American Expedition Vehicles is a Michigan-based company that designs and manufactures high quality specialty components for Jeep Wranglers. These parts are available separately or as packages, and those package turn the Wranglers into world-class expedition vehicles. The close relationship between Chrysler and AEV, allows AEV to offer Chrysler V8 engines in their packages, all with OEM-like quality. It’s best to think about AEV products as what Jeep engineers would do if they didn’t have bean-counters on their butts; an M or AMG for off-roading, a Wrangler improve in all possible ways. Chrysler has even been installing AEV part right from the factory to limited editions models such as the Call of Duty: Black Ops Edition.
In addition to selling individual parts and total vehicle transformation packages, AEV has developed its own version of the Wrangler called the AEV Brute Double Cab. For Double Cab’s duty, Wrangler Unlimited’s frame gets stretched by 23″ in front of the rear axle, and additional 16″ behind the axle. This stretch allows for Unlimited’s cab to remind factory-like, and for a 61″ x 60″ pickup bed behind the cab, with room for a 33″ spare tire. AEV admits that the vehicle was inspired by the Land Rover Defender 130, and with the Defender about to be put to pasture, AEV (and Jeep) seem to have almost a monopoly in this market.
Now, there is a more special, limited version, of this limited version vehicle, the Filson Edition.
Filson is an manufacturer and seller of high quality outdoor equipment, so made sense for those two to work together on a special vehicle; think Subaru L.L. Bean, Ford Eddie Bauer, or many others. The Filson Edition gets the the best, and all, of AEV’s offerings, including a 6.4 HEMI V8, 3.5″ lift and 35″ tires. The vehicle is then beautifully painted and the interior gets high quality leather. While these kinds of packages from mainstream manufactures often end up being rather tacky but this, in my opinion, came out beautifully.
Having spend way too much time on AEV’s website and related forums over the years, and finally seeing their products first hand at a recent auto show (I neglected to write that up, sorry), I was really surprised at not only the quality of each AEV part, but also the well thought out engineering behind it. While many after-market companies make a few good parts, there is a lot of junk out there, and very few make packages as comprehensive as AEV. Unfortunately, everything comes at a price, and while Double Cab conversions start at about $30,000 (+ your Wrangler Unlimited), the Filson Edition comes only in one flavor and color, both of which are fine with me, and sells for $130,000. That may seem like a lot of money, and it is, but an illegal-ish like-new condition Defender 130 won’t cost you much less, and won’t be any better at anything.
In my auto show chat with AEV reps we discussed some of the parts:
- They don’t make fancy skid plates like a lot of people like to put onto their cars, they said that they’re not needed.
- The Double Cab has space for a 33″ tire, but not a 35″, such as the one outfitted on the Filson.
- I asked about the corner guards, and they said they are there because that is the weakest point on the Wrangler tub.
- They now have a RAM 2500 pickup concept, too.
Until now AEV offered almost nothing for the interior of the Wrangler, which is understandable, and it also makes sense why the Fison Edition may exist. Many people with money, potentially looking to replace their worn Defenders, want to have the best of everything, the whole package. Until now there was Icon 4×4 or refurbishing their Land Rovers, and now there is another choice. I love this vehicle, everything about it, as is. I’ll take two, one for Nantucket summers and another for Aspen winters.