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Easter Jeep Safari returns to Moab

Fri, 08 Apr 2011

Thousands of Jeep fans will hit the desert later this month for the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. They will be joined by six new customized vehicles from Jeep and Mopar. The event takes place April 16-24 on some of the country's most rugged trails.

Jeep and Mopar attend the event every year. The Easter Jeep Safari is one of the best ways to interact with fans and get feedback on models and performance parts, according to the company.

Aftermarket companies and engineers from Jeep have designed more than two dozen vehicles and a handful of off-road parts and accessories over the past 10 years for the Moab event.

This year's vehicle lineup will include the Jeep Wrangler Pork Chop, the Jeep Compass Canyon, a Jeep Cherokee Overland, Jeep Wrangler Renegade, Jeep Wrangler JK-8 Independence, Jeep Wrangler Blue Crush and a special Ram Truck packed with Mopar parts.

The goal of the Pork Chop Wrangler was to increase fun by reducing weight. Engineers started with removing the doors, top, tailgate, bumpers, carpet and sway bar. Body modifications were made, and a roll cage was attached. Mopar added an aluminum cold-air intake, lightweight fender flares, slush mats and mirror relocation brackets. The Wrangler's air-flow system was improved, with headers and an exhaust from Gale Banks. Of course, it wouldn't be an off-road Jeep without massive wheels and tires. The result is a Jeep that weighs a whopping 850 pounds less than stock.

The customized Jeep Compass Canyon got a lift kit from Rocky Road Suspension, Mickey Thompson tires and alloy wheels from a Jeep Liberty. The front and rear sway bars were removed, and a cold-air intake and cat-back exhaust system was added. Skid plates and sill bars were attached, to fend off the desert rocks.

The Jeep Cherokee Overland, which is actually a built-for-export Jeep Liberty, uses a 2.8-liter common-rail diesel for power. It has a roof rack, rock rails, a lift kit and big knobby tires from Mickey Thompson. Mopar added skid plates, tow hooks and sill guards. The Overland has a zebra safari paint job.

Those who remember the Jeep Scrambler CJ-8 of the '80s will recognize the JK-8 Independence. It's made from a kit that turns a Wrangler Unlimited into a pickup truck. The Independence gets upgraded axles, a long-arm suspension kit and 37-inch BF Goodrich tires.

For the power-hungry Jeep lovers, the Renegade offers a 475-hp Hemi V8, along with ProRock axles and 4.10 gears. The suspension was lifted four inches to clear the 35-inch tires, and a Warn winch was attached to the front. The Renegade has a black-and-gold paint scheme from the early '70s CJ5 model.

If that's not enough power, the Jeep Wrangler Blue Crush surely will be. It has a 426-cubic-inch Hemi making 540 hp. Mopar added a high-speed, performance off-road suspension with internal bypass shocks and a front stabilizer bar. The Blue Crush gets 39-inch tires and a full Baja-style roll cage.

One extra truck will show up in the desert this year, the Hemi-powered Mopar Ram Runner. This is a customized Ram truck with a fiberglass body, upgraded shocks and high-clearance wheel wells for more suspension travel.

Along with the off-road events, there will be a large Jeep display in the center of downtown Moab with other off-road Jeeps from last year's event.

Unfortunately, customers won't be able to buy these Jeeps off the showroom floor, but with more than 280,000 parts in the Mopar catalog, they can get pretty close.

By Jake Lingeman