Does the world need another Jeep?

    With sales stalling in Australia, is another Jeep the answer for the off-road giant that brought us legends like the CJ5, Wrangler, Cherokee and Gladiator?

    The internet is abounding with rumours that Jeep’s Shortcut concept could actually go into production.

    The Shortcut is in effect a two-door, shortened and lightened Wrangler that harkens back directly to the company’s founding ethos of utilitarian, no-frills yet thrilling off-road capabilities.

    Jeep says the Shortcut has everything you need and nothing you don’t. So that translates to a vehicle with no doors, no back seat and no spare tyre, powered by a V6 in front of an automatic transmission, all sitting on Dana 40 axle assemblies.

    But it’s not just smaller and lighter, it’s aimed at being more capable, yet most importantly, more affordable. With the Shortcut, Jeep certainly has cut some corners to make that happen!

    Originally a concept vehicle at Easter Jeep Safari 2016 at Moab in the US, Jeep brought this back to the same event in 2024, tantalising Jeep fans and aficionados that this is a sign heralding a new age for Jeep and possibly a new budget off-roader.

    Starting life as a two-door JK Wrangler, the Shortcut is almost 32cm shorter and boasts a unique grille design up front. It has greatly improved approach and departure angles and as a short-wheelbase model it offers an excellent ramp over angle.

    The chassis has been shortened; the tub, fenders and body, while recognisably Jeep, are all customised from factory; and the fuel filler has been moved from the rear fender to the inside of the tub.

    Nathan and Tommy from The Fast Lane Car said Jeep is renowned for using the Easter Jeep Safari as a teaser of new models and the fact this concept has been seen in both the 2016 and 2024 Safaris gives us a very strong indication that Jeep is seriously considering putting this into production as a much more affordable, smaller and more capable Jeep.

    They went on to say that “this is the tiny, cheap Jeep we’ve all been waiting for”.

    The Shortcut weighs in at around 410kg less than a standard two-door Wrangler. The interior follows the overall concept of being extremely simple with no fancy dials, displays, buttons or screens and the utilitarian look is in line with the theme of a bare-bones, lightweight, stripped-down and inexpensive open-top Wrangler.

    The concept is powered by the standard Pentastar 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine. It’s a relatively small, lightweight and inexpensive engine that has worked well for a number of Jeep models since it’s inception in a number of MY11 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles.

    As a shortened vehicle, it also has a shortened exhaust which seems to hit the sweet spot for resonance with enthusiasts saying it has quite a unique growl, making the lazy 3.6 sound a little more lively. And it may feel a little lively too, considering the weight savings this vehicle offers.

    From the single-hoop roll bar to the old-school small side mirrors, every element of the Shortcut is all about saving weight.

    Speculation though on whether it actually could go into production centres around its need for airbags and some type of doors to ensure that it does meet current, or even expected, safety standards, of which it currently does not.

    Further speculation quoted possible workable prices of around US$30-40,000 (~A$44,000-60,000). For context, the Wrangler range opens in the US at US$31,995 (~A$48,000).

    Ben Davidson, one of Australia’s leading Jeep enthusiasts and the owner/editor of Jeep Action Magazine (the only dedicated Jeep magazine in the world still in print), took a more conservative view.

    “This 2016 JK Wrangler concept draws inspiration from the classic 1950s CJ5, evident in it’s design cues and rugged build,” he said.

    “The blend of modern features with the timeless essence of the CJ5 creates a standout vehicle that embodies the ethos of ‘less is more’ capturing the heart of Jeep’s iconic heritage in a compact and robust package.”

    But Mr Davidson went on to say that while a concept like the Shortcut will often generate excitement, production feasibility depends on various factors such as market demand, manufacturing costs and regulatory requirements.

    If there’s significant interest and it aligns with Jeep’s strategic goals, there’s a chance it could go into production. However, whether it would be available in Australia would depend on Jeep’s distribution plans and the demand for such a vehicle in the Australian market.

    Shod in 35-inch tyres, the Shortcut could just be an affordable base level off-road revitalisation for Jeep and an entry-level vehicle for new enthusiasts.

    Is it really a new vehicle we will see from the off-road legend? We don’t know, but it does get our vote for being an enthusiast’s dream and a far more appropriate off-road offering than the bulk of the over-complicated range of new vehicles we currently see on the market.

    What do you think, should Jeep give it a go? Is it something that could help to revitalise the Jeep brand and its sales figures?

    Simon Christie
    Simon Christie is a Contributor at CarExpert.