The red rocks loom overhead, snow-capped mountains peer over the horizon and vegetation of all kinds sprouts from the ground, giving the occupants a lot to look at. Not to mention the fresh air that is a pleasure to breathe in.
That’s why the new Jeep Switchback is so compelling. Its custom half-doors and Safari hard top allow for the passengers to take in everything around them while cruising through wild country.
This is probably the most production-ready of all the 2017 Easter Jeep Safari project vehicles, as over half of the upgrades comes from Jeep Performance Parts, which means that consumers can walk into a dealership and take these parts home.
The list of production upgrades includes things like a 4-inch lift with new remote reservoir shocks, heavy-duty cast differential covers, Rubicon rock rails, steel bumpers, a winch, a cold air intake and an axle-back exhaust.
Besides those two bolt-on parts, the powertrain stays standard, with a 3.6-liter V6 hooked to a 5-speed automatic. Sitting under this Jeep are 37-inch BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain tires and Dana 44s.
Driving the Switchback, the lift is immediately apparent, making this JK Wrangler feel nearly unstoppable. Although the trails we were traversing in Moab were not exactly challenging, the Switchback’s combination of extra ride height and those big aggressive tires inspire a huge amount of confidence.
The Mopar cold air intake and exhaust help to add just a little bit more power, making the few hill climbs we tackled a total breeze.
What really sets this vehicle apart are those neat half doors, although in the Utah dust, it would have been nice to be able to close those lower openings to keep the cab clean. But that’s just another part of the charm of this Switchback, helping you to feel at one with your surroundings, even the dirt and sand. For passengers in the rear, the custom Safari roof offers high-mounted windows for better visibility, and a high roofline for a nice airy feeling.
There also might be some hidden secrets that this Switchback is hiding. There is a concept hood fitted which is currently being approved for production, although the Jeep guys wouldn’t say for what. While it may just be another accessory part, there is also a chance that this hood will end up as an option on the JL Wrangler.
What’s more, on the inside, there is a full panel of up-fitter switches, yet another upgrade that could find its way into the JL Wrangler.
While these concepts are mostly just a chance for Jeep engineers to cut loose and have some fun, there are plenty of upgrades on this year’s pack of Easter Jeep Safari project builds that appear to be some early development work for the all-new Wrangler, which is set to arrive later this year.
The Jeep Switchback is showing us an attainable level of Jeep performance, with many of the parts that make it special available to all Wrangler owners. You can walk into a dealership today, and walk away with just about everything outfitted to this concept.
But these great half doors and that tall Safari roof really help to bring some special feeling to this package.