A Romp Off-Road in the Jeep Crew Chief Concept
We test Jeep's Wrangler-based pickup monstrosity in Moab.
Imagine a Deuce and a Half had its way with a stretch limo. Their spawn would drive a little like the Jeep Crew Chief 715 Concept. Which is to say: Awesome, in an ungainly beach-storming with ten of your best champagne-drunk friends kinda way.
Towering thin tires wiggle, and the whole Jeep Crew Chief Concept groans and creaks as it plunges into a nearly vertical crack. The weight of the thing teeter-totters and, slowly, a giant rear wheel lifts off the rock. It seems like it’s happening a mile away. A backwards glance out the window confirms the giant tire is grasping at thin air, and I laugh wildly. The Crew Chief Concept is totally, completely, hysterical.
Like the rip-snorting Wrangler Trailcat, the Crew Chief is breathing, combusting thought exercise. A reach for the most extreme outposts of the Jeep brand, a little Army-issue Kaiser 715 utility truck. A little Jeep Gladiator. And it's all hung on a current V6-powered Jeep Wrangler—the JK, in the chassis parlance of the faithful. Fundamentally, taken together, it’s a good idea.
While the concept is a little tall and ungainly on it’s giant battle-ready tires, a Jeep pickup, crewcab or no, is a long-lusted for thing. So much so that aftermarket manufacturers like AEV have stepped up to the plate; if the market for a $10,000 Wrangler truck bed conversion kit exists, surely Jeep must be looking at the numbers and licking its lips.
At the bottom of the crack, all four wheels on terra firma, the achilles heel of the Jeep Crew Chief Concept becomes apparent. Turning circle? More like an orbit. Having descended from the vertical ledge, it now takes backing the (priceless, one-off) concept up the same rock face to get it turned around in an agonizing 17-point turn. Even then, the tall tires barely clear their fender arches. It’s worth it.
Finally, the matte-drab bow of this great ship of an off-roader is pointed back up the same rock face. With an easy burble, it meshes gears and tractors up the grippy red rock, the long truck bed clears the rock below by just inches.