With a little over a week to go until the 49th Easter Jeep Safari, Jeep has unveiled all seven of the concept vehicles that will be making the trek out to Moab. Each of these exciting concepts help showcase the passion that exists within the Jeep brand, and this year’s lineup of concepts might even trump the Jeep concepts from the 2012 Safari, which were headlined by the Mighty FC and J-12. Like these two concept vehicles, the new Jeep Chief borrows heavily from Jeep’s history with custom body work that is a modern interpretation of the original Jeep Cherokee (SJ).

Forget about the current Fiat-based Cherokee or the wildly popular XJ Cherokee, the first Jeep Cherokee was a full-size SUV that was in production from 1974 through 1983 as a two-door version of the Wagoneer. The Cherokee Chief was the off-road trim level that first appeared in 1975, and thanks to Jeep, this new Chief is ready to tackle the trails bringing a little California soul to Moab with a heavy surfer vibe.

Continue reading to learn more about the Jeep Chief.

  • Year:
    2015
  • Transmission:
    six-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    285
  • Torque @ RPM:
    260
  • Displacement:
    3.6 L
  • 0-60 time:
    9 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    110 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    35000 (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 Jeep Chief - image 622835
2015 Jeep Chief - image 622839
2015 Jeep Chief - image 622834

In a similar fashion as the J-12 concept, the Jeep Chief does a great job of incorporating cues from the 1970s-era Cherokee without completely ditching its entire Wrangler lineage. The front end is almost identical to the SJ Cherokee with the signature forward-angled grille and hood, which are accented by the round headlights and big chrome bumper. Move around to the back of this concept and it’s obvious that the Chief also has the SJ’s unique hind quarters, but perhaps the coolest part of the whole design is the “French bread” roof that sits long and low thanks to two inches being chopped from the roof and doors.

Speaking of the doors, the Jeep Chief breaks from its SJ Cherokee heritage by retaining the four-door configuration of the Wrangler Unlimited, but the shaved rear handles and pillarless doors help create the illusion of a two-door. The whole look is capped off with a classic two-tone paint job featuring Ocean Blue with white body stripes. And because this concept is will be driven at Moab, it is fitted with classic mag-styled wheels wrapped in meaty 37-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2 tires.

Interior

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The problem with creating a modern vehicle with a classic flair becomes a question of what to do with the interior, and Jeep has an excellent answer. For this, the Jeep Chief has a Hawaiian-themed interior such as the flowered cloth inserts on the white leather seats, surfboard-style and vintage bumper stickers throughout the cabin and the wooden tiki shift lever. The finishing touch is a wood-lined cargo area and a Rosewood passenger grab handle.

Drivetrain

2015 Jeep Chief - image 622834

Unlike the rest of the classic styling of the exterior or the custom interior, the Jeep Chief concept sticks with what the stock Wrangler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and six-speed manual transmission. While a V-8 or diesel swap would make this concept even better, Jeep focused its attention on improving the Chief’s off-road driving abilities. To do so, it raided the Jeep Performance Parts catalog including a cold air intake, two-inch lift with Fox shocks and Dana 44s with lockers at both axles.

Conclusion

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Even though the Jeep Chief is a concept vehicle, Jeep made sure that it will be ready to tackle the harshest trails Moab has to offer. Sadly, the only way most people will likely ever get to see the Jeep Chief actually driving in its true environment is if they plan on attending the 2015 Easter Jeep Safari, which will be held from March 28 through April 5.

  • Leave it
    • Zero chance of this being built
    • No V-8 or diesel swap

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Press Release

A tribute to the classic 1970s era full-size Jeep Cherokee, this Wrangler-based concept vehicle evokes the west coast surfer lifestyle of sun and fun with a nod to nostalgic beach rides.

2015 Jeep Chief - image 622835

Custom exterior design cues include a vintage Ocean Blue exterior color scheme with a white, French Bread roof; a custom modified razor grille that the original Wagoneer made famous; halogen headlamps; removable sides for an open-air feel and flexible hauling; chrome front and rear bumpers and classic, 17-inch slotted mag wheels for a true ’70s vibe.

Jeep designers developed the Hawaiian themed interior complete with Jeep-designed “Surfer” pink, blue and white flowered cloth and leather-trimmed seats; vintage-style surf stickers on the center console and door handles; a Rosewood front-passenger grab handle and tiki-style shifter handle; and Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen media center.

2015 Jeep Chief - image 622836

The doors and windshield were chopped two inches and the Jeep Chief sports a selection of Jeep Performance Parts that include a two-inch lift kit with Fox shocks and front and rear Dana 44 axles with lockers, cold air intake and modified Rubicon rock rails. The Chief is powered by the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission.

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