Back in early 2019, when the buzz around the Jeep Gladiator was at its peak ahead of US market release, Jeep presented no less than six concepts based on, or in the style of, the all-new dual cab ute at the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. Fast forward to 2023 and the buzz is around electrification. As such, the Gladiator only played a minor role this year, with one of Jeep’s seven concepts for 2023 being Gladiator-based. It was still pretty interesting, though, and showed how the dual cab ute could support an off-road adventurer’s lifestyle.
While four of the seven concepts this year were electrified, the ‘Sideburn’ concept used the Gladiator’s factory-spec 3.6-litre petrol V6, eight-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive system.
Differences over stock started with the addition of a Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) 5cm (2-inch) lift kit with Bilstein remote reservoir shock absorbers, plus a set of HRE ‘FT1’ 17x9-inch wheels with chunky 37-inch BF Goodrich tyres.
Like some of the other concepts this year, the Gladiator Sideburn incorporated the shorter grille from this year’s Wrangler Rubicon 20th Anniversary edition, adding a modified Rubicon bumper with Warn winch, too. A custom tubular grille guard, that was also a feature on this year’s Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Departure concept, was part of the Gladiator Sideburn. When not in use protecting the grille, this clever feature can fold down for use as a seat.
Making its debut on the Gladiator Sideburn was a custom JPP “limb-riser” accessory. Not shown in the images here, the limb-riser uses heavy-duty cables - that run from the bonnet latch to the back of the windscreen header - to direct branches and brush up and over the roofline, lessening the potential for damage to the bonnet and windscreen.
Another debut item from the JPP by Mopar design team on this concept was a pair of 28cm (11-inch) TYRI rectangular LED lights. Suspended by custom bracketry, the light fairings are attached to each roof panel and feature a quick disconnect function.
Another concept feature on the Sideburn, and what gives this concept its name, is the JPP Gladiator Sport Bar. Made from lightweight carbon fibre and steel, this bar runs outside the body and incorporates steps on both sides to access the ute tub. The concept sport bar also features a mid-shelf with tie downs for portable storage totes. Each tote can be locked and secured via eight available tie-down loops. Additionally, four T-track rails on the upper portion of this concept sports bar allows for easier installation of a bike, kayak or other roof-mounted cargo systems.
Jeep says the tub on the Gladiator Sideburn concept is truly unique, featuring integral Molle panels above and behind the wheelarch flares for additional storage, in a similar vein to the RamBox storage available on RAM pickups, but a lot more visible! RotoPaX fuel/fluid containers are integrated into this, while within the tub itself, a modified Mopar spare wheel carrier was fitted to hold a 37-inch wheel and tyre.
This custom tub arrangement included an equally custom tailgate that featured three Molle-panel openings, along with a custom floating Jeep badge in the centre, but the Gladiator’s standard reversing camera and high-mount stop light were retained.
The paint on the Gladiator Sideburn concept is ‘High Velocity’, which looks like a custom hue but is actually a factory colour, introduced for the 2023 Gladiator and also available on the MY23 Wrangler in North America. The black wheelarch flares, concept JPP Gladiator Sport Bar, black wheels and other blackout details only serve to accentuate this eye-searing paint, while the concept’s name is emblazoned on each side of the bonnet.
JPP production pieces on the Gladiator Sideburn concept include half doors, side steps and grab handles for easier entry into the elevated cabin. Custom touches in the cabin include Vienesse Relicate Nappa leather trim on the seats, centre armrest, shifter boots, parking brake boot and door pull straps, all with ‘Soul-stopper’ contrast stitching. This stitching also features on the instrument panel top pad and the steering wheel, but neither of these are trimmed in the same dark red-brown leather as the rest of the cabin.
The concept’s dash panel carries a 3D topographical map of Moab scenery in matte-black with gloss dark silver trails, while other accents throughout the cabin are finished in matte finish Atomic Silver.
Finally, decorative, stainless-steel JPP pedal covers are fitted, along with a concept JPP heavy-duty vinyl floor system with integrated floor drains for easy hose-outs of the interior after a day of muddy trails.
For an overview of the 2023 Easter Jeep Safari concepts, click HERE.