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Retro-Modern Jeep Wrangler, Gladiator, Wagoneer Concepts Debut at 2024 Easter Jeep Safari

Should Jeep's new concepts make it to production? We weigh in

2024 Easter Jeep Safari concept group shot
  • Jeep will bring four new concepts to the 2024 Easter Jeep Safari.
  • All pay homage to Jeep's heritage in varying ways.
  • Easter Jeep Safari will have Wrangler, Gladiator and Wagoneer-based concepts on display.

For nearly 60 years the Easter Jeep Safari has been a celebration of all things Jeep. Enthusiasts from around the country make the trek to the otherworldly beautiful terrain of Moab, Utah, to test their vehicles' mettle — and sometimes metal — against some of the toughest trails you can imagine. 

As one of the more enthusiast-aware brands, Jeep knows a good thing when it sees it, and has for years used EJS as an opportunity to showcase its thinking on the future of its products. It’s a sensible move since the vehicles are in their natural environment and surrounded by lovers of the brand. Plus, Jeep itself has a reputation of doing testing at Moab when nobody is looking, so it’s already a natural proving ground for the company. 

This year, Jeep showed off four new concepts at EJS — two based on the Wrangler and one each on the Gladiator and Wagoneer — and we weigh in on whether they should remain in the concept stage or if we think they should wind up in dealerships. 

Jeep Willys Dispatcher concept front three-quarter

Willys Dispatcher

The Willys Dispatcher Concept splits the difference between retro and modern in a fun way. Willys, as you may know, was the name of the company that originally built Jeeps in World War II and into the 1950s before it was absorbed by Kaiser, and the Willys name was eventually dropped. Today, Willys is a trim level in the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator lineup that adds off-road capability at a price lower than the Rubicon or Mojave variants.

The Willys Dispatcher, however, is a different beast. It starts with a Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid but goes back in time from there in the style of '50s-vintage “flat fender” Jeeps. The retro-styled steel wheels are wrapped in equally retro skinny tires, and the old-school front bumper houses a modern Warn winch with a classic design. “WILLYS” is embossed into the hood, and the whole thing is covered in a vintage-feeling Element 115 Green paint. The Dispatcher’s interior is largely modern, but with houndstooth cloth inserts on distressed leather seats, with more houndstooth accents on the dash. For a real retro vibe, the headrests have been removed for a “low-back" feel.

This is a neat-looking concept, but should it go into production? The embossed Willys logo is unquestionably cool, as is the color, and there’s a place in our hearts for the houndstooth as well. But we’re not sure the skinny-tired retro vibe has enough pull to warrant a full production run. We’d say, add the color, and definitely make the embossed logo standard on Willys trims, but otherwise this is a tough sell.

Jeep Low Down concept front three-quarter

Low Down

The Low Down concept is essentially a Jeep hot rod, and it actually pays homage to another concept from 15 years ago called the Wrangler Lower 40. The idea is to add ground clearance and capability by increasing wheel size but otherwise casting the usual body-lift tricks aside so that the center of gravity stays low for added stability. 

To keep the race-car vibe, Jeep started with a Wrangler Rubicon 392 for sweet V8 power and kept the suspension stock, although the axles have both been replaced with Dana 60s. The front and rear bumpers are replaced, and the tires are giant 42-inchers covered by custom fenders. One of the coolest touches is the clear hood bulge, through which you can see the big V8 engine. The paint color is called Poison Apple, and the white 392 stripe on the side evokes classic '60s race cars. The interior is the same vibe, with no screens at all, a big “392” on the dash, and seats with a cool mesh and grommet pattern that evokes vintage racers.

We can’t really see this one making it to production in any meaningful way. Don’t get us wrong — it’s very cool, we love the color, and the idea of keeping the center of gravity low while still adding clearance and capability is a good one. It’s just a little too concepty. Complain as we may about screens on everything, we’re all pretty addicted, and a modern vehicle without them feels a little too retro for us. 

Jeep High Top concept front

High Top

The Jeep High Top Concept is a good reminder that not everything in the '70s was awful. Based off a 2024 Gladiator Rubicon, the black upper parts look terrific contrasted with the copper-colored Ginger Snap paint, and the 40-inch wheels are the right kind of oversized. The Warn winch in the bumper is also a nice touch. The half doors are slick, but even better is the step integrated into the rock slider that pops down when you open them. The bed has been converted into a storage area, with a slide-out drawer and a hard deck above. Inside it’s mostly the same as what you’d find in a 2024 Gladiator, with the exception of the quilted leather seats with the Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) logo embossed in the seat back. 

But it’s that JPP logo that’s the key on why Jeep doesn’t need to bother making this one because, in a way, you can do it yourself. The fenders and the cool bed accessories are from JPP, and most of the rest of the High Top is made from off-the-shelf parts. In a way it makes the High Top truest to the vibe of the Easter Jeep Safari, building a concept from mostly available parts that could be reproduced if you wanted to. The '70s paint scheme? Well, we could see a limited run of that from the factory.

Jeep Vacationeer concept front


The fact that Jeep had the audacity to reintroduce the Grand Wagoneer brand without honest wood paneling is, well, shocking. This concept brings it back, and adds a lot of other '60s and '70s nostalgia on top. First, the color — which Jeep calls Spearminted — is spot on and has a very '60s vibe to it, especially with the white contrast on the roof, door handles, mirror caps and 18-inch wheels. Those wheels add about 1.5 inches of extra lift, mandating larger wheel openings and body-color flares. Then there’s the wood accent, meant to evoke the wood strip of Wagoneers from the late '60s and early '70s, rather than the full wood panels of the later '70s and early '80s. It isn’t real wood but is 3D textured, and if anything we think it could be a bit bigger. The retro touches blend with modern features like the new front end with its integrated winch and laser foglamps; we couldn't confirm if they make a '70s-era “pew pew” sound when turned on.

Kyle James Patrick designed the fabric inserts on the leather seats, and Jeep liked it so much it used the same fabric on throw pillows in the rear, and on the pillowcases and comforter in the climate-controlled carbon-fiber rooftop tent. Jeep needs to sell accessories with this fabric, which isn’t just a retro plaid but is also festooned with profiles of vintage Jeeps. Jeep removed the second and third rows of this Grand Wagoneer and filled the rear with the aforementioned throw pillows, along with some vintage '70s-era Samsonite hard-sided luggage, complete with destination stickers. There’s even a hole in the roof to access the tent, effectively making the Vacationeer a two-person camper. 

OK, if we come back to reality, there’s a lot here that could be made in the real world on a limited-edition model. Jeep would obviously need to keep all three rows of seats but upholster them in that cool cloth. Put the Spearminted paint into production, and make the wood stripe an option. That new front bumper is also pretty sweet, especially the laser (pew! pew!) foglights.

2024 Easter Jeep Safari concept group shot

Edmunds says

At the end of the day, none of these concepts are ready for production without some serious alterations. But that's the nature of concept cars. We can easily envision elements of all four of these concepts on the showroom floor someday, be it the color schemes, interior treatments or some of the accessories.

The good news is that for the most part any of these could be built out by an enthusiastic owner. OK, we're not saying you should take a Sawzall to the roof of your Grand Wagoneer, but within reason any of these are buildable, or at the very least, can serve as inspiration for spirited owners.

With all that said, yes, Jeep should totally make a version of the Vacationeer.