Jeep Concepts That Became a Reality
Concept cars are made to wow the audience, allowing automakers to gauge the audience’s reaction and plan for the future. For the automaker, the concept car represents an opportunity to showcase new styling or the latest technology. Depending on the audience’s response to the concept car’s new radical design, it may or may not go on to be mass-produced. Of course, the concept car must endure many changes before its design is finalized, taking the safety, regulatory compliance, cost, and practicality into account. Over the years, Jeep has made numerous memorable concept vehicles, many of which have been refined and eventually mass-produced.
Jeep Concept 1
The Concept 1 was a concept vehicle showcased in 1989 that went on to become the basis of the 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The headlamp design, grille design, body shape and wheel design transferred over to the official mass-produced vehicle. At the time the Concept 1 was unveiled, there were no midsize SUVs on the market and almost all SUVs that sold at that time were either compact or full-sized. The Jeep Grand Cherokee went on to replace the Grand Wagoneer in 1993, instead of the Jeep Cherokee as was intended at the time of its unveiling. The Grand Cherokee is still in production today, and it’s touted as the most awarded SUV ever.
1997 Jeep Dakar
Long before Jeep introduced the Wrangler Unlimited, there was the 1997 Jeep Dakar concept. Preceding the Wrangler Unlimited by ten years, the 1997 Dakar concept was the first four-door Wrangler. The Dakar concept stretched the wheelbase by over 15 inches, allowing for more room in the back seat and putting the rear passengers in front of the rear axle instead of over it as was customary in the two-door model. The 1997 Dakar concept proves that Jeep toyed with the idea of a four-door Jeep for a very long time before mass producing it.
It was during the 1999 auto show circuit that Jeep exhibited a concept vehicle named Commander. The Commander concept featured a direct methanol fuel cell that produced electricity to charge a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. An extra-wide interior allowed for three bucket seats in the second row and a full center console. The production version of this initial concept debuted at the 2005 New York Auto Show and was named Jeep Commander XK, and a diesel-powered XH made for export. The Commander XK had more in common with the Grand Cherokee than the concept Commander and was manufactured as an alternative for people that needed more room in their SUVs. Developed as an alternative for consumers that needed third-row seating, the Commander XK delivered but was only two inches longer than the existing Grand Cherokee of the time. It was discontinued in 2010.
Arguably the most impactful of these concepts was the Jeep Concept 1 that led to the luxurious Jeep Grand Cherokee we know of today. Available in numerous trims and drivetrains depending on the driver’s needs; the Grand Cherokee is easily among the best-selling SUVs in the market. Come by Hollywood Chrysler Jeep and check out our 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee inventory – see innovation at work for yourself!