EACH YEAR as the Easter Jeep Safari rolls around we head to Moab, Utah, to not only take in the beauty of the area, but to check out Jeep’s new crop of concept vehicles. If we are lucky, we sneak one away from the corral for some “quality time” in the region’s spectacular backcountry.
The concepts typically range from mild to wild, and as much as we like carving crescents through sand dunes in 522kW HEMI-powered Wranglers, this year our thoughts gravitated toward what we aspire to the most: a mobile abode that is not only capable, but one that will make off-piste life more comfortable. Meet the Gladiator JT Wayout.
The Wayout may appear to be a one-off creation, but its heritage reaches back more than a decade to one of Jeep’s first concepts, the Overland JK. Back in the day, we borrowed the Overland for a three-week, 5000km all-dirt undertaking from the Mexican border to the Canadian border (see May 2011 issue of 4X4 Australia).
Before we get into details on the Wayout, feel secure in knowing we’re at the bargaining table to take it off Jeep’s hands for another extended end-of-the-earth adventure.
From the built-in compressor and air station to refined touches in the rooftop tent, Jeep’s Design Operations team addressed every minute detail. Looking from the bulldust up, we find a set of 37-inch Falken Wildpeak mud-terrains wrapped around fix-em-with-a-hammer 17-inch steel wheels. Articulation is managed by a two-inch Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) lift, and Fox shocks keep your teeth from rattling out of your jaw on corrugated roads.
With reliability at the top of the list, the drivetrain remains bone stock. Axles are Dana’s new Gen III 44 fitted with 4.10:1 gears and Tru-Lok electronically actuated diffs. They receive power from an NVOR 241 transfer case (4:1 low range) and 850RE eight-speed auto – the aggregate providing an impressive 72:1 crawl ratio.
Generating 213kW and 353Nm the 3.6L Pentastar V6 not only provides power for nearly any scenario, but impressive economy for a petrol mill. The JT’s 83-litre fuel tank, along with two auxiliary cans recessed in the bed, should give a range of 650-plus backcountry kays. The only mods behind the radiator are a JPP cold-air intake, snorkel, and a Black Forest burrito oven – not many rigs have a built-in kitchen.
4x4 review: Jeep Gladiator
Walkaround & Amenities
WALKING around the Wayout reveals the accoutrements that make us drool. Up front is a Warn Zeon 12 winch spun with synthetic rope and a Factor 55 Ultrahook. A pair of IPF 800 Xtreme HID auxiliary lights ride on the stock Rubicon bumper and offer plenty of lumens for late nights on the trail. A factory rear bumper, along with custom rock rails and sheetmetal protection, round out body armour. The aforementioned fuel storage graces both sides of the bed, and a hidden ARB compressor supplies air to a port-side quick-release valve and gauge.
Moving inside, the Wayout is inviting and rugged. Front and rear seats are crafted from high-grade leather and sport laser-etched topographical maps (in case we lose our way). The view from the driver’s seat is all Rubicon: 4WD, locker controls and auxiliary switches are just fore of the shifter. The eight-inch touchscreen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but SiriusXM kept the tunes flowing through the evening.
Built not bought on custom 4x4 reviews
We like to be comfortable, even when we are “roughing it”. We set up camp in one of Moab’s red rock canyons, and the Wayout checked all the opulence boxes. Resting on a custom bed rack is an Autohome Maggiolina rooftop tent, replete with interior LED mood lighting.
Deploying the Alu-Cab Shadow awning, which provides 270-degree shade, will ease life during the warm days of summer. If things get really bad there is a cocktail bar out back. Yes, one side of the Decked drawer system was converted into a full-service bar with a cooler, electric blender and all the trimmings. We clicked on the amber Baja Designs LED camp lights, pulled out a few chairs, and relaxed while the twilight yielded to a million constellations.
As Easter Jeep Safari came to a close, we tried to steal away with the Wayout for an upcoming two-week trek into Baja, Mexico. Unfortunately, the Jeep boys caught us at the edge of town and we had to give her back. But we’re pretty sure we’ll meet again, as this backcountry Gladiator has the right stuff for a proper “way out” adventure.