After all, who uses the back seat of a Jeep for anything but hauling dogs, jerry cans and trash?
Jeep finally got the message that such a kit could help fill the small-pickup hole in the market, with off-road capability to boot. Mopar’s kit ($5,499) transforms your Wrangler Unlimited (base price, $25,545) into a very cool machine for transporting Honda generators, La-Z-Boy recliners, beer kegs and other necessaries.
The problem is you’re looking at $32,000 big bucks, plus installation, which can be done by a “motivated do-it-yourselfer” or, better, by a Jeep dealer. “The kit consists of new body panels that make up the pickup bed, a new bulkhead behind the front seats, new B-pillars, roll bar extensions, and a removable fiberglass roof.” Welding and painting are required.
Another kit has been offered for a while, this one called the AEV Brute (right). It fits any TJ Wrangler, comes 90 percent assembled, has an extended stamped steel bed plus a new hardtop, and looks to be the better package. But it costs $8,995, plus $500 shipping.
AEV converts TJ and JK Hemi V8s and various other Jeep models and provides aftermarket parts.
Some of you may remember the Jeep Scrambler from the 1980s. It was called the CJ8 and had no separate pickup bed, just an open back end on a longer wheelbase. About 20,000 were made. I think Jeep also made a full-size pickup around 1962.
Then Jeep made the Gladiator concept a few years ago—after the 1970s Gladiator pickup. This featured a turbodiesel, very small rear seat, suicide doors and an expandable pickup bed. That would clearly have been an expensive beast to produce and so went nowhere.
Maybe Chrysler is looking at the JK-8 kit as a way to test the market for small, strong all-wheel-drive pickups. They do keep trying, don’t they?
Would you be in the market for a compact, sturdy AWD pickup if Chrysler produced it at a reasonable price?