• Jeep Africa Concept: What it’s like to Drive [First Impression]

    Jeep Africa TFL 3

    One of the most popular, desirable and “Build-It-Damn-You!” vehicles the Jeep guys brought to the 2015 Easter Jeep Safari was the Jeep Africa Concept. Think of what Jeep could build if they wanted a proper safari/expedition vehicle that could go head-to-head with the best from overseas. It would need extra space internally and externally, a strong diesel, beefy undercarriage and a platform that would be easy to adapt for prolonged periods in the bush.

    Jeep Africa TFL 2
    “The Wrangler 4-door-based vehicle sports a Desert Tan exterior paint, a high-clearance steel front bumper with winch, power step rock rails, power dome vented hood and an extended rear body and high-top roof. Powered by a 2.8-liter diesel engine mated to an automatic transmission, the Wrangler Africa also features fender-mounted auxiliary fuel cans. The Africa sports 17-inch body color steel wheels with 35-inch BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tires.

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    The Jeep Wrangler Africa is outfitted with a two-inch lift kit with Fox shocks, sway bar links and front and rear Dana 44 axles from Jeep Performance Parts. The spare tire is underbody-mounted and the cargo area, inner roof and floor are finished in a durable spray-in truck bed coating.” – – Jeep

    Africa 044IMG_2414
    Driving the Jeep Africa Concept: Seriously, I never driven a more expedition-ready vehicle in this country. You want to yell to Dr. David Livingstone, “bring Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Cabot, Cartier and Samuel de Champlain while you’re at it!” Adventure awaits!

    The high roof, large cabin and comfortable seats all feel production-ready and impart a secure sensation as the 2.8-liter diesel rumbles. Torque is immediate and nearly every obstacle was topped without going over 2,000 rpm. It feels a bit heavy behind the wheel, but the Jeep Africa Concept feels no larger than many Wrangler Unlimiteds that have an excess of wheel and armor on them.

    Africa 048_MG_1236
    The only noticeable design issue the cool-looking rear door. Like other Wranglers, the Jeep Africa Concept’s door hinges are on the right side. This means you open it from the left side. Normally Jeep Wrangler doors are small and it’s not that big of a deal. This door is ginormous and it will block access to the curb.

    Despite being a one-off concept, the Jeep Africa Concept feels buttoned-down. The whole platform feels rock solid and settled. Off camber, high articulation maneuvers were no problem. Nothing felt remotely challenging for the Jeep Africa Concept. While most of the concepts were overbuilt and capable, the Jeep Africa Concept felt like you could take it home.

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    It looks amazing too. Jeep Design managed to capture the feel of a Land Rover Defender (the ones we’re not allowed to buy here) while remaining true to Jeep DNA. Remarkable vehicle. It was my favorite along with a vast majority of journalists on hand.

    Speaking of amazing Jeep concepts:

    Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum.  His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.
    Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism – Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.

    Nathan Adlen
    Nathan Adlen
    Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.

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    4 thoughts on “Jeep Africa Concept: What it’s like to Drive [First Impression]

    1. Another fantastique concept vehicle professing the exquisite power, practicality and worldwide acceptance of the 2.8L CRD in the JKL Wrangler which has been manufactured right here in the US (Toledo) facility since 2007 and shipping all over the planet ever since.
      Still, almost 9 years later, the land of the free and home of the brave cannot purchase one new. Sure we’ve been told the 3.0l V6 is coming as a MY2016 but I’ve been hearing that kind of talk for about ummm 8 years now.
      As for the Africa package, it looks like a well equipped package. Hopefully the single-piece body and integrated roof doesn’t mean they are heading towards unibody for the Wrangler makeover in 2017. There have already been rumors about a unibody for 2017+ along with IFS and IRS. At first my reaction was heresy, blasphemy!
      However, after thinking about how my aging JKL has at times buckled under it’s own girth and weight = I don’t really care what technologies, materials, or suspensions they put in the next Wrangler under 2 conditions.
      That should pretty much put all the nay-sayers quickly to rest, as well as form a line around the block of the dealership with die-hard Wrangler owners.
      So what would it take, and how could that work?
      Aluminum body, that’s an easy win.
      Diesel, that would bring the mpg in line with EPA regs for the corp bean-counters. Easily mid-20’s.
      Unibody, I can’t imagine how that would work with a removable roof and fold-down windshield, but if the windshield is no longer removable the cage could be used to carry the load. The tough part there is bumpers, winches and seriously large lifts with wild long-arms but we will get there…brace yourself…
      Independent Suspension: ooooph! that’s a nut-shot right in the undercarriage. Literally. But remain calm, not all is lost. Think about what we have seen Jeep brand doing for the last 20+ years with Grand Cherokee (other than shrinking it’s size). The GC had coils first, then TJ. In the US Liberty had CRD first then GC, but overseas the GC had it long ago. GC had Gerodisc diffs first then TJ and JK got real lockers (lookup car wash Grand Cherokee ban).
      My point is they use Grand Cherokee as the test mule. So what does GC have now? Independent suspension with “ADJUSTABLE AIRBAGS”!!!
      Hello? Adjustable height from the factory. Now the springs would be good, however the signature item of the Wrangler is wheel travel. For those who like to measure and compare sizes this is referred to affectionately as Ramp Travel Index (RTI). I honestly forget what the current Rubicon gets stock but it’s the best, I will throw a WAG guess out there and say 850’ish out of 1000. Compared to like 600 for an FJ Cruiser and everybody else below that. So what’s the key to articulation with IFS?
      Really really long A arms on the front. Like go look at the old Gamma Goat the army used to have. Those things had awesome wheel travel. Wanna see an incredible example of what can be done? Go lookup Geby Wager’s Creation in Four Wheeler magazine from the 1990’s. http://www.gocms.com/ Go check out his current setup on their monster JKL. Sure it’s huge but that’s aftermarket. Give that kind of idea to Ralph Gilles and the Skunkwurks guys over at AEV and you got yourself a JKiLler. Gilles and crew will massage those framerails inward, and roll those hood lines higher to accommodate the engine choices. Think CJ3. Tall is good.
      Now the question is can they design it, make it barn-door reliable, field serviceable, and keep the base 4×4 at $20k for the entry point? Sure we would like to see a combination of engine offerings including a 4 cylinder CRD for maximum MPG, or Pentastar, or Hellcat depending on how deep your pockets are.
      So imagine that: An aluminum unibodied, no doors or roof, adjustable air suspension, CRD that can out climb, accelerate, forde, tow and outfun even the mighty and beloved JKL.
      No more MPG readings in the low teens. No more rust. No more Death-Wobble. No more bent Dana axle housings.
      It’s time to stop thinking the same.The jeep was born of the imaginations of pioneers thinking outside the box, for a military purpose sure enough. I’m not talking carbon-fiber or hybrid electric (what a joke that was). it’s time to start thinking about how much better it could be using conventional tech today. Anybody remember the old Jeep Dakar concept from the early 1990’s? Somebody thought: “Imagine how much better a Wrangler would be with 4 doors?”. AEV did it first as a Proof of Concept. Adding those back doors saved the Chrysler/Jeep company from the brink of bankruptcy, and selling million JKL’s has done far more for Chrysler than any Bail-Out ever could. Those two back doors brought another generation of loyalists into the fold.
      My son is getting “His” jeep next year with his license. Guess what is the only car he remembers from growing up over the last 9 years? Yup.
      Guess what his daddy is getting next year when Jr. gets the old JKL? All I know is I built that old jeep to be awesome, and fun. The bar is set THAT high. Take a look in the vehicular mirror = That is your only competition.

      1. “JOSEPHUS” ? Really, sure you ain’t been watching that CBS mini series over and over and over ?
        I get it you wanted to write your Doctoral thesis on the “Growing Pains of JEEP as a FCA Inc. Division” in; the World auto Markets ? ? ? But you needed to “air out” the kinks; what better way than to “air out” on TFL CARS . . . ! ? Not long enough or in depth enough for your thesis, however, I feel IT is way to long and “wordy” to want to read (in one seating) ! Yes, seating; sore bums sitting so long trying to “way thru all the “smarty-pants researched” factoids lambasting us with . . . AND, by the way, with nary a hint of humor to endure it with ! ! ! Beware Josephus (?) the Romans are “afoot” !
        ps; dry as it may be, a bit of humor is what wets my appetite (here) . . as well as “all things Jeep-ish” .

    2. YOUR RIGHT DAMMIT, JUST BUILD THE THING . . . well, ok, we know your not going to build a REAL Africa Safari “AFRICA-Mobile,” but you COULD build it as a slightly stretched RUBICON and a few nice amenities like in the current (OR future Ruby !) and MASS MARKET it ! They WILL come oh yea they will come – because it IS already Very Capable (as a Ruby) and with the added space and fully enclosed “delivery-truck-like” functionality, OH YEA ! OF course JEEP; if you were to “screw” with us (your loyal base and consumers alike) by “Nickel & Dime-ing” us with your USUAL wacko “Packaging” – you know, a bunch of crap we don’t need or want piled on to the 1 or 2 essentially important stuff and charging an OUTLANDISH price for it ! ? Then . . . deal off ! The boys at Trail Concepts have taken the lead on you with this as a real viable doable vehicle – IT’s right their in Moab with this thing of yours . We could buy theirs by years end . . . but I would rather buy a JEEP with all the added benefits & FCA warranties + ! GILES ? YOU LISTENING ? YOU DA MAN NOW, ALWAYS LIKED YOU & HOW YOU REPRESENT YOURSELF – YOUR SMART, TALENTED AND KNOW A “GOOD THING WHEN YOU SEE IT . . . SO “SEE IT” ALREADY . . . PLEEEEEEAAAAASSSSE ! YOU GONNA ACTUALLY MAKE ME BEG ? REALLY ?

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