Whenever Jeep releases a bunch of new concepts for the Easter Jeep Safari events it joins each year, we generally don’t expect to be blown away by them. Although incredible machines in themselves, they are most often than not mild visual and mechanical reinterpretations of existing Jeeps. But not this here Cherokee 4xe.
The Cherokee joined the Jeep lineup in 1974 and has been a constant presence in our lives since. We get to see it on the roads not only in its most recent and modern incarnation, but also as custom interpretations of decades-old examples, once again made relevant by talented hands all over America.
For this year’s Easter Jeep Safari the carmaker pulled the wraps off no less than seven concepts. All of them are reinterpretations of existing models with various twists, with a single exception: the 1978 Cherokee that formed the base for the so-called 4xe concept. And, more importantly, it doesn’t come as a concept per se, but as a proper, full-blown resto-mod, the beneficiary of a rather impressive powertrain swap.
Made entirely in-house by Jeep, the SUV retains its traditional exterior design lines, with a massive body wrapped in a color scheme that’s clearly reminiscent of the decade when it was born. But under that rather unassuming exterior, a wealth of changes can be found.
The interior is all modern-day Jeep, from the steering wheel to the center console controls and the big screen up on the dash. In front of all that, there are two low-back bucket seats, but there is no rear bench behind those. Its place has been taken by a four-point safety cage, with a large tire sitting beyond that in the cargo space.
Speaking of wheels, the ones that keep this custom Cherokee connected to the ground are just 17 inches in size, but look a lot more massive thanks to the 37-inch tires that wrap around them. And now comes the interesting part: the wheels get their spin not from some pretentious HEMI engine, or a reconditioned original one, but from a powertrain sourced from a… Wrangler 4xe.
That means the concept has a 2.0-liter inline-four turbocharged engine under the hood, backed in its mission of getting the wheels moving by two electric motors. These get their juice from a battery pack, while the combustion engine is kept in check by an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The 1978 Jeep Cherokee 4xe will be on the deck of the Utah desert starting tomorrow, April 1, and until the event ends, on April 9. There is no word as to what may happen to it afterwards, but we only hope its unveiling will give custom shops more ideas of how to further reinterpret old Cherokees.