ZJ Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Jeep ZJ Concept

With the notable exception of the plaid headliner TTAC staff couldn’t quite agree on, Jeep’s ZJ had been tastefully improved. Dirt-friendly enhancements include added clearance and 33-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tires. Exterior styling saw the addition of higher-clearance fender flares, an extended wheelbase, new fascias, a muted wood grain treatment beneath the paint, and 18-inch lace-style wheels that wouldn’t have looked terribly out of place in 1993.

Jeep ZJ Concept

With the exception of some new fabrics and materials, most of the Grand Cherokee’s interior remained untouched. There’s durable bed liner applied to replace the carpet and a ’90s-era car phone, but Armor All seemed to be the standout addition. The ZJ is powered by a stock 5.2-liter V8 motor mated to the stock four-speed automatic transmission.

Jeep Concept

Less tastefully done is the chopped, Wrangler-based Jeep Quicksand concept — which seems to be a take on vintage Ford hotrods crossed with dune buggies. While it is definitely interesting, oil and water don’t mix.

Power comes via a breathed-on 392 Crate HEMI featuring an eight-stack fuel injection system sticking out through the hood. It also has a staggered-tire setup with slightly larger Mud-Terrain KM2s fitted to the rear. Jeep says it’ll do wheelies in the sand and comes with a winch for when you need to inevitably dig yourself out of an inescapable hole.

Jeep Concept

Jeep’s Safari concept focuses on the family by installing a translucent hardtop and four aluminum-and-clear-vinyl doors, with a special emphasis on giving the backseat passengers a superior view of the great outdoors. It doesn’t offer much in the way of privacy, however.

Jeep Concept

The Switchback concept is essentially a rolling Mopar and Jeep Performance Parts catalog. The company gave it front and rear Dana 44 axles, a 4-inch lift with remote reservoir Fox shocks, heavy-duty cast differential covers, 10th Anniversary steel bumpers, Rubicon winch, grille, winch guard and cold air intake. The interior is equally kitted out and it has some concept body panels and LED lighting.

Jeep Concept

However, if you really dig off-road lighting, Jeep went absolutely insane on its Luminator concept. Teaming up with Magneti Marelli, Jeep gave the Wrangler a front-mounted light bar that perpetually scans for obstacles, 7-inch LED projector bi-functional headlamps, unique LED tail lamps, pillar-mounted high-powered spot lights, upper bumper auxiliary lighting with cornering fog lamps controlled by the steering angle, low-profile integrated overhead LED auxiliary spot lights protected behind the windshield, and several underbody rock lights. It even has a roof-mounted light-up landing pad for a remote-controlled illumination drone.

Take it easy, guys. You’re building an ORV, not a second sun.

Jeep Concept

The least exciting concept on Jeep’s Moab list was the Trailpass. It’s based on the new Compass Trailhawk, but gets a 1.5-inch lift kit, rock rails, and larger wheels wrapped with Continental TerrainContact all-terrain tires. FCA also threw on a roof rack with some traction mats for good measure.

All of the above concepts will be appearing in Moab from April 8-16 for the 51st Annual Easter Jeep Safari, accompanied by the CJ66 concept that appeared at SEMA in 2016.

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15 Comments on “Jeep’s Best New Concept Vehicle for the Easter Safari is a 1993 Grand Cherokee...”

  • avatar

    Oil and water do mix if you shake hard enough. That Quicksand concept is cool.

    The Grand Cherokee, on the other hand… take out the “woodgrain” and the headliner, and maybe it’d be OK, like a lot of other Grand Cherokees. With them it’s just ugly.

    • 0 avatar

      Jeep has some surprisingly good winners in today’s market place. My personal experience with the 2012 WK2 Grand Cherokee Overland Summit V6 and the SRT8 V8 has been excellent.

      AND…………..both of these vehicles continue to do daily driver duties for my grand daughter and her husband in Surprise, Arizona, each WK2 with more than 100K of trouble-free miles on the odo.

      These are cool concepts and I hope they make it to production, even though I’m done buying.

  • avatar

    What does it say about me when I think that not only does this Grand look better than any of the other Jeeps pictured at this Safari event, but that I would take a clean well preserved ZJ Grand Cherokee over just about anything in Jeep’s current lineup?

    A Russian youtuber recently did a really fun offroading review of a ZJ (mild lift, BFG KO2s):

    Sorry no subtitles but the offroading parts are fun to watch nonetheless.

    The reviewer’s takeaway is that they are great rigs: something will always be in some state of disrepair, but the truck will always keep running. Parts are fairly cheap and easy to find, even in Western Russia as a ton came in as grey imports (popular with criminal element). A very simple and durable suspension, engine, and a okayish and fairly simple transmission and transfer case that is easy to repair or replace.

  • avatar

    A group of the hardcore Jeep guys in my town went to Moab last year for the Jeep Rally. You’d have to be hardcore to drive over 5,000 km round trip in a Jeep.

    They were blown away by the amount of grip there was available climbing those steep rock slopes. It would be fun to try at least once.

  • avatar

    I’ve never been a big fan of modifications..I have to say that 93 G.C has been done with style, and taste.

  • avatar

    “This millennia?”

    Do you have a complex with Miller-cycle Mazdas, or trouble with knowing when to use plurals?

  • avatar

    That Grand Cherokee is also an appropriate shade of blue for Easter.

    “I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet…”

  • avatar

    HEMI featuring an eight-stack fuel injection system sticking out through the hood… in a car designed for stunts… in the SAND????
    Is it just me or this is the dumbest idea ever?

  • avatar

    I like the GC They managed to make the enlarged wheel openings blend real well. Those ZJ’s are great offroad, It really is basically an improved and slightly bigger XJ.

  • avatar

    This is amazing and I want it.

    In 1998, my mother bought a 1994 Grand Cherokee Limited with the 5.2 V8. My stepfather still drives it, and it has well over 300k miles.

    The main thing I remember about it is that it was fast. Not fast for an SUV. But fast. My mom was a crazy driver (helped by the fact that we were ALWAYS running late) and she had that thing at or over 100 MPH several times.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      They were torquey for sure. I drove one in college and loved that the instant fuel economy readout dipped into single digits above 100 mph.

      • 0 avatar

        I remember that! The whole driver information center it had was pretty cool for the time, even when ours started to constantly request that we “service 4WD switch” when there was nothing actually wrong with said switch.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Its funny that Chevy full sized trucks and SUVs didn’t manage to have an interior any better than the 1993-1995 ZJ until 2007.

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